2723-2562 BC

Pyramids of Gizeh     Egypt


scale and architecture
It has always fascinated me that the Great Pyramid in Egypt was the tallest building in the world for over 4,000 years, and that it is also one of the oldest buildings in the world. Of further fascination is the fact that the first building to ever come close to the great pyramid was Michelangelo's basilica and dome at St. Peter's in Rome. Symbolically, it intrigued me that the ancient rivalry between old Egypt and monotheism should play itself out in two enormously monumental buildings.
The practical lesson here, however, is again about scale, and specifically the history of height in architecture. Today we are, in a sense, spoiled by high buildings and do not realize how rare tallness in architecture is when the total history of architecture is taken into consideration.
To me, the fact that the Pyramids will most likely forever hold the record of the world's tallest building for the longest amount of time gives it an added significance, a place in architectural history that no other building is likely to supersede. Using the Great Pyramid as the prototype then, for the world's tallest building, might provide insight to an analysis of the world's tallest buildings of the last two centuries. I should at least find out what those buildings have been. I already know what the last three tallest buildings are: Sears Tower, Chicago, the World Trade Center, New York City, and the Empire State Building, New York City.
The Great Pyramid of Cheops was originally 146.4m (480 ft) high. The Pyramid of Chephren was originally 143m (470 ft) high. The height of St. Peter's in Rome, from pavement to top of cross, is 452 ft. Up until now I had no idea that the second pyramid was also taller than St. Peter's in Rome. This makes me wonder what building finally broke the Pyramid record.

1974	Sears Tower, Chicago	 442m (1450ft) 
1972	World Trade Center, NYC 411m (1350 ft) 
1931	Empire State Building 381m (1250 ft) 
1930	Chrysler Building, NYC 319m  (1046 ft) 
1889 	Eiffel Tower 300m (985 ft) 
1877-90 	Ulm Cathedral	161m (529 ft) 
1848-54 	Washington Monument 170m  (555ft) 
1824-90 	Cologne Cathedral	152m (500ft) 
1500's 	Beauvais C.  152m (500ft) 
1230-1365	Strasbourg Cathedral	142m (466)

This research as brought many new things to light and I feel I have a much better understanding of the history of the world's tallest buildings. I find it interesting that the short lived spire at Beauvais was the first structure to surpass the Great Pyramid in height. Another interesting fact is the seeming limit in height around 500 ft. and how the new limit seems to be something over 1000 ft. (I have to find out the exact heights of the last three tallest buildings.)
The other fact that fascinates me is the fact that the structure after the failed spire at Beauvais to finally surpass the pyramids is the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. The great irony is that the pyramids were finally surpassed by an obelisk. In any case, two ancient forms are still among the tallest structures in the world.

scale and architecture
...the Pyramid complex at Giza superimposed over the 3-D model of Philadelphia. ...the Great Pyramid is very near the height of Philadelphia's City Hall.

regarding the Parliament Building for Islamabad   3138p

regarding Capital Park West   3138r

[architecture opted otherwise]
extremity architecture (the Pyramids, Stonehenge, anything pre 550 BC)

Ichnographia Ottopia - Giza Pyramid (complex) on the axis of death at true north orientation...

(Designs That) Stinking Heights
For the benefit of all, Beauvais's St. Pierre Cathedral spire (c. 1570s) was the first building to exceed the height of the Great Pyramid at Giza, which until then remained the tallest building in the world. Unfortunately, the Beauvais spire fell after standing only approximately 75 years, however, the main vault of the cathedral is still the highest stone arch in the world.
One could then say that the Great Pyramid regained its "tallest" status, except by that time the second pyramid of Giza may have already been taller than the Great Pyramid (like it is today -- this differential is due to great Pyramid's full point no longer being there).
the Great Pyramid was 480 ft tall
the second pyramid is 470 ft tall
Beauvais's spire was 500 ft tall
Regardless of whether the Great or second pyramid held the "world's tallest record," neither was surpassed until the 1850s when the Washington Monument reached the height of 555 ft. What I find most interesting is that after more than four millennia of the pyramids holding the world's tallest title, they were uncannily surpassed by another Egyptian form! as those wonderful ancient Egyptian cheerleaders used to say, "Ra! Ra! Ra!"

Re: sculpture versus architecture
What Pinar writes comes across as very true as a reasonably way to approach "what is architecture?" as opposed "what is sculpture?" And for the most part I agree with the notion that architecture accommodates life. So I then ask if this 'definition' must be broadened to include all built forms that once accompanied life and a life style, but over time have come to no longer do so. I am thinking of ancient ruins, be they Stonehenge, the Pyramids, the Parthenon, the cave temples of India, etc. These are commonly referred to as examples of architecture, yet today they are clearly "objects which are for perception only." Have these architectures become architecture/sculpture hybrids?

an answer to "Now what?"
What architecture is extreme?
the Pyramids, Stonehenge, St. Peter's (Vatican), Bilbao(?)

OTHERWISE EYES directory ideas
scale: begin with the tallest (lately thinking of the record in terms of continual location--Africa first.

Engaging the intellect
Given your example's of architecture that engages the intellect and the notion that the most rewarding architecture "challenges the intellect and keeps its secret a mystery," isn't the Great Pyramid of Egypt then the most "rewarding" architecture of them all? And since the Great Pyramid is also more or less the oldest architecture still around, might not the rewards have gradually become less and less?

2001.09.28 10:41
Re: travels in hyper-reality
Reenactment has been a integral part of architecture and design for at least 4500 years. The Great Pyramid is a massive reenacted mountain that fits perfectly on Earth via its alignment with the cardinal points, and with its quondam capping of electrum (an alloy of platinum, gold, and (I think) silver) this mountain further reenacted both a volcano and the sun rising and setting over the mountain. When new, the Great Pyramid at Giza very much manifested an artificial and themed environment, and for sure was one of the most entertaining sights/sites that has ever appeared on this planet.

2003.06.20 16:15
tallest buildings
For millennia, the tallest building in the world was the Great Pyramid at Giza (roughly 480 feet), whose 'world record' was first beaten (by about 20 feet) by the tower of the Cathedral of Bauvais. Alas the Bauvais tower collapsed c. 1575 after maybe 50 years of being the world's tallest. So, then the Great Pyramid was again the tallest in the world, except at some 'point' the second pryamid at Giza became taller than the Great pyramid due to the second's tip still being there, while the Great's tip having somewhat crumbled away.
Funny how another ancient Egyptian form in 1855(!) finally superseded the Pyramids in height--the Washington Monument at 555 feet.
Now, making a long story short, the Eiffel Tower brought 'buildings' close to 1000 feet, and then the World Trade Center towers brought buildings close to 1500 feet. Given all that, seeing buildings at 2000 feet appears to be more than a stretch.
It is probably not at all outlandish to think that some day, perhaps in some millennia to come, that the pyramids at Giza will again be the world's tallest buildings.

2003.08.16 15:11
Re: pointers
There aren't that many comparative scale analyses of architecture being done anymore.
Quondam has featured some: wqc/10/0911.htm -- Giza, Beauvais before tower collapse 1575?, Washington Monument 555 ft., Eiffel Tower.
wqc/10/0914.htm -- those building that once held the title of world's tallest--note the Empire State Building is incorrect as shown.
There is a very good scale comparison of "shopping" places, from Trajan's Market (110 AD) to Super K-Mart (1997) within the Harvard School of Design Guide to Shopping--this is for sure a continuation of Durand's method.
A few weeks ago I purchased a 1823 Italian edition of Durand's Recueil et Parellele via eBay. I will (someday) scan all the plates and selectively publish the results at Quondam. In general, it is quite revealing to see how relatively smaller than Giza and St. Peter's all other historic (pre-1800) architecture is.
Koln was completed 1824-80 and at a height of 500 ft. does exceed both Giza and St. Peter's. The Washington Monument, built 1848-54 and 1879-84 reaches a height of 555 ft. It just might be that Koln was once briefly the tallest building in the world if the Washington Monument was not yet up to 500 ft by 1880.
Reference: most of the factual data pertaining to dates and heights comes from Fletcher's A History of Architecture [on the Comparative Method], were ground cover area of certain buildings is also sometimes provided.

2003.08.16 21:02
Re: closing the visible space
Arthur, the Silver Dome and the RCA Dome count as far as I'm concerned. Where the comparison stops, however, is in various types of construction. For largest hollow stone/masonry building, the 'award' probably still goes to St. Peter's, and the largest solid stone/masonry building will probably always be the Great Pyramid.

2003.12.14 12:25
Re: which Acropolis do you prefer?
the architecture at Giza is still slightly higher than the dome of San Pietro Vaticano though both ancient Egyptian and early Christian architecture excelled at building over places associated with dead people.

novel ideas
The Great Pyramid is reenacted at Bottomopolis, which is the stage set for Quondam's collection.

2005.03.23 13:47
Forms and Functions of 20th Century Architecture
..a diagrammatic drawing demonstrating a scale comparison with the Perisphere and Trylon of the 1939 New York World's Fair--wqc/temp/scale01.jpg--from left to right: the Great Pyramid, Parthenon, Pantheon (which looks to me a bit bigger than it actually is), Santa Sophia, Constantinople, St. Mark's Venice, Chartres, St. Peter's Rome, the Perisphere and Trylon.

2005.05.06 17:24
Koolhaas versis the Actor
There are many historical examples were architecture references itself, e.g., renaissance architecture referencing classical architecture, or even the second pyramid at Giza referencing the Great Pyramid at Giza.

2007.10.15 21:23
Differentiation between the outside and the inside.
The Great Pyramid maintains a strict differentiation between outside and inside--life and light outside, darkness and death inside.
"The absolute rule of architecture is that the inside has to be different than the outside." 1983
Yet really great architecture manages to keep the rule and break the rule simultaneously.
The Pantheon at Rome brings the whole cosmology inside.
The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles reflects the whole garden inside.
The Kimbell Art Museum brings the outside light inside.
Osmotic Architecture.

2008.07.05 10:50
architecture, technology, magic & war
How did they build those great pyramids? Perhaps the (only natural?) 'flipping' of the planet's electro-magnetic field resulting in a brief lessening of gravitational force opened a magical window of architectural opportunity.
Is it true that the smallest of the four great pyramids is composed entirely of brick?

2008.07.05 11:44
architecture, technology, magic & war
The point of the great pyramids today is exactly that they make no sense; we don't even know how they were built. And, unless you believe in magic, the pyramid builders used a 'technology' that is somehow beyond us right now.
Just kill the notion of "how things were always done" because that's the real myth of your argument. "How things are done" has always been a very non-homogeneous set of situations. If you look closely, computers have (already) greatly enabled an even more vast proliferation of non-homogeneous ways of doing things.

2008.07.06 15:54
architecture, technology, magic & war
"Few texts concerning Egyptian engineering methods have survived the centuries, and in recent years experimental archaeology has been the main means for discovering the methods used for building the structure. Despite this, there are still many questions concerning the quarrying, dressing and transportation of the stone building blocks, let alone the methods by which they were placed meticulously in position. And there are further questions still about how the gigantic edifice was erected on a totally horizontal base, and aligned precisely with the stars.
"As the recent robotic explorations of the so-called air-shafts in the Great Pyramid have demonstrated, there is still a great deal that remains mysterious about the basic structure of pyramids, and the technology that created them.

2008.07.06 19:16
architecture, technology, magic & war
You know, there actually were such things as "trade secrets". And maybe that's what the Great Pyramid really is, the world's largest manifestation of trade secrets.

2012.08.31 17:34
The Philadelphia School, deterritorialized
"The Objectification of the Deterritorialized Whole[nesses]"
Great Pyramid
extreme wholeness

2021.05.27 -




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