Classical Architecture Essay

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The study of the past is intriguing for many people now, as it was for many ancient Greeks. For the ancient Greeks, it was discovering Mycenaean ruins and composing stories about them. Today, inspiration is still drawn from classical architecture. One has to look no further than the U.S. capitol building, or even the University of Michigan’s Angell Hall to see remnants of this architectural style, and therefore the remnants of ancient culture. This raises the question of why does it still persist? Logically, the best way to answer this is to examine the origins of classical architecture, and what it represented then and now. Furthermore, the study of ancient architecture can show insights into past civilizations which otherwise would have…show more content…
The study of ancient architecture provides a context for today's buildings, explains their significance, and helps to draw comparisons between modernity and the ancient. The origins of the classical style of architecture can be traced back to ancient Greece. While monumental structures did exist before the advent of the temple, much of what is taken from the classical style is derived from the temple. The Greek temple was a fairly standardized building across all of Greece. There were distinct proportions that almost all temples followed as well as certain rules of layout. The main rule that the temples followed was symmetry. This is seen today in buildings that emulate the style. Symmetry in a building provides a sense of strength and stability, which makes sense to have in a temple because it is the house of a god. Similarly, in a capital building which is a representation of the government, it makes sense to have this sense of stability. Later, in Roman Civilization, the temple changed slightly (but remained largely the same), and new building types and techniques arose. The arch was a large…show more content…
Therefore, that style of architecture is reserved mainly for public buildings which server important civic functions. Likely this is because in ancient times stone buildings were not places people lived. They were generally used for public gatherings, and designed for public use. By studying ancient architecture, it can be understood why many public buildings look the way that they do. It provides a context for why buildings like the Supreme Court look the way they do. To take that as an example, the Supreme court is the highest court in the United States; therefore, it would make sense to have it be a very distinguishable building as if to say visually that the building is important. Perhaps one reason why the classical style is chosen to represent this is because Rome and Greece are seen as the birthplace of western culture. The democracy which is practiced today is a version of what Rome used during the time of the republic. So, to demonstrate that the United States is as strong as Rome was by emulating the columnar faces of Greek and Roman temples, it provides a visual representation. So understanding where the architectural elements came from, can help us understand why people feel so compelled by this
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