The Newport Coast Structure

The Newport Coast Structure

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The Newport Coast Structure

The Newport Coast structure that sits on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Newport Coast Dr. is one of many examples of Mediterranean-inspired architecture in Southern California. The building is clearly influenced by Roman architecture and stands out among the standard Spanish-looking villas and mission-type buildings. The structure lies near one of California's wealthiest neighborhoods, Newport Beach and acts as sort of a grand entrance to Newport Coast Dr. There are two of these structures which sit on opposite sides of Newport Coast Dr., framed by only a few palm trees and evergreens. Drivers passing along Southern California's coastline can catch a quick glimpse of these impressive buildings. The Newport Coast structure is constructed of concrete and painted a light beige. Eight thick columns support the extremely large entablature-like face of the structure. As architecture in a typically conservative Orange County, the Newport Coast structure dominates its surroundings.

The Newport Coast structure is clearly a representation of Roman architecture in general, but more specifically, the sturdy columns and enlarged entablatures are reminiscent of the Tuscan order. Although the simplified columns may at first glance appear to be rather doric in their style, upon closer inspection they prove to be more similar to the less renowned Tuscan order. This in fact, does not diminish the influence the doric temples of Greek architecture had on the Etruscan invention of the Tuscan temple, but rather demonstrates yet again how one culture can inspire another artistically. The Tuscan order refers to "the variation that resembles the doric order, with an unfluted shaft and a simplified base, capital, and entablature" (Stokstad, 227). Like architecture of the Tuscan order, the Newport Coast structure's entablature is very plain and geometric in its form. The Tuscan order was originally used by the Etruscans around the time of 700-509 BCE and was later adopted by the Romans. Even though the Newport Coast structure and the Tuscan temple function differently in terms of public use, for the Tuscan temple was used by the Etruscans for religious purposes, their appearances prove to be strikingly similar.

Not only does the Newport Coast structure resemble architecture of the Tuscan order, it makes use of the Roman round arch as well. The round arch in the Newport Coast structure has elements that are very similar to the Roman round arch. Outlined by wedge-shaped voussoirs, it looks like a simpler, more modern version of the Arch of Constantine.

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In the case of the Arch of Constantine, it was a massive structure which served as a declaration of Emperor Constantine's victory over Maxentius in 312 CE. Besides proclaiming triumph, arches were used as entrance ways in Roman cities that were enclosed completely by walls. Since entrance ways were used for monitoring the people who came in and out of the city, the entrance ways and the arches became very important pieces of architecture in Roman society. Although the round arches of the Newport Coast structure do not function as an actual entry way for people to pass through, the symbolic gestures of placing them on both sides of a street leading to a prestigious town can be interpreted similarly.

The relationship between the Newport Coast structure and both the Roman Tuscan order and the Roman round arch is very implicit in the style of the architecture. With their massive size and clean lines, the buildings both young and old embody power. These buildings are meant to be noticed and to dominate their surroundings by means of their size. Constantine was proclaiming domination over Maxentius through the use of his arch, as does the area of Newport Beach, although less directly, proclaim its wealth and prestige by making reference to the Roman art of earlier times. Both were and are influential cities of their time and made note of it through their art. As Roman architecture functioned both practically and symbolically by means of forming an entrance to the people's beloved city and proclaiming their victories and triumphs, so does art in Newport Beach today.

Works Cited:

Stokstad, M. (1995). Volume One Art History.

Prentice Hall, Inc., and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers.
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