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Gothic Revival architecture

13 Jul
Votivkirche, Neo-Gothic church in Vienna. Sir Christopher Wren’s Tom Tower, at Christ Church, Oxford The upper chapel of the Sainte Chapelle, restored by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century
Saint Clotilde Basilica completed 1857, Paris The House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster designed by A.W.N. Pugin Detail of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Moscow
Oxford University Museum of Natural History Cast-iron gothic tracery supports a bridge by Calvert Vaux, Central Park, New York City Gothic detailing on the Tribune Tower in Chicago
Victoria Tower at the Palace of Westminster, London: Gothic details provided by A.W.N. Pugin
The Lady Chapel of Liverpool Cathedral, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott overseen by G F Bodley Victoria Tower at the Palace of Westminster, London: Gothic details provided by A.W.N. Pugin Gothic House in Puławy, 1800-09
The Gothic Revival was an architectural movement which originated in mid-18th century England. In the 19th century, increasingly serious and learned neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval forms, in distinction to the classical styles which were prevalent at the time. The movement had significant influence throughout the United Kingdom as well as in Europe and North America, and perhaps more Gothic architecture was built in both the 19th century and 20th century than had originally ever been built.

In literature, the architectural Gothic Revival and classical Romanticism gave rise to the Gothic novel genre, beginning with Castle of Otranto (1764) by Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, and inspired a 19th century genre of medieval poetry which stems from the pseudo-bardic poetry of “Ossian.” Poems like “Idylls of the King” by Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson recast specifically modern themes in medieval settings of Arthurian romance.

HistoryThe Chesma palace church (1780), St Petersburg is a rare example of the Russian Gothic style.

The Chesma palace church (1780), St Petersburg is a rare example of the Russian Gothic style.

Survival and revival
Gothic architecture did not die out completely in the 15th century, but instead lingered on in on-going cathedral-building projects and the construction of churches in increasingly isolated rural districts of England, France, Spain and Germany. In Bologna, in 1646, the Baroque architect Carlo Rainaldi constructed Gothic vaults (completed 1658) for the Basilica of San Petronio which had been under construction since 1390; there, the Gothic context of the structure overrode considerations of the current architectural mode. Similarly, Gothic architecture survived in an urban setting during the later 17th century, as shown in Oxford and Cambridge, where some additions and repairs to Gothic buildings were apparently considered to be more in keeping with the style of the original structures than contemporary Baroque. Sir Christopher Wren’s Tom Tower for Christ Church College, Oxford University, and, later, Nicholas Hawksmoor’s west towers of Westminster Abbey, blur the boundaries between what is called “Gothic survival” and the Gothic revival.

Imitation fan-vaulting in the Gothick Long Gallery at Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill

In the mid 18th century, with the rise of Romanticism, an increased interest and awareness of the Middle Ages among some influential connoisseurs created a more appreciative approach to selected medieval arts, beginning with church architecture, the tomb monuments of royal and noble personnages, stained glass, and late Gothic illuminated manuscripts. Other Gothic arts continued to be disregarded as barbaric and crude, however: tapestries and metalwork, as examples. Sentimental and nationalist associations with historical figures were as strong in this early revival, as purely aesthetic concerns. A few Britons, and soon some Germans, began to appreciate the picturesque character of ruins— “picturesque” becoming a new aesthetic quality— and those mellowing effects of time that the Japanese call wabi-sabi and which Horace Walpole independently admired, mildly tongue-in-cheek, as “the true rust of the Barons’ wars.” The “Gothick” details of Walpole’s Twickenham villa, “Strawberry Hill,” (illustrated, left) appealed to the rococo tastes of the time, and by the 1770s, thoroughly neoclassical architects such as Robert Adam and James Wyatt were prepared to provide Gothic details in drawing-rooms, libraries, and chapels, for a romantic vision of a Gothic abbey, Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire. Inveraray Castle, constructed from 1746 with design input from William Adam, displays early revival of Gothic features in Scotland. The “Gothick” style was an architectural manifestation of the artificial “picturesque” seen elsewhere in the arts: these ornamental temples and summer-houses ignored the structural logic of true Gothic buildings and were effectively Palladian buildings with pointed arches. The eccentric landscape designer Batty Langley even attempted to “improve” Gothic forms by giving them classical proportions.

Hartwell Church, Buckinghamshire designed by Henry Keene and completed in 1755. Described by Pevsner as one of the most important early Gothic revival churches in England.  It is octagonal, and has twin towers.
Hartwell Church, Buckinghamshire designed by Henry Keene and completed in 1755. Described by Pevsner as one of the most important early Gothic revival churches in England. It is octagonal, and has twin towers.

A younger generation who took Gothic architecture more seriously provided the readership for J. Britten’s series of Cathedral Antiquities, which began appearing in 1814. In 1817, Thomas Rickman wrote an Attempt… to name and define the sequence of Gothic styles in English ecclesiastical architecture, “a text-book for the architectural student”. Its long title is descriptive: Attempt to discriminate the styles of English architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation; preceded by a sketch of the Grecian and Roman orders, with notices of nearly five hundred English buildings. The categories he used were Norman, Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular. It went through numerous editions and was still being republished in 1881.

Romanticism and nationalism
French neo-Gothic had its roots in a minor aspect of Anglomanie, starting in the late 1780s. In 1816, when French scholar Alexandre de Laborde said “Gothic architecture has beauties of its own,” the idea was novel to most French readers. Starting in 1828, Alexandre Brogniart, the director of the Sèvres porcelain manufactory, produced fired enamel paintings on large panes of plate glass, for Louis-Philippe’s royal chapel at Dreux. It would be hard to find a large, significant commission in Gothic taste that preceded this one, save for some Gothic features in a handful of jardins à l’anglaise.

The French Gothic revival was set on sounder intellectual footings by a pioneer, Arcisse de Caumont, who founded the Societé des Antiquaires de Normandy at a time when antiquaire still meant a connoisseur of antiquities, and who published his great work on Norman architecture in 1830 (Summerson 1948). The following year Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris appeared, in which the great Gothic cathedral of Paris was at once a setting and a protagonist in a hugely popular work of fiction. In the same year the new French monarchy established a post of Inspector-General of Ancient Monuments, a post filled in 1833 by Prosper Merimée, who became the secretary of a new Commission des Monuments Historiques in 1837. This was the Commission that instructed Eugène Viollet-le-Duc to report on the condition of the abbey of Vézelay in 1840.

Meanwhile, in Germany, interest in the Cologne Cathedral, which had begun construction in 1248 and was still unfinished at the time of the revival, began to reappear. The 1820s Romantic movement brought back interest, and work began once more in 1824, significantly marking a German return of Gothic architecture.

Schloss Braunfels

Because of Romantic nationalism in the early 19th century, the Germans, French and English all claimed the original Gothic architecture of the 12th century as originating in their own country. The English boldly coined the term “Early English” for Gothic, a term that implied Gothic architecture was an English creation. In his 1832 edition of Notre Dame de Paris Victor Hugo said “Let us inspire in the nation, if it is possible, love for the national architecture”, implying that Gothic was France’s national heritage. In Germany with the completion of Cologne Cathedral in the 1880s, at the time the world’s tallest building, the cathedral was seen as the height of Gothic architecture. In Florence, the Duomo’s façade was demolished in 1587-1588, and stood bare until 1864, when a competition was held to design a new facade suitable to Arnolfo di Cambio’s structure and the fine campanile next to it. This competition was won by Emilio De Fabris, and work on his polychrome design and panels of mosaic was begun in 1876 and completed in 1887.

Pugin, Ruskin and the Gothic as a moral force
In the late 1820s, A.W.N. Pugin, still a teenager, was working for two highly visible employers, providing Gothic detailing for luxury goods. For the Royal furniture makers Morel and Seddon he provided designs for redecorations for the elderly George IV at Windsor Castle in a Gothic taste suited to the setting. For the royal silversmiths Rundell Bridge and Co., Pugin provided designs for silver from 1828, using the 14th-century Anglo-French Gothic vocabulary that he would continue to favor later in designs for the new Palace of Westminster (see below) [1].

In Contrasts (1836), Pugin expressed his admiration not only for mediæval art but the whole mediæval ethos, claiming that Gothic architecture was the product of a purer society. In The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841), he suggested that modern craftsmen seeking to emulate the style of medieval workmanship should also reproduce its methods. Pugin believed Gothic was true Christian architecture, boldly saying “The pointed arch was produced by the Catholic faith”. Pugin’s most famous building is The Houses of Parliament in London, which he designed in two campaigns, 1836 — 1837 and again in 1844 and 1852, with the classicist Charles Barry as his co-architect. Pugin provided the external decoration and the interiors, while Barry designed the symmetrical layout of the building, causing Pugin to remark, “All Grecian, Sir; Tudor details on a classic body”.

The National Academy of Design in New York (1863-65), one of many Gothic Revival buildings modelled on the Doge's Palace
The National Academy of Design in New York (1863-65), one of many Gothic Revival buildings modelled on the Doge’s Palace

John Ruskin supplemented Pugin’s ideas in his two hugely influential theoretical works, The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) and The Stones of Venice (1853). Finding his architectural ideal in Venice, Ruskin proposed that Gothic buildings excelled above all other architecture because of the “sacrifice” of the stone-carvers in intricately decorating every stone. By declaring the Doge’s Palace to be “the central building of the world”, Ruskin argued the case for Gothic government buildings as Pugin had done for churches, though only in theory. When his ideas were put into practice, Ruskin despised the spate of public buildings built with references to the Ducal Palace, including the University Museum in Oxford.

G.E. Street's Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London, 1882, his masterwork, proclaim the medieval source of Common Law
G.E. Street’s Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London, 1882, his masterwork, proclaim the medieval source of Common Law

In England, the Church of England was undergoing a revival of Anglo-Catholic and ritualist ideology in the form of the Oxford Movement and it became desirable to build large numbers of new churches to cater for the growing population. This found ready exponents in the universities, where the ecclesiological movement was forming. Its proponents believed that Gothic was the only style appropriate for a parish church, and favoured a particular era of Gothic architecture — the “decorated”. The Ecclesiologist, the publication of the Cambridge Camden Society, was so savagely critical of new church buildings that were below its exacting standards that a style called the ‘archaeological Gothic’ emerged, producing some of the most convincingly mediæval buildings of the Gothic revival. However, not every architect or client was swept away by this tide. Although Gothic Revival succeeded in becoming an increasingly familiar style of architecture, the attempt to associate it with superiority of the high church, as advocated by Pugin and the ecclesiological movement, was anathema to those with ecumenical or nonconformist principles. They looked to adopt it solely for its aesthetic romantic qualities, to combine it with other styles or look to northern Europe for Gothic of a more plain appearance, and to consciously choose a quite different style; or in some instances all three of these as at the ecumenical Abney Park Cemetery for whom the architect William Hosking FSA was engaged.

Viollet-le-Duc and Iron Gothic
If France had not been quite as early on the neo-Gothic scene, she produced a giant of the revival in Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. As well as being a powerful and influential theorist, Viollet-le-Duc was a leading architect whose genius lay in restoration. He believed in restoring buildings to a state of completion that they would not have known even when they were first built, theories he applied to his restorations of the walled city of Carcassonne and Notre-Dame and Sainte Chapelle in Paris. In this respect he differed from his English counterpart Ruskin as he often replaced the work of mediaeval stonemasons. His rational approach to Gothic was in stark contrast to the revival’s romanticist origins, and considered by some to be a prelude to the structural honesty demanded by Modernism.

Throughout his career he remained in a quandary as to whether iron and masonry should be combined in a building. Iron had in fact been used in Gothic buildings since the earliest days of the revival. It was only with Ruskin and the archaeological Gothic’s demand for structural truth that iron, whether it was visible or not, was deemed improper for a Gothic building. This argument began to collapse in the mid-19th century as great prefabricated structures such as the glass and iron Crystal Palace and the glazed courtyard of the Oxford University Museum were erected, which appeared to embody Gothic principles through iron. Between 1863 and 1872 Viollet-le-Duc published his Entretiens sur l’architecture, a set of daring designs for buildings that combined iron and masonry. Though these projects were never realised, they influenced several generations of designers and architects, notably Antonio Gaudi.

Gasson Hall on the campus of Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, by Charles Donagh Maginnis, 1908-1913
Gasson Hall on the campus of Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, by Charles Donagh Maginnis, 1908-1913

The 20th century and beyond

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (RC), Kensington Church Street, London. Late neo-Gothic by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, 1954-59.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (RC), Kensington Church Street, London. Late neo-Gothic by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, 1954-59.
The Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh
The Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh

At the turn of the 20th Century, technological developments such as the light bulb, the elevator, and steel framing caused many to see architecture that used load-bearing masonry as obsolete. Steel framing supplanted the non-ornamental functions of rib vaults and flying buttresses. Some architects used Neo-Gothic tracery as applied ornament to an iron skeleton underneath, for example in Cass Gilbert’s 1907 Woolworth Building skyscraper in New York and Raymond Hood’s 1922 Tribune Tower in Chicago. But over the first half of the century, Neo-Gothic became supplanted by Modernism. Some in the Modern Movement saw the Gothic tradition of architectural form entirely in terms of the “honest expression” of the technology of the day, and saw themselves as the rightful heir to this tradition, with their rectangular frames and exposed iron girders.

In spite of this, the Gothic revival continued to exert its influence, simply because many of its more massive projects were still being built well into the second half of the 20th century, such as Giles Gilbert Scott’s Liverpool Cathedral. In the USA, Charles Donagh Maginnis’s early buildings at Boston College helped establish the prevalence of Collegiate Gothic architecture on American university campuses. The Gothic revival skyscraper on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, the Cathedral of Learning, for example, used very Gothic stylings both inside and out, while using modern technologies to make the building taller. Ralph Adams Cram became a leading force in American Gothic, with his most ambitious project the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York (claimed to be the largest Cathedral in the world), as well as Collegiate Gothic buildings at Princeton University. Cram said “the style hewn out and perfected by our ancestors [has] become ours by uncontested inheritance.” In addition to Princeton University and Boston College some of the buildings on West Chester University’s campus are also built in the Collegiate Gothic style. Indeed, Atlanta’s historic Oglethorpe University continues to build in the Collegiate Gothic style to this day.

Though the number of new Gothic revival buildings declined sharply after the 1930s, they continue to be built. The cathedral of Bury St. Edmunds was constructed between the late 1950s and 2005 [2]. In 2002, Demetri Porphyrios was commissioned to design a neo-Gothic residential college at Princeton University to be known as Whitman College. Porphyrios has won several commissions after votes by student bodies [citation needed], not university design committees, confirming what modernist architects have suspected: that neo-gothic architecture may be more popular among the public, in spite of resistance to gothic as a “style” among the architectural establishment, and cost restraints..

John Vaughan, “Thomas Rickman’s essay on Gothic architecture” from Paradigm, No 7 (December, 1991) 

Further reading
Clark, Sir Kenneth The Gothic Revival: An Essay in the History of Taste ISBN 0719502330 
Hunter-Stiebel, Penelope, Of knights and spires: Gothic revival in France and Germany, , 1989 ISBN 0916849059 
Summerson, Sir John, 1948. “Viollet-le-Duc and the rational point of view” collected in Heavenly Mansions and other essays on Architecture.


Russian Revival Architecture

13 Jul
Rogozhskoye Cemetery belltower by Fyodor Gornostaev, 1908-1913 The oldest statement of Russian Revival, 1826 Alexander Nevsky church in Potsdam Pogodin’s Cottage, Moscow, 1856
Historical Museum in Red Square, (1875-1881) Our Lady of Iberia Cathedral, Pererva (now Moscow) Thon’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow, 1839-60
Russian Revival

The Russian Revival style (Russian: Псевдорусский, неорусский стиль) is the generic term for a number of different movements within Russian architecture, that arose in second quarter of the 19th century and was an eclectic melding of pre-Peterine Russian architecture and elements of Byzantine architecture.

The Russian Revival style arose within the framework the renewed interest in the national architecture, which evolved in Europe in the 1800s, and it is an interpretation and stylization of the Russian architectural heritage. Sometimes Russian Revival style is often erroneously called Russian or Old-Russian architecture, although the majority of Revival architects did not directly reproduce the old architectural tradition. Being instead a skillful stylization, the Russian Revival style was consecutively combined with other, international styles – from the architectural romanticism of first half of the 19th century to the modern style.

Cultural background

Like the romantic revivals of Western Europe the Russian revival was informed by a scholarly interest in the historic monuments of the nation. This historicism resonated with the popular nationalism and pan-Slavism of the period. The first illustrated account of Russian architecture was the project of Count Anatol Demidov and French draughtsman André Durand, the record of their 1839 tour of Russia was published in Paris in 1845 as Album du voyage pittoresque et archaéologique en Russie. Durand’s lithographs betray a foreigner’s sensitivity to the seeming alien-ness of Russian architecture displaying some curiously distorted features, and while they are on the whole fairly accurate representations the folios he produced belong to the genre of travel literature rather than historical inquiry. The attempt to discern the chronology and development of Russia’s building begins in earnest with I. M. Snegirev and A. A Martynov’s Russkaya starina v pamyatnikakh tserkovnago i grazhanskago zodchestva (Moscow, 1851). The state took an interest in this endeavour, sponsoring a series of folios published as Drevnosti rossiiskago gosudavstva (Moscow 1849-53 in 6 volumes) depicting antiquities and decorative works of art. By this time the Moscow Archaeological Society under took research on the subject, formalizing it as a field of study. A series of triennial conferences were instituted from 1869 until 1915, whose reports included studies of the architecture of the Kievian Rus and early Moscow periods. Perhaps the Society’s most significant achievement was the publication of the Kommissii po sokhraneniiu drevnikh pamyatnikov in 6 volumes between 1907 and 1915. Also the St. Petersburg Academy of fine Arts commissioned research from V. V. Suslov in the form of his two multi-volume works Panyatniki drevnyago russkago zodchestva (1895-1901, seven parts) and Pamyatniki drevne-russkago iskusstva (1908-12, 4 parts). With the application of positivist historical principals the chronology of Russian architecture was firmly established by the time of the publication of that definitive 6-volume survey of Russian art Istoriya russkogo isskustva (1909-17), edited by Igor Grabar, the appearance of the final volume was, however, interrupted by the revolution.



The first extant example of Byzantine Revival in Russian architecture, in fact the first example ever built, stands in Potsdam, Germany – a five-domed Church of Alexander Nevsky by Neoclassicist Vasily Stasov (builder of neoclassical Trinity Cathedral, St. Petersburg, father of critic Vladimir Stasov). Next year, in 1827, Stasov completed a larger five-domed Church of the Tithes in Kiev.

The Russo-Byzantine idea was carried forward by Konstantin Thon with firm approval by Nicholas I. Thon’s style embodied the idea of continuity between Byzantium and Russia, perfectly matching ideology of Nicholas I’s. Russian-Byzantine architecture is characterised by mixing composition methods and vaulted arches of Byzantine architecture with ancient Russian exterior ornaments, and were vividly realized in Thon’s ‘model projects’. In 1838, Nicholas I “pointed out” Thon’s book of model designs to all architects; more enforcement followed in 1841 and 1844. [1]

Buildings designed by Thon or based on Thon’s designs were: Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Grand Kremlin Palace and the Armoury in Moscow, also cathedrals in Sveaborg, Yelets, Tomsk, Rostov-on-Don and Krasnoyarsk.

Official enforcement of Byzantine architecture was, in fact, very limited: it applied only to new church construction, and to a lesser extent – to royal palaces. Private and public construction proceeded independently. Thon’s own public buildings, like the pseudo-Renaissance Nikolaevsky Terminal, lack any Byzantine features. A closer look at churches constructed in Nicholas reign reveals many first-rate neoclassical buildings, like the Elokhovo Cathedral in Moscow (1837-1845) by Yevgraph Tyurin[2]. Official Byzantine art was not absolute in Nicholas reign; it is actually scarce in our days, as the Byzantine churches, declared ‘worthless’ by Bolsheviks, where the first to be demolished in Soviet age.


Another direction taken by the Russian Revival style was a reaction against official Thon art, influenced by romanticism, Slavophilism and detailed studies of vernacular architecture. The forerunner of this trend in church design was Alexey Gornostaev (in his later years, 1848-1862), notable for reinventing Northern Russian tented roof motif augmented with Romanesque and Renaissance vault structure. An early extant example in civil arhitecture is the wooden Pogodinskaya cottage in Devichye Pole, Moscow, by Nikolai Nikitin (1856, photo).


Emancipation reform of 1861 and subsequent reforms of Alexander II pushed the liberal elite into exporing the roots of national culture. The first result of these studies in architecture was a birth of “folk” or Pseudo-Russian style, exemplified by 1870s works of Ivan Ropet (Terem in Abramtsevo, 1873) and Viktor Hartmann (Mamontov printing house, 1872). These artists, in alliance with Narodnik movement, idealized the peasant life and created their own vision of “vernacular” architecture. Another factor was the rejection of western eclectics that dominated civil construction of 1850s-1860s, a reaction against “decadent West”, pioneered by influential critic Vladimir Stasov.

Ivan Zabelin, a theorist of the movement, declared that “Russian Khoromy, grown naturally from peasants’ log cabins, retained the spirit of beautiful disorder… Beauty of a building is not in its proportions, but on the contrary, in the difference and independence of its parts” (“русские хоромы, выросшие органически из крестьянских клетей, естественно, сохраняли в своем составе облик красивого беспорядка… По понятиям древности первая красота здания заключалась не в соответствии частей, а напротив в их своеобразии, их разновидности и самостоятельности”).[3] As a result, “ropetovschina”, as Ropet’s foes branded his style, concentrated on hoarding together vivid but not matching pieces of vernacular architecture, notably high-pitched roofs, barrel roofs and wood tracery. Wood was the preferred material, since many fantasies could not be physically built in masonry. This was good and bad for “ropetovschina”. Bad, because wooden structures, especially those unconventionally shaped, were not scalable and had a very short life span. Very few survive to date. Good, because speed of construction and unorthodox looks were a perfect match for exhibition pavilions, coronation stands and similar short-term projects. The trend continued into 1900s (Fyodor Schechtel, 1901 draft) and 1920s (Ilya Golosov, 1923 draft).

For a short time in 1880s, a less radical version of Pseudo-Russian style, based on copying 17th century brick architecture, almost succeeded as the new official art. These buildings were built, as a rule, from the brick or whitestone, with the application of modern construction technology they began to be abundantly decorated in the traditions of Russian popular architecture. The characteristic architectural elements of this time, such as “pot-bellied” columns, low arched ceilings, narrow window-loop holes, tented roofs, frescoes with floral designs, use of multicolored tiles and massive forging, are manifest both in the external and in the internal decoration of these structures. A typical example is the Historical Museum (1875-81, architect Vladimir Sherwood) which completed the ensemble of Red Square in Moscow.


At the turn of the century, the Russian Orthodox Church experienced a new trend: construction of unusually large cathedrals in working-class suburbs of big cities. Some, like Dorogomilovo Ascension Cathedral (1898-1910), rated for 10,000 worshippers, were launched in quiet country outskirts that increased in population by the time of completion. Christian theorists explain the choice of such remote locations with the desire to extend the reach of Church to working class, and only working class, in the time when wealthier classes stepped away from it. [4] Byzantine architecture was a natural choice for these projects. It was a clear statement of national roots, against the modern European heresies. It was also much cheaper than grand Neoclassical cathedrals, both in initial costs and subsequent maintenance. The largest examples of this type were all comlpeted after the Russian revolution of 1905:
Dorogomilovo Cathedral, Moscow, 1898-1910
Our Lady of Iberia Cathedral in Nikolo-Perervinsky Monastery Cathedral, Pererva (now Moscow) 1904-1908
Kronstadt Naval Cathedral, 1908-1913

Balakovo church by Fyodor Schechtel, 1909-1912
St.Nicholas church by Belorusskaya Zastava in Moscow, 1914-1921


This article is based on a translation of Псевдорусский стиль from the Russian Wikipedia (January 2, 2006).

^ Russian: Власов, В.Г., “Большой энциклопедический словарь изобразительного искусства”, 2000, ст.”Русско-византийский стиль”
^ “Moscow. Monuments of Architecture, 18th – the first third of 19th century”, Moscow, Iskusstvo, 1975, p.331
^ Russian: Власов, В.Г., “Большой энциклопедический словарь изобразительного искусства”, 2000, ст.”Псевдо-русский стиль”
^ Russian: Елена Лебедева, “Храм Богоявления Господня в Дорогомилове”,

Moorish Revival Architecture

10 Jul
The Isaac M. Wise Temple, Cincinnati, Ohio Great Synagogue, Plzeň (Czech Republic) Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest (Hungary)
National Library, Sarajevo (Bosnia) Gran Teatro Falla, Cádiz (Spain) Arc de Triomf, Barcelona, 1888.
The Grand Choral Synagogue, St. Petersburg (Russia) Sofia Synagogue (Bulgaria) Palace of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Scottish Rites Temple, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Hunt & Burns, Architects 1912    
Tramway travelling along the Miljacka River, Sarajevo Old Temple Synagogue, Sarajevo Neue Synagoge (New Synagogue), Berlin
Serbian Orthodox Church, Dubrovnik Interior of the Great Synagogue on Dohány Street, Budapest Moorish-style interior of the Carvajal Mansion, Campeche
Above 6 images copyright Peter Langer,    
Under persecution in Christian Europe,  Jewish communities had been unable to develop a tradition of monumental architecture. After the emancipation of Jews in Europe, and the growth of large Jewish communities in America, it was possible to erect major worship buildings. The problem was what style to use: classical buildings called upon pagan Greco-Roman themes which many considered unsuitable for a Jewish worship space; and the Gothic style so dominant among Christians was equally unsuitable. One solution widely adopted was to make use of “Moorish” architecture – that is the architecture of Muslim Spain (or Andalusia). The relatively tolerant climate of Medieval Spain had been a golden age of Jewish culture, and it was believed that Muslim architecture had incorporated aspects of Jewish religious architecture. Thus the phenomenon of German Jewish (Ashkenazi) congregations adopting the style of Muslim Spain and the golden age of Sephardic Jewry. The first major examples of the style were Friedrich von Gartner’s Munich Synagogue of 1832 and Gottfried Semper’s Dreden Synagogue of 1837. The first American synagogue in this style was B’nai Jeshrun in Cicinnati in 1866.  Henry Fernbach , born in Germany and an immigrant to the US in 1855, could have known these buildings directly or through publications. At all events he used the style for several American synagogues.
Moorish revival synagogues
Munich synagogue, by Friedrich von Gärtner, 1832 was the earliest Moorish revival synagogue (destroyed on Kristallnacht) Semper Synagogue, by Gottfried Semper, Dresden, 1839–40 (destroyed on Kristallnacht) Leopoldstädter Tempel, Vienna, Austria, 1853-58 (destroyed on Kristallnacht)
Dohány Street Synagogue, Budapest (Hungary), 1854-1859 Leipzig synagogue 1855 (destroyed on Kristallnacht) Glockengasse synagogue, Cologne, Germany, 1855-61 (destroyed on Kristallnacht)
Tempel Synagogue, Cracow, Poland, 1860-62 Spanish Synagogue, Prague, 1868 Great Synagogue in Pilsen, Pilsen, Bohemia, Czech Republic, 1888
Czernowitz Synagogue, Czernowitz, 1873 Great Synagogue of Florence, Tempio Maggiore, Florence, 1874-82 Princes Road Synagogue, Liverpool, England, 1874
Prešov synagogue, Prešov, Slovakia, 1898 Manchester Jewish Museum, built as a Sephardic synagogue, Manchester, England, 1874 Sarajevo Synagogue 1902
Jubilee Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic, 1906 Rumbach Street synagogue, Budapest, Hungary, 1872 Košice synagogue, Košice, Slovakia, 1899, interior of Rundbogenstil building
United States    
Isaac M. Wise Temple,( also known as the Plum Street Temple) Cincinnati, Ohio, 1865 Congregation Ohab Zedek , Upper West Side, Manhattan, New York, 1926 Temple Emanu-El, on Fifth Avenue at 43rd Street, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York built in 1868, designed by Leopold Eidlitz, assisted by Henry Fernbach, (no longer standing)
Temple B’nai Sholom, Quincy, Illinois, 1870 Central Synagogue, Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York, 1872 Vine Street Temple, Nashville, Tennessee, 1874
B’nai Israel Synagogue (Baltimore), Maryland, 1876 Temple Adath Israel, Owensboro, Kentucky, 1877 Prince Street Synagogue (Oheb Shalom,) Newark, New Jersey, 1884
Eldridge Street Synagogue, Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York, 1887 Temple Beth-El, Corsicana, Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas, 1898-1900 Park East Synagogue, Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York, 1889
Gemiluth Chessed, Port Gibson, Mississippi, 1891 Congregation Beth Israel of Portland, Oregon, 1888 (no longer standing) Ohabei Shalom, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1925
Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia, 1866 (no longer standing) Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia, 1928  
Moorish RevivalMoorish Revival or Neo-Moorish is one of the exotic revival architectural styles that were adopted by architects of Europe and the Americas in the wake of the Romanticist fascination with all things oriental. It reached the height of its popularity after the mid-nineteenth century, part of a widening vocabulary of articulated decorative ornament beyond classical and Gothic modes. Little distinction was made in European and American practice between motifs drawn from Ottoman Turkey or from Andalusia.The “Moorish” garden structures built at Sheringham, Norfolk, ca. 1812, were an unusual touch at the time, a parallel to chinoiserie, but as early as 1826, Edward Blore used islamic arches, domes of various size and shapes and other details of Near Eastern Islamic architecture to great effect in his design for Alupka Palace in Crimea, a cultural setting that had already been penetrated by authentic Ottoman styles. By the mid-19th century, the style was adopted by the Jews of Central Europe, who associated mudejar architectural forms with the golden age of Jewry in medieval Muslim Spain. As a consequence, Moorish Revival spread around the globe as a preferred style of synagogue architecture.

In the United States, Washington Irving’s travel sketch, Tales of the Alhambra (1832) first brought Moorish Andalusia into readers’ imaginations; one of the first neo-Moorish structures was Iranistan, a mansion of P. T. Barnum in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Constructed in 1848 and demolished by fire ten years later, this architectural extravaganza “sprouted bulbous domes and horseshoe arches”.[1] In the 1860s, the style spread across America, with Olana, the painter Frederic Edwin Church’s house overlooking the Hudson River, Castle Garden in Jacksonville and Nutt’s Folly in Natchez, Mississippi usually cited among the more prominent examples. After the American Civil War, Moorish or Turkish smoking rooms achieved some popularity. There were Moorish details in the interiors created for the Havemeyer residence on Fifth Avenue by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The 1914 Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon incorporates Turkish design features, as well as French, English, and Italian ones; the smoking room in particular has notable Moorish revival elements. In 1937, the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota added unusual minarets and Moorish domes, unusual because the polychrome decorations are made out of corn cobs of various colors assembled like mosaic tiles to create patterns. The 1891 Tampa Bay Hotel, whose minarets and Moorish domes are now the pride of the University of Tampa, was a particularly extravagant example of the style. Other schools with Moorish Revival buildings include Yeshiva University in New York City.

Although Carlo Bugatti employed Moorish arcading among the exotic features of his furniture, shown at the 1902 exhibition at Turin, by that time the Moorish Revival was very much on the wane everywhere but Imperial Russia, where the shell-encrusted Morozov House in Moscow (a stylisation of a Portuguese palace in Sintra) and the Neo-Mameluk palaces of Koreiz exemplify the continuing development of the style, and in Bosnia, where the Austrian government commissioned a range of Neo-Moorish structures. This included application of ornamentations and other Moorish design strategies neither of which had much to do with prior architectural direction of indigenous Bosnian architecture. Post office in Sarajevo for example follows distinct formal characteristics of design like clarity of form, symmetry, and proportion while the interior followed the same doctrine. Library in Sarajevo is an example of Pseudo Moorish architectural language using decorations and pointed arches while still integrating other formal elements into the design.

In Spain, the country conceived as the place of origin of Moorish ornamentation, the interest in this sort of architecture fluctuated from province to province. The main stream was called Neo-Mudéjar. In Catalonia, Antoni Gaudí’s profound interest in Mudéjar heritage governed the design of his early works, such as Casa Vicens or Astorga Palace. In Andalusia, the Neo-Mudéjar style gained belated popularity in connection with the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 and was epitomized by Plaza de España (Seville) and Gran Teatro Falla in Cádiz. In Madrid, the Neo-Mudéjar was a characteristic style of housing and public buildings at the turn of the century, while the 1920s return of interest to the style resulted in such buildings as Las Ventas bull ring and Diario ABC office.

Moorish Revival Theaters in America
Theater City and State Architect Date
Bagdad Portland, Oregon Thomas & Mercier 1927
Granada Emporia, Kansas Boller Brothers 1929
Keiths Flushing Queens, New York Thomas Lamb 1928
Alhambra Birmingham, Alabama Graven & Maygar 1927
Olympic Miami, Florida John Eberson 1926
Fox Atlanta, Georgia Mayre, Alger & Vinour 1929
Alhambra Hopkinsville, Kentucky John Walker 1928
Temple Meridian, Mississippi Emile Weil 1927
Saenger Hattiesburg, Mississippi Emile Weil 1929
Fox North Platte, Nebraska Elmer F. Behrens 1929
Civic Akron, Ohio John Eberson 1929
Palace Canton, Ohio John Eberson 1926
Palace Marion, Ohio John Eberson 1928
Sooner Norman, Oklahoma Harold Gimeno 1929
Plaza El Paso, Texas W. Scott Donne 1930
Majestic San Antonio, Texas John Eberson 1929
Tower Los Angeles, California S. Charles Lee 1927
Alhambra San Francisco, California Miller & Pfleuger 1925
Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee Graven & Mayger 1928
Loews Richmond, Virginia John Eberson 1928
Music Box Chicago, Illinois Louis J. Simon 1929

Theatres outside the United States
Theater Photo City and State Country Architect Date
State/Forum Theatre Melbourne, Victoria Australia Bohringer, Taylor & Johnson 1929
Eastern Arcade (former Palace/Metro Theatre) Melbourne, Victoria Australia Hyndman & Bates 1894 (demolished in 2008)

Shriners Temples

The Shriners, a fraternal organization, often chose a Moorish Revival style for their Temples. Architecturally notable Shriners Temples include:
New York City Center, now used as a concert hall
Medinah Temple, Chicago, built by architects Huehl and Schmidt in 1912.
Tripoli Shrine Temple, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1929.
Almas Temple, (1929,) 1315 O St., Washington. D.C.
Zembo Mosque, Harrisburg, PA

Templeton’s Carpet Factory, Glasgow, Scotland, 1889
Former Yenidze Cigarette Factory, Dresden, Germany, 1908 (here, the “minarets” are used to disguise smokestacks)

Naylor, David, Great American Movie Theaters, The Preservation Press, Washington D.C., 1987
Thorne, Ross, Picture Palace Architecture in Australia, Sun Books Pty. Ltd., South Melbourne, Australia, 1976

^ John C. Poppeliers, S. Allen Chambers Jr. What Style Is It: A Guide to American Architecture. ISBN 0-471-25036-8. Page 63.

Bristol Byzantine Architecture

10 Jul
St Vincent’s Works   The Colston Hall from an engraving.
Carriage Works (1862) Clarks Wood Company warehouse (1863) Former Gardiners offices (1865-1867)
Wool Hall, Bristol (1830) Granary, Bristol. Warehouse premises of Hardware (Bristol) Limited (1882)
Bristol ByzantineBristol Byzantine is a variety of Neo-Byzantine architecture that was popular in the city of Bristol from about 1850 to 1880.Many buildings in the style have been destroyed or demolished, but notable surviving examples include the Colston Hall, the Granary on Welsh Back, the Gloucester Road Carriage Works, and several of the buildings around Victoria Street. Several of the warehouses around the harbour have survived including the Arnolfini which now houses an art gallery. Clarks Wood Company warehouse and the St Vincent’s Works in Silverthorne Lane and the Wool Hall in St Thomas Street are other survivors from the 19th century.


Bristol Byzantine has influences from Byzantine and Moorish architecture applied mainly to industrial buildings such as warehouses and factories.

The style is characterised by a robust and simple outline, materials with character and colour including red, yellow black and white brick primarily from the Cattybrook Brickpit.

Several buildings included archways and upper floors unified through either horizontal or vertical grouping of window openings.

The first building with some of the characteristics generally thought of a Bristol Byzantine is Bush House, which is now known as the Arnolfini a 19th century Grade II* listed tea warehouse situated on the side of the Floating Harbour in Bristol city centre. The architect was Richard Shackleton Pope, who constructed first the south part of the warehouse (1831) then extended it to the north in 1835-6. It has a rock-faced plinth, three storeys of rectangular windows recessed within tall round arches, and a shallow attic.

The style may have come about as a result of the an acquaintance between William Venn Gough and Archibald Ponton, who designed the Granary and John Addington Symonds the Bristol-born historian of the Italian renaissance. The term Bristol Byzantine is thought to have been invented by Sir John Summerson.


Robinson’s Warehouse (1874).
R. Milverton Drake
? Foster
William Bruce Gingell
Edward William Godwin
William Venn Gough
John Henry Hirst
Thomas Royse Lysaght
Archibald Ponton
Richard Shackleton Pope
? Wood

Examples of buildings in the Byzantine architecture style

Colston Hall (1860s)
Gardiners warehouse (1865)
Granary, Bristol (1869)
35 King Street (c. 1870)
Robinson’s Warehouse (1874)

Bristol Byzantine in the arts

Bristol Byzantine is also the name of a track by The Blue Aeroplanes on their 2006 album ‘Altitude’.

^ “The Colston Hall”. Images of England. Retrieved on 2007-03-13.
^ “No.104 The Carriage Works”. Images of England. Retrieved on 2007-05-02.
^ “Bush House”. Images of England. Retrieved on 2006-08-18.
^ “Clarks Wood Company warehouse”. Images of England. Retrieved on 2007-05-15.
^ “St Vincent’s Works and attached front area railings”. Images of England. Retrieved on 2007-05-02.
^ “No.12 The Wool Hall, including the Fleece and Firkin Public House”. Images of England. Retrieved on 2007-05-12.
^ “Bristol Byzantine”. Looking at Buildings. Retrieved on 2007-05-19.
^ “Bush House”. Images of England. Retrieved on 2006-08-18.
^ “Bush House”. Looking at Buildings. Retrieved on 2007-05-19.
^ Brace, Keith (1996). Portrait of Bristol. London: Robert Hale. ISBN 0709154356.

Rundbogenstyl Architecture

10 Jul
Congregation K’Hal Adath Jeshurun, NY Ottendorfer Branch, NY Public Library, NY Joseph Papp Public Theater, NY
Cooper Union Foundation Building, NY DeVinne Press, NY Puck Building , NY
Term used to describe an architectural style that began and flourished in Germany in the second quarter of the 19th century, with parallels, mostly later, in other northern European countries and the USA, and which survived much longer as a utilitarian style. Based on the structural unit of the round arch, or Rundbogen, it has frequently been confused with Romanesque Revival architecture. The Rundbogenstil, however, was not a historical revival; instead, it was among the first architectural movements to insist that form be derived not from history but according to abstract notions of utility and objectivity. By placing issues of planning and construction above those of formal composition and ornament, the Rundbogenstil was an important forerunner to 20th-century architecture, bringing Germany for the first time to a position of international prominence in architectural theory.

Neo-Byzantine architecture

10 Jul
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia, by Alexander Pomerantsev. Interior of St. Vladimir’s Cathedral in Kiev The Edwardian Neo-Byzantine façade of Westminster Cathedral, London
New Athos Monastery in Abkhazia. Painting of the Neuschwanstein Castle Throne Room. Romano-Byzantine style Cathedral de la Major (1852-93) in Marseilles
St. Mark’s Church, Belgrade. Novodevichy Cemetery church in St. Petersburg. Temple of Holy Trinity and St. Spiridio, Trieste
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, Paris Paul Abadie, 1914 “Romano-Byzantine” Christuskirche in Matzleindorf, 1858—1860 Naval Cathedral in Kronstadt.

Neo-Byzantine architecture

Neo-Byzantine architecture is an architectural revival style, most frequently seen in religious, institutional and public buildings. It emerged in 1840s in Western Europe and peaked in the last quarter of 19th century in the Russian Empire; an isolated Neo-Byzantine school was active in Yugoslavia between World War I and World War II. Neo-Byzantine architecture incorporates elements of the Byzantine style associated with Eastern and Orthodox Christian architecture dating from the 5th through 11th centuries, notably that of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) and the Exarchate of Ravenna.

German countries

Earliest example of emerging Byzantine-Romanesque architecture was the Abbey of Saint Boniface, laid down by Ludwig I of Bavaria in 1835 and completed in 1840. The basilica followed the rules of 6th century Ravenna architecture, although its corinthian order was a clear deviation from the historical Byzantine art. In 1876 Ludwig II of Bavaria commissioned Neo-Byzantine interiors of the Neuschwanstein Castle, complete with mosaic images of Justinian I and Greek saints.

Theophil von Hansen became an Austian supporter of the style in 1850s. His major works belonged to Neo-Grec style, however, Hansen as a professor of Byzantine art in University of Vienna shaped a generation of architects that popularized Neo-Byzantine architecture in Austro-Hungary, Serbia and post-war Yugoslavia. Hansen’s own Neo-Byzantine work include the Greek Church of Trinity (1856—1858) in Vienna and Chistuskirche in Matzleindorf (1858—1860).


Sophia Cathedral in Pushkin (1782—1788) was the earliest and isolated experiment with Byzantine treatment of otherwise neoclassical structures. In 1830s Nicholas I of Russia promoted the so-called Russo-Byzantine style of churches designed by Konstantin Thon. Nicholas I despised true Byzantine art; Thon’s style in fact had little common with it. Notably, Thon routinely replaced the circular Byzantine arch with a keel-shaped gable, and the hemispherical Byzantine dome with an onion dome; layout and structural scheme of his churches clearly belonged to neoclassical standard.

True Byzantine art, popularized by Grigory Gagarin and David Grimm, was adopted by Alexander II of Russia as the de-facto official style of the Orthodox Church. Byzantine arhitecture became a vehicle of Orthodox expansion on the frontiers of Empire (Congress Poland, Crimea, the Caucasus). However, few buildings were completed in Alexander II reign due to financial troubles. Alexander III changed state preference in favor of Russian Revival trend based on 16th-17th century Moscow and Yaroslavl tradition, yet Byzantine architecture remained a common choice, especially for large cathedrals. Neo-Byzantine cathedrals concentrated in the western provinces (Poland, Lithuania), the Army bases in Caucasus and Central Asia, the Cossack hosts and the industrial region in Urals around the city of Perm. Architects David Grimm and Vasily Kosyakov developed a unique national type of a single-dome Byzantine cathedral with four symmetrical pendetive apses that became de-facto standard in 1880s-1890s.

The reign of Nicholas II was notable for the architects’s turn from this standard back to Hagia Sophia legacy, peaking in the Naval Cathedral in Kronstadt and Poti cathedral. These designs employed reinforced concrete that allowed very fast construction schedule; their interiors contained clear references to contemporary Art Nouveau yet the exteriors were a clear homage to medieval Constantinople. Russian Neo-Byzantine tradition was terminated by the revolution of 1917 but was continued by emigrant architects in Yugoslavia and Harbin.

United States

In the United States and elsewhere, the Neo-Byzantine style is often seen in vernacular amalgamations with other Medieval revivalist styles such as Romanesque and Gothic, or even with the Mission Revival or Spanish Colonial Revival styles.

Notable American examples include many buildings on the campus of Rice University in Texas, the Throne Room of the Neuschwanstein Castle which is modelled after Hagia Sophia, St. Francis de Sales Church in Philadelphia, Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception built between 1920 and 1959 in Washington, D.C. In the early 1980s, famed American architect Philip Johnson designed a Post-Modernist addition to the Cleveland Play House that reflects Byzantine influences, and could thus be termed Neo-Byzantine.

United Kingdom

From about 1850 to 1880 in the English city of Bristol a related style known as Bristol Byzantine was popular for industrial buildings which combined elements of the Byzantine style with Moorish architecture.


Neo-Byzantine architecture in Russia: St Nicholas Cathedral in Kronstadt.
Neo-Byzantine architecture in Russia: St Nicholas Cathedral in Kronstadt.
Neo-Byzantine architecture is an architectural revival style, of the mid- to late 19th and early 20th centuries, most frequently seen in religious, institutional and public buildings. Neo-Byzantine architecture incorporates elements of the Byzantine style associated with Eastern and Orthodox Christian architecture dating from the 5th through 11th centuries, notably that of Byzantium (Constantinople, or modern-day Istanbul).

The style is characterized by round arches, vaults and domes, brick and stucco surfaces, symbolic ornamentation, and the use of decorative mosaics. It was developed primarily in Imperial Russia and Eastern Europe, where it evolved a long way from Sophia Cathedral of 1782 to Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia of 1882. It was popularized in Russia by Konstantin Ton, who combined it with Neoclassical and Russian Revival stylistic elements at will.

Notable American examples include many buildings on the campus of Rice University in Texas, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception built between 1920 and 1959 in Washington, D.C. In the early 1980s, famed American architect Philip Johnson designed a Post-Modernist addition to the Cleveland Play House that reflects Byzantine influences, and could thus be termed Neo-Byzantine.

In the United States and elsewhere, the Neo-Byzantine style is often seen in vernacular amalgamations with other Medieval revivalist styles such as Romanesque and Gothic, or even with the Mission Revival or Spanish Colonial Revival styles.

NeoRomanesque / Romanesque Revival Architecture

10 Jul
Neuschwanstein, Bavaria , Leo von Klenze & Christian Jank, 1868 Ludwigskirche, Munich, 1829. Friedrich von Gartner Leeds Corn Exchange, Cuthbert Brodrick  1860
Union Station at Providence, Rhode Island Central Market, Lancaster, PA, 1889 James H. Warner Nazaret Kirke Copenhagen, Denmark
The Royce Hall, at UCLA, inspired by The Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan, Italy Neo-Romanesque details in a neo-Renaisssance structure:New York State Capitol, Albany, New York Iglesia Metodista Unida de Sur Tres , Brooklyn, NY
Royal Museum, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, Scotland Temple Emanu-El, New York Boys’ High School, Brooklyn, NY
Federal Archive Building, New York Richardsonian Romanesque: Bexar County Courthouse, San Antonio, Texas St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Sydney, Australia.
PYR02-05.jpg (73126 bytes)     cbd010b.jpg (67628 bytes)                       cbd3-017-03.jpg (79004 bytes)
Former John Taylor Warehouse, Sydney, Australia. Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, Australia.  Shelbourne Hotel, Sydney, Australia.
In the first decade of the nineteenth century, Napoleon Bonaparte established a new Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. The publications of J.-N. L Durand, its professor of architecture, introduced architects in many European countries to the author’s ideas about the need for a rational expression of masonry construction. Durand based his essentially utilitarian brand of architecture on those historical styles which used semicircular arched openings of moderate size set in substantial, plain stone walling: Florentine Renaissance, Byzantine, Early Christian, and Romanesque. Durand’s doctrines were especially influential in Germany, where the round-arched idiom, known as the Rundbogenstil, was used in Munich in the 1820s by such eminent architects as Leo von Klenze and Friedrich von Gartner. In Britain there were a few minor forays into the Romanesque style for churches in the 1840s, even as the Gothic Revival grew from a trickle to a torrent, and Cuthbert Brodrick’s impressive Corn Exchange of 1860—63 in Leeds has Rundbogenstil façades of rugged stonework. The United States also provides us with occasional examples of a freely interpreted Romanesque style, such as the Union Station at Providence, Rhode Island, begun in 1848 to the design of Thomas A. Teift.
Romanesque Revival (or Neo-Romanesque) is a style of building employed in the late 19th century inspired by the 11th and 12th century Romanesque style of architecture. Popular features of these revival buildings are round arches, semi-circular arches on windows, and belt courses. Unlike the classical Romanesque style, however, Romanesque Revival buildings tended to feature more simplified arches and windows than their historic counterparts. The style was quite popular for courthouses and university campuses in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, perhaps the best-known of these being the University of California, Los Angeles. The style was widely used for churches, and occasionally for synagogues such as the Congregation Emanu-El of New York on Fifth Avenue built in 1929.

By far the most prominent and influential American architect working in a free “Romanesque” manner is Henry Hobson Richardson. In the United States the style derived from examples set by him are termed “Richardsonian Romanesque“.

Richardsonian Romanesque

10 Jul
Allegheny County Courthouse Pittsburgh, PA Crane Library, Quincy, MA Ames Library, North Easton, MA
Oakes Ames Memorial Hall Albany City Hall NY Trinity Church, Boston
Sever Hall, Cambridge, MA Glessner House Chicago  
By other architects:    
Richardsonian Romanesque has both French and Spanish Romanesque characteristics, as seen in the First Presbyterian Church in Detroit, Michigan, by architects George D. Mason and Zachariah Rice in 1891 Pueblo Union Depot in Pueblo, Colorado, James A. McGonigle of Leavenworth, Kansas and Sprague and Newall of Chicago, Illinois, architects, 1889-90 Residential Richardsonian Romanesque & detail, Denver, Colorado
Starkweather Chapel, Ypsilanti, Michigan; George D. Mason of Detroit, Michigan, architect, 1888: Clearly-articulated clustered forms in a mock-military exercise in rustication The High Service Building at Chestnut Hill Water Works, Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts; Arthur H. Vinal, architect, 1887 Cupples House on the campus of Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, 1888-1890
Minneapolis City Hall, Franklin Bidwell Long and Frederick G. Kees, architects, finished 1906 Cincinnati City Hall, Samuel Hannaford, architect, completed 1893. Clocktower of Toronto City Hall, E. J. Lennox, architect, 1889-99: arcading and rusticated brownstone
Ontario Legislature, Toronto, Ontario The Lee County, Texas Courthouse, 1899: cautious Romanesque features applied to a conservative design Pillsbury Hall, on the University of Minnesota–Minneapolis campus; LeRoy Buffington, architect, Harvey Ellis, designer, 1887
Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh. Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, architects. 1898. Macdonald-Stewart Library Building, McGill University, completed in 1893 by Sir Andrew Taylor Salt Lake City and County Building, Salt Lake City, Utah, Monheim, Bird, and Proudfoot architects, 1894
Brooklyn General Post Office, Cadman Plaza. Mifflin E. Bell, 1885-91 James J. Hill House 240 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota. Peabody & Stearns; Mark Fitzpatrick, architects, completed 1891. Orton Hall, The Ohio State University, completed 1893.
Old Federal Courts Building, St. Paul MN (now Landmark Center), (Willoughby J. Edbrooke, designed 1892,‎ completed 1901). Durand Art Institute, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois. Henry Ives Cobb architect, completed 1891. The Barbour County Courthouse in Philippi, West Virginia, completed 1905.
The H.H. Richardson Complex in Buffalo, New York, first building using the Richardsonian Romanesque style Old City Hall in Fort Wayne, Indiana, completed in 1893.  
Richardsonian Romanesque

Richardsonian Romanesque is a style of American architecture named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson, whose masterpiece is Trinity Church, Boston (1872–77)

History and development

This very free revival style incorporates 11th and 12th century southern French, Spanish and Italian Romanesque characteristics. It emphasizes clear strong picturesque massing, round-headed “Romanesque” arches, often springing from clusters of short squat columns, recessed entrances, richly varied rustication, boldly blank stretches of walling contrasting with bands of windows, and cylindrical towers with conical caps embedded in the walling.

The style epitomizes work by the generation of architects practising in the 1880s— before the influx of Beaux-Arts styles— such as J. Cleaveland Cady of Cady, Bird and See in New York City, whose American Museum of Natural History’s original 77th Street range epitomizes “Richardsonian Romanesque.” Some of the practitioners who most faithfully followed Richardson’s proportion, massing and detailing had worked in his office. These include Wadsworth Longfellow and Frank Alden (Longfellow, Alden & Harlow of Boston & Pittsburgh); George Shepley and Charles Coolidge (Richardson’s former employees, Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge of Boston); and Herbert Burdett (Marling & Burdett of Buffalo). The style influenced the Chicago school of architecture and architects Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. In Finland, Eliel Saarinen was influenced by Richardson.


Research is currently ongoing to try to document the westward movement of the artisans and craftsmen, many immigrant Italians and Irish, who built in the Richardsonian Romanesque tradition. The style began in the East, in and around Boston and while it was losing favor there it was gaining popularity further west. Thus stone carvers and masons trained in the Richardsonian manner appear to have surfed the style west, until it died out in the early years of the 20th century.

As an example, four small bank buildings were built in Richardsonian Romanesque style in Osage County, Oklahoma, during 1904-1911.

Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson developed this rugged, forceful style in the 1870s. It was called “Romanesque” because the buildings had wide, rounded arches like in ancient Rome. This style was best suited for grand public buildings, because building with massive stone walls is expensive, so only wealthy people ever used it for their homes. It is similar to Gothic in form and detail, but Romanesque buildings use rounded, instead of pointed arches. A deeply recessed entrance using the arch form is a signature of the style.

Romanesque houses usually have many of these features:
Rough-faced, square stones used for walls
Round towers with cone-shaped roofs
Columns and pilasters with spirals and leaf designs
Low, broad “Roman” arches over doorways
Patterned masonry arches over windows

The forms of the Romanesque Revival actually derive from the 11th and 12-century architecture of France and Spain, although the style enjoyed a resurgence in the 1880s partly due to the work of architect Henry Hobson Richardson. It was used for many building types, including houses, clubs, and commercial buildings, before its popularity ended in the late 1890s. 

Click for Larger View

Common characteristics are:

-heavy, rough-cut stone walls
-round arches and squat columns
-deeply recessed windows
-pressed metal bays and turrets

Egyptian Revival Architecture

8 Jul
Medical College of Virginia, 1845 Courthouse, Independence, Missouri, ca 1852 The entrance to the Egyptian Avenue in Highgate Cemetery in London, England.
Egyptian Theater, DeKalb, Illinois First Presbyterian Church, William Strickland, Nashville, TN, 1951 Dodge Brothers Mausoleum, Detroit
Lowenstein mausoleum in Sha’arai Shomayim Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama. mausoleum of Maj. A.B. Watson, Oakhill Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Michigan Philadelphia
the 1856 Skull & Bones undergraduate secret society at Yale. Architect’s attribution in dispute, but may also be Henry Austin of the Grove Street Cemetery Gates. the 1845 Hobart Synagogue, Tasmania, Australia. The Tombs, and 1838 prison and court complex in New York City.
  the 1845 massive brownstone entry gates of the Grove Street Cemetery at Yale by architect Henry Austin.  
Egyptian Revival architecture

Quay in Saint Petersburg, with two sphynxes of Amenhotep III brought from Egypt in 1832.

Egyptian Revival is an architectural style that makes use of the motifs and imagery of Ancient Egypt. It is generatlly dated to the enthusiasm for Ancient Egypt generated by Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt and, in Britain, to Admiral Nelson’s defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile. Napoleon took a scientific expedition with him to Egypt. Publication of the expedition’s work, the Description de l’Egypte, becan in 1809 and came out in a series though 1826. However, works of art and, in the field of architecture, funerary monuments in the Egyptian style had appeared in scattered European settings from the time of the Renaissance.

Egyptian Revival architecture before Napoleon

The most important example is probably Bernini’s obelisk in the Piazza navona at Rome. Bernini’s obelisk influenced the obelisk constructed as a family funeral memorial by Sir Edward Lovatt Pierce for the Allen family at Stillorgan in Ireland in 1717, one of several early eighteenth century Egyptian obelisks erected in Ireland in the early eighteenth century. others may be found at Belan, County Kildare and Dangan, County Meath. The Casteltown Folly in County Kildare is probably the best know, albeit the least Egyptian, of these obelisks.

Egyptian buildings had also appeared as garden follies. The most elaborate was probably the one built by the Duke of Württemberg in the garden’s of the Château de Montbéliard. It included an Egyptian bridge across which guests walked to reach an island with an Egyptian swing and a an alaborate Egyptian “bath house.” The building featured a billiards room and a “bagnio.” It was designed by the duke’s court architect, Jean Baptiste Kleber.

Egyptian revival in the wake of Napoleon

What was new in the wake of the Napoleonic invasion was the sudden leap in the number of works of art and the fact that, for the first time, European buildings began to be built to resemble those of ancient Egypt.

The first of the Egyptian style builings was a newspaper office. The Courier, a London newspaper, built a new office on the Strand in London in 1804. It fearured a cavetto (coved ) cornice and a pair of Egyptian looking columns with palmiform capitals.(See: Egyptomania; Egypt in Western Art; 1730-1930, Jean-marcel Humbert, Michael Pantazzi and Christiane Ziegler, 1994, pp. 172-3)

The most important building of the Egyptian revival in France was the Egyptian Temple in the Place des Victories, built as a memorial to generals Desaix and Kleber. The conrnerstone was laid on 19 Fructidor Year VIII (Sept. 6, 1800.)

An Egyptian Revival building that can still be seen in paris is the 1812 Fountain of the Fellah, Rue de Sevres, by Francois-Jean Bralle.

The Egyptian Hall in London, completed in 1812, and the Egyptian Gallery, a private room in the home of connoisseur Thomas Hope to display his Egyptian antiquities, and illustrated in engravings from his meticulous line drawings in his Household Furniture (1807), were a prime source for the Regency style in British furnishings.

The cemetery at Highgate, with its Egyptian Avenue, is an example of the popularity Egyptian style continued to enjoy as funerary architecture.

In Russia, this wave — associated primarily with the discoveries of Champollion — produced similar monuments:
Egyptian Bridge
Quay (1832-1834) designed by Konstantin Thon in front of the Imperial Academy of Arts building
Egyptian Gate
The Regional Studies Museum in Krasnoyarsk

The Regional Studies Museum in Krasnoyarsk

In the Middle East

The National Museum of Beirut.

Unsurprisingly, a number of buildings in Middle Eastern countries, especially Egypt itself, have been built in this style, where it competed with versions of the Indo-Saracenic style, a revival of the style medieval Islamic architecture in Egypt, as well as Western styles. The National Museum of Beirut, completed in 1937, is an example. A number of entries for the competition for the proposed Grand Egyptian Museum near the Pyramids mixed modernism with various elements of Ancient Egyptian tomb and temple architecture.

Twentieth century

The expeditions that eventually led to the discovery in 1922 of the treasure of Tutankhamun’s tomb by the archaeologist Howard Carter led to a third revival. Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, USA, now home to the American Cinematheque, is an Egyptian Revival theatre from the era. Interestingly, the Egyptian Theatre was designed, built and opened in October 1922, two weeks before the historic discovery in November 1922 of the tomb.

The Reebie Storage Warehouse in Chicago, Illinois, features twin statues of Ramses II and accurate use of ancient Egyptian images and hieroglyphics. Plaster reliefs depict ancient Egyptians moving grain on barges. The warehouse is one of the nation’s best examples of pure academic-style Egyptian Revival commercial architecture, and is designated as a Chicago Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Simultaneously, Aleksey Shchusev designed Lenin’s Mausoleum with many elements borrowed from the Pyramid of Djoser. The Egyptian revival of the 1920s is sometimes considered to be part of the Art Deco decorative arts movement. It was present in furniture and other household objects, as well as in architecture.

The Louvre Pyramid in Paris and Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California, are modern-day examples of Egyptian Revival structures. Additionally, Rosicrucian Park contains many examples of Egyptian Revival architecture.

The 1833 First Presbyterian Church (Sag Harbor) by Minard Lafever, a rare example of an Egyptian revival church.

Japanese architecture history

5 Jul

Japanese architecture (日本建築, Nihon kenchiku?) has as long a history as any other aspect of Japanese culture. Originally heavily influenced by Chinese architecture, it has also developed many differences and aspects which are indigenous to Japan.

Prehistoric period

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Reconstructed pit dwelling houses in Toro, Shizuoka

2nd or 3th CenturyThere are no extant examples of prehistoric architecture, and the oldest Japanese texts, such as Kojiki and Nihonshoki hardly mention architecture at all. Excavations and researches show these houses had thatched roofs and dirt floors. Houses in areas of high temperature and humidity had wooden floors. With the spread of rice cultivation from China, communities became increasingly larger and more complex, and large scale buildings for the local ruling family or rice storage houses are seen in Sannai-Maruyama site (before 2nd century BC) in Aomori or Yoshinogari site in Saga (before 3rd century BC).

After the 3rd century, a centralized administrative system was developed and many keyhole-shaped Kofun were built in Osaka and Nara for the aristocracy. Among many examples in Nara and Osaka, the most notable is Daisen-kofun, designated as the tomb of Emperor Nintoku. This kofun is approximately 486 by 305 m, rising to a height of 35 m.

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Hondo at Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto Built in 1633

Asuka and Nara architecture

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Kondo and pagoda at Hōryū-ji, Nara Built in 7th century

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Shōsōin at Todaiji, Nara

Built in 8th centuryThe earliest Buddhist structures still extant in Japan, and the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world are found at the Hōryū-ji to the southwest of Nara. They serve as the core examples of architecture in Asuka period. First built in the early 7th century as the private temple of Crown Prince Shotoku consists of 41 independent buildings; the most important ones, the main worship hall, or Kondo (Golden Hall), and Goju-no-to (Five-story Pagoda), stand in the center of an open area surrounded by a roofed cloister. The Kondo, in the style of Chinese worship halls, is a two-story structure of post-and-beam construction, capped by an irimoya, or hipped-gabled roof of ceramic tiles.

Temple building in the 8th century was focused around the Tōdaiji in Nara. Constructed as the headquarters for a network of temples in each of the provinces, the Tōdaiji is the most ambitious religious complex erected in the early centuries of Buddhist worship in Japan. Appropriately, the 16.2-m (53-ft) Buddha (completed in 752) enshrined in the main hall, or Daibutsuden, is a Rushana Buddha, the figure that represents the essence of Buddhahood, just as the Tōdai-ji represented the center for imperially sponsored Buddhism and its dissemination throughout Japan. Only a few fragments of the original statue survive, and the present hall and central Buddha are reconstructions from the Edo period. Clustered around the Daibutsuden on a gently sloping hillside are a number of secondary halls: the Hokkedo (Lotus Sutra Hall), with its principal image, the Fukukenjaku Kannon (the most popular bodhisattva), crafted of dry lacquer (cloth dipped in lacquer and shaped over a wooden armature); the Kaidanin (Ordination Hall) with its magnificent clay statues of the Four Guardian Kings; and the storehouse, called the Shosoin. This last structure is of great importance as an art-historical cache, because in it are stored the utensils that were used in the temple’s dedication ceremony in 752, the eye-opening ritual for the Rushana image, as well as government documents and many secular objects owned by the imperial family.

Heian period

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Kondo at Daigo-ji, Kyoto Built in 12th century

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Phoenix Hall at Byodoin, Uji Built in 1053

In reaction to the growing wealth and power of organized Buddhism in Nara, the priest Kūkai (best known by his posthumous title Kobo Daishi, 774-835) journeyed to China to study Shingon, a form of Vajrayana Buddhism, which he introduced into Japan in 806. At the core of Shingon worship are the various mandalas, diagrams of the spiritual universe which influenced temple design. Japanese Buddhist architecture also adopted the stupa in its Chinese form of pagoda.

The temples erected for this new sect were built in the mountains, far away from the court and the laity in the capital. The irregular topography of these sites forced Japanese architects to rethink the problems of temple construction, and in so doing to choose more indigenous elements of design. Cypress-bark roofs replaced those of ceramic tile, wood planks were used instead of earthen floors, and a separate worship area for the laity was added in front of the main sanctuary.

In the Fujiwara period, Pure Land Buddhism, which offered easy salvation through belief in Amida (the Buddha of the Western Paradise), became popular. Concurrently, the Kyoto nobility developed a society devoted to elegant aesthetic pursuits. So secure and beautiful was their world that they could not conceive of Paradise as being much different. The Amida hall, blending the secular with the religious, houses one or more Buddha images within a structure resembling the mansions of the nobility.

The Ho-o-do (Phoenix Hall, completed 1053) of the Byodoin, a temple in Uji to the southeast of Kyoto, is the exemplar of Fujiwara Amida halls. It consists of a main rectangular structure flanked by two L-shaped wing corridors and a tail corridor, set at the edge of a large artificial pond. Inside, a single golden image of Amida (circa 1053) is installed on a high platform. The Amida sculpture was executed by Jocho, who used a new canon of proportions and a new technique (yosegi), in which multiple pieces of wood are carved out like shells and joined from the inside. Applied to the walls of the hall are small relief carvings of celestials, the host believed to have accompanied Amida when he descended from the Western Paradise to gather the souls of believers at the moment of death and transport them in lotus blossoms to Paradise. Raigo (Descent of the Amida Buddha) paintings on the wooden doors of the Ho-o-do are an early example of Yamato-e, Japanese-style painting, because they contain representations of the scenery around Kyoto.

Kamakura and Muromachi period

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Sanjūsangen-dō, Kyoto Built in 1266

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Ginkakuji, Kyoto Built in 15th century

After the Kamakura period, Japanese political power was dominated by the armed Samurai, such as Seiwa Genji. Their simple and sturdy ideas affected the architecture style, and many samurai houses are a mixture of shinden-zukuri and turrets or trenches.

In the Genpei War (1180-1185), many traditional buildings in Nara and Kyoto were damaged. For example, Kofukuji and Todaiji were burned down by Taira no Shigehira of the Taira clan in 1180. Many of these temples and shrines were rebuilt in the Kamakura period by the Kamakura shogunate to consolidate the shogun’s authority. This program was carried out in such an extensive scale that many of temples and shrines built after the Kamakura period were influenced by this architectural style.

Another major development of the period was the tea ceremony and the tea house in which it was held. The purpose of the ceremony is to spend time with friends who enjoy the arts, to cleanse the mind of the concerns of daily life, and to receive a bowl of tea served in a gracious and tasteful manner. Zen was the basic philosophy. The rustic style of the rural cottage was adopted for the tea house, emphasizing such natural materials as bark-covered logs and woven straw.

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Himeji castle Built in 16th century

Two new forms of architecture were developed in response to the militaristic climate of the times: the castle, a defensive structure built to house a feudal lord and his soldiers in times of trouble; and the shoin, a reception hall and private study area designed to reflect the relationships of lord and vassal within a feudal society. Himeji Castle (built in its present form 1609), popularly known as White Heron Castle, with its gracefully curving roofs and its complex of three subsidiary towers around the main tenshu (or keep), is one of the most beautiful structures of the Momoyama period. The Ohiroma of Nijo Castle (17th century) in Kyoto is one of the classic examples of the shoin, with its tokonoma (alcove), shoin window (overlooking a carefully landscaped garden), and clearly differentiated areas for the Tokugawa lords and their vassals.

Edo period

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Inside the Shokintei at Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto Built in 17th century

Katsura Detached Palace, built in imitation of Prince Genji’s palace, contains a cluster of shoin buildings that combine elements of classic Japanese architecture with innovative restatements. The whole complex is surrounded by a beautiful garden with paths for walking.

The city of Edo was repeatedly struck by fires, leading to the development of a simplified architecture that allowed for easy rebuilding. Because fires were most likely to spread during the dry winters, lumber was stockpiled in nearby towns prior to their onset. Once a fire that had broken out was extinguished, the lumber was sent to Edo, allowing many rows of houses to be quickly rebuilt. Due to the shogun’s policy of sankin kotai (“rotation of services”), the daimyo constructed large houses and parks for their guests’ (as well as their own) enjoyment. Kōrakuen is a park from that period that still exists and is open to the public for afternoon walks.

Meiji period

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Tokyo station Built in 1914

In the years after 1867, when Emperor Meiji ascended the throne, Japan was once again invaded by new and alien forms of culture. By the early 20th century, European art forms were well introduced and their marriage produced notable buildings like the Tokyo Train Station and the National Diet Building that still exist today.

In early 1920s, modernists and expressionists emerged and began to form their own groups. Kunio Maekawa and Junzo Sakakura joined Le Corbusier’s studio in France, came back to Japan in early 1930s, and designed several buildings. Influence of modernism spread to many company and government buildings. In 1933 Bruno Taut fled to Japan, and his positive opinion of Japanese architecture (especially Katsura Imperial Villa) encouraged Japanese modernists.

Modern architecture
As with so many other aspects of Japanese culture and society, the change to modern technology brought a quite noticeable change in architecture as well. The need to rebuild Japan after World War II proved a great stimulus to Japanese architecture, and within a short time, the cities were functioning again. However, the new cities that came to replace the old ones came to look very different. The current look of Japanese cities is the result of and a contributor to 20th century architectural attitudes. With the introduction of Western building techniques, materials, and styles into Meiji Japan, new steel and concrete structures were built in strong contrast to traditional styles. Like most places, there is a great gap between the appearance of the majority of buildings (generally residences and small businesses) and of landmark buildings. After World War II, the majority of buildings ceased to be built of wood (which is easily flammable in the case of earthquakes and bombing raids), and instead were internally constructed of steel. High visibility landmark buildings also changed. Whereas major pre-war buildings, such as the Wako Department Store, Tokyo Station, Akasaka Palace, and the Bank of Japan were designed along European classical lines, post-war buildings adopted the “unadorned box” style that some people love and some people hate. Because of earthquakes, bombings, and later redevelopment, and also because of Japan’s rapid economic growth from the 1950s until the 1980s, most of the architecture to be found in the cities are from that period, which was the height of Brutalist Modern architecture generally.

However, since around the early 1990s, the situation has slowly started to change. The 1991 completion of the postmodernist Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building was perhaps a tipping point in skyscraper design. Hot on its heels was the Yokohama Landmark Tower. In 1996 came the much-loved Tokyo International Forum, which besides a unique design, sported a landscaped area outside for people to relax and chat. More recently, in 2003, Roppongi Hills was opened, which borrowed ideas from previous ground-breaking designs and furthered them. The new area of Shiodome, completely redeveloped since the late 1990s, is an excellent place to see a group of postmodern and European-style buildings, away from the usual jumble of ’60s-era anonymous rectangular prisms. Still, despite this slow but continuing trend in contemporary Japanese architecture, the vast majority of suburban areas still exhibit cheap, uninspired designs.

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The postmodern Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

The best-known Japanese architect is Kenzo Tange, whose National Gymnasiums (1964) for the Tokyo Olympics emphasizing the contrast and blending of pillars and walls, and with sweeping roofs reminiscent of the tomo-e (an ancient whorl-shaped heraldic symbol) are dramatic statements of form and movement.

Japan played some role in modern skyscraper design, because of its long familiarity with the cantilever principle to support the weight of heavy tiled temple roofs. Frank Lloyd Wright was strongly influenced by Japanese spatial arrangements and the concept of interpenetrating exterior and interior space, long achieved in Japan by opening up walls made of sliding doors. In the late twentieth century, however, only in domestic and religious architecture was Japanese style commonly employed. Cities sprouted modern skyscrapers, epitomized by Tokyo’s crowded skyline, reflecting a total assimilation and transformation of modern Western forms.

The widespread urban planning and reconstruction necessitated by the devastation of World War II produced such major architects as Maekawa Kunio and Kenzo Tange. Maekawa, a student of world-famous architect Le Corbusier, produced thoroughly international, functional modern works. Tange, who worked at first for Maekawa, supported this concept early on, but later fell in line with postmodernism, culminating in projects such as the aforementioned Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and the Fuji TV Building. Both architects were notable for infusing Japanese aesthetic ideas into starkly contemporary buildings, returning to the spatial concepts and modular proportions of tatami (woven mats), using textures to enliven the ubiquitous ferroconcrete and steel, and integrating gardens and sculpture into their designs. Tange used the cantilever principle in a pillar and beam system reminiscent of ancient imperial palaces; the pillar–a hallmark of Japanese traditional monumental timber construction– became fundamental to his designs. Fumihiko Maki advanced new city planning ideas based on the principle of layering or cocooning around an inner space (oku), a Japanese spatial concept that was adapted to urban needs. He also advocated the use of empty or open spaces (ma), a Japanese aesthetic principle reflecting Buddhist spatial ideas. Another quintessentially Japanese aesthetic concept was a basis for Maki designs, which focused on openings onto intimate garden views at ground level while cutting off sometimes-ugly skylines. A dominant 1970s architectural concept, the “metabolism” of convertibility, provided for changing the functions of parts of buildings according to use, and remains influential.

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Downtown Tokyo is densely packed with polygonal multi-story buildings that squeeze right next to each other.

A major architect of the 1970s and 1980s was Isozaki Arata, originally a student and associate of Tange’s, who also based his style on the Le Corbusier tradition and then turned his attention toward the further exploration of geometric shapes and cubic silhouettes. He synthesized Western high-technology building concepts with peculiarly Japanese spatial, functional, and decorative ideas to create a modern Japanese style. Isozaki’s predilection for the cubic grid and trabeated pergola in largescale architecture, for the semicircular vault in domestic-scale buildings, and for extended barrel vaulting in low, elongated buildings led to a number of striking variations. New Wave architects of the 1980s were influenced by his designs, either pushing to extend his balanced style, often into mannerism, or reacting against them.

A number of avant-garde experimental groups were encompassed in the New Wave of the late 1970s and the 1980s. They reexamined and modified the formal geometric structural ideas of modernism by introducing metaphysical concepts, producing some startling fantasy effects in architectural design. In contrast to these innovators, the experimental poetic minimalism of Tadao Ando embodied the postmodernist concerns for a more balanced, humanistic approach than that of structural modernism’s rigid formulations. Ando’s buildings provided a variety of light sources, including extensive use of glass bricks and opening up spaces to the outside air. He adapted the inner courtyards of traditional Osaka houses to new urban architecture, using open stairways and bridges to lessen the sealed atmosphere of the standard city dwelling. His ideas became ubiquitous in the 1980s, when buildings were commonly planned around open courtyards or plazas, often with stepped and terraced spaces, pedestrian walkways, or bridges connecting building complexes . In 1989 Ando became the third Japanese to receive France’s prix de l’académie d’architecture, an indication of the international strength of the major Japanese architects, all of whom produced important structures abroad during the 1980s. Japanese architects were not only skilled practitioners in the modern idiom but also enriched postmodern designs worldwide with innovative spatial perceptions, subtle surface texturing, unusual use of industrial materials, and a developed awareness of ecological and topographical problems.