Geoff Yovanovic, who will teach a course on the principles of design in architecture for Pontifex University, describes some of the sources of inspiration for his ideas.
I have always been fascinated by cities. While cities have always had a fundamental role in shaping culture, I was always more mesmerized by the towering skyscrapers and sinuous interstates which stretched to the horizon. The physical form of the city was what captured my imagination. I followed this natural interest into architecture where I focus primarily on traditional design. My interest in tradition has grown as I have been able to see past the aesthetic surface of a building and uncover the beauty and truth within the designs. Through my course on Pontifex, I hope to pass along these discoveries, and foster an appreciation of design that transcends the shock, sensation, and “originality” which passes for most architecture today.
My search for beauty started as an observation in my undergraduate architectural history survey course. I have always been interested in history so it was natural for me to create a timeline of major historical events and currents in the art world. It became clear to me that there would be a noticeable change in art during the decades preceding a cultural or political revolution. In France before the French Revolution, the architecture scraped off the barnacles of the Baroque and substituted a more rational Classical style. Prior to World War I in Europe, we find the introduction of International Style Modernism.
The rational design of Hotel Guimard by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, 1770-73
These observations remained as interesting but unrelated historical currents until I began research for my undergraduate thesis. I began studying whether architecture was used by the founding fathers to support their personal political beliefs. For example, was the Virginia Capitol designed by Thomas Jefferson as an aspiration to the ancient Roman Republic? It was. That was the easy question. Instead, my advisor challenged me to explore a deeper understanding of the Enlightenment ideas that influenced Jefferson’s architecture. He pressed me even further to look beyond the details and columns. He taught me to observe how the rational Enlightenment ideas about man’s relationship to the cosmos was subtlety transforming the shape and space created by their architecture. I first learned of beauty by recognizing its flight (Read More)