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The Persistence of Formal Patterns

Alexander Purves

Perspecta, Vol. 19. (1982), pp. 138-163.

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T H E P E R S I S T E N C E O F FORMAL PATTERNS

P A I R SO F C O M P L E M E N Tfeminine
S, recognized in buildings of different pe- Two indigenous North American centric
and masculine, static and dynamic, the riods and in all parts of the world. To house forms, the igloo (4) and the tipi ( 5 ) ,
circle and the line, describe the profound observe these patterns is to see in a way illustrate both the fundamental methods
duality of human experience. Folk dances that moves between the layers of histor- of structuring a centric volume and the
all over the world are danced in either ical style within which architecture is chronic dilemma of introducing entrance
circles and squares or lines. The stone generally categorized and presented. into a centric form. Both are sophisticated
circles at Avebury (1)and the lines of The importance of a building does not responses to the climate and the avail-
menhirs at Carnac (2), the tipi and the lie solely in a formal pattern of organiza- ability of materials.
longhouse, the Pantheon and the basilica, tion, and emphasis on common themes The hemisphere and the cone are
the centric space and the linear space: does not lessen the importance of a shapes commonly used to roof a round
these are the two themes that dominate unique work. Many indifferent buildings space. A center post is found in tents,
architecture. The organizational patterns stem from archetypal diagrams. Ulti- medieval chapterhouses (6), and um-
that follow these two themes divide be- mately, the building itself has architectural brellas (portable aediculae). A square
tween those that focus on center, as in a value. The individuality of a work, how- is often roofed with a pyramid or trans-
courtyard, and those that distribute along ever, can be defined only when the formed into an octagon or circle. A
a line in response to movement. The building is placed in relation to others delightful example of the reconciliation of
courtyard is a comprehensive pattern of a similar formal pattern. these geometries is the Abbot's kitchen
which can include the ideas of atrium, Buildings which embody a single for- at Glastonbury ( 7 ) ,where the four corners
cloister, castle, square, and temenos. mal theme in absolute purity exist only in outside the octagon are four great fire-
Within patterns that are organized in the imagination. To experience architec- places. All of these forms are higher
response to movement, two ideas, the ture is to experience a variety of patterns at the midpoint than at the perimeter. A
circulation spine and serial progression, as rich as human nature itself. tension structure, which tends to sag at
can be distinguished. These archetypal The great buildings of the twentieth the center, is rarely used, no doubt
themes are essential ways of making century share with those of the past a because of drainage, but also because this
space and of organizing groups of spaces. grounding in basic architectural themes. type of ceiling depresses rather than ex-
We see their reflections in countless idio- We recognize these archetypes beneath a pands the center, and thus opposes our
syncratic buildings. variety of stylistic trappings. We respond memories of this kind of space.
The origin of a particular form is be- to them and use them. Important commu- The centric form suggests entrance only
yond our understanding. We can, how- nication is established. They are our at the top center, as in the kivas of the
ever, observe the persistence of forms. tradition. Pueblo Indians (8);the bottom center,
Those that persist do so because they res- where it usurps the central focus of the
onate so strongly in the experience of T H E CENTRIC SPACE space; or through a continuous series of
human beings that they are chosen again T H E I M A G E T H A T E X E M P L I F I E S most openings around the perimeter. Entrance
and again. Clear reasons for these choices clearly the ideal of the centric space is is most easily accommodated in the open
cannot be articulated because such mo- BoulCe's section drawing for the Newton pavilion. The gazebo (9)does not com-
tives make up an elusive web of conscious Cenotaph (3). The model of the earth promise the purity of the centric form.
and unconscious needs, desires, and orbiting the sun, which generates the
associations. enclosing sphere, is a perfect diagram of
The notes that follow represent an at- centricity. It represents both the primacy
tempt to delineate themes that are easily of the center point (the sun) and the
equivalence of all points on the perimeter
(the orbit).

Journal. Colume 19
Perspectn: The Ehle Arch~tectr~ral
0079-09581821190138-26 $03.0010
ALEXANDER PURVES
PURVES

The most common opening into an en- axes of a square is also typical of Moslem
closed volume, however, is a single side plans and is used to develop the interior
entrance. The Pantheon (10) is a strongly spaces and exterior forms of the great
centric building; the height of the interior Turkish mosques (23, 24). In the design
volume is the same dimension as the di- of the Unity Temple auditorium (25, 26),
ameter. Entrance is accomplished by Frank Lloyd Wright follows the same
piercing the drum with a single monumen- formal rules for extending the square.
tal door. This point is then exaggerated by Leonardo's sketch could be the plan for
the addition of a porch or temple front, Wright's building.
which celebrates entrance and originally The desire to make sacred a particular
allowed the drum to face a defined public point or location often informs a circular
courtyard (11). Four entrances, equally plan, where the center appears to gener-
spaced, maintain the purity of the centric ate the volume. Sometimes this special
form of the Baptistry of Pisa (12). Colon- location is already identified in legend or
14
nades surrounding the drum of the typical history. The Dome of the Rock was erect-
tholos (13)and of Bramante's Tempietto ed to enshrine the point from which
(14) obscure the single entrance and pre- Mohammed is reputed to have ascended
serve an image of consistency. A similar on his Night Journey into Heaven. It is
effect is produced by the interior colon- also the spot where God stayed the hand A
nades of the Dome of the Rock (15, 16) of Abraham as he was about to sacrifice
and Santa Costanza (17, 18). Isaac. Medieval and Renaissance baptis- ,
The Pisa baptistry and the tipi are ex- tries create the sacred location, the font .
amples of single-space buildings, though (27). These buildings do not center on a
the extension of the centric form into rich sacred location but, rather, on a symbolic .
and complex spatial compositions is also act. They focus on rebirth and new life. A
common. Santa Costanza and the Dome of less sacred but no less centric form is the
the Rock follow the same pattern: a high ingenious round barn of North America
center space surrounded by a ring of (28), in which the silo or haymow stands ,
lower space. The same section applied to at the center and the animals radiate like
a square plan describes Hawksmoor's spokes of a wheel. 19
Saint Mary Woolnoth in London (19, 20). The obverse of the sacred center is the
Very few centric volumes are extended by perimeter, on which all points are equi-
more than one or two complete rings. distant from a center. At a round table
Concentric rings lose vitality the further discussion, all participants are equal. In
they migrate from the center, like those the chapterhouse of a medieval English
that follow the dropping of a pebble into cathedral such as Wells (6),monks as-
water. The axes implicit in a square plan, sembled in a circle as a group. The
however, can become the formal structure octagonal form with a bench around the
for any number of elaborations. The plan perimeter houses, and at the same time
tends to become cruciform. symbolizes, the community. The kiva tells
Leonardo's sketches of centrally a similar story (29).
planned churches (21) illustrate this pat-
tern. Santa Maria della Consolazione in
Todi (22) is a clear example. It consists of
a square block with a dome on top and an
exedra on each of the four sides. This
device of projecting bays on the cross
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The essence of the centric idea is in- formation occurs by which the center
terior volume. The Treasury of Atreus becomes the servant of the sides. The
(30)and the cupola tombs of the Etrus- void organizes the surround and is neces-
cans (31, 32) are subterranean. These sary to make it workable.
interior volumes are expressed in sil- The atrium house (39)is the most con-
houettes of mounded earth, but frequently centrated of the courtyard organizations.
such spaces are completely buried inside It is indigenous to areas around the globe.
a building. The breakfast room of Sir John The atrium space permits circulation
Soane's house (33, 34) is nowhere to be among the parts, admits light and air, and
found on the exterior. The octagonal ro- provides privacy. Because exterior ex-
tunda of the Domus Aurea (35, 36), which posure is provided by the court, this form
is also embedded within a larger building, lends itself to close packing and thus al-
is no less powerful for having been com- lows considerable density (40). James
pletely buried under the Baths of Trajan. Stirling made direct use of the idea in
Often the intrinsic potential of the cen- developing a scheme for a barriada in
tric idea has not been realized where it Lima (41). In this project each family was
has been used primarily to organize other to develop its own house around certain
spaces. The rotunda solves the design di- given elements: a square court in the cen-
lemma posed by a bicameral legislature. ter and a simple grid of columns and
The rotunda of the United States Capitol beams. Frequently, the exterior of the
(37) upstages the two wings and provides atrium house can be viewed only from
a symbol of unity. But, in spite of its size, within the center. The court is the de-
it is oddly empty of energy. Its real func- signed element; the individual volumes
tion is as an exterior symbol, not as an that encircle it cannot be distinguished.
interior space. The rotunda plays this role The House of Pansa in Pompeii (42)illus-
in countless Beaux Arts schemes (38), trates that the atrium pattern need not
where it merely acts as a circulation have a regular exterior perimeter any
node, organizes other spaces, and sorts more than the centric space need be
out knots of axes. The form has little in- readable from the outside.
herent meaning; it marks no significant The multistory version of the atrium
point; it celebrates no mystery. In the plan is represented by the Palazzo Strozzi
Roman precedents, however, such as the in Florence (43, 44, 45). The greater

-
Domus Aurea, the centric spaces are the
major spaces, in use as well as form.

T H E ATRIUM
complexity of the program and the stack-
ing of levels necessitate a circulation zone
along the inner edge of each floor, so that
the perimeter must be used for exposure.
T H E C O U R T Y A R D , in its many forms, Hence the building is a free-standing
is the basis of building organizations in block. The exterior is high, massive, and
which many parts are gathered around a forbidding, but the interior courtyard is
central void. It is expressive of the need made to appear lower and delicate in
of human beings to group together-to scale.
form a community-for mutual benefit or In the nineteenth century the atrium of
exchange. the palazzo was often roofed with a sky-
At Santa Costanza, the ambulatory sup- light, and the form came to be used in
ports the energy and purpose of the major commercial buildings. The Bradbury
volume. The ring is ancillary. When the Building in Los Angeles (46)retains most
surrounding spaces develop in size and
importance and become the primary rea-
son for the building, however, a trans-
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of the characteristics of a palazzo. High- solids. The great circles locate the true
speed elevators permit John Portman's center of the building, which is not sim-
Hyatt Hotels (47) to stretch the atrium ply in the center of the but in the
idea to an extreme. Department stores center of the volume. The sun occupies
and office buildings such as Wright's the center of the spherical volume in
Larkin Building (48) use skylights to BoulCe's Newton Cenotaph. Neither per-
bring light to the center of working floors. son nor object occupies this center. It is a
The idea of the atrium is strongest holy place, a place of mystery and rever-
when the center space is different in char- ence. It gives form to an essential spirit,
acter from the outer perimeter of the which can never be written into an archi-
building. Differences in scale and detail, tect's program and yet, in the end, is more
as in the Palazzo Strozzi, are devices for valuable than all those little spaces that
achieving this distinction, a distinction words describe so well.
not clear in a structure like the Ford
Foundation Building (49), where the two T H E CLOISTER
office wings of the typical floor are AROUND T H E T R A D I T I O N A L ~1.01s-
double-loaded in plan. The fenestration T E R ( 5 5 ) , each of the elements of the
patterns facing the court are similar to monastery is distinguishable and yet is
those facing the street and do not reflect a linked to the others by the common and
strong distinction between inside and out- continuous circulation element that encir-
side. Another device is the use for the cles a central open space. The path,
inner court of a geometrical plan figure which belongs to the private world of the
.
I I.
....n.. .. ......
that contrasts with the outer shape. A cir-
cle is set inside a square in the Palace
group, becomes the functional and sym-
bolic unifier. One walks around the open
L-ikxz; ;-j=
of Charles V at Granada (50) and inside space, not across it. It is a garden held
..
rl:.....

a pentagon at the Villa Farnese at Capra- apart, an outdoor sanctuary, a place of


rola (51). repose and contemplation.
Kahn's Exeter Library (52, 53, 54) Cloisters are usually rectangular in
powerfully combines the themes of centric plan and are experienced in movement
55
and atrium. The center of the library is along a path. The four corners are impor-
not used simply to bring light and air to tant moments in the journey, a kind of
the middle of a dense building. Mere, the calibration. Walking the cloister at
atrium space is a highly charged centric Moissac (56), one senses additional
idea that coexists with an equally strong rhythms created by the large piers at the
surround. The plan of the Exeter Library midpoints of each side, the alternating
closely resembles the Leonardo central single and paired columns, and the re-
church, the Turkish mosque, or Unity petitive beams of the roof structure. The
Temple. Kahn develops the idea into a plan of the cloister of the Cistercian mon-
building within a building: the inner astery of Le Thoronet (57, 58, 59) is a
building of concrete holds the books; the trapezoid. The floor of only one side is
outer building of brick holds the reading flat; the others are sloped or stepped. The
spaces. The two form the fabric of the paving is composed throughout of stone
atrium surround. and tile, but the pattern varies. The expe-
But there is, in fact, a third building, rience of each of the sides is unique.
and this building encloses the central Walking this cloister is a rich journey.
void. The concrete walls are the face of Aalto's Town Center at Saynatsalo (60,
the internal void, not of the surrounding 61, 62) strongly recalls the massing of a
medieval cloister. The dominant volume,
however, is not a church but a town hall.
Though the internal circulation route does
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not encircle the entire courtyard, continu- symbolically. The moats and gateways of
ity is implied by the mullion pattern of the Yale residential colleges (70)suggest
the corridor glass which extends across defensive strongholds in a less heroic but
the windows of the apartments. even more communal manner, since the
Le Corbusier's Dominican monastery only access to the living units is from the
of La Tourette (63, 64, 65, 66, 67) is common space.
arranged around a center court in the tra- The courtyard shape has been applied
ditional manner. Indeed the peaked to practically every conceivable build-
oratory vividly recalls the lavabo, the ing program. Paul Rudolph, in his Gov-
centric pavilion that houses the ablution ernment Services Center in Boston (71),
fountain and which stands within the overlays the loft space texture of twen-
den formed by the cloister ring in tieth-century bureaucracy with the spe-
monasteries like Le Thoronet. At La Tour- cific forms of Siena's Campo (72)and
ette a continuous circulation system links Venice's Piazza San Marco (73), hoping
all the volumes to each other. Only at the perhaps to instill some sense of commu- 67
top floor, the level of the monk's cells, nity in beleaguered office workers. A
does the plan assume the familiar shape critical condition of squares like the
of the cloister. The roof alone, where the Campo or the Piazza San Marco, however,
parapet permits a view of the sky and not
of the neighboring countryside, is given
is that they each form a void in a thick
urban texture. Each is supported by the
... 1 . 1 1 1

the quietude and singularity of the tradi- energy of an entire city. Their edges are
tional garden. At the level of the church not so much edges of the space within as
the circulation path is pulled off the edges of the fabric without. The fortresses
building mass and made to form a dis- and housing blocks mentioned stand as
torted cross. These passages are open identifiable communities and are gener-
only to one side, as in the traditional ally approached and perceived from the
cloister, but the building masses they con- outside first, but it is impossible to see
nect are lifted above the sloping earth and the Campo from the outside; in this re-
the courtyard is packed with construc- spect Rudolph's building differs radically
tions. thus denvine
, the center the earth-
<,
from its model. 71
bound stability and repose of the cloister. In a square, the closure of the space is
And yet the allusion to specific elements often implied by disconnected buildings.
of that tradition makes the act of denial Across the delightful square at Pienza

-powerful. We are reminded of what we


have lost.

C A S T L E , SQUARE,
(74),the town's principal players confront
each other: the church, the town hall, the
palazzo, and the cafk.
Closure can still be implied when
AND TEMENOS buildings are spaced quite far apart. The
T I I E C O U H T Y A R I ) is often the product of New England green (75)is literally a com-
the need for common defense, as is viv- mon space, around which individual
idly explicit in the walled castle (U), houses maintain a discreet dialogue that
which houses a community too extended is quite in character with the New En-
to be accommodated in a concentrated gland temperament.
atrium and too random in its movements Buildings or simply walls are often
to be accommodated in a cloister. The arranged to form an enclosed precinct,
courtyard theme is also chosen frequently which becomes the field for a significant
for urban housing because of its expres- object or objects, a kind of temenos or
sion of communal values, the equality of holy ground. Three churches stand free in
its perimeter, and its efficient pooling of the center of the New Haven green (76).
open space. The Karl Marx-Hof in Vienna
(69),which retains many characteristics
of the castle, unites workers actually and
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7- -
t, ::.>.
i h..
2 i..
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At Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto (77) fifteen long dimension is spanned with a concrete
artfully placed rocks occupy a field of arch. Occasionally, a line of structure
raked pebbles. Kahn's scheme for the down the center divides the volume into
Dominican convent at Media, Penn- two bays. The center line of columns of
sylvania (78), reflects in part the idea of Labrouste's Bibliothhque Sainte Gen-
the precinct, although in this extraor- evieve in Paris (89) displaces the center
dinary project it appears to be nearly circulation into two parallel paths. A roof
impossible to experience the field within suspended from the two long sides is even
which the object buildings are set. more unusual, perhaps because, as in the
The precinct or temenos theme exists centric form, a low center is at odds with
within individual buildings as well. At the our collective memory. Saarinen's Dulles
Assembly Building at Chandigarh (79, Airport (90), outside Washington, has a
80), Corbusier uses the wall of offices to suspended roof, but one does not traverse
create a zone within which stands the Dulles longitudinally. The movement of
great Assembly Hall, the top of which passengers is perpendicular to the axis of
protrudes above the enclosing wall and the space, and thus the experience of the
portico. The baldachino over the altar in building is that of a broad gateway.
San Lorenzo Outside the Walls in Rome The linear space is expanded in ways
(81)defines a volume of space which that parallel the enriching of the centric
stands free. Charles Moore makes use of space. The side aisles of the classic Ro-
this device for more secular purposes in man basilica (91)reinforce the center
his own house in Orinda, California (82). much as the ring of space reinforces the
Philip Johnson's Glass House (83)is com- center in a centric pattern. The central
posed of discrete objects within a field nave of the basilican church (92) is gen-

-
defined less by the sides than by the top
and the bottom.

T H E LINEAR SPACE
erally higher than the side aisles, and
clerestory windows bring light to the cen-
ter. Its schematic section is identical to
that of Santa Constanza (18).Although
I N C O N T R A S T TO TIIE CENTRIC space one does find basilicas with two sets of
is the linear space. Again it is BoulCe side aisles, one is more apt to find the
who captures its character in his project linear space further enlarged through the
for tlie National Library in Paris (84).The crossing of one such space with another.
essence is line, the experience is path. The Latin Cross plan (93) lays a second
Direction and movement replace center linear space, the transept, across the first,
and stasis. the nave. The location of the transept to-
Normally, continuous vaults or intermit- ward the "east" end of the building,
tently placed beams, trusses, or arches however, distinguishes this cross-axial
span the narrow dimension of the longitu- arrangement from the Greek Cross, a cen-
dinal volume (85, 86). A member which tric form, where the crossing occurs at the
spans the length of the space is less center.
common, although it is used frequently in Means for terminating the linear space
Japanese timber framing (87). In Eero vary. Barns, which are often built on the
Saarinen's Ingalls Rink at Yale (88)the basilica pattern, are usually cut off shear
(94). Saint Pancras Station in London (95)
has a strong structural rhythm, but the
form includes no hierarchy, no suggestion
of end. The railroad shed simply butts
against the back of George Gilbert Scott's
Saint Pancras Hotel. The end of the Ro-
man basilica (96) receives the thrust of
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the linear space in a curved niche or at the center by the fireplace mass. The
apse. While there is no strong difference Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (107) was filled
between the two ends of the Roman basil- with spaces of this kind. Even the ball-
ica, an important hierarchy differentiates room was designed on a Latin Cross plan.
one end of a church (97) from the other; The basilica form was so much a part of
this hierarchy is clarified when the side Wright and of us that its use here ap-
entrance of the Roman basilica is re- peared completely natural.
placed by an entrance at the "west" end The churches at both La Tourette (108,
of the church (98). 109) and Ronchamp (110, 111) are varia-
In a church, the idea of progression, tions of the traditional basilica. The
not just of passage, characterizes move- monastery church is somber; the pil-
ment along the axis of the space. This is grimage church is flamboyant. La Tourette
the primary difference between the early is a simple rectangular volume made up
churches and the basilicas that were their entirely of concrete planes and displaying
102
models. The most succinct architectural none of the conventional rhvthms. The
expression of the idea of progression is only modifications are slopes in the floor
the ancient megaron (99), of which one and ceiling. Those elements traditionally
end is entrance, the other terminus. Its associated with the sides of the basilica,
most elaborate expression must be the the monks' chapels, are clasped to the
Gothic cathedral (loo), where each step outside of the nave. Even the organ is
along the path of the nave articulates removed. In plan and section, Ronchamp
progression. The radiance of the choirs of is a distortion of the traditional form. The
Chartres and VCzelay (101) celebrates the side chapels are rotated and stretched to
culmination of a journey, a journey which, act as light scoops. It is one of the few
in the case of a pilgrimage church like basilicas whose ceiling is lower in the
Vkzelay, may have lasted for months or center than at the sides. But here this
years. billowing plane combines with curved and
The form of linear space transcends battered walls and the sloping floor to
any particular program. It can accommo- create an extravagant three-dimensional
date a barn or a cathedral. It has often volume.
been used to organize a library. The long,
high, narrow rooms of BoulCe and La- T H E CIRCULATION S P I N E
brouste follow a tradition established in T H E L I N E A R S P A C E of the basilica is
early monastic and university libraries, experienced as a complex but single vol-
such as Michelangelo's Laurentian Library ume. The secondary spaces do not draw
in Florence (102) and the library of Trin- energy away from the center but, rather,
ity College, Cambridge (103), by Wren. reinforce it. When these side spaces
The reading rooms of the Sterling Memo- become the programmatic stuff of the
rial Library at Yale (104.) are patterned building, the center becomes the servant
after these earlier models. In the same and a transformation occurs, similar to
building, Rogers even employs the Latin the transformation from centric volume to
Cross to shape the public circulation atrium. The resultant linear circulation
spaces of the library. The side aisles con- spine provides efficient access to a collec-
tain the card catalogues, the altar be- tion of parts, which are grouped more
comes the circulation desk. because of the common circulation system
Wright, more than any other twentieth- than because of any necessary relation-
century architect, played on the theme of ship to one another. The spine is often the
the basilica. The overriding idea of the primary architectural expression of the
Robie House (105, 106) is that of a long,
double-ended basilican form with a high
center and lower sides, which is weighted
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building, but it exists to facilitate circula- characteristic of complex spine buildings,


tion, and its length and position are where the section is used to solve many of
determined by what it is designed to the problems ordinarily worked out in
serve. plan, such as programmatic adjacencies
The linear idea does not prescribe a and exposure.
means of termination, although the sky- The free-standing stoa illustrates the
scraper (112), expressive as it may be of potential for asymmetry in the spine I 1
upward energy, is confined within the building, and many linear housing schemes
limits of structural and mechanical feasi- have been developed asymmetrically to
bility. Horizontal spines, on the other distinguish between two exposures. A
hand, are easily extended. Cesar Pelli continuous access gallery runs along one
places mirrors at one end of the galleria side of each floor of Aldo Rossi's Gal-
on the top floors of the Pacific Design laretese housing in Milan (119), and the
Center in Los Angeles (113, 114) to sug- flats face the other side. The stepped
. . sec-
gest infinite extension. Like a piece of tion is an elaboration of this asymmetry. l6
conduit, a spine building is simply cut to Corbusier's scheme for Algiers (120) pre-
a desired length. sents terraces to the Mediterranean and
The shopping street is a familiar accommodates a motorway at the back.
double-loaded spine. Buying and selling These schemes raise questions of com-
have probably always been organized in position and length, which are chronic in
this pattern. Even large-scale markets the design of spine buildings. Corbusier's
form themselves into streets. The clearest yearns to be continued. Rossi's is consid-
ancient prototype of a discrete spine erably longer, but with the giant, round
building is the Greek stoa (115, 116), a columns, the architect introduces a
generalized shelter often used as a mar- change of scale which gives the building a
ket. Its colonnaded circulation gives reference point, a compositional center.
access to a series of independent rooms. Linear buildings are frequently bent to
Repetitive independent units of housing create enclosed spaces. In Harvey Court
lend themselves to a spine organization, of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
as can be observed on any residential (121).
. . bv
, Sir Leslie Martin and Colin Wil- 120
street (117). The double-loaded corridor son, the enclosed form of the courtyard
carries this pattern into a multistory collides with the desire to step the sec-
building, when efficiency replaces com- tion toward the best orientation. James
munity as an organizing principle. In the Stirling's Florey Building at Oxford (122)
Unit6 #Habitation (118), Corbusier seeks wraps an open space but leaves one side
to overcome the shortcomings of the dou- open to the river and the view.
ble-loaded corridor by creating through- Section studies establish the relation-
apartments that lock in section around a ship between circulation and the parts,
center corridor. By reducing the number but do not illustrate the singular act of
of corridors to one on every third floor, he entry. Since spine circulation is non-
increases the traffic in each, and thereby hierarchic by nature, it can be tapped at
increases the opportunity for exchange any point. The circulation ring of the
between the families. Clearly, the Unit6 is Florey Building is punctured at the back
a design conceived in section. This is at each level. The corridor of Kallman
and McKinnell's Exeter Gymnasium (123) lZ4
protrudes at the end like a tongue. The
Neighborhood Center at Beersheba in Is-
rael (124) by Ram and Ada Karmi is made
up of two spine buildings which together
create a covered street; the two halves are
offset in plan to form a place of entrance
at each end.
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The Beersheba Neighborhood Center into precincts, each of which is brought


stretches between two nodes of activity into focus by a brick pavilion. The pavil-
and makes use of the shopping center ions face each other across a sloping lawn
principle. Some of the most successful like partners in a graceful reel. Each rep-
linear schemes are those which form new resents a kind of constituency. The colon-
linkages within existing systems. The nade delicately laces them together into a
delightful London shopping arcades (125) linear system. The Salk Center overlooks
create short circuits between busy streets. the Pacific and maintains a more heroic
The Galleria in Milan (126) is a short cut and lonely stance. It engages the ele-
between two major squares, the Piazza del ments: earth, air, and water. The labora-
Duomo and the Piazza della Scala. tory buildings are organized along a linear
It is possible to see a city as a complex pattern of parallel circulation spines. The
of linear circulation systems. This percep- services run horizontally through the
tion dominated the 1960s, the heyday of openings in the Vierendeel trusses, and
130
the spine building. Studies for the Market the laboratory floors are bordered by open
Street Development in Philadelphia (127) corridors. Private studies, which stand in
show not the shape or face of the city but the open court, break free from the insis-
its arteries and veins. tence of the linear system. Kahn does not
The drawings of Sant' Elia (128) release create a barrier between land and sea,
the movement implicit in BoulCe's stable like Corbusier does in his project for
basilica (84).Linear megastructures (129) Algiers, but rather draws the buildings
suggest an architecture in motion which apart to permit connection, a connection
makes its own context and appears to symbolized by the narrow watercourse
stretch to infinity. They remind one of that flows along the center line and spills
both Darwin and Kerouac. These build- over the end of the court. It directs the
ings often appear on legs, like the UnitC. view toward the horizon and toward the
They are not earthbound, not dependent
on place, but make their own environ-
ment. This desire to move out across the
land seems particularly American, and
-mystery of the unrevealed, a journey made
not by the building but by the imagination.

SERIAL PROGRESSION
T H E S E R I A L I D E A builds upon the
134

yet those long megastructures are a curi-


ous contradition for Americans. The sense of progression that often character-
image thrills, as it speaks of limitless izes the experience of the linear space.
possibility. It ignites the excitement of ad- The essence of the idea is incremental
venture. But these giant structures cannot change. The watercourse at the Villa
be realized without phenomenal bureau- Lante in Bagnaia (135, 136)bursts from a
cratic and personal cooperation. They spring in the side of a hill and drops from
depend upon the individual giving up the terrace to terrace through a series of de-
independence of mobility and ownership lightful hurdles until it finally comes to
of land in exchange for a collective good. rest in a formal pool. The journey of
The mobile home is a more appropriate the water from high to low, from natural
symbol of the American dream. spring to artificial basin, parallels a trans-
Two American building groups, how- formation of the landscape from artful
ever, that are organized along linear nature to rational geometry.
138
circulation patterns are inseparable from Implicit is the notion of growth, of
the land they inhabit. Jefferson's elegant, change through time. A scallop shell, a
agrarian University of Virginia (130, 131) chank shell, a spray of fresia, a pine
and Kahn's poetic, scientific Salk Re- cone, all are forms in nature that reveal a
search Center (132, 133, 134) were built
nearly two hundred years apart at op-
posite ends of the country. The University
of Virginia gathers the rural landscape
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pattern of growth. Symbolically, the scal- of the prehistoric temple at Malta (149).
lop (137)carries the message of birth; the but does not necessarily include a desti-
chank (138), the shell of Vishnu, the story nation.
of continuity. The refinement of perspective in the
The serial theme is most frequently Renaissance and the development of illu-
seen in ornament. The towers of the sionistic scenery for the proscenium stage
Hindu Temple of Khajuraho (139)and the (150)anticipated the fascination of the
Chrysler Building (140)diminish to a res- Baroque era with architecture perceived
olution by reducing the size of the petal, in depth. The new sensibility is illustrated
much like an artichoke. The unique sil- at the Teatro Olympico in Vicenza (151,
houette of a Thai temple (141) is devel- 152). Scamozzi's illusionistic streets are
oped by tucking gable under gable at the grafted onto the back of the scaenaefrom
end of the roof. The Temple at Khajuraho of Palladio's static Roman theater, where
(142)is composed of distinct pieces which they simulate views of tremendous depth.
are butted against each other, but the or- The allCe (153)became the favorite Ba- 14'
namentation ties the group together in roque device, and radiating promenades
such an overwhelming way that it dis- became the imperial vision. The extended
courages any external perception of the wings of Baroque palaces are apt to be
individual parts. The expression of the arranged not so much to facilitate plan-
building becomes that of continuous up- ning within as to create spectacle without.
ward surge. The succession of corners of a building
The pyramid of Zoser at Sakkara (143) like the Palace of Versailles (154),like
is a solid mass contoured by successive stage flats, has an effect of increasing the
steps, and is similar in profile to the li- perception of depth.
brary which Kahn designed for Wash- Alvar Aalto, a master of the baroque
ington University (144).The spiral is a with a predilection for the serial, makes
transformation of the circle into a figure recurrent use of the same device. Aalto,
that embodies progressive change. Cor- however, develops the idea asymmetri-
busier's Museum of Unlimited Extension cally. The site plan for his town center at
(145)is a square spiral, which grows in Saynatsalo (155)included a series of rec- 151
plan. Much of the rigidity inherent in the tangular buildings, offset to reveal
diagram is overcome by using a pattern of successive corners on a diagonal path.
interior openings that allow views across The series would have led to the mass of
the spiral. Extended into three dimen- the Council Chamber. The Finnish Public
sions, the spiral has been used to contour Pensions Institute in Helsinki (156)illus-
both a mass, as at Samarra (I&), and a trates Aalto's use of the device in the
volume, as in the Guggenheim Museum massing of a single building.
(147). In each case, the spiral forms a In his competition design for the Reval
continuous path. Corbusier's design for Museum (157),where he uses the tech-
the MusCe mondial (148)is likewise basec nique to organize interior space, Aalto
upon a linear circulation path wrapped arranges several large galleries in re-
around a void, but the building narrows sponse to the direction of travel and view
at the top to make the silhouette of a of the visitor. The stepping occurs not
stepped pyramid. only in plan, but in section as well.
While a spine building is based upon In Reval, stepping combines three I .is
the distribution of parts at a constant independent rooms. At Imatra, in the
pace, the serial idea includes accelera- Church of Vuoksenniska (158, 159). a sin-
tion. It is progressive, like the chambers gle volume is contoured in this manner.
Here, the practical need to subdivide the
church led to a breakdown of the sanctu-
ary into three fanning curves. The theme
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returns in one of Aalto's last works, the piece of "sculpture" at the scale of the
church at Rialo in Italy (160),where the model. It is worth remembering, however,
nave breaks into four arced fans, nested that one of the most common uses of the
in cross-section. serial idea is to ornament another form. A
In his scheme for the Swedish Chancel- model of a serial mass may have richness
lory Competition (161), Gunnar Asplund that the model of a primary form does not.
uses an asymmetrical fan to reconcile the As a building, however, the serial idea is
irregular geometries of the site. He devel-
ops a series of wedges which vary incre-
mentally. The Italian hill town (162)is
a vernacular example of a serial compo-
-
as dependent as any other on its architec-
tural development.

THE GRID
sition, which results from the architec- T H E G R I n can be seen as the overlap-
tural ordering of the natural landscape. ping of two or more linear systems. In
Stepped terraces contour the slope, and many ways the rectilinear grid makes up
the fanning plan accommodates the curve the texture of our lives. It plans our cit-
of the hillside. The hill town's picturesque ies, structures our buildings, locates our
asymmetry is made up of individual, but geography, and defines our wanderings.
similar, pieces, a series of individual The grid is distinctly experienced when
moves gathered together in one direction the pattern is used for circulation, be-
into a resolved composition. University cause the circulation grid is a weaving
College at Urbino (163, l a ) , by Gian- together of linear paths. In Kahn's design
carlo di Carlo, is a studied re-creation of for the Jewish Community Center at Tren-
not only the image of the hill town, but also ton (170) the grid of the major spaces is
its circulation patterns; the easy climb of interlaced with a secondary circulation
ringed paths is combined with the direct grid, forming a plaid. This device is sug-
ascent of flights of stairs. The plan that gested by earlier buildings, such as the
follows is one of a layered fan, the di- Romanesque church of Saint Front in
agrammatic plan of innumerable hill towns. Perigueux (171).
The stepped hillside of the Greek the- The grid organization is a clear and
ater (165)is recalled in Richard Wagner's easily grasped pattern. It is often used
opera house at Bayreuth (166),where Wag- when complex building groups, or even
ner reintroduced acoustics and sight lines entire towns, are designed at one time
as the determinants of form. The Bayreuth and constructed rapidly. The huge monas-
theater anticipates a generation of en- tery palace of Phillip the Second, the
closed auditoriums like the Radio City Escorial (172), is structured on such a
Music Hall (167),where ceilings as well as pattern. The passages weave an extraordi-
seats ripple in concentric waves. nary variety of structures into a coherent
At the Finnish Technical Institute in whole. Candelis and Woods duplicate the
Otaniemi (168, 169). Aalto creates a cam- circulation grid on several floors at the
pus plan that is as representative of the Free University in Berlin (173).Cor-
serial theme as the University of Virginia busier's project for the Venice Hospital
is of linear circulation. Ranks of rec- (174)was composed of square sectors,
tangular buildings step away from the each bisected in both directions by cor-
focus in plan and in section. The focus is ridors. These corridors linked together to
a theater form, stepped in section to form a circulation grid, which Corbusier
provide a series of light monitors for the proposed to graft into that supremely non-
lecture halls below. Cartesian city.
Breaking a mass into increments which
nest together in an elegant asymmetrical
composition often creates a bewitching
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A s opposed to the circulation grid, the rooms are made up. The Great Mosque of
column grid is not so much a pattern of Cordoba (183, 184), one of the largest and
experience a s it is a structural system. It most beautiful, was formed by placing a
may denote the aggregation of finite spa- series of vaults side by side; the long
tial units, or it may suggest the infinite sides of the vaults are supported by col-
field of the Cartesian grid. A grid of coor- umns. The Friday Mosque in Isfahan
dinates makes possible the exact location (185, 186) is a collection of domes; each
of any point, but, without something to dome rests on a square bay.
define, it is mute. Its order does not grow For Kahn, architecture began with the
out of human need for congregation and room. The large gallery floors of his two
ritual, for myth and memory. The skeletal museums are composed in the same man-
frame and the flat slab are the architec- ner as those of the two mosques. In the
tural equivalents of the Cartesian grid. Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth (187,
They imply no direction, no center, no 188), vaults are grouped side by side. The
hierarchy. They are not the sum of spatial British Art Center at Yale (189, 190) is a
units. They are a universal condition. collection of twenty-by-twenty rooms. On
Mies van der Rohe uses the three- the top floor these rooms read clearly a s
dimensional grid to rationalize the struc- individual volumes, each lit from a
tural frame of a tall building and to order center skylight in the manner of the
the planning within it (175, 176). From Friday Mosque.
within, however, perception of the grid is All three twentieth-century architects
usually obscured and its regularity is dis- use the rectilinear grid in the service of
cernible only from without, where it ap- stronger formal ideas. This was also true
pears a s a pattern ornamenting a surface. of architects in the past. In the twentieth
Corbusier uses the ambivalent column century, however, one does not sense
grid to establish a steady pulse against the grid a s an embodiment of the tran-
which variation may be read (177). Cor- scendent geometry that gives a building
busier, however, was the first to vary the like Brunelleschi's Santo Spirito in Flor-
regularity of that grid, even to omit col- ence (191) a sacred power. Our use of it
umns on occasion. In many of his build- does not express a faith in the divine
ings the columns are not perceived a s the mystery of geometry; rather, it represents
independent pattern they appear to be in a regulating order or a technological
plan, but rather a s pieces in a three- convenience.
dimensional collage (178).
The hypostyle hall comes closest of all COMBINATIONS
ancient examples to the twentieth-century TIIE S E T I IE M E S are not discrete catego-
universal space epitomized by Mies's de- ries, and like themes in music they may
sign for a convention center (179, 180). be varied or combined. Concentrated
The Hall of One Hundred Columns in building groups. like the monastery (55)
Persepolis (181, 182) is spanned in two or the agora (192). which reflect a variety
directions and emphasizes neither orien- of human activities, are apt to include
tation. The fact that the entrances do not structures that represent a range of
fall at the centers of any side reinforces patterns. Individual buildings are also
the sense of this room a s a universal composed of several themes, although
space. one may clearly dominate.
Many Islamic mosques have enormous
floor areas. The columns, which the plans
show in a grid pattern, structure in the
individual spatial units of which the
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192
- - .-
The grid is frequently the fabric of a bolic pattern. It is a form of mandala, and
building and exists in harmony with a it occurs again and again in myths of holy
second idea. In Kahn's British Art Center places. The Tibetan mandala (201) shows
the two themes of grid and atrium are four elaborate gates at the cardinal points,
locked together: the building reads pri- where the wall of the precinct is broken.
marily as two atriums on the lower floors These gates are laid flat in the two-dimen-
and a grid of individual spaces on the top sional image. The Lamb occupies a circle
floor. The Friday Mosque in Isfahan bears at the intersection of the four rivers of
a kinship to the British Art Center in Paradise in the center of the Heavenly
more than its grid fabric. It, too, centers Jerusalem (202). Plutarch's account of the
on a courtyard. Corbusier's National Mu- founding of Rome by Romulus is the story
seum of Fine Arts of the West in Tokyo of man imbuing his place on earth with
(193, 194) is woven of the grid and the cosmic meaning: first, a round pit, the
atrium together, but is dominated by nei- mundus, which represented the cosmos,
197
ther one. It is a three-dimensional compo- and around it a circular boundary plowed
sition of planes and forms, unique and by bull and cow. This circuit was inter-
idiosyncratic. rupted at the four points where the two
The serial theme is also apt to take a axes crossed the circle. Part of the rea-
secondary role. It is used to develop the son, perhaps, for the extraordinary vitality
centric form of Turkish mosques, the of Palladio's Villa Rotonda (203, 204) is
atrium space of the Guggenheim Museum, the symbolic energy of its mandala form,
and the basilican volume of Aalto's in which two axes cross at the central ori-
church at Imatra. gin of the rotunda and project, uninter-
The linear spine frequently organizes rupted, into the landscape.
the interior of a courtyard building, like It is, however, in the true merging of
the one at Gonville and Caius College, the centric volume with the linear volume
Cambridge, or an atrium surround, like that the combination of the two ideas finds
the one in the Exeter Library. The quint- it most profound architectural, not sym-
essential spine building, the Unit6 (195), bolic, expression. No building combines
200
however, stands completely alone. the circle and the line more powerfully
The linear space and the centric space than the Hagia Sophia (205, 206). Centric
are not as easily merged, though they are space embodies the longing for withdrawal
often placed side by side, as when the and nourishment, for center, for stasis.
baptistry stands opposite the basilica Linear space expresses the urge to move
(1%). The spaces are often joined in se- out, to reach, to act. The interior volume
quence. The Pantheon is a centric volume of the Hagia Sophia combines these two
with a linear entrance (197). A straight, profound human conditions, not as sym-
walled path leads to the domed Trea- bols juxtaposed, but as a single space.
sure of Atreus (198). Maderna grafts a If works of architecture can resonate
full-scale basilican nave onto centric with this much energy across genera-
Saint Peter's (199). The two ideas are less tions, it is because the spirit they embody
separable, however, in the basilican is communicated in forms to which we
church that terminates in a round apse continue to respond. These forms and
(200). where passage and destination are patterns make up a living language that is
204
fused in a powerful story of faith and understood by all human beings. For the
exaltation. architect, this reservoir of traditional form
Linear paths passing through a centric is a source of nourishment and challenge.
space illustrate the crossing of these two
fundamental ideas. Overlaying the cross
onto the circle creates a powerfully sym-
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