Bezalel's Compass

September 19, 2012

What is Classical Architecture?

Filed under: Architecture, Education of an architect — Tags: , , — Eric G. Ivers @ 1:58 am

Definitions are known to be ambiguous and are often tied to usage in particular group settings. For example, what is classical architecture? The term “classical” can be used in a variety of ways. As an example, one might say, “I like classical architecture”. Does this suggest an analogous relationship to classical literature and classical philosophy, and accordingly denote a specific historical and geographic context, namely the high period of academia of both Greece and Rome? Or is all architecture throughout time subsequent to the Greco-Roman period that makes specific reference to those precedents what we mean by classical? Or lastly, do we mean, apart from its historic and geographic grounding, the underlying and formal principles that make up a specific canon of architecture of which Greco-Roman architecture participated in. All three uses are common parlance and in need of more refined clarity.

September 18, 2012

Choir of Angels

Where should a choir be stationed in a church? Should the choir be visible? In a loft? In the background supporting the congregation? Up front and center?  When I was in Venice during Pentecost at San Marco, I was slack jawed at the choir of angels that sang from an invisible “beyond”. Unseen, the choir pulled the congregation of the temporal faithful into the realm of the eternal. The call of holy communion was administered within and among the incorporeal church militant. This is the power of art that stops time. How else might architecture affect how we  worship?

San Marco, Venice

THE POETICS OF CHRISTENDOM: The Trinity, the Incarnation and the Origin of Architectural Creation


My many heartfelt thanks to Thomas Gordon Smith who taught me that an architect’s vocation is fundamentally one of servant-hood – who taught me that the origin of the work of great architecture exists in that space between a patron and his servant. It is here that the virtuous architect mediates the Christ-like role as both teacher and servant. Wisdom determines when the architect is which, but architecture is still always a communal event. This, in the end, is the Christian’s lifelong walk along the road that has just begun. Soli Deo Gloria.

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