Week 3 discussion: influences of ancient architecture

Locate at least two architectural works that were influenced by Greco-Roman architecture. These can be from any time period after the Greco-Roman period but should be from different periods themselves (e.g., one from Renaissance and one from Baroque). Then address the following:

  • What is the function of each structure?
  • How does each work exhibit influence of the Greco-Roman period? Is the influence specifically Greek, Etruscan, or Roman – or a combination?
  • How would you compare the two selected works? Take the role of the evaluative critic.

Use examples from the text, the lesson, and the library to help support your answer. Please remember to provide images and citations to help illustrate your points.

Follow-Up Post Instructions
Respond to at least one peer. Further the dialogue by providing more information and clarification.

YesterdayMay 16 at 4:59pmManage Discussion Entry

This week we are reading about architecture.  This is vastly different from other forms of art that we have learned about thus far. Our book describes how architects have a special and respected relationship in respects to space and function of that space.  Some of the most unique and well known buildings have been created with this foundation in architecture in mind.  As stated in our book, “Architecture generally creates a strengthened hierarchy in the positioned interrelationships of earth and sky and what is in between” (Jacobus & Martin, 2018).  The influences of Greco-Roman architecture are seen throughout the creation of buildings all over the world.   These structures are renowned for their magnificence, huge columns, and iconic beauty.  This style is also known for its symmetry, archways, vaults, and domes.  These structures are constructed using marble, limestone, and concrete.  

St. Peter’s Square was built from 1656-1667 in the Vatican City, during the Renaissance time period.  Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, it functions as a gathering place for the public upwards of 300,000 to see the Pope give his blessings.  It is named after Saint Peter, an apostle of Jesus and exhibits symmetry throughout its construction.  This structure exhibits the Greco-Roman period by its design.  For example, there is a trapezoidal entrance as one enters the elliptical viewing area.  Looking straight into the open area, one can see straight to the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter, known to be the headquarters of the Catholic church.  There is an Egyptian obelisk (a tall, four-sided narrow tapering monument that ends in a pyramid-like shape on top) located in the center of the viewing area.  Matching curved colonnades (long sequences of columns) flank each side of the obelisk with 284 columns, 88 pilasters, and 140 statues of saints (Civitatis Tours SL., n.d.).  In addition, there are two fountains on each side of the obelisk contribute to St. Peter’s square beauty and relaxing atmosphere after being constructed from 1667 to 1677 (Città Del Vaticano, n.d.).  The construction of St. Peter’s square embodies both Greek and Roman Architecture during the Renaissance era.  

St. Peter's Square  Google Maps View of St. Peter's Square Area 

The Low Memorial Library located on the Columbia University campus in New York City is another example influenced by Greco-Roman architecture.  This structure was the first major building of Columbia University’s new campus built in 1895 – 1897 in the Late Modern Period.  It is located in New York City’s Morningside Heights neighborhood.  “Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, Low (Memorial) Library was conceived as the visual and academic focal point of the campus plan” (National Park Service, n.d.).  There are several flights of steps with two landings that lead to the entrance of the building.  Its entrance faces the campus courtyard with several columns and a rising, central dome.  There are balconies along the base of the dome, with the north balcony featuring four statues of Euripides, Demosthenes, Sophocles and Augustus Caesar. The two massive columns of green marble at the entrance lead to the octagonal reading room.  This interior space is surrounded by sixteen columns of green granite from Vermont (University Archives, 2020).  This structure embodies both Greek and Roman architecture.

Low Memorial Library:

Low Memorial Library.jpg 

Pantheon in Rome Italy:

Pantheon Rome.jpg 

Taking the role of the evaluative critic and the three parts to being that, the insight to St. Peter’s Square is that this structure is a vast outdoor space where individuals can witness the pope give his blessing. This background knowledge allows for understanding of the intent behind this structure.  In my opinion, this structure is a work of perfection as the beautiful symmetry of the oval shape with its colonnades comes together to form an open area for people to gather. This structure is the ideal definition of inexhaustibility as it has infinite beauty and meaning behind each form and shape. St. Peter’s Square can be intimidating, beautiful, mysterious among so many other personal interpretations.  The Low Memorial Library has great insight behind it’s design.  Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, this structure was built to be a library and has since become partly occupied with administrative offices. The massive columns in the front of the library give an onlooker the impression as if they are about to enter a great building, with thousands of books on display.  This structure embodies perfection and inexhaustibility shows in what appears to be an endless flight of stairs approaching the library doors. 


Città Del Vaticano. (n.d.). St. Peter’s Square Fountains. Retrieved May 16, 2021, from https://vatican.com/St-Peters-Square-Fountains/

Civitatis Tours SL. (n.d.). St. Peter’s Square – Vatican City. Civitatis Rome. Retrieved May 16, 2021, from https://www.rome.net/st-peters-square#:%7E:text=The%20most%20impressive%20part%20of,by%20the%20disciples%20of%20Bernini.

Jacobus, L., & Martin, D. F. (2018). Humanities through the Arts (10th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.

National Park Service. (n.d.). Low Memorial Library, Columbia University, New York. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved May 16, 2021, from https://www.nps.gov/places/low-memorial-library.htm

University Archives. (2020, April 20). Low and Gould Memorial Libraries: Contemporaries and Counterparts – News from Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. News from Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library. https://blogs.cul.columbia.edu/rbml/2020/04/20/low-and-gould-memorial-libraries/

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