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Mar 21 - Mar 21 2023

The History of Western Architecture

Host: Smithsonian Associates
Date: March 21st to April 11th
Time: 00.45am to 2.45am

Tracing the history of western architecture is like looking back at a long trail of footprints in the sand. Each step marks a particular moment of the journey, just as architectural movements and styles mark distinct moments in Western history. By examining four distinct historical periods in western architecture, Rocky Ruggiero, an architectural historian and expert in Renaissance art, traces the development of architectural styles, traditions, trends, and forms beginning in the ancient world and continuing through to the present day.

March 21 - The Ancient World

The Mesopotamian ziggurat marked the advent of monumental architecture in the West. Pharaonic architecture in Egypt would then widely employ monumentality for a range of funerary and religious structures. But it was Greco-Roman architecture that left an indelible mark on Western civilization and continues to influence much of what we build today. Ruggiero explores the development of architecture in the ancient world as well as how the styles reflected the respective civilizations that produced them.

March 28 - The Medieval World 

While most medieval architecture survives in the form of churches, there are also many examples of civic and military buildings. Examine the primary examples of medieval European architecture and how they exemplify the Romanesque and Gothic styles that characterized this period in history.

April 4 - The Early Modern and Baroque Worlds

Born in the city of Florence in the early 15th century, early modern or Renaissance architecture marked a concerted effort to return to the architectural styles of the ancient Greco-Roman world. Beginning with the buildings of Filippo Brunelleschi, this style would evolve and eventually be exported to Rome by Michelangelo in the 16th century. But perhaps the architectural style for which Rome is best known is the Baroque. Ruggiero traces the return of classical forms during the Renaissance and their eventual transformation into the swirling forms of the Baroque era.

April 11 - The Modern World

While 18th and early 19th-century architecture saw the return of a strict classicism in form, the later 19th and 20th centuries saw a move away from architectural craftsmanship and toward an exploration of new and innovative technologies of construction. Reinforced concrete, glass, and steel replaced brick, stucco, and marble. Ruggiero discusses the evolution of architecture in the modern world and how it reflects the ever-changing values of Western society.

  • Mar 21 - Mar 21 2023




The History of Western Architecture