The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession

The Architect: Chapters in the History of the Profession

Spiro Kostof

Language: English

Pages: 398

ISBN: 0520226046

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Architectwas the first book in fifty years to survey the role of the profession from its beginnings in ancient Egypt to the present. Without claiming to cover every period in every country, it is nonetheless the most complete synthesis available of what is known about one of the oldest professions in the world. Dana Cuff considers the continuing relevance of the book and evaluates changes in architectural practice and the profession since 1965, most particularly digital technology, globalization, and environmental concerns.

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modern knowledge of Roman architecture. These writers rarely speak of work in the sense of the use of the hands, of the products of craftsmen and artisans, and almost never of shop life. Their subjects were thought more elevated; architecture is not 30 THE ARCHITECT Figure 6. Casts of architects' tomb inscriptions. Such inscriptions abound, testimony to the size of the profession and its practitioners' pride in it. the only profession they overlook. Inscriptions naming architects, usually

of the buildings and documentary sources is incontestable. The term architectus, which had been subsumed by masonic designations, began a slow comeback, as the architect was more and more distinguished from the body of craftsmen. Illuminations show the architect directing the workmen and not himself using his hands. To be sure, it was not until the thirteenth century that the emergence of the new image of the architect is complete, but by then the intellectual detachment of the designer from the

always worth mentioning, because he was still, like a mason, thought to be less important than his patron. This is hardly surprising if we consider that at that time many patrons of architecture were in fact educated men, who did leave the imprint of their minds on the buildings put up for them. In his lives of illustrious men of the fifteenth century, Vespasiano da Bisticci talks at length about Cosimo de' Medici (1389-1464), whom he had known well and admired very much. Summing up Cosimo's

of any of the cathedrals, were the basis of a solid reputation, and, in principle, a man held only one such position at a time. By the early sixteenth century, however, the master was often absent on other projects, leaving the building in the hands of his supervisor—an indication of the weakening of the system as well as of a more varied prac- 132 THE ARCHITECT tice. By this time, the master of the works was beginning to estrange himself from the rest of his trade and to become an architect

people, and asks that "anyone who wishes make a drawing [grapsai] and exhibit it, not less than a cubit [long or wide |. . . ." Now the verb here cannot logically be understood to refer to a description, since the metric dimension specified clearly makes sense more for a drawing than a piece of writing. Finally, there is Vitruvius. More will be said, in the next chapter, of this Roman architect and writer of the late first century B.C. Since his famous Ten Books of Architecture was an attempt, in

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