The Cistercian abbey church plan with a flat east end, the “Bernardine plan,” is one of the most distinctive, and most discussed, plans of medieval architecture. It has traditionally been seen as a direct result of views on monastic architecture held by Bernard of Clairvaux, our most important source for understanding medieval art and architecture. However, as Conrad Rudolph argues in Medieval Architectural Theory, the Sacred Economy, and the Public Presentation of Monastic Architecture: The Classic Cistercian Plan, this ignores the architecture of Bernard's own monastery and the architectural theory of his circle. By reading this plan in conjunction with the Cluniac apse-echelon plan and the well-known pilgrimage plan and considering it alongside the monastic sacred economy and issues of materials, craftsmanship, and public access, Rudolph shows that the “Bernardine plan” does not represent Bernard's conception at all. It is better thought of as the “classic Cistercian plan,” a compromise of lower spiritual standards aimed at broader institutional acceptance.
In Antonio da Sangallo the Younger's Reactions to the Pantheon: An Early Modern Case of Operative Criticism, Francesco Benelli looks at three annotated drawings by Antonio in which he analyzed features of the Roman Pantheon. The architect's analysis of this ancient monument drew on both his close, methodical, and pragmatic investigations of the building and his deep knowledge of Vitruvian theory. Together, the drawings and text represent an unprecedented critique of a building then almost universally admired. Yet Antonio's dependence on Vitruvius, who belonged to a different period of Roman history than did the Pantheon, led to certain discrepancies within his conclusions. Nonetheless, Antonio's study marks a new level of professional confidence, objectivity, and critical detachment among Renaissance architects, as ancient monuments were no longer seen as perfect and unquestionable, but as sources to be praised, criticized, utilized, adapted, or ignored according to the specific needs of modern architectural practice.
In Silent Witnesses: Modernity, Colonialism, and Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier's Unfinished Plans for Havana, Joseph R. Hartman examines Havana's urbanization under the dictatorship of Gerardo Machado (in power 1925–33), focusing on the largely unrealized plans of French urbanist Forestier and his Franco-Cuban team of architects and planners. Scholars until now have focused on cataloguing the regime's extant monuments, while giving far less attention to Forestier's unbuilt urban works. The Machado regime's building campaign spoke to modern aspirations of Cuban independence and nationhood, but also to enduring colonial paradigms of race, power, and urban space. Interpreting the history of Havana's urbanization requires taking a critical view of Cuba's colonial heritage and the survival into modern times of local and imported colonialist practices. Revisiting this history lends new insights into the cultural stakes of urban restoration efforts ongoing in Havana today.
A whitewashed neo-Renaissance façade set into a high rock escarpment above the village of Abreha wa-Atsbeha, in East Tigray, Ethiopia, stands in stark contrast to its sunbaked highland surroundings. Behind this façade is a relatively large rock-cut structure, one of the oldest medieval church buildings in Ethiopia. An Italian Renaissance Face on a “New Eritrea”: The 1939 Restoration of the Church of Abreha wa-Atsbeha addresses how the restoration of this church conducted by Italian Fascist authorities represents the appropriation of local history by both Fascist Italy and Ethiopia's own imperial rulers. As Mikael Muehlbauer describes, while the façade classicizes the building, evoking both the Italianita of the Renaissance and the Romanitas of imperial Rome, earlier murals inside claimed it for Yohannes IV, the nineteenth-century Tigrayan emperor of Ethiopia.
The chapels at Tuskegee University and Emory University are among the most inventive—and least known—works of the American modernist architect Paul Rudolph (1918–97). In Paul Rudolph and the Psychology of Space: The Tuskegee and Emory University Chapels, Karla Cavarra Britton and Daniel Ledford analyze these buildings as significant exemplars of the postwar American university chapel, finding them subject to three seminal influences in Rudolph's life: his childhood experience of Southern Methodism, his encounters with the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, and his admiration for Le Corbusier's religious works. The chapels evoke powerful aesthetic and emotive experiences in their audiences, reflecting Rudolph's ambition that architecture should be grounded in a “psychology of space.” The Tuskegee Chapel, designed at the apex of Rudolph's career (1960–69), engages the university's African American musical and educational legacy. The Cannon Chapel at Emory, meanwhile, built late in Rudolph's professional life (1975–81) as a multiuse space for the university's school of theology, exhibits a contrasting pattern of complexity and intransigence.