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Classical Architecture: A Handbook of the Tradition for Today

Written by Martin Brandwein. Renderings by M. Gunnison Collins

The Handbook will provide today’s architects and design professionals with essential lessons on the classical tradition of architecture and urbanism for practice today. The complete classical orders are presented here in detailed drawings and explanatory text for every practitioner’s use.

The Elements of Classical Architecture

All classical architecture of the Greco-Roman tradition is composed, or written, in one language of forms. These elements of classical architecture include specific Moldings and assemblages of moldings called an Order. An Order is an accepted way of assembling a column (supporting element) with an entablature (spanning element) while imparting a certain character. In short, an Order orders a design. Orders are never applied after the building is designed, as they are generative. Over time the canon has come to include five Orders: Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite. The Orders and Moldings presented here represent the canon of the Roman tradition.

With Moldings and Orders we compose the buildings that create our built environment. While the most important buildings, such churches or civic buildings, might use the Orders fully expressed, most buildings, especially those that are more vernacular, typically use only a vestige of an Order or Moldings. Careful study of the Orders is required if one is to design with them, in addition one can learn compositional concepts such as repetition of forms, hierarchy and more. The student is encouraged to construct each order on their own following the text and image, and to employ the orders in design, either fully expressed or as an ordering mechanism.