A Universal Language in Stone and Steel: Architectural Poetics, Globally Considered
With Nathaniel Walker
On Thursday, June 20, the ICAA hosted Nathaniel Walker, Assistant Professor of Architectural History at the College of Charleston, for a lecture designed to introduce students to a broader conception of the “classical,” and post the argument that classicists working today would do well to demonstrate how their work speaks a universal language of value to the greater human family.
When one hears the phrase “classical architecture,” it is usually the forms of the Classical Mediterranean that come to mind: Greco-Roman columns and pediments, with perhaps a sprinkling of Egyptian pyramids and a dash of Assyrian tile. There are, however, other cultural periods that have been described as “classical”—scholars speak of Classical Chinese culture, the Classic Maya, and the Classical period of Ile-Ife in ancient Nigeria. Great achievements in art and architecture have taken place all over the world, and there are striking similarities between different traditions, including the architectural poetics of structural elaboration, human-scaled proportion, and ornamental pattern. These similarities are meaningful, because they point to the kinship shared by all human beings.