Learning from Savannah: Architecture and Urbanism in Evolving Dialogue - Part 1
with David Gobel
This is the first part of a two-part course. Part 2 is available here.
For nearly three centuries, Savannah, Georgia has been admired for its ideal town plan and its exceptional architecture. Savannah’s plan is extraordinary for many reasons, but principally for how it has adapted to changing circumstances while maintaining its essential ideality. Savannah’s architecture is, in many ways, a product of the town plan as it too has adapted over time. This seminar explores the evolving dialogue between urbanism and architecture that continues to make Savannah a rewarding case study for architects and urbanists today.
The lessons of Savannah are woven into its urban plan and infused into its architectural fabric. We begin, therefore, by examining the abstract layout of its streets, blocks and public squares. This layout was initially designed by James Oglethorpe but was expanded over the next century to form the central core of Savannah now known as the historic district. We then give attention to the tangible fabric of buildings and landscape elements that turn the abstract plan into a real place. In reality the plan and its architecture are inseparable, so we pay attention to how they inform each other, how, in the implementation of the plan and the development of its architecture, the ideal is made real.
About the Instructor
David Gobel is a Professor of Architectural History at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he has taught classes for over twenty years in the history of cities and gardens, modern and Renaissance architecture, and the classical tradition. Dr. Gobel has written articles on a variety of topics and is co-editor of Commemoration in America: Essays on Monuments, Memorialization, and Memory (University of Virginia Press, 2013), one of five co-authors of the Buildings of Savannah (UVa Press, 2016) and guest editor of Classicist 13 (2016), on The American South.
Bannister, Turpin C. “Oglethorpe’s Sources for the Savannah Plan.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 20, no. 2 (May 1, 1961): 47–62. https://doi.org/10.2307/988103.
Oglethorpe, James Edward. Some Account of the Design of the Trustees for Establishing Colonies in America. Univ of Georgia Press, 1990.
Georgia’s Charter of 1732. Edited by Albert B. Saye. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1942.
Williams, Robin B., David Gobel, Patrick Haughey, Daves Rossell, and Karl Schuler. Buildings of Savannah. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016.
Wilson, Thomas D. The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond. University of Virginia Press, 2012.
2020 Driehaus Summer Studio Retrospective
This course is presented as part of the 2020 Driehaus Summer Studio Retrospective, a four-week series of daily online content inspired by the ICAA's Summer Studio in Classical Architecture program and the many students who have been impacted through its unique course of study. You can find additional programs in this series here.
The ICAA would like to thank Peter Cosola, Inc. for generously supporting this course.