By Julie Benton
June 28, 2022
Each year, the ICAA National Office holds the Summer Studio in Classical Architecture, a four-week immersive program that introduces a cohort of university-level students to the core tenets of classical design. Students divide their time between the design studio and New York City itself, using the city as a 'living laboratory' for measured and analytical drawing; the relationship of the city's architecture to principles of urbanism; and more. Alongside these studies, students have the opportunity to meet emerging professional mentors and instructors, as well as visit classical design firms based in New York.Follow along with the cohort of the 2022 Summer Studio, taking place from June 13th through July 9th, as students describe this year's experience in their own words.You can read articles for other weeks of the program here: Week Two | Week Three
Last Monday, a cohort of fifteen students from schools around the United States gathered at the ICAA's National Office in Manhattan for the first day of the 2022 Summer Studio in Classical Architecture. The day began with a group breakfast; remarks from the ICAA's Education Chair, Michael Mesko, and Director of Education, Edith Platten; and brief individual presentations by each student to help the group get to know each other. After lunch, the students jumped into a week of rigorous studies of hand drafting principles, field drawing techniques, the moldings, and the Tuscan, Doric, and Ionic orders. Drafting sessions utilizing the ICAA Classical Primer were punctuated with field visits to demonstrate the use of the orders in actual buildings in Manhattan.
"My experience at the ICAA's Summer Studio program has been a compelling one," wrote Noah Sigalas, a senior at the College of Charleston studying Historic Preservation and Community Planning. "When I arrived at the first class, I knew little of the classical orders and could only identify them by their capitals. Now, at the end of the first week, not only can I identify the five canonical orders, I can proportion, block out, and draw Tuscan, Doric, and Ionic pedestals, columns, and entablatures. The instruction has been concise, helpful, and fast-paced—though the instructors (and especially the TAs) are always willing to give me individual help if I fall behind. The elementals class sessions have been met and often exceeded the standard of my four-year institution in terms of rigor.
Teaching Assistant Christian Galindo-Torres (a recent graduate of Hampton University's architecture program and an alum of the 2019 Summer Studio in Classical Architecture) helps Noah Sigalas practice drawing the orders.
Walking around and experiencing the classical architecture of New York City has easily been one of the most interesting aspects of this program so far. Although I come from a place with good architecture (Charleston, South Carolina), New York City is something else entirely. Having capable and intimately knowledgeable guides in The ICAA’s instructors has been invaluable, both in understanding the wonderful buildings of New York City, and in gaining rare expert insight into methods of classical design and execution. All of our excursions have been fun and extremely informative and have greatly broadened my perspective on what is possible within good classicism.
Perhaps equally broadening has been getting to know the instructors and other students at this summer program. Already I’ve met more like-minded people who appreciate the classical design tradition than I met in the course of my bachelor’s degree and have made many invaluable connections. Being able to converse with professionals and students studying classicism at other universities has significantly broadened my scope and understanding of the classical architecture profession and has given me a good sense of what lies ahead if I indeed pursue classical architecture as a potential career. I especially appreciate the mentorship program which is run as part of this summer program, and the overall quality of the instructors within the program.Overall, this has been one of the best and most exciting opportunities of my academic career and it has definitely sparked a strong interest in the classical tradition within me that may spur me on to greater things yet. I recommend (and already have recommended!) this program to anyone who is interested in learning canonical classical technique or are even looking into classical design as a career. I can’t think of a better way to spend my summer!"
Instructor Marty Burns (Ferguson & Shamamian Architects) gives students pointers as they practice field drawing in Bryant Park.
Afonso Lima, a rising sophomore studying architecture at the University of Notre Dame, also noted the field studies as a highlight of the first week of the program. "I have lived in cities all my life, and at last the education I am receiving through the ICAA has allowed me to deconstruct all that surrounds me," he wrote. "Through the ICAA summer program in classical architecture, I now understand the thought process behind constructing the orders. Beyond understanding the orders and other architectural elements I now have a grasp on the practical application of such elements. Through the ICAA field studies, I have begun to develop a palette of sorts. Through looking at the surrounding architecture of New York City, the ICAA has emphasized the importance of documentation by teaching us all how to make measured drawings. Classical vernacular as a whole is not outdated--in fact, when the classical vernacular is understood properly, the possibilities are endless. Classical architecture to me is a time-tested language, which is why it is prevalent in a historical city like New York City.
One of the first lessons I learned at the ICAA was the names of each molding profile. In understanding this, I now have learned to look beyond merely a 'building'. In fact, I now see the juxtaposition of forms to have a purpose. Controlling shadows is truly a time-tested art within classical architecture. The emphasis on a tectonic foundation is core to classical architecture. This theme is repeated throughout the first week of my studies at the ICAA. The Instructors at the ICAA have taught us that each component of a building has a purpose in being or presenting itself to be load-bearing. My favorite moment of this week was the field studies where our instructors taught us all how to lay out a composition. The insight into the steps necessary to achieve sketches like our instructors was eye opening. I look forward to continuing my weeks at the ICAA to push forward my understanding of the classical language in architecture."
Early in the week, the students were introduced to their final design project which they will be working towards throughout the program: a proposal for a new entry pavilion to Prospect Park at Bartel Pritchard Circle. On Friday, the students participated in a full-day walking tour of the park led by ICAA Education Chair Michael Mesko, where they learned more about the existing architecture and landscape of the park as well as see first-hand the topography and details of the project site."My favorite class this week was walking through Prospect Park in Brooklyn," wrote Clare Newbolds, a rising sophomore studying architecture at Benedictine College. "There were so many beautiful structures that we were able to visit and draw. The trip allowed me to encounter the works of classical American architects, while growing my knowledge of measured drawings.""Studying with the Institute has been a delight! The teachers and TAs are all very helpful and friendly. I had some experience drafting the different classical orders in school, but the studio has allowed me to walk through each one individually to solidify my understanding of their proportions. I particularly enjoyed the class on Ionic columns, and look forward to this coming Monday where we will learn how to draft the volutes in more detail. Through the different teachers' guidance and encouragement, I can already see great improvement in my work."
Student Sage Zheng practices measured drawing.
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