Institute of Classical Architecture & Art



Summer Studio in Classical Architecture


Students spend their four weeks exploring the ideas, methods, and issues of classical architectural design. Lectures, field trips, discussions, critiques during class sessions are supplemented by design exercises completed during and outside of class time. Students are immersed in study of the following subject areas:

  1. Composition and Design
  2. The Elements of Classical Architecture
  3. Geometry and Proportion
  4. Drawing and Rendering
  5. The Literature of Classical Architecture
  6. The Art of Building


The Composition and Design component is structured in a studio format whereby each student develops a classical design proposal for an architectural building program. An essential component of the design process is instruction, critique and feedback throughout the development of the project, and reviews by instructors and guest critics. Coursework within this subject area introduces: the Beaux-Arts design method; the role of precedent in developing a solution to a set of architectural conditions; principles and methods of applying the classical elements; and classical design concepts, principles and planning strategies. All subject areas – Elements of Classical Architecture, Proportion, History, Literature, Drawing & Rendering, and the Art of Building – are synthesized in the Classical Design Study.


The Elements of Classical Architecture examines the canon of proportioning systems for the Classical Orders which has guided the practice of classical architecture since antiquity. Central to the study and appreciation of classical design is familiarity with the terminology, grammar, and geometry of Classical Orders, Mouldings and Elements. 


Drawing and Delineation is the graphic representation of the three-dimensional world. All of the modes of graphic expression are controlled by an understanding of geometry, proportion, and light and shade. Students are introduced to a variety of manual drawing and rendering techniques and their role in the design process through the following courses: hand drafting, sketchbook study, perspective, measured and observational drawing and watercolor and wash rendering.


The study of proportion includes the practical methods of numerically and geometrically describing and designing a classical building, as well as the theoretical concepts of symbolic and qualitative number and shape. Proportion, in the classical arts, involves the use of number and geometry as design tools. Students are introduced to concepts and methods of application of the classical proportional idea and their connection to the canons of classical architecture. 


The classical tradition in architecture has been transmitted through the influence of written and illustrated publication. Students are introduced to major texts of the classical tradition, their impact on the built realm, and their use as a resource for the contemporary practitioner. The subject area introduces students to written and illustrated resources including architectural treatises, building surveys and pattern books, monographs, and modern publications.


The unique properties of traditional building materials, their methods of assembly and principles of sound use, are considerations that have profound impact on the appearance and character of a classical building. Students are introduced to the tectonics of classical form including: the formal properties and capacities of traditional materials; the traditional means of joining materials; and the techniques associated with craft specializations that remain vital in contemporary classical building. Traditional building systems will be studied through a lens of theoretical concepts that emphasize a dialogue between building and architecture.

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