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Architecture Essay, Research Paper

Architecture is the art or practice of designing and building

Structures. American architecture varies significantly from

architecture of the ancient world.

American architecture began around the seventeenth century.

Settlers from different European countries brought with them, during

the North American colonization, the different techniques and forms

from their homelands.

Colonial architecture was adapted by the climate of the site

chosen, the availability of building materials, and supplies. Skilled

workers, particularly trained builders were a must. The general

poverty of the colonial settlers was also a factor. Colonial architecture

can be broke down into two types.

New England settlers’ architecture reflected the late Gothic

Inspiration, such as the gabled houses of wood. The houses also had

prominent brick chimney stacks. The south’s chief building material

was brick. Many churches and statehouses reflected the classicness

of the eighteenth century English architecture.

During the early 1730s a growing prosperity and commerce

Brought an influx of well-trained artisans to America. English

architectural books became more available.

Protestant churches adopted and simplified the contemporary

English styles. Architects such as Christopher Wren and James Gibbs,

designed many of these churches. Two American examples of these

churches were Christ Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and St.

Paul’s Chapel in New York City, New York.

During the end of the colonial period, architectural styles

became more based on ancient Roman and Greek buildings. The

style coincided with the American Revolution, thus the neoclassical

style became very closely identified with the political values of the

young America.

Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson gave

serious thought to architecture because they were deeply involved

with the planning and building preparations of Washington, D.C. Both

Statesman looked to the classical world as their best source of

inspiration. Jefferson’s conception of the Roman ideas of beauty and

proportion were elegantly expressed in his design for the Virginia

State Capitol at Richmond.

Architecture, previously reserved for the demain of gentleman

amateurs and master builders, became more proffesionalized in the

first half of the nineteenth century. The arrival of several well known

European architects, including Benjamin Henry Latrobe, greatly

enhanced the field.

During the Antebellum period, the south built great mansions.

Many were two-story colonnades on large plantations. The shift

from earlier Roman based classicism to Greek. Many Greek

buildings were located in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia,


In the Southwest, the Spanish tradition, often modified by

Eastern influences remained dominant until the Mexican War.

The writings of John Ruskin influenced American architects at

about the time of the Civil War. The fashionable Victoria buildings

were seen, such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in

Philadelphia. Historical architecture intensified in the decades

following the Civil War. Newly wealthy patrons resulted in the

sprawling, elaborate mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.

During this period, many architects went to Paris to study, if

possible, to the Ecole des beaux-Arts (school of the Beautiful Arts), to

Receive their specific training’s. Architectural schools were

established in the United States, beginning with the Massachusetts

Institute of Technology in 1865.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the United States

advanced into the new building technologies. Engineering became a

distinctly separate profession. One of the most famous all American

achievements was the Brooklyn Bridge, designed by John and

Washington Roebling. The commercial buildings and skyscrapers of

big cities were admired greatly.

After World War 1, the “prairie style”, developed by Frank Lloyd

Wright, became a very common residential style. In the 1950s the

functionalist mode of architecture was seen in the design of

Coorporate office buildings. Postmodern architecture remained

dominent throughout the 1970s-present. Although some

contemporary architects have created their own style. Frank Gehry’s

asymmetrical, sculptural buildings, using both common and unusual

materials, are an architectural world unto themselves.

The art of designing structures has changed greatly through the

years. European architecture and American architecture are similar in

some ways while different in others.

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