this week i

updated how elderly americans fare under varying definitions of poverty.  leslie m. discusses my mother's first cousin.  izmir rightly clocktower proud

agora toured.  tamerlane laid siege here, beyond western pixels of wikimedia map.  semitic letter, bipedal cephalopod, or polar bear blinking?  ᴥ

peppered asdfree with gpl v3.  wildebeest logo in hunted by buffalo jump off public steamboat mountain onto the surrounding private acreage

drew piercings, pizza, parlor games saloon (it's a large cheese) and early offline.  not sure how to interpret: if you are a mirror then i look great

value scaled flame emoji then alighieri's k-9 comedy: bark of the frisbeast.  honest question: is fuzzy monster an oxymoron?  piano camo monster too

1st drafted siberian tiger jailbreak, stripes left behind in the snow. with demonym riff, venetian prison break (shawshank vibes) & venusian korsakov

read a history of architecture: settings and rituals by spiro kostof

to my students, past and future, this book is fondly dedicated: it was written with them foremost in mind

architecture is a costly act.  it engages specialized talent, appropriate technology, handsome funds

circumscription and accent..boundary and monument

the strangest and most affecting of all at lascaux..the beast is a big wounded bison.  the spear is lodged in its strong body; its entrails are coming out.  the hunter responsible is himself fatally hurt.  he has fallen backwards, gored by the dread horns

whalebone rafters

picasso and braque seized on the aesthetic provocation of primitive art

eridu..the birthplace of kingship

the atavistic urge is evident in the naming of ziggurats: one of them, for instance, is called "house of the mountain, mountain of the storm, bond between heaven and earth"

the palace grew at the expense of the ziggurat

although both were river environments disciplined early by a network of canals and dykes, egypt's single river was never turbulent like the tigris and euphrates.  it was a temperate, steady line of water, navigable throughout, and subject to unfailingly regular and benign flooding.  from july to october the low-lying banks were inundated, the waters leaving their deposit of rich black silt which could be sowed with little plowing.  this narrow strip of valley, the black land, was rigidly divided into fields, the boundaries of which had to be re-established after every period of flooding.  egypt's early mastery of geometry and its affinity for the right angle (curved walls or circular buildings are almost unknown in the ancient architecture of egypt) owe a debt to this annual survey

the country's liquid spine

orthogonal planning came naturally

the saqqara tomb of one early pharoah, zoser, that dates from about 2680 b.c...the achievement was epochal and was credited by antiquity to the architect imhotep

we know of no mesopotamian architect by name

the pyramids of giza..the precision of their masonry that eschews the use of mortar

the rays of the sun, in place of a staircase

to us, stripped of their reflective limestone casing and the gold overlay of their capstones

hatshepsut's express instructions to her architect senmut were to create an earthly palace for amon reminiscent of the myrrh terraces of punt, the mythical homeland of the gods.  a difficult expedition was sent out to punt, now what probably what we know as somaliland, to bring back myrrh trees for the terraced gardens of "the paradise of amon."  the story of the expedition is depicted on the walls of the colonnade of the second terrace, between a chapel of the jackal-headed anubis, lord of cemetaries, and another of hathor, the cow goddess associated with both love and death

an outgoing street architecture, not involved and street-shy as were the houses of mesopotamian cities

after prescribed rites..thirty priests wearing hawk and jackal masks carried the boat on their shoulders, first through the hall of records, passing between two massive granite pillars which were decorated in high relief with the heraldic plants of upper and lower egypt, the lily and papyrus

his architect ineny

two seated colossi

roughly the first millennium b.c...the country endured a nubian or ethiopian rule for two centuries, and then a century of persian rule.  in the later fourth century b.c. it became part of alexander the great's greek empire and was governed by the house of the ptolemies, until the arrival of the romans

the crocodile-god sobek

beehive tomb

bronze daggers inlaid with gold and electrum

swathing bodies in bandages..mummifying them

zeus was born in a cave and raised secretly, for his father kronos had taken to swallowing his children as soon as they were born in the hopes that thereby he would thwart the oracle's prophecy that one of his sons would dethrone him

"there is a land in the midst of the wine dark sea," homer sings

"labyrinth" is a word of cretan origin

this cross-island road went by a resthouse, the so-called caravanserai

a frieze of griffins

the lustral basins

cult functions associated with the bull dance, the great public celebration of minoan life

early architects like theodoros of samos were equally well known as sculptors

senmut, the famous architect and intimate of queen hatshepsut

the number of columns for the standard peristyle would be set at 6 by 14, counting the corner columns twice

fluting was done on the spot, after all the drums of a column were in place.  normally there were twenty flutes per column

alternating triglyphs and metopes, repeating schematically the rhythm of alternating columns and voids in the peristyle

the temple was conceived primarily as an exterior presence..mid-space architecture par excellence

here every spring, on the day of the vernal equinox, the people came from all around to attend the festival of nawruz

a social theory of urbanism

the celebrated polis of pallas athena

dining couches

a ceiling of marble beams

the blazing sunlight of an attic august

athena and poseidon fought in the presence of the other gods to determine who would rule supreme

in many of the metopes the struggle was shown in mid-course: there was no victor, no vanquished

the last of the alexandrine kingdoms, cleopatra's egypt

the corinthian order..clearly not architectonic.  a luxurious plant capital is antithetical to the idea of the column as a load-bearing entity..the motive was literary rather than functional..leto, after her long and desperate wandering, leaned against a laurel tree there and gave birth to apollo

the architects were the milesian daphnis and paeonius of ephesos

hellenized by alexander

the temple proper..might be an open horseshoe in form, or a greek letter pi (π)

improved siegecraft

dionysos riding a panther

vitruvius, in his detailed description of the hellenistic house, mentions the
oecus magnus where the family weaving was done, the andron or dining room, a lecture room on the east, a picture gallery, a library, a garden with its own dining room, and guest rooms arranged to ensure privacy

the hellenized etruscans

there had never been a master plan for rome 

italic in its overall disposition, or more particularly etruscan..pompeii, for the greater part of its history, was an architectural crossroads between the italic north and the greek south 

vitruvius is explicit about the fact that temples must not be built "according to the same rules for all the gods alike, since the performance of the sacred rites varies with the various gods"

frequent holidays that accounted for nearly one-half of the year.  the vast proletariat, once a self-governing people in theory at least, now had to be appeased and kept under control through bread, circuses, and the presence of an imperial home guard

"the rough simplicity of the past is gone," ovid wrote, "now rome is golden"

the golden house posed as the traditional setting of absolutism

iwan, a rectangular barrel-vaulted hall open at one end to its full width and height; it was often employed as a triple chamber, the central one usually larger than those on the extremely influential formula: four cross-axial iwans around a court..become standard for mosques, schools, and caravanserais alike

roman facade conventions lingered like snatches of an old tune

a spherical triangle


(c) wu-tien (wu-dien), also called wu-chi, with five spines and four slopes; (d) hsieh-shan (xieshan), also called chui-chi, with nine spines

deprived of aids like the wheel or the smelting of venta, situated among the mangrove swamps of northern tabasco, on the gulf coast, is a rounded and fluted pyramid

the visible universe was concretized in the byzantine mind as a cube surrounded by a dome

western civilization was decimated through the combined onslaught of germans and muslims

sometimes a single roman monument contained the reduced citizenry.  early medieval arles moved into its amphitheater; the palace of diocletian became the town of split


if you succumbed to perdition now, it was not because of some impending millenniarist destiny, but through your own wickedness

on the other side of the tympanum the damned, monks and knights among them, are kept away from the judge by guardian angels equipped with shield and lance.  "perverse men," the inscription reads, "are thus hurled into the abyss": 
homines perversi sic sunt in tartara mersi..the grimacing lucifer presides over a spirited choreography of horrors

the carpet-bagging normans


the pointed arch, the vault rib, and the flying buttress.  none is the invention of gothic builders.  nor for that matter is stained glass

reims, amiens, beauvais, bourges - these are the four great sites of the ile-de-france that witness the apogee of the gothic cathedral beyond chartres.  the critical decades are 1220 to 1270, and a kind of upper limit to high gothic daringness is signaled by the collapse of the choir at beauvais cathedral in 1284.  these overwhelming structures pushed their competition with chartres and with one another in a number of ways.  height, surely.  the nave vault at amiens soars to almost 42 meters (138 feet), as opposed to chartres' 38.  the architect of beauvais strained for more than 45 meters and made it, even if only for ten years..but this was not, of course, a challenge in the abstract.  the pantheon, after all, is as high; hagia sofia higher.  the audacity of jean d'orbais, robert de luzarches, bernard de soissons, hugh libergier - that new breed of hero-architects who signed their buildings with pride and were prominently buried therein - was to reach ever upward at the same time that they continued to reduce the built mass below the vaults.  in the end we can hardly speak of walls at all.  the skeleton of clustered piers, rib vaults, and flying buttresses is really all there is of substance - that and the finespun tracery for the glass

traveling architects who carried the full style of the ile-de-france beyond the french-speaking territories..the cathedral at toledo belongs to the bourges family

the skeletal lightness of gothic

an umbrellalike vault

when the shiite fatimids of mahdiya in tunisia marched on the city in 967, they built still another enclosure a kilometer or so further north calling it al-qahira, "the victorious," from which we derive the name cairo

the flanking towers of one gate have rounded ends, a form recommended in vitruvius' ancient treatise in preference to square towers whose corners can be pounded too easily

frightfully congested, as cairo is to this day

saladin, arrived to rescue cairo - and started by terminating fatimid rule.  the fatimid palaces were destroyed, the two sexes of the ruling family separated so that the dynasty might become extinct


no wonder that florentines abroad will henceforth no longer proclaim themselves homesick, but "sick for the dome"

the destruction of the looms

gunpowder and the longbow..spelled the functional obsolescence of the mounted and heavily armed knight

alhambra..the haunting evensong of muslim spain

not so much constructed as spun, painted, conjured

santa fe, or holy faith -
their faith

on his first visit to cordoba in 1525, charles was shocked.  "if i had known what you wished to would not have done it, for what you are carrying out here is to be found everywhere and what you had formerly does not exist anywhere else in the world"

the dispute was resolved with the treaty of tordesillas of 1494 in which pope alexander vi set down the line of demarcation between spanish and portuguese jurisdictions in the atlantic: an imaginary meridian passing 370 leagues to the west of the cape verde islands

priests led their sacrificial victims, racked them on the stone altar before the temple, and with obsidian knives cut out their hearts.  american gods were stern

the feathered serpent

the so-called royal road, about 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) long, cut an arduous path through the andes..draft animals and the wheel were both unknown

the plaza should be one and one-half times as long as it is wide, because this shape works better for fiestas in which horses are used..from this public space main streets are to issue, as follows: one from the middle of each side, and two from each corner forming a right angle.  around the plaza and along these principal streets, there should be arcades

copies of vitruvius, alberti, and sebastiano serlio had been imported by mexican booksellers

a mexican mosque

keep in mind the lingering country flavor of papal rome, the strange mix of the monumental and the bucolic in its age of grandeur.  cows grazed in the roman forum

obelisks were ideal anchors for the prodigal mesh of the sistine plan

feast days like easter when the pope gave his blessing
urbi et orbi ("to the city and the world")

the ranks of the religious - acolytes, chasubled friars, abbots, patriarchs of the east, bishops and archbishops of sees in all parts of the world

every major architect looked to find his own brand of antiquity

a wealth of plumes, crests, and shields

the rococo, a sort of evanescent late baroque that combines the dynamism and geometric complexity of seventeenth-century italian architecture with the frilly, frothy decoration emanating from post-louis xiv france

louis xiv kept the flotilla of gondolas, sent to him by the republic of venice

georgian annapolis


the chief liturgical center is now the pulpit with its tremendous sounding board overhead

the prosperous wool years..england remained undecided about its protestantism for about a century

the primitive hut from which vitruvius had said all architecture takes its start

a column is primarily a cylindrical shaft, and even fluting would detract from this fundamental truth

"men are as great as the monuments they leave behind," the emperor declared

london's population had gone from a million inhabitants at the end of the eighteenth century to about twice that number in twenty years.  it was now the largest city in the history of mankind

roman centuriation

the treasury building in washington is the transatlantic echo of the likes of the british museum

the japanese house has all of its joints mortised, tenoned, and pegged; no nails are ever used

the white house axis, marked with fountains, would reach out all the way to the potomac.  the capitol axis would also be extended, west beyond the washington monument, and would terminate at the water's edge with a memorial to president lincoln set in a rond point.  a bridge beyond this point would lead to arlington national cemetery

german municipal practice had no future in england.  the cities, far from enjoying full home rule, were under the thumb of parliament, and parliament was the near-exclusive instrument of the land-owning noble class.  their monopoly was extensive.  one-fourth of the land of the united kingdom belonged to 1,200 persons who were getting fat on huge rent rolls.  nine estates owned most of the land on which london, with its 7 million inhabitants, was deployed.  how unrealistic to expect this all-powerful clan of landlords to pass laws restricting the disposition of private land

the introduction of steel reinforcement, which changed concrete from a heavy inert material akin to stone to a tough resilient one fit for very thin articulation

the nazi administration..closed down the bauhaus and attacked its leaders as subversives.  much more mildly but unmistakably, in italy too mussolini's regime withdrew its support of young modernists after 1934 and embraced the rhetorical classicism of stalin and hitler

this ideal metropolis of modern capitalism is now of course commonplace.  we are familiar with towers representing the might of multinational corporations.  the residential slab as le corbusier perfected it - a reinforced concrete cage with independently built, that is, substantially soundproof split-level dwelling units, inserted like bottles in a bottle rack..will become ubiquitous

le corbusier..had long been in love with america's silos and skyscrapers.  manhattan was the nearest thing to his vision of the metropolis of tomorrow.  "the united states is the adolescent of the contemporary world"

the gothic skyscraper

the reality of consumer capitalism which thrives precisely on novelty, on quick shifts in taste, on the advertising potential of the package.  a society that is impelled to change cars and appliances regularly, whatever their working condition, is not likely to settle for the eternal building

 coventry lost her cathedral; frankfurt lost goethe's house

"main street is almost all right"