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The Architecture Portal

Architecture from the Greek ἀρχι- (archi), meaning first, prime, or chief, and τέκτων (tekton) meaning builder. It is a multi-disciplinary field, including within its fold mathematics and geometry, science, art, technology, social sciences, politics, history, philosophy, and so on. The first architect known by name was Imhotep from ancient Egypt. According to the Roman architectural writer Vitruvius "Architecture is an art, arising out of many other arts, and adorned with much and varied learning: by the help of which a judgement is formed of those works which are the result of other arts". He added that an architect should be well versed in fields such as music, astronomy and philosophy. That holds true to this day. "Architectural philosophy" is frequently used to describe the approach of an architect; for example, modernism, rationalism, empiricism, minimalism, postmodernism are some of the philosophical directions influencing architecture. Architecture is seldom a "pure art", like painting and sculpture, as the human interaction with a building is usually practical as well as aesthetic. Thus the architect must make sure his design conforms with the purpose of the building, the legal requirements in the area, as well as the practical and cultural concerns of the people who will use it. For example, a private home might have one bathroom, used by both sexes, but cultural norms and local building codes may dictate that a public building have separate restrooms for men and women. So that his design will best serve the people who will use the building, the architect must take great care with such mundane matters as the efficient placement of heating and cooling ducts, plumbing for restrooms and kitchens, conduits for electrical and communication lines, etc. His designs must also take into account the environment into which the building will be placed. Where good building sites are scarce or expensive, it is often more practical to build structures that take up comparatively little ground but have many stories; in areas that do not have these constraints, a building that consist of a single, large story or several separate buildings may be more suitable. Disasters, both natural and man-made, must be taken into account. Buildings in southern California are required to have features that help them withstand earthquakes. In Florida, where there is no history of earthquakes, these features are not necessary -- instead much attention is given to a structure's ability to hold up under the high winds of a hurricane. Today many architects of large buildings run computer simulations to see how their designs will react to a many different stresses -- from hundred year storms to aircraft collisions. Thus architecture is, with very few exceptions, a marriage of the aesthetic and the practical.

Selected article

El Escorial: floor plan

El Escorial, the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo El Real (also known as the Monasterio de El Escorial or simply El Escorial) is located about 50 km (31 mi) northwest of the Spanish capital. El Escorial comprises two architectural complexes of great historical and cultural significance: El Real Monasterio de El Escorial itself and La Granjilla de La Fresneda, a royal hunting lodge and monastic retreat about five km away. These sites have a dual nature; that is to say, during the 16th and 17th centuries, they were places in which the temporal power of the Spanish monarchy and the ecclesiastical predominance of the Roman Catholic religion in Spain found a common architectural manifestation. El Escorial was, at once, a monastery and a Spanish royal palace. Originally a property of the Hieronymite it is now an Augustinian monastery. Philip II of Spain, reacting to the Protestant Reformation sweeping through Europe during the sixteenth century, devoted much of his lengthy reign (1556-1598) and much of his seemingly inexhaustible supply of New World gold to stemming the Protestant tide. His protracted efforts were, in the long run, partly successful. However, the same counter-reformational impulse had a much more benign expression, thirty years earlier, in Philip's decision to build the complex at El Escorial. Philip engaged the Spanish architect, Juan Bautista de Toledo, to be his collaborator in the design of El Escorial. Juan Bautista had spent the greater part of his career in Rome, where he had worked on the St. Peter's Basilica, and in Naples, where he had served the king's viceroy, whose recommendation brought him to the king's attention. Philip appointed him architect-royal in 1559, and together they designed El Escorial. On November 2, 1984, UNESCO declared The Royal Site of San Lorenzo of El Escorial a World Heritage Site. It is an extremely popular tourist attraction, often visited by day-trippers from Madrid. (more…)

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Architects: Matthew Brettingham, William Bruce, John Douglas, Charles Holden, El Lissitzky, Benjamin Mountfort, I. M. Pei, Francis Petre, Albert Speer, Rudolf Wolters. Buildings: 7 World Trade Center, Angkor Wat, Baden-Powell House, Belton House, Borobudur, BP Pedestrian Bridge, Bramall Hall, Buckingham Palace, Buildings and architecture of Bristol, Buildings of Jesus College, Oxford, Buildings of Nuffield College, Oxford, Building of the World Trade Center, Catherine de' Medici's building projects, Chicago Board of Trade Building, Heian Palace, Holkham Hall, IG Farben Building, House with Chimaeras, Hoysala architecture, City of Manchester Stadium, Mosque, Michigan State Capitol, New Orleans Mint, Oregon State Capitol, Oriel College, Oxford, Palazzo Pitti, Palladian architecture, Pennsylvania State Capitol, Point Park Civic Center, Round Church, Preslav, Sanssouci, Scottish Parliament building, Shotgun house, Sicilian Baroque, St. Michael's Cathedral, Qingdao, St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, St Nicholas, Blakeney, Templon, Vkhutemas, West Wycombe Park
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John F. Kennedy Library
John F. Kennedy Library, in Boston, USA, by I. M. Pei (1979)

Photo credit: Fcb981

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Architects: William Adam, Antoni Gaudí, Zvi Hecker, Timothy L. Pflueger, Antonin Raymond, Kenzo Tange. Buildings: 108 North State Street, 5th Avenue Theatre, Akhtala monastery, Akshardham Temple, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Algonquin Hotel, Andriyivskyy Descent, AT&T Corporate Center, Ballard Carnegie Library, Baths of Zeuxippus, Beaumont House, Benjaminville Friends Meeting House and Burial Ground, Blackstone Library, The Casbah Coffee Club, Central Troy Historic District, Chana School, Chester Cathedral, Chester Rows, Chicago Spire, Chicago Theatre, Chrysler Building, Churche's Mansion, Clinton Presidential Center, Crown Fountain, Dolphinarium, Dunstaffnage Castle, Eaton Hall, Cheshire, Édifice Price, Edinburgh Place Ferry Pier, Elgin Cathedral, Ellwood House, The Exchange, Bristol, Forbidden City, Fort Greble, Fort Pasir Panjang, Golubac fortress, Great Mosque of Gaza, Haapsalu Castle, Halton Castle, Harold Washington Cultural Center, Heller House, Historic Michigan Boulevard District, Hull House, Hurva Synagogue, Imbrex and tegula, Imperial War Museum North, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos, Joffrey Tower, Joseph F. Glidden House, Kaunas Fortress, Liverpool Town Hall, Louvre, Manila Hotel, Marquette Building (Chicago), Mezhyhirskyi Monastery, Millennium Stadium, National Gallery, London, National Police Memorial, New Bedford Historic District, Old Louisville, Old St Paul's Cathedral, One Bayfront Plaza, Onion dome, Oregon Public Library, Pavillon de Flore, Peckforton Castle, Presidio of Santa Barbara, Queen's Pier, Rancho Camulos, Robot Building, Rock N Roll McDonald's, Roman Baths (Bath), Rookery Building, Roslin Castle, Santa Maria de Ovila, Senate House (University of London), Shamrock Hotel, Singapore Changi Airport, Smederevo Fortress, Sycamore Historic District, St Mary's Church, Acton, St Mary's Church, Nantwich, St Mary's Church, Nether Alderley, St. La Salle Hall, St Thomas the Martyr's Church, Oxford, Sunol Water Temple, Taipei 101, Taj Mahal, TCF Bank Stadium, University Mall (Little Rock, Arkansas), University of Illinois Observatory, University of Virginia, Upper Brook Street Chapel, Manchester, Valley of the Kings, Via della Conciliazione, Victoria Rooms (Bristol), Vilnius Castle Complex, Waller Hall, Walls of Constantinople, Walls of Dubrovnik, Wales Millennium Centre, World Trade Center, Zhenguo Temple. Cities, countries and regions: Architecture of Denmark, Architecture of Houston, Architecture of Leeds, Architecture of Madagascar, Architecture of Norway, Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England, Buildings and architecture of Bath, Grade I listed buildings in Somerset

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