Lecture delivered at the University of Notre Dame’s conference: From Vernacular to Classical: The Perpetual Modernity of Palladio, June 10-12, 2011
Dean Lykoudis, faculty, alumni, students, and colleagues it is a pleasure to be back at Notre Dame for this remarkable conference and exhibition. I offer my sincere thanks to the School of Architecture and Lucien for organizing the conference, to Lucien and Ali for their thoughtful and thought-provoking New Palladians, to the RIBA for their inspirational exhibit celebrating 500 years of Palladio, to Calder Loth for his inimitable contributions to Palladio’s Transatlantic journey, and last to my fellow Institute of Classical Architecture & Art trustee, Anne Kriken Mann, for ensuring that the Palladio made it to America.
Reflecting upon the conference theme of the “Perpetual Modernity of Palladio,” I began to question Palladio’s value today. What lessons can Palladio teach us?
Portrait of Palladio (1574, G.B. Maganza)
“Regina Virtus,” frontispiece for I Quattro Libri (1570, A. Palladio)
Sometimes the best way to measure a city is to set out without destination and see how the city reveals itself to you. I did just this recently on my first trip to Calgary. Having studied a map of the city prior to my trip, and finding a neatly gridded, compact plan, snuggled in the arc of two rivers between the flat prairies and the rolling foothills of the Canadian Rockies, I imagined in my traditional urbanist’s mind’s eye, a beautiful city in the clear Canadian air. While exploring Calgary I was at turns disappointed and delighted.
I wish I could be with you today, but it is a good sign I could not be, since a lecture to over 200 architects in Boston yesterday meant I could not make a late evening flight to London. Indeed, while the years beginning in the fall of 2008 have been terrifyingly slow, over the last six to eight months there has been a palpable optimism that we will recover.
Colonial is a common adjective used to describe American houses. Yet which colonial do we mean? Normally we are referring to English Colonial Houses. Yet, from Florida to California, our colonial history is primarily Spanish, not English. Our oldest continuously inhabited city, St. Augustine, Florida, and early Southwest missions were built by Spanish conquerors, colonists, and missionaries.
Thirteen years now I have lived without a car. On my own two feet, or by subway, bus, taxi, or ferry, I’ve easily navigated nearly every corner of New York, from the tip of Manhattan to the Bronx. So, I thought, walking from my temporary residence at Notre Dame, where I am a visiting professor in the School of Architecture this semester, a mile or so to FedEx/Kinko’s would be a nice Saturday morning stroll.