Geometrical Objects


From my chapter: Andrea Pozzo, Rules and Examples of Perspective Proper for Painters and Architects, etc., (London: J. Senes, R. Gosling, W. Innys, J. Osborn and T. Longman, 1707, reprint New York: Dover, 1989), plate 17, perspective study of Doric base.
Source: Susan Klaiber / public domain

Proceedings of 2007 Oxford Conference

What began as a small session at the Society of Architectural Historians 2005 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, and then developed into a very collegial two-day conference in Oxford in 2007, has now been published by Springer in both hardcover and e-book formats. My contribution, the chapter “Architecture and Mathematics in Early Modern Religious Orders,” may be previewed at Springer Link.

From the volume’s cover blurb:
Geo Objects coverThis volume explores the mathematical character of architectural practice in diverse pre- and early modern contexts. It takes an explicitly interdisciplinary approach, which unites scholarship in early modern architecture with recent work in the history of science, in particular, on the role of practice in the scientific revolution. As a contribution to architectural history, the volume contextualizes design and construction in terms of contemporary mathematical knowledge, attendant forms of mathematical practice, and relevant social distinctions between the mathematical professions. As a contribution to the history of science, the volume presents a series of micro-historical studies that highlight issues of process, materiality, and knowledge production in specific, situated, practical contexts. Our approach sees the designer’s studio, the stone-yard, the drawing floor, and construction site not merely as places where the architectural object takes shape, but where mathematical knowledge itself is deployed, exchanged, and amplified among various participants in the building process.​

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Anthony Gerbino, editor, Geometrical Objects: Architecture and the Mathematical Sciences 1400-1800, Archimedes 38, (Cham: Springer, 2014).


• Introduction Anthony Gerbino


• Proportion and Continuous Variation in Vitruvius’s De Architectura Bernard Cache

Mathematics and Material Culture in Italian Renaissance Architecture

• The Palazzo del Podestà in Bologna: Precision and Tolerance in a Building all’Antica Francesco Benelli

• Practical Mathematics in the Drawings of Baldassarre Peruzzi and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger Ann C. Huppert

• Geometric Survey and Urban Design: A Project for the Rome of Paul IV (1555–1559) David Friedman

The Baroque Institutional Context

• Architecture and Mathematics in Early Modern Religious Orders Susan Klaiber

• The Master of Painted Architecture: Andrea Pozzo, S. J. and His Treatise on Perspective Kirsti Andersen

Narratives for the Birth of Structural Mechanics

• Geometry, Mechanics, and Analysis in Architecture Jacques Heyman

• Epistemological Obstacles to the Analysis of Structures: Giovanni Bottari’s Aversion to a Mathematical Assessment of Saint-Peter’s Dome (1743) Pascal Dubourg Glatigny

• A Scientific Concept of Beauty in Architecture: Vitruvius Meets Descartes, Galileo, and Newton Filippo Camerota

Architecture and Mathematical Practice in the Enlightenment

• Breathing Room: Calculating an Architecture of Air Jeanne Kisacky

• James “Athenian” Stuart and the Geometry of Setting Out David Yeomans, Jason M. Kelly, Frank Salmon

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The Archimedes Series

Archimedes has three fundamental goals: to further the integration of the histories of science and technology with one another; to investigate the technical, social and practical histories of specific developments in science and technology; and finally, where possible and desirable, to bring the histories of science and technology into closer contact with the philosophy of science. …Its subjects include any of the sciences, ranging from biology through physics, all aspects of technology, broadly construed, as well as historically-engaged philosophy of science or technology. Taken as a whole, Archimedes will be of interest to historians, philosophers, and scientists, as well as to those in business and industry who seek to understand how science and industry have come to be so strongly linked.
Source: Springer

Vitruvius in the Early Modern Era

Panel at CAA 2014, Chicago, 14 February 2014

mvitrvviipollion00vitr_0005Victor Deupi and Richard John have organized a broad-ranging session on reception of Vitruvius during the early modern era for the College Art Association’s 102nd annual conference in Chicago. My contribution to the session, Vitruvius and Pious Learning, examines reception of the De Architectura in early modern religious orders. I am extremely grateful to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the College Art Association for a travel grant that subsidizes my attendance at the conference and participation in the Vitruvius panel.

Aspects of Vitruvius’s Reception: New Research in Architectural Practice and Theory in the Early Modern World

Time: 2:30 PM—5:00 PM
Location: Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor, Astoria Room

Chairs: Victor Luis Deupi, New York Institute of Technology; Richard John, University of Miami

Translating Vitruvius in the Quattrocento: Ancient Theory or Contemporary Practice?
Angeliki Pollali, DEREE-The American College of Greece

Sundials and Water Organs: The Vitruvian Tradition in Italian Gardens
Natsumi Nonaka, University of Texas at Austin

Vitruvius and Pious Learning
Susan Klaiber, Winterthur, Switzerland

Vitruvius in Early Modern England: The Case of the Royal Society, 1660–1695
Matthew Walker, University of Oxford

James Gibbs’s Rules for Drawing (1732) and Vitruvius’s Method for the Ionic Order
Richard John, University of Miami

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Kircher Vitruvian TheaterFrom my presentation: Athanasius Kircher, reconstruction of Vitruvian theater (De Architectura, Book V), Phonurgia Nova (Kempten: Rudolph Dreherr, 1673): 74.
Source: Google Books / Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

Image above left: M. Vitrvvii Pollionis De architectura libri decem / cvm commentariis Danielis Barbari… (Venetiis : Apud Franciscum Franciscium Senensem, & Ioan. Crugher Germanum, 1567).
Source: Getty Research Library / Internet Archive

When Priests Built Their Own Churches

Early Modern Priest-Architects in Sacred Architecture

Sacred Architecture journal has released its volume 24 (2013) for open-access consultation on its website. The issue includes my essay “Architecture as a Form of Erudition: Early Modern Priest-Architects.” The article furnishes an overview of some of the priests and other religious active in architecture, c. 1550 – 1750, and situates their work within the institutional culture of the religious orders.

Grimaldi SantIgnazio British MuseumGiovanni Francesco Grimaldi, View of Orazio Grassi’s Sant’Ignazio, Rome, under construction, black chalk, mid-seventeenth century.
Source: © The Trustees of the British Museum

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From the journal’s masthead:

Sacred Architecture journal, a publication of the Institute for Sacred Architecture, is dedicated to a renewal of beauty in contemporary church design. Through scholarly articles on architectural history, principles of design, and contemporary buildings, the journal seeks to inspire and inform.

Architecture and Early Modern Jesuit Mathematics

Wuppertal_Jesuit_Mathematics_posterI am looking forward to participating in the upcoming workshop Teaching and Publishing Mathematics and Science in the Society of Jesus in Early Modern Europe organized by Prof. Volker Remmert at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Science and Technology Studies (IZWT), Bergische Universität Wuppertal, 12-13 June 2013. The international roster of speakers promises stimulating contributions from a variety of viewpoints. My own talk examines architectural topics featured in Jesuit mathematical publications, c. 1590-1750.
Image: IZWT Wuppertal (click to enlarge)