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Architecture 101

Architecture is the science and art of building using a distinct style, distinct materials and/or distinct designs. But, designing and planning is just half of the wonder when it comes to man putting together structures or working on his surroundings. Architecture and architects have played a key part of our entire world’s history. A style of building can define a culture. Say the word pyramid and we instantly think of Egypt and the Pharaohs. Many architectural styles have some political roots and thus philosophical and cultural meanings. Architecture is a big part of the equation of how many scholars define a people or an era. Since the first cave men decorated the caves to modern day skyscrapers man has been showing off his ingenuity to build and create. Wherever there have been people there have been unique buildings or structures that were safe for inhabiting and aesthetic to the eye that is the essence of architecture.

The people who specialize in architecture are known as Architects. In modern times architects study their craft at schools where they must apply the skills of mathematics, science and art, using their imagination in conjunction with complicated geometry formulas in order to draw up quality drafts (building plans) that will be used to erect safe, functional structures that are pleasant to the eye. In the United States architects have to be licensed. Similar to doctors and lawyers, many Architects go through lengthy internships in order to learn from accomplished leaders in their field.
 

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Architecture often begins with the imagination. Some structures are built simply for their beauty or for the awe of their majesty. Other, are built to be functional as dwelling to protect their inhabitants from the elements. Structures are built for worship sanctuaries or to inform educationally. The majority of structures are first built for their useful and then decorated for fun and originality. From the smallest one bedroom home to the grandest palace or biggest cathedral, every man made structure is based on some form of architecture.

As time moves on architecture styles tend to change in design. You will find that there are many eras of architectural design as well. Each era has its own distinct finished look as well as building material preferences and construction style. Baroque, Greco-Roman, Art Deco, Victorian, American Colonial, Prairie, and Bauhaus all represent different sets of people living in unique places at specific times. Lines, materials, structure and symbolism all contribute to the different styles of architecture.

Architecture styles can be anywhere from subtle to garish and materials vary from lumber to limestone. When it comes to the earlier designs you will find that they are made from local and natural materials and they are also materials that are bountiful.

 

History of NJ Architecture

In Greece, limestone happened to be bountiful and it was the material that most structures were created from. Marble, on the other hand, was not only rare but very difficult to transport, since it was gathered from a few islands. Marble thus was valuable and used sparingly and usually only for ornamentation. When it comes to early America, you will find that the saltbox houses where made from wood, which was readily available and it was easily to build with. So it took practically no money at all to build a home just a lot of hard work and determination. The joints could have been put together with nails but nails were very expensive so they were usually put together with wood joints.

Art Deco and Art Deco Architecture was very popular in the nineteen twenties and thirties. It become a movement in interior design and even industrial design that was a mixture of many different styles incorporating; cubism, modernism, Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, and Futurism. The Art Deco Style of Architecture is based around a simple form of decoration mainly characterized by being composed of many man-made pieces, the most popular being glass and stainless steel. Lines are very symmetrical and repetitive throughout the structures. Designed to be beautiful, elegant, functional and modern; One of the best-known pieces of Art Deco architecture in the U.S. is the Chrysler Building in New York. There are many things like movie films and pieces of art works that also fashion themselves after the art deco philosophies.

The beautiful Art Deco spire was built between 1928 and 1930. It becomes very popular during the depression because it was very simple and very practical. The image of art deco became almost like a false sense of lavishness. Art Deco still reminded people of the better times and gave them hope of one day reliving them. After the Second World War, the art deco structural architectural period of domination became very short lived but it was still seen frequently in interior design well into the 1960’s. The beautiful designs of Art Deco Architecture have evolved to become very, very modern and they are still mixing things up with today’s emerging new styles. Throughout the United States, you will still find art deco alive especially in the bigger cities.

Following close behind the Art Deco period was the Streamline Modern. The focus was mainly shifted because of the influence of advancing technologies such as automobiles and aviation. When you take a trip across the country and you start to look for beautiful architecture you will find it from coast to coast. You will notice that most of the architecture of America is mostly predominate of the 1780’s. Many wealthy early American settlers like the Anglo-Americans built most of these structures. The houses afforded several distinct styles depending on local. Known as Colonial Georgian, these homes were the earliest style to grace the U.S. colonies.

Another good example of American colonial architecture happens to be the Saltbox. The Saltbox basically is a wooden frame house with a high-pitched roof that slopes down to the back. It basically is two stories and the back of the house only has one story. This makes the sides very unequal, but it looks much like a saltbox, which basically was a wooden boxed building where you kept your salt. Generally, the chimney was centrally located, making the house, from a distance, look like a box with a lid and handle to lift it off. The saltbox is a simple style of home with a simple name; just a timber-framed house constructed with woodwork joints, because metal nails are too costly. Saltbox homes also have a wood siding to finish off the home.

 

Architectural Materials

Other defining characteristics of American Colonial architecture are the square, symmetrical shape, the front door placed directly in the middle of the houses front and the even, straight line of windows throughout. Once you are inside there is usually an entryway and then a staircase. You will find that when it comes to rooms, they will branch off from the entryway.
Adobes and ancient architecture are some of man’s earliest structures. This type of structures where made from natural materials like dung, straw, sand, and clay. There are other materials that are used as well. The adobe is formed into bricks. Then the bricks are dried in the sun much like cob or even mud bricks. The structures become extremely durable. They are used mainly in hot, arid climates because they remain cool in the summer and release heat very slowly in the winter. The same mixture, without the straw is used for mortar in placing the dried adobe bricks together to form a structure. Then there are some that use a lime-based cement as for plaster to add protection for those wet months. The thickness of the adobe bricks is key in the architecture. This is what will keep the structure cool in the hot months and warm in the cold months.

The largest structure ever erected from Adobe was the Bam Citadel. But it suffered serious damage from an earthquake in 2003. The Huaca del Sol in Peru is another grand adobe structure that was created from over 100 million signed bricks. The world’s largest adobe architecture happens to be erected from 500 BC and it is known as the citadel of Arg-e-Bam. The area of Bam Citadel is 180,000 square meters and is surrounded by walls 6-7 meters high and 1815 meters in length, all out of Adobe. When the gates to the city were closed, no human or animal could enter. This is a city that is self-contained, but it has access to gardens and cattle all within the city.

When it comes to adobe architecture it is a little bit different when it comes to placing a roof on the structure. You will find that the roofs where made of wood or metal, but then there are dried adobe bricks placed on top of the structure and plastered to stay in place on the roof.

 

Various Architectural Styles

Baroque

Back in the 17th century in Italy the Baroque Architectural Era emerged. This is a very early style of architecture but also a very beautiful style. Taking the renaissance architecture and modifying it to a new theatrical, sculptural fashion, Baroque architecture became a very fanciful, extravagant style of structural design. When it comes to the renaissance style, it was designed for a more well to do society first and then the baroque architecture became an interest with the Roman Catholic Church. The concerns were for light, shade and color intensity and Baroque found its secular expression in grand palaces, first in France then throughout Europe. Keep in mind that the Chateau de Maisons is still in France and it is known as a huge part of the baroque architecture. One of the most famous though of the Baroque architecture pieces is St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. When it comes to the Vatican City, you will find that it is one of the most beautiful. Topped with its towering dome, it is a notable feature in the Roman skyline. When it comes to baroque structures you will find that they can be grand in both ornaments and grand in size.

European Colonialism

As baroque moved through Europe, it eventually took on the look of European Colonialism. As for England, it is the Greenwich hospital located in London that is one of the most beautiful, English examples of this type of architecture. Founded in 1694 as the Royal Naval Hospital for sailors, the Greenwich hospital is famous for its Baroque Painted Hall, which was painted in honor of King William and Queen Mary. With the chapel, baroque architecture is not only present in the art and décor but it also is known for the gold painted ceilings.

Modern Architecture

Today’s architects are challenged by modern issues as they design new homes, office buildings, landscapes and even whole cities. The ecology, fuel sources, the economics of space, durability, emerging technology, historic preservation, engineering laws, cost of construction all have to be considered while designing with a mindset of having to make someone a profit. Most architects do more than just design the projects. They supervise, monitor the progress, review the work, handle problems and virtually consult and see the whole construction through to the very end.

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(all data current as of 4/30/2017)

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