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Classical rotundas, Gothic towers, and memorialising a modern mythology for Yale

Gage, S. (2017) Classical rotundas, Gothic towers, and memorialising a modern mythology for Yale. Mausolus. pp. 6-13. ISSN 2056-6492

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Abstract/Summary

This article compares two contrasting memorial buildings completed on the Yale campus at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Bicentennial Buildings by Carrère & Hastings (1901) and the Memorial Quadrangle by James Gamble Rogers (1921). These two projects reveal contrasting attitudes to memorialisation and architectural symbolism, bound up in the identities associated with Classical and Gothic architecture and how these interfaced with institutional identity. The Classical Bicentennial buildings were monumental and open to the surrounding city, aligning with the larger civic visions of New Haven and the emerging City Beautiful movement; however, this image did not take hold in future buildings and reception by the Yale community was muted. By contrast, the elaborately picturesque Memorial Quadrangle in the Gothic style withdrew from the city into a series of interior courtyards, and in the process created a more personal and potent symbolism for Yale as an institution. The project’s success can be found in the flexibility of meaning associated with the Gothic, including its links to the history of Western education, mystic overtones of nature and community, and the poetic drama of its visual language. With Yale’s leaders searching for a mythology commensurate with its status in the early twentieth century, this rich array of associations led the Gothic to prevail over the Classical in shaping the University’s modern identity.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:No
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of the Built Environment > Architecture
ID Code:84814
Publisher:Mausolea & Monuments Trust

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