The American Luxury Home is based on the powerful legacy of Greek and Roman design aesthetics as translated by Renaissance sculptors and builders and further adapted by architects to this day. The plans that are generated by architects here are distilled from historical prototype and the success of a period project is based entirely on the designer’s ability to incorporate the proper scale and details in the drawings.
Before the modernists seized power the primary center of learning of classical architecture was in Paris, L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, which literally means The School of Fine (Beautiful) Arts. For 250 years the scholastic program was based on Imperial Roman architecture through the Italian Renaissance and the Baroque periods. The Greeks models were understood to be the basis of all their study. Sculptural figures were integrated into the buildings. There was a hierarchy of public to private space and axial design with classical details: balusters, pilasters, garlands, elaborate moldings and ironwork, columns and arches with pediments, etc.
This design ‘vocabulary’ is what period revival styles incorporate into luxury homes and plans to this day. The degree of luxury can be recognized by the accuracy of proportion and detail and the decorative and elaborate grouping of columns, arches, moldings, and other period details into the elected style.
Now we have smaller subdivision lots and a general amnesia – really lack of proper instruction by the schools of architecture in this country – which have resulted in less than beautiful custom and luxury houses. Today’s untrained architects and non licensed building designers make loose and unstudied copies of copies of copies. There is only one university in the United States that offers a full curriculum in classical architecture! The rest have had to learn the rules of period style design on their own. And this is the cause of generally poor period style luxury home plan designs.
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John Henry Architect MasterWorks Design International, Inc.