In early December 2011 the American Academy's Villa Aurelia was the venue for an international conference entitled "Paradigm and Progeny: Roman Imperial Architecture and Its Legacy." Over the course of two very full days (6 and 7 December), an audience of more than 120 came to hear and interact with a distinguished roster of presenters from Italy, France, the UK, the United States and Canada.
"It was a pretty intense gathering, perhaps even historic," remarked AAR Mellon Professor T. Corey Brennan, FAAR'88. "I certainly had the impression that we could have had several more days of discussion just on the basis of the contributions we got. It was particularly good to see the emphasis on new lines of investigation on monuments we think we know well. The first thing I did the day after the conference was to run down to the Pantheon to check out for myself the half dozen or so fresh questions about the structure I heard over the course of the proceedings."
Organizing the conference was John A. Pinto, FAAR'75, RAAR'06, Howard Crosby Butler Memorial Professor of the History of Architecture at Princeton University; Diane Favro, professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the University of California, Los Angeles; and Fikret K. Yegül, RAAR'98, professor of Roman Art and Architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
One of the most distinctive attributes of this conference is that it brought together leading contemporary architects with archaeologists and architectural historians to investigate the problems under consideration.
The conference participants focused on themes such as the mechanics of Roman construction and design, "urban armatures" or organic links between parts of an ancient city, the emperor Hadrian as builder, and the nature and modern impact of classical architecture.
Presenting papers were Corey Brennan, Diane Favro, Elizabeth Fentress, Sandra Gatti, Pierre Gros, Lothar Haselberger, Tom Howe, Guy Metraux, Eugenio La Rocca, Tom Morton, James Packer, FAAR'64, John Pinto, Gianni Ponti, Marcello Spanù, Mark Wilson-Jones, and Fikret Yegül.
The conference concluded with an installment of the Academy series Conversations That Matter, moderated by American Academy in Rome Director Christopher S. Celenza, FAAR’94, and John Pinto. Participants included Laurie Olin, FAAR'74, RAAR'90,'08, landscape architect and partner at OLIN in Philadelphia; Frederick Fisher, FAAR'08, architect and partner at Frederick Fisher and Partners in Los Angeles; and Stephen Kieran, FAAR'81, architect and partner at KieranTimberlake in Philadelphia. The Conversation focused on how contemporary architects and designers have been inspired by the classical past and how that inspiration is reflected in their work.
You can view the full Conversation below:
A major purpose in choosing the precise themes of the Paradigm and Progeny conference was to commemorate the work of William L. MacDonald, FAAR'56 (1921-2010), who exerted a powerful influence on the field of Roman imperial architecture, shifting its study in significant new directions.
After serving in the US Army Air Force during WWII, MacDonald attended Harvard University (AB 1949; PhD 1956). Following his Fellowship at the AAR (1954-1956), MacDonald taught at Yale University (1959-1965) and Smith College (1965-1980). As a professor emeritus he long lived and worked in Washington DC.
MacDonald’s inspired teaching and award-winning publications—on the Pantheon and Hadrian’s Villa, in addition to seminal works on Roman imperial architecture and urbanism—continue to animate the fields in which he worked, which included the Roman, Late Antique and Byzantine periods, and the general question of the impact of classical architecture on the modern world. Hardly a paper at the Paradigm and Progeny conference did not reference some aspect of MacDonald’s insights or methodology. It is planned that the proceedings of the conference be published in 2013.
The conference was generously funded with grants from The Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Trust, The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The complete program of the conference can be viewed here.