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Styles of Architectural Detailing Where to look for decorative details.

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1 Styles of Architectural Detailing Where to look for decorative details

2 Matters of style Style is a late 18 th century word that slowly replaced the equivalent terms—taste, or fashion—in describing architectural objects. These are the conditions of any building that may contribute to a stylistic determination are: Building Form (ground plans and elevations) Proportion (a design issue) Scale (domestic or monumental) Ornamentation (decorative details) Of these four conditions ornamentation is the most often used primary component of style analysis, principally on the exterior of buildings.

3 Why does style matter? Buildings are studied both within their historical context and comparatively across time. As a social function within a consumer society of changing values style is almost completely equivalent to fashion in other objects. Style analysis is an architectural history consideration, not an activity of the trades that erect buildings. Style analysis creates a typology in which the stylistic types do not overlap. A structure is either one style or another. “Style embraces the specific identifying characteristics of a building both as the building appears to the eye and as it is known to exist in design and structure. The study of style focuses on the conspicuous characteristics which related buildings.” (William Pierson)

4 Location of decorative details window casing (surround) wall cornice frontispiece (door surround) edges of walls, surfaces relieving arch doors and windows George Wythe House Williamsburg, Va., c1755 string course Water table

5 Bilateral Tripartite Aligned Symmetry in Form

6 roof verge (edge) Stepped brick cornice chimney cap Chimney stack shape and edges Lynnhaven House, Princess Anne Co, Va ca 1724 What they saw 1934 What Bond?


8 Referential architectural details In referential styles the decorative details recall (but may not duplicate) an earlier formula of building, often in a different region or country. Tudor Revival Style

9 814 Cornell Street, Fredericksburg, Va

10 Italian Villa Style Buildings categorized as fitting a particular style have primary characteristics that define the style-type, and secondary features that are shared among buildings of a time or region.

11 Non-stylistic elements Traditions (characteristic features that are employed over a long period of time in a region) may lead some scholars to speak of “regional style”. Communities’ conservative tastes do allow for typological comparison although this is distinct from what is usually meant by “style” as equivalent to fashion, which would be social status conferring elements that are horizons (rapid changes over short periods of time and large areas). Many elements of community taste (a preference for wood, or stone for exterior building material, or the rhythm of windows and doors in buildings exist with clusters of primary features of different styles and are not stylistic.

12 Non-stylistic arrangement of voids These Fredericksburg dwellings are stylistically distinct, but share the tradition of side entry facades. Lafayette BlvdWeedon Street George Street

13 Vernacular is not a style Barns and other agricultural buildings as well as non-domestic, non- commercial architecture are often built to community preferences. These buildings may described as vernacular because of their lack of fashionable detailing, or area specific forms and details. To analyze a building as vernacular does not place it in a stylistic (i.e. fashionable) category.

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