Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
The architects of ancient Rome developed a vibrant and enduring tradition, inspiring those who followed in their profession even to the present day. This original book is the first to explore their approach to design. Mark Wilson Jones draws on both new archaeological discoveries and his own analyzes of the monuments to reveal how Roman architects went about the creative process. Wilson Jones begins by outlining the state of knowledge regarding Roman architects, Vitruvius in particular, as well as the dynamics of design as illuminated by surviving architectural drawings and models. Then, in a series of thematic chapters dedicated to the plan, the elevation, and the principal distributive element of Roman buildings, the Corinthian column, he focuses on underlying patterns of design that transcend function and typology. The success of Roman architecture is shown to rest on a robust yet subtle synthesis of theory, beauty, content, and practicality. At the same time, it maintains a vital equilibrium between the apparently conflicting goals of rule and variety. The next part of the book focuses on two singularly enigmatic monuments, Trajan's Column and the Pantheon, to illustrate how architects might bend principles to circumstance. The author resolves long-standing controversies over their conception, showing how both structures came to be modified after work on the site had begun. Even the Romans' mighty building machine had to come to terms with the gap between ideals and the physical realities of construction.
Mark Wilson Jones is an architectural historian whose prime research concerns Greek and Roman architecture. He brings his investigations alive with a design perspective which stems from his earlier career as an architect in London and Rome before becoming an academic. His working methods have an archaeological character while his interests span across the classical tradition, while engaging too with modern and contemporary design issues.
Having begun his architectural education at the University of Cambridge he went on to win the Rome Prize in Architecture at the British School at Rome. He is currently in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath where he teaches history, theory and studio.
His first book Principles of Roman Architecture (Yale University Press 2000) put forward a fresh vision of how Roman architects designed; it won two important prizes and is now in its third edition. His later book with the same press Origins of Classical Architecture has an even more ambitious scope, seeking to understand how and why the Doric and Ionic and Corinthian orders came into being. His favorite building of all - as it is of so many architects - is the subject of his new book, The Pantheon in Rome from Antiquity to the Present, co-edited with Tod Marder and published by Cambridge University Press (2015).