Term Paper: Critique a Building After 1400

Pages: 4 (1483 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Architecture  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … architecture of the Alamo in San Antonio Texas from Michelangelo's point-of-view. Specifically it will critique the building from the point-of-view of architect Michelangelo, who is totally unrelated to the building's design. Michelangelo will critique the building according to his own architectural values and beliefs. The Alamo is one of the most famous American buildings. Parts of the original buildings in the Alamo compound are more than 250 years old, but according to many European architects, that is simply nothing compared to many of their buildings that have been standing for centuries. Michelangelo was a noted painter and sculptor, perhaps one of the world's best. He was also a noted architect, and as he stands before the present day Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, he has some definite ideas about the style, the materials, the symbolism, and the very heart of the building.

Here I stand, in the modern city of San Antonio, so far removed from my home in Florence. Crowds of tourists bustle about me, eager to get inside the ancient building that means so much to the history of Texas. Before me is the building they call "The Alamo," and it is far different than the works of my own in Italy. I understand this small, unassuming building, so different from our own beautiful and ornate homage's to God was at first constructed as a mission. It was more than one building, but a compound of buildings that included many buildings and the church building itself. This was the third mission of several constructed in the area. Called Mission San Antonio de Valero, was built in 1724, and is now known as the famous "Alamo," where one of the most famous battles in Texas history took place. That does not concern me. The stone, the mortar, and the sweat that went into this building do.

My first thought as I stare long and hard at this building is that it is rather small. In fact, many other buildings here on the square far outweigh the Alamo. Built of native stone, the Long Barracks of the compound date back to the 1724 timeframe, while the first church was constructed in 1744. However, it did not stand, and the roof collapsed into rubble that filled the building. I think the architect did not have his plans so well set in his head. I found it not a simple exercise to create the dome on St. Peter's in Rome, but it still stands today, which is more than I can say for the roof of this little building.

I will concern myself mostly with the church building of the complex, for it is here that most of my architectural interest lies. This building was first used as a mission to convert surrounding tribes of Indians, and yet, it is rather plain and unassuming, and seems less of a testament to God's goodness than I would have liked. I see that the original plan of the church itself followed a time-honored cruciform plan, of which I heartily approve. This plan contains a "long nave crossed near its eastern end by a short, broad transept" (Tarin). These rough walls that I touch are over three and one-half feet thick, and I can tell they are of an inferior quality of limestone, it is a wonder to me that they have stood this long. While most of the walls are roughly finished, those of the central facade and front comers were obviously carefully cut and fitted, as an honor I suppose, to the work of God conducted within. This is a good sign. I understand that originally the intent was to build a "barrel-vaulted roof, supported by stone arches, and a dome or cupola over the crossing" (Tarin). However, as I noted, the roof caved in, and was eventually replaced with a gabled roof of far less beauty but evidently strong enough to withstand the time the building has stood. It is a shame, the entire facade would have benefited with a domed covering, I believe.

The mission inventory of 1793 described this facade as "a showy and impressive piece of Tuscan architecture," with arched doors surrounded by elaborate floral carvings, twisting columns, and shell-topped niches for statuary. Although the facade was never finished, it is possible to project its intended design, based on similar Early Baroque style facades erected in Spain and its New World provinces. Many have said this building, especially… [END OF PREVIEW]

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