A few weeks ago while in New York I had the pleasure of touring the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, the leading nonprofit organization, represented by 15 chapters nationwide, dedicated to advancing the classical tradition in architecture, urbanism and their allied arts. It does so though education, publication, and advocacy. The organization is a valued educational resource for students of art, planning, and architecture, design professionals, and the general public, assisted today by the growing network of regional and local chapters.
It was very inspirational to see students at work at the Beaux-Arts Atelier, a full time program in classical architecture. Unlike many other architectural programs, students first learn the art and science of details and composition before learning to design. The studio spaces are intense, still and quiet. (A challenging environment for a Type-A bouncing with energy). They literally study an inch of a foot, examining its curve, the tensions between skin and bone, the almost invisible imperfections and nuances, before drawing a single line on paper. They learn perspective, rhythm, form, observation, dimension – all this before ever entering the world of architecture. As Ruskin quoted “No person who is not a great sculptor or painter can be an architect. If he is not a sculptor or painter, he can only be a builder.”