have been bewitched by a single element of the Italian landscape: the piazza. Its traditional, pedestrian-scaled, and intricately enclosed
space is easier to take than the spatial sprawl of Route 66 and Los Angeles. Architects
have been brought up on Space, and enclosed space is the easiest to handle.
During the last forty years, theorists of Modern architecture ([Frank Lloyd]
Wright and Le Corbusier sometimes excepted) have focused on space as the
essential ingredient which separates architecture from painting, sculpture, and
literature. Their definitions glory in the uniqueness of the medium, and
although sculpture and painting may sometimes be
allowed spatial characteristics, sculptural or pictorial architecture is
unacceptable. That is because space is sacred.
architecture was partly a reaction against nineteenth-century eclecticism.
Gothic churches, Renaissance banks, and Jacobean manors were frankly
picturesque. The mixing of styles meant the mixing of media. Dressed in
historical styles, buildings evoked explicit associations and Romantic
allusions to the past to convey literary, ecclesiastical, national, or
programmatic symbolism. Definitions of architecture as space and form at the
service of program and structure were not enough. The overlapping of disciplines
may have diluted the architecture, but it enriched the meaning.
Modern architects abandoned a tradition of iconology in
which painting, sculpture, and graphics were combined with architecture. The
delicate hieroglyphics on a bold pylon, the archetypal inscriptions on a Roman
architrave, the mosaic processions in Sant' Apollinare, the ubiquitous tatoos
over a Giotto chapel, the enshrined hierarchies around a Gothic portal, even
the illusionistic frescoes in a Venetian villa all contain messages beyond
their ornamental contribution to architectural space. The integration of the
arts in Modern architecture has always been called a good thing. But one didn't
paint on Mies. Painted panels were floated
independently of the structure by means of shadow joints; sculpture was in or
near but seldom on the building. Objects of art were used to reinforce
architectural space at the expense of their own content. The Kolbe in the
Barcelona Pavilion was a foil to the directed spaces: the message was mainly
architectural. The diminutive signs in most modern buildings contained only
the most necessary messages, like 'Ladies,' minor accents