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Research in Action Travel to Greece to Prepare for Rome

During spring break 2018, Taylor Schmidt ‘21 and Edward Faicco ‘21, found themselves walking to the perfect place to look down on the city of Athens at 6:00 a.m., among the day’s first visitors to the Acropolis. That evening the two climbed to the top of Lykavittos Hill to view an illuminated Parthenon from the highest point in Athens. On the surface it may seem that Schmidt and Faccio were having an ordinary tourist experience in Greece: exploring food and culture, touring ancient sites, and taking amazing pictures. However these sophomore architecture students were doing much more. They traveled to Greece to prepare for their third year of study in Rome by exploring the precursor to Roman architecture - Greek architecture.

The architecture students’ research trip was made possible by a grant from the Nanovic Foundation, an institution that strives to support European studies for Notre Dame students and faculty of all levels and disciplines. Architecture is a field of study greatly enhanced by experiencing new environments through travel--Nanovic grants have enabled many architecture students like Schmidt and Faicco to enhance their Notre Dame experience through independent research.

The research focus for Schmidt’s travel to Greece was to compliment and modernize The Antiquities of Athens and Other Monuments of Greece, a 1762 tome by James Stuart and Nicholas Revett, which is considered the “first accurate survey of ancient Greek architecture ever completed” according to the Princeton Architectural Press. Prior to his trip, Schmidt spent time researching the book in the Ryan Rare Book Room of the Architecture Library. Stuart and Revett spent eleven months documenting, measuring and drawing Greek ruins and Schmidt sought to understand how they accomplished their task in order to reproduce a contemporary version of that same work. Before traveling to Greece, Schmidt discovered which ruins Stuart and Revett documented, their methods for documenting the ruins, and the specific locations they conducted their work. All of this preparation was to ensure that he could recreate the most accurate depictions of Stuart and Revett’s work.

As Schmidt followed the work of Stuart and Revett, he developed an understanding of the style that the authors employed and used it not only to reproduce the work found in their foundational book, but also to document monuments that they were unable to explore in Olympia, Mycenae and Delphi. Schmidt’s trip began to not only center on reproducing previous work but rather using previous documentation methods to improve his own sketching skills.

“Sketching is one of the essential tools, especially in classicism, that architects have to learn and replicating some of the most beautiful Greek architecture is not a bad way of going about that,” says Schmidt

And just in time for his year in Rome, Schmidt credits this trip to Greece for increasing his passion for classical architecture.

The Nanovic grant provided Schmidt the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time. “This has given me an introduction on how to go about visiting these ancient sites. And how to go about documenting them. It was a good start to how Rome will be.” He does not plan to stop his travels or his exploration of Greek architecture - he hopes to travel to the Island of Crete during his year in Rome.

Photos by: Taylor Schmidt

Created By
Rosalyn Wells
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