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Brunelleschi's Dome

How A Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture

King, Ross

(Book - 2000)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Brunelleschi's Dome
Print
Publisher: New York : Walker & Co., 2000
ISBN: 9780142000151
0802713661
Branch Call Number: 726.60945 K54b 2000
Characteristics: 194 p. :,ill. ;,23 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Brunelleschi designed and erected a dome over the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore-a feat of architectural daring that has still not been surpassed.

By all accounts, Filippo Brunelleschi, goldsmith and clockmaker, was an unkempt, cantankerous, and suspicious man - even by the generous standards for artists in fifteenth-century Florence. He also designed and erected a dome over the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore - a feat of architectural d... Read More »


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Mar 05, 2014
  • sess430 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Although the construction of the Santa Marie del Fiore had begun in 1296 (plague and war impeded progress) it still wasn't finished by 1418. Since the city wardens had no idea how their model could be built, they held a competition for a design solution. The book recounts the amazing story of how a Florentine goldsmith with no formal architectural training achieved the feat. The top of the dome is 20+ stories high, so the details - especially the invention/use of machines - of how it was done in the 15th century are fascinating. I really enjoyed watching the NOVA special on PBS, The Great Cathedral Mystery, after finishing the book.

Apr 25, 2011
  • kmoyer rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This is an awe inspiring, informative and, at times amusing, account of how Filippo Brunelleschi became the capomaestro in charge of the design of the main dome for the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore and, how over a twenty eight year period, successfully built this architectural wonder, which, some five hundred years later, remains the largest dome of its kind in the world and a jewel in the Florentine landscape.

The cathedral itself had been under construction for more than a century before the Dome was ready to be built. It was a complex and difficult design. Much of the architectural knowledge needed to build a stone structure that would maintain its shape through the tension and compression caused {even during high winds and earthquakes} had to be ferreted out – partially through developing models as well as through studying ancient buildings in Rome, Constantinople and the Egypt as well as any ancient texts that had been translated into Latin. This was certainly more of a challenge than it would be today. Also, Brunelleschi’s mechanical engineering knowledge, gained through his training as a goldsmith, proved essential in inventing the equipment needed to hoist and position the heavy materials up to where they were needed in a timely and efficient way. His creativity and skill ensured that the dome was built without the need of a wooden centering structure within it and by avoiding the need of balustrades to so popular with the Gothic cathedrals being built throughout Europe at that time. The political intrigues, personal issues, distracting wars and bureaucratic hurdles that had to be overcome added to the complexity of the challenge.
The author successfully reveals the genius behind the building in an informative and interesting way.

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