Analysis and Comparison The Greek Temple

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Analysisand Comparison: The Greek Temple

This paper compares and contrasts the architectural styles of theFounder’s Hall in Girard College, and the Parthenon, a formertemple located within the Athenian Acropolis. Girard College resultedfrom Stephen Girard’s desire to have a school tending to poororphaned boys. He left $2 million in his will to cater for theconstruction of a school for “poor white orphans” [CITATION Rac15 p 161 l 1033 ],hence the birth of the Founder’s Hall, and in essence, GirardCollege. The architectural style chosen by Thomas Ustick Walter, theFounder’s Hall architect, mirrored the Greek revival movement thatwas gaining hold in 19th Century America. Founder’sHall, the hallmark of Girard College, is one of the best examples ofAmerican Greek-Revival architecture. Unique to many constructionsbased on ancient temple prototypes, this marble structure iscompletely peripteral. As opposed to a solely front-based Corinthianperistyle, the Founder’s Hall peristyle extends all the way round.The thesis statement is therefore as follows: Greek architecturalstyles have had a profound effect in the history of buildings andconstruction, as evidenced by the Parthenon and Founder’s Hall inGirard College, constructions in different cities but with similarlyprofound effects on the communities.

Girard College is situated on a 43-acre campus in Philadelphia, andalthough originally destined for the center of Philadelphia City,Girard changed the location to a more isolated site on the peripheryof the city. Construction of the school began with one building, theFounder’s Hall, which began in 1833 and ended in 1847, gainingnotoriety for its expense. By 1848, only the U.S. Capitol had beenconstructed at a higher cost in the entire country. .

The Greek Revival Style took hold in the mid-19th Century,particularly in the period between 1820 and 1860. It was spearheadedby the belief that the cradle of democracy was Ancient Greece andthat America embodied that democratic spirit [CITATION Lan15 p 79 l 1033 ].American Greek-Revival buildings typically incorporated the templeform, although other variations existed. There are three main typesof Greek Architecture: Corinthian, Ionic, and Doric. These styles arebased on the columns or pillars. The simplest of these is the Doricstyle, which is uncomplicated and simple with straight lines. TheIonic style demonstrates a pattern which depicts two large ram hornsprotruding on the sides. The Corinthian style is more ornate andfeatures complicate carvings depicting flowers and leaves [CITATION The162 p 1007 l 1033 ].

The Founder’s Hall was a monumental undertaking for the time withinwhich it was constructed. The 34 Corinthian columns that comprise theFounder`s Hall took approximately twenty-five percent of the totalconstruction cost. Each of these columns is 55 feet tall. As for TheParthenon, its columns are 34 feet tall and feature Doricarchitectural features while Founder’s Hall features Corinthianarchitectural style. However, due to the continuous sculpted friezerunning across the inner columns lintels of the Parthenon, thestructure is regarded as partly Ionic. When measured at the base ofthe stylobate, the dimensions of the Parthenon are 228 by 101 feetwhile those of the Founder’s Hall are approximately 239 by 185feet, making the latter the larger of the two buildings. Thecontinuous base on top of which the row of columns sits in Greekarchitecture is what comprises the stylobate. Stephen Girard washighly concerned with the practical details of the building anddesired it to be as durable as possible. In this regard, and as notedearlier, he specified the location of the building, its dimensions,as well as some interior specifications such as the number of roomswithin, size of the rooms, locations of windows and doors, thethickness of floor and walls, and the placement and dimensions ofstairs.

One particular aspect that marks the contrast between the Founder’sHall and the Parthenon concerns decoration. Girard gave littleconcern to the aesthetic details of the hall and even specificallyrequested the building to be are of &quotneedless ornament.&quot [CITATION Rac15 p 164 l 1033 ]The Parthenon is at the other end of the spectrum considering theexquisite sculptures located within the building itself and on theDoric metopes. The latter refers to the square spaces situated inbetween of the triglyphs that occur along a frieze. The Ionic friezeoccurring along the exterior cella walls is one of the mostcharacteristic features of the decoration and architecture of thetemple. Within classical Greek architecture, the inner chamber of atemple is referred to as a cella the rear chamber a opisthodomosand, the front vestibule is referred to as a pronaos.

On the other hand, one comparable aspect of the two buildingsconcerns location. As with the Parthenon, the siting of the Founder’sHall was made to ensure that the building occupied the highest groundwithin the area. The Parthenon is located on the Athenian Acropolis,situated on a rocky outcrop above Athens. The etymology of the wordacropolis indicates origin from the Greek words akron andpolis, which mean extremity/highest point and cityrespectively. Founder`s Hall, on the other hand, was located on landatop a hill, earning Founder`s Hall a unique view of the surroundingrural and urban landscapes.

The architectural criteria of Delight, Commodity, and Firmness areretrieved from Vitruvius, a Roman architect, who outlined the abovecriteria as necessary for the construction of a good building. Whiledelight applies to aesthetic appeal, commodity concerns thefunctional criteria, while firmness concerns attainment of technicalcriteria [CITATION Car12 p 54 l 1033 ]. There is no hierarchicalbasis for these criteria, and each of them has to be simultaneouslysatisfied. Founder’s Hall is strongest in the Delight and Firmnesscriteria. Founder’s Hall is clearly a beautiful and captivatingbuilding, hence satisfying the delight criterion. Furthermore, theconstruction is quite robust, as per Girard`s request for a durablebuilding. However, it does not quite satisfy the commodity criterionsince it did not function adequately as a school. It size played toits disadvantage as a learning environment due to factors such asechoes, which made both teaching and learning difficult.

Founder’s Hall is also comparable to other Greek structures such asthe Temple of Athena Nike, and the Temple of Hera at Olympia. Thestylobate measurement of the latter is 164.1 by 61.5 feet while theformer has modest measurements at 27 by 18.5 feet. The Temple ofAthena Nike is further a fully Ionic temple, and as with the earlierexamined structures, is also situated on a rocky outcrop, that is,the Athenian Acropolis. The Temple of Athena Nike features a famousfrieze, an example of wet drapery, which depicts Athena adjusting hersandal. The Temple to Hera is a fully Doric temple, and is one of theearliest examples of such. The Temple of Hera is however distinctfrom all the aforementioned structures since it is not located on anelevated ground.

With regards to the subjective impression of the Founder`s Hall, thesight is quite daunting. Due to the elevated location of the Hall,its grand front facade comes into sight akin to a marble mountain andblocks out the sky. The building appears to be as tall as a nine orten-story building, despite the fact that it has only three floorsand an attic. When observed either from a distance, on the sidewalkor close up, the building gives the impression of a monument, ratherthan a school, as it was originally designed to be.


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Lancaster, C. (2015). Ante Bellum Houses of the Bluegrass: The Development of Residential architecture in Fayette County, Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.

Raciti, J. J. (2015). Stephen Girard: America`s Colonial Olympian, 1750-1831. Santa Fe: Sunstone Press.

The American Institute of Architects. (2016). Architrectural Graphic Standards (Twelfth ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley &amp Sons.

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