Imagine Michelangelo

The use of digital models as instruments of historical research. Almost all of Michelangelo’s architectural projects are unbuilt, unfinished, or have been significantly altered by later additions and changes which obscure the architect’s original vision for them. In this seminar, students create digital “site” models of these projects, or parts of them, as they exist or are known to have been planned. They then develop the models using historical sources such as drawings and texts to explore how the existing work differs from Michelangelo’s intentions. Renderings are made that recreate the original form, color, texture and light intended by the architect. This imaginative recreation makes possible a deeper and more accurate assessment of Michelangelo’s own ideas for the work. On the basis of that knowledge, students then contextualize the project within Michelangelo’s design philosophy and its architectural context.

The first six weeks of the seminar are taken up by lectures on Michelangelo’s architecture. During this time students choose a problem, research it, and prepare the “site” model. The second half of the semester is given to presentation and discussion of the individual projects. The final product, submitted at the end of the course, will be a series of renderings of the chosen “site” together with a written narrative of the research findings.

The course is primarily intended for students who have the skills to make complex models and finished renderings. No instruction on digital representation will be provided. However, students who wish to take the course and who do not have these skills may choose, instead, to explore a problem through traditional means and submit a written term paper on their topic.