Michelangelo Architect: Precedents, Innovation, Influence

An exploration of Italian Renaissance architecture and urbanism through the persona of Michelangelo as witness, agent, and inspiration. We look at architecture and urbanism in Florence, Rome, and Venice from about 1400 to 1600 as it formed, articulated, and reflected the creative achievements of this Renaissance genius. The course engages building typologies such as the villa, the palace, and the church, explores the theory and practice of urban space-making, and evaluates the authority of the Classical past in the creation of new work. Particular emphasis on Michelangelo’s creative process and on his drawings. 

We begin with Medicean Florence under Lorenzo the Magnificent and with the Early Renaissance legacy of Brunelleschi, Michelozzo, and Giuliano da Sangallo. Following Michelangelo’s footsteps, we move to High Renaissance Rome, with the achievements of Bramante, Raphael and Michelangelo himself. Returning to Florence, we investigate the Mannerist experimentation of Michelangelo and others in the 1520s and consider the acceptance and rejection of this idiom by Giulio Romano in Mantua and Jacopo Sansovino in Venice. Michelangelo’s mature and late styles in Counter- Reformation Rome and the principles of Renaissance space-making at the urban scale conclude the course. 

Course Format:
The course will use “flipped class” pedagogy and have both asynchronous and synchronous elements each week. We will meet together once each week, usually on Monday, for discussion of the assigned lectures and readings. The lectures are on our course site in the Media gallery; a ppt version (without audio) for study purposes is on our site under Modules. The readings are on our site under Modules. Students will submit a question or a comment arising from the assigned readings and lectures by midnight of the Thursday preceding our discussion. This is not intended to be a response paper, but merely a sentence or two indicating something you found interesting or didn’t understand. The quality of your comments and of your participation in the discussions will determine 60% of your final grade.
A final paper or project is required. If a paper, it should have a text of 12 pages (12 pt double-spaced in Word, not Acrobat) and, in addition to the text, it should have images, notes and bibliography. The subject may be any topic relevant to the course and must be approved by me. A project could take any form desired and also requires my consent. It would most probably be a digital reconstruction of an unfinished or altered project by Michelangelo or another Renaissance architect. The paper or the project should apply knowledge from the course and will equal 40% of your final grade.

Please note this course will meet online through 9/15. The course will have all the weekly discussions in person beginning on 9/27. The class will meet in person (in Gropius) on the following dates: 9/27, 10/4, 10/13, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 11/15, 11/22, and 12/1.