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Ichnographia Campus Martius

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Giovanni Battista Piranesi   Ichnographia Campus Martius   1761

Early shapes used were pure derivations from the fanning pattern of the lower peristyle of Domitian's palace on the Palatine or from the "Teatro Marittimo" of Hadrian's Villa. It will be recalled that Wright had long before adapted the plan of the Villa as a whole for his Florida Southern College of 1939, and had used shapes from or related to it in later projects, while Le Corbusier had supplemented his sculptural Hellenic impulses with a series of drawings of the Villa's spaces which culminated in his top-lit megara at Ronchamp. More directly, the shapes used by Kahn can be found not only in Choisy but also infinitely repeated in the composite photostat of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's maps of Rome, drawn by him for his book on the Campus Martius, probably of 1762, which now hangs in front of Kahn's desk.
Vincent Scully, Jr., Louis I. Kahn (New York: George Brazilier. 1962), p. 37.


Patterns from Rome and, most particularly, from Ancient Rome as imagined by Piranesi at the very beginning of the modern age, have played a part in the process at the Meeting House as well. (An early sketch had been traced by a draftsman, partly as a joke, from a plan of one of the units of Hadrian's Villa itself. "That's it," said Kahn.) The major fountain splashes within a colonnade partly untrabeated, a ruin. Rounded shapes, to be found again and again in the Piranesi plan, and contrasting with the austere court inside, now push out from the main mass, recalling the splendid follies of 18th-century gardens but mightier than they: Walls "that nothing lives behind," shielding the glazed spaces from glare.
Vincent Scully, Jr., Louis I. Kahn (New York: George Brazilier. 1962), p. 38.


The whole is beyond Rome, its scale large enough to subordinate, no less than to use, the motorcar. Water plays a part, flowing with the cars, since the northern viaduct is set with circular reservoirs, waiting to service fountains, as well as with triangular interchanges: again, fragments of Form, Piranesi's and Scottish, awaiting the chance to be Designed. But the grand Form conception is there, giving the heart of the city what Kahn believes it most needs: a defining wall.
Vincent Scully, Jr., Louis I. Kahn (New York: George Brazilier. 1962), p. 41.

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