Monday, October 18, 2010

Spanish Chalon


Keyhole arch, Chalon.
FOR THE ARCHITECTURE TOUR I gave during Alum Day earlier this month, I handed out some side-by-side photos of Spanish university architecture and our own at Chalon. Burgos, Salamanca and Sevilla were the inspirations for the Mount's original architect, Mark Daniels, and when you line them up, the similarities are striking.

Here are a couple of photos I didn't use: the graceful arch looking toward the apron in front of Mary Chapel (left) and a keyhole arch at Salamanca.

There is something so characteristically Mediterranean about a shadowed arch looking onto a sunlit plaza. Daniels meant for the Mount's master plan to capitalize on L.A.'s exceptional climate, building in intimate, outdoor spaces wherever he could tuck one into Chalon's limited square footage.

He also had a strong sense of the cloister -- Europe's oldest universities all began as monasteries -- so many of these intimate spaces have the feeling of quiet enclosure, yet open to the skies and hills. Each opening frames a thoughtfully composed view, or did in 1929 when Brady Hall occupied its hilltop alone.

Keyhole arch, Salamanca.
Not surprisingly, this is almost entirely lost on most of the students, who are too preoccupied to pay much attention to little details like arches. Alumnae on the tour, on the other hand, were very happy to slow down and take notice of their beautiful alma mater, seei

ng some things for the first time.

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