Undercover in Rome

Many thanks to Daisy for inspiring me to draw so much on my trip to Rome… we have always been very productive at sketching when we travel together. In this post, I’ve included photos of one of our many dinner outings.

On my last  night in Rome, Daisy and I headed over to Trastevere–stopping for a glimpse of the basilica (dedicated to Santa Maria, where mass was in session) before heading on to our favorite dinner spot.  As is generally the case when Daisy and I are traveling with architecture students, we  brought our sketchbooks along to discuss.

I’ve included photos of Daisy’s beautiful work, that caught the attention of our waitress.  She studied every page!

Daisy’s area of expertise is architectural representation, as is evident in her drawings!  Mine, on the other hand, is educational research… that’s what I presented to Daisy’s students in the lecture I delivered.

As a result of our exchange, I woke up inspired to draw on my last day in Rome.

It was hot, hot, hot, though.  I had to sketch quickly to keep ahead of the heat!  By the afternoon, the sky opened up and the rain poured down.  Thankfully our fore bearers built plenty of sheltered spots in Rome that have lovely views!  I made three sketches on my parting day–two are shown below.

Roman Dreams-Come-True

...on my way to the Pantheon (my favorite building in the world!)

At the Pantheon

After sketching yesterday morning, I spent almost all of the day editing the article we hope to have published in the Journal of Engineering Education.

I was inspired by emails that Mike Murphy, Eddie Conlon, and I received from the editor of the book we’ve written a chapter for.  He emailed us:

The chapter is a very timely, central and relevant chapter for Springer vol II. It would also have fitted nicely into vol I section I. The chapter has a clear, logical, and coherent structure, is well written and very interesting to read. In particular in clarifying the confusion surrounding the engineer and engineering technologist distinction the chapter provides new and useful insights. Moreover there is a good integration between theoretical positions mentioned in the introductory framing of the identity issue and the remaining part. Research problems and methods are clearly stated.

...where I nearly got clubbed by a Roman!

I nearly got clubbed by a Roman!

The chapter is accepted for publication in its present form. Congratulations.

and then the next day:

Your chapter is very good and there is absolutely no reason to change anything. My congratulations to you and your co-authors. Well done.

These messages were a dream come true!  They helped keep me focused through many hours of editing yesterday.

At 4:30 PM, I headed out for a tour of the Villa Farnese, a sandwich and ice cream (I hadn’t eaten since breakfast), and a little stroll through the city.

I haven’t shown it here, but I strolled past the site I often use for projects with my Hampton University students. There’s been construction activity on the site for the past two years, because a parking garage was planned. For years, they’ve been excavating here (because there are Roman ruins under the ground everywhere here and they have to study and document them). The signage surrounding the site is now different from it was last summer and last September (when I last visited). I’m hoping this change means someone important decided against installing a parking garage; it would be a travesty to put such a structure on Via Gulia!

Through the Oculus (Rome Church 1)

The Pantheon by night.

I have a favorite set of churches in Rome that I like to visit in succession. They are close to each other and seeing them together in on day provides a nice little chronology of changes that happened in architecture over the past 200 years.

In the coming days, I’ll tell you a little about each of these four churches:

1) The Pantheon

2) Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

3) Il Gesu

4) San Ignazio

Today, I’m showing you the first. It’s my all-time favorite building, the Pantheon. It was built 1900 years ago and the technology it includes is simply amazing.  The walls are 6 meters thick at the base and the dome spans 142 feet.

Looking up into the coffers (hollowed out squares) and oculus (opening) in the dome.

Can you see the blind arches in the wall behind the columns? This is a hollowed out space, where the wall isn’t as think and they need to carry a lot of weight with a thinner wall.

The Romans used blind arches (arches without windows below) to help carry the weight down to the ground in places where they wanted to make the walls thinner than 6 feet.  They coffered (or hollowed out) areas in the ceiling help reduce the weight of the roof.

The oculus (opening) at the tip was never closed over… it’s open to the sky even today.  There are holes in the floor to drain rain water that falls thorough it.

The Pantheon has been operated as a religious facility continuously for nearly 2000 years.  The Romans used it as a one-stop shop to worship many different (pan) gods (theon) but it’s been operating as a Catholic church since, I guess, about the time Constantine legalized Christianity.

Blind arches seen from the outside of the building — these would have been covered by marble in Roman times.

At that time, Istanbul was renamed Constantinople, in honor of him.  (The Hagia Sofia is located I that city.  I posted pictures of a baptism being held in its smaller sibling, the Agia Sophia, that I took during my visit to Thessaloniki.)

People’s aesthetic tastes changed over time, and you can see a clear example in the band at the base of the dome.  Most of what’s there today is from a renovation done during the Renaissance, but along the way the owners of the Pantheon (i.e., the Roman Catholic church) replaced part of the band to show what woudl have been there in Roman times.

Can you see a difference?  Which part is Renaissance?  Which is Roman?

Band showing Renaissance and Roman detailing.

Drawing that shows the thickness of the wall.

Looking up from the entry vestibule, you can see and “feel” the thickness of the wall