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Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture (2000)

by Ross King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,609634,477 (3.86)97
In the city of Florence, Italy, in 1418, a competition was announced to design the dome for the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, a proposed dome which was considered all but impossible to build. Of the many plans submitted, the one offered by goldsmith and clock maker Filippo Brunelleschi stood out, and he then spent the next twehty-eight years solving the puzzle of the dome's construction and in the process reinvented the field of architecture.… (more)
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English (54)  Dutch (3)  Hungarian (2)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (63)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
An illuminating story about the building of the famous cupola on Santa Maria di Fiore in Florence. Virtually all panoramic views of Florence include the cathedral and its magnificent dome, but how was it built? What difficulties did the architect, engineers, and stone masons face as they tried to use a dome to cover a large expanse?

Filippo Brunelleschi, a silversmith who had closely studied Roman ruins, proposed a method of building the dome using revolutionary methods. Although his plan for an interior dome covered by a larger, exterior dome was brilliant, his various machines that lifted millions of pounds of marble hundreds of feet in the air are just as impressive if lesser known.

The author, Ross King, makes the argument that our modern view of architects as some combination of artist and engineer stems from the reputation Brunelleschi earned in his lifetime. Indeed, he was buried with honors in the cathedral he helped to cover.

An interesting work, filled with technical challenges that are clearly explained and with Renaissance intrigues thrown in. Recommended for anyone interested in Renaissance architecture or for the general reader with an interest in Florence. ( )
1 vote barlow304 | Sep 22, 2021 |
I bought this book years ago and read it in part as I felt bad it had waited so long. I'm sorry I did, it's really good.

It has a challenge level, the central technical aspects that must be explained for any of it to make sense, which can slow down the narrative. But I also learned some engineering in the process so I'm not really going to complain very much.

The book because bags back the drama and pageantry of the age, the it into the culture, and uses both to really invest you in the engineering marvel that is the dome. If you have any interest in these topics this is a great read.

Just be ready to study some charts. ( )
1 vote anthrosercher | Jul 11, 2021 |
Very interesting. It focuses more on the dome, and the plans, structures, and tools developed to raise it, than on the feuds and rivalries Brunelleschi dealt with (and sometimes created) during the building - I prefer it that way, stories like this sometimes read more like gossip magazines than history, science, or (in this case) architecture. This may be because there's not a huge amount of info on Brunelleschi's life - despite contemporary and near-contemporary biographies, each author covered only what he thought important and ignored or skimmed over matters that today's historians and architects would really like to know about, such as the details of Brunelleschi's machines, or the lighting system inside the dome, or some of the trouble he got into. I learned a little about the times (it's a period I'm fairly familiar with) and a lot about the structures and methods that make the dome unique. Worth reading, and I'll be looking for more by this author. ( )
1 vote jjmcgaffey | Dec 23, 2020 |
An interesting biography of Filippo Brunelleschi, including the design and construction of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, as well as the design and building of some pretty impressive construction machinery.

The book could have done with more architectural diagrams and explanations, but I suppose if you want that much detail you can look it up somewhere else. ( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
This is a fascinating book that I could hardly put down. It's a well researched book about the architect and builder of the dome of the Florence duomo. But it's so much more than that - filled with interesting tales about life in Florence in the 1400s, facts about the construction methods and brilliance of Brunelleschi as he overcame politics and enemies to succeed in the building the most amazing dome in history.

A contemporary of DaVinci and Donatello and others, he invented machines, he solved engineering feats that were decades ahead of others. While stuffed with information, it never reads like a dry history book - in fact I found myself reading aloud to my husband all through the book. "Listen to this!"
Highly recommend. ( )
1 vote Terrie2018 | Feb 21, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ross Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tacchetti, MaurizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On August 19, 1418, a competition was announced in Florece, where the city's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, had been under construction for more than a century:  Whoever desires to make any model or design for the vaulting of the main Dome of theCathedral under construction by the Opera del Duomo--for armature, scaffold or other thing, or any lifting device pertaining to the construction and perfection of said cupola or vault--shall do so before the end of the month of September.
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In the city of Florence, Italy, in 1418, a competition was announced to design the dome for the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, a proposed dome which was considered all but impossible to build. Of the many plans submitted, the one offered by goldsmith and clock maker Filippo Brunelleschi stood out, and he then spent the next twehty-eight years solving the puzzle of the dome's construction and in the process reinvented the field of architecture.

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