Oh, I see! How inventive! You've actually stacked the boxes I am supposed to live in!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Porphyrios at Home

On a very recent trip to Athens, a newer building across the street from my hotel caught my eye. It had a scale that matched it's context. It felt comfortable. Upon closer inspection I noticed a mix of materials: stone, metal, glass. It is definitely what I would call modern, and at the same time it was classical. It is logical, while at the same time having fun. This is unusual in a new building. This building had an effect on me. It inspired me to investigate further the potential for classicism in the modern building environment. It is referential without being a cartoon or slave to precedence. It is modern and expresses the structural effect of modern materials without having them pretend to be something they are not. It exemplifies the term "new classicism" for me in that it has re-interpreted historical themes for today.

View from my hotel with the Acropolis in the background (photos by the author)

After returning home I investigated this Athenian structure further and found that it was designed by none other than Demitri Porphyrios, the brilliant Greek architect and theorist. It is the Interamerican Insurance Headquarters Building on Syngrou Avenue in Athens, which is a main boulevard. The building fills a prominent triangular block. The detailing is just terrific. It's glass portion is taught and light while the masonry sections are blocky and stong. It is a nice contrast of modern and classical on multiple levels. All is held together by a proportioning that can be read throughout.

Architectural Heros are few and far between these days... but they DO exist!
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