The Gothic Cathedral and the Skyscraper

Description: Themes: Crafted versus engineered construction; Structura generations form versus aesthetics generates form; Parallels between the Gothic Catehdral and the early tall buildings.

Learning Objectives: Students should be able to: Describe the main components of Gothic Cathedrals; Trace the influence of Gothic Cathedrals to the early tall buildings of Chicago; Compare the scientific, social and symbolic aspects of cathedrals and skyscrapers; Explain the difference between showing structure and expressing structure; Describe the function of the three structural innovations in gothic cathedrals (pointed arches, flying buttresses, ribbed vaults); Describe the role of Viollet-le-Duc in the debate about the relationship of structure and form in Gothic Cathedrals; Explain how an outrigger system adds stability to tall buildings

Keywords:  /*-->*/ masonry, steel, Viollet le Duc, outrigger, flying buttress, pointed arch, ribbed vault, Chicago Fire, Amiens Pinnacle, showing structure vs. expressing structure

Categories: Structural EngineeringPrinceton University, Vaults, Buildings

Teaching Materials


Additional Resources

  • Online Courses 
    • Vaults
    • Buildings (under development)

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