Eye in the Sky…

I think the Pantheon in Rome might be the most beautiful building in the world.  Built sometime around the first century AD, its dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.  Think about that for a moment.  In two thousand years no one has been able to equal or exceed the engineering and architectural prowess of a bunch of guys wearing bedsheets and doing the math in their heads.  Concrete is made with aggregate (little stones), and the Romans apparently used lighter volcanic stones as they went higher to maintain the strength while reducing the weight.  Technical notions aside, it also possesses for me unequaled simplicity and beauty of lines.  The list of buildings modelled on the Pantheon would run to pages, and includes Jefferson’s Monticello as well as the Wyatt center on the campus of Vanderbilt University in my hometown.  By the way, the “eye in the sky” refers to the oculus in the center of the dome which lets hot air out and daylight in.  Go see it some time.  (18 September, 2006  Rome, Italy)

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