History and Development of Master Builder and Design Build Tradition of Western Civilization dissertation

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Architecture through the Ages


Construction in ancient times is second only to agriculture-it reaches back as far as the Stone Age and possibly further (Jackson 4). Before the existence of master builders in design and construction the Code of Hammurabi (1795-1750 B.C.) referred to design and construction as a simple process (Beard, Loulakis and Wundrum (13). Hammurabi was the ruler of Babylon, the world's first metropolis and he codified his code of laws (Beard 13). This is the earliest example of a ruler introducing his laws publicly. The code regulated the organization of society including the extreme punishments for violating the law. The builder's work is addressed in the code, however faulty design and improper construction were viewed as one (13). Six specific laws address the builder. These laws are;

228. If a builder build a house for some one, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built fall in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death;

229. If it kill the son of the owner the son of the builder shall be put to death;

230. If it kill a slave of the owner then he shall pay for slave to the owner of the house;

231. If it ruin goods, he shall make compensation for all that has been ruined and inasmuch as he did not construct properly this house which he built and it fell, he shall re-erect for the house from his own means;

232. If a builder build a house for some one, even though he has not yet completed it; if then the walls seem toppling, the builder must make the walls solid from his own means (Beard 15).

In Babylonia, an abundance of brick, and lack of stone, led to greater use of mud brick; Babylonian temples are massive structures of crude brick, supported by buttress's, the rain being carried off by drains. One such drain at Ur was made of lead. The use of brick led to the early development of the pilaster and column, and of frescoes and enameled tiles. The walls were brilliantly colored, and sometimes plated with zinc or gold, as well as with tiles. Painted " terra-cotta" cones for torches were also embedded in the plaster. Assyria, imitating Babylonian architecture, also built its palaces and temples of brick, even when stone was the natural building material of the country; faithfully preserving the brick platform, necessary in the marshy soil of Babylonia, but little needed in the north..

The importance of construction during the Mesopotamian period is critical to eventual expansion and development. Other key factors for growth in construction efforts was the development of bronze and iron which resulted in stronger tools that meant greater building opportunities. ((Jackson 5). There was also a resulting rise in status for the most experienced of the builders and they would come to be designated "master builders." The builders gained greater skill and due to the advances in opportunities allowed the initial consideration of building shelters to leap and give way to villages, towns and cities. These cities would become the civilizations with construction at the center (5).

Ancient Egyptian

The early civilizations like Mesopotamia used dried mud brick for construction but the Egyptians started making use of stone (5). Moving the large stones was difficult but these builders, with their own ingenuity overcame the problems to build one of the most amazing projects in history, the great pyramids (5). The master builder concept remained in one person, architect, engineer and builder.

The quest fir eternal life drove the Egyptians to pursue funerary architecture (Stierlin). Master builders developed a method when they abandoned brick for stone that enabled the builders to conceive the unimaginable. Although the use of stone created a need for more works, their religious beliefs would easily attract the needed workers since they also had a stake in the Afterlife and the power of their god-king (Stierlin). A defined purpose or goal made construction like this more understandable to the average citizen at the time and perhaps even for us today.

One "master builder" is the Egyptian polymath, Imhotep. He was an engineer, architect and physician serving the Third Dynasty of King Djoser (Imhotep). Imhotep is thought to be the first of his kind to be known by name in history. He was also one of the few commoners granted divine status after death. Imhotep designed the Pyramid of Djoser, or the Step Pyramid, thereby creating the largest structure ever built made completely using stone (Imhotep).

The early civilizations appeared in lands situated between rivers, specifically in China and Mesopotamia and developed quickly. In Egypt the major project was the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Giza Pyramid (Village). Theories regarding how the Great Pyramid was built abound, particularly in reference to transportation of the stones to the construction site (Village). Some of the earlier theories argued that slave labor was used. More recent evidence suggests that there was an abundance of workers available for pay due to cessation of agricultural activity due to the flooding of the Nile river (Village). Transportation of stones weighting 2.5 to 15 tons into place during construction of the Great Pyramid presented a number of issues. Some assert that a ramp which would have been over a mile long, was used, while others claim that an external spiral type of ramp was used (Merolla). A recent theory suggest that an internal spiral ramp was used which avoids leaving the corners last (Merolla). At this time, research continues and the Pyramid remains an unbelievable feat for the time. It appears that approximately 20,000 workers were required, not 200,000 slaves. These 20,000 workers would be divided into crews of 2,000 then subdivided into gangs of 1,000 (Village). This gave those in charge greater ability to monitor activity and maintain control. Incredible effort and the use of paid labor would have combined more efficiently instead of theories that claim slave must have been used. Clearly, paid workers and a great stake in the project and as subjects of the pharaoh they would have had a degree of pride in doing so.

Ancient Greeks

While the Egyptians were building the great pyramids using unskilled labor, the Greeks tread a different path (Jackson 5). Using limestone and marble, the Greek master builder started creating groups of skilled stonemasons to use in projects (5). This eventually led to master craftsmen training others in a particular skill and utilizing those skilled artisans. Finer detail and design allowed the select skilled artisans to use their abilities in architecture (5)

Common materials of Greek architecture were wood, used for supports and roof beams; plaster, used for sinks and bathtubs; unbaked brick, used for walls, especially for private homes; limestone and marble, used for columns, walls, and upper portions of temples and public buildings; "terracotta," used for roof tiles and ornaments; and metals, especially bronze, used for decorative details. Architects of the Archaic and Classical periods used these building materials to construct five simple types of buildings: religious, civic, domestic, funerary, or recreational.

Long ago, the Greeks gave the ancient master builder the name apxitYktwv (architekton), from which the Romans derived the Latin name, architectus. Both words mean "master builder," denoting one responsible for the design and construction of the constructed environment. The modern English word "architect" derives from these Greek and Roman terms and is their phonetic equivalent, without the original meaning. The centuries old master builder remains a highly respected and legendary figure in today's architectural community. Several things have been written about him in the record of history (Master builder).

Sophisticated contractual arrangements for the execution of major building works were in use 2500 years ago. The Long Walls in Athens were managed by the Architect Callicrates with the work let to ten contractors. These contracts gave detailed specifications of the work, requirements for guarantees, methods of payment and of course the issue of time was usually an important consideration (Weaver 5).

Another ancient Greek of interest is Heron from Alexandria. Heron was a mathematician, physicist and engineer in approximately 10-70 A.D. (Lahanas). His writings indicate he taught at the Museum in Alexandria and he was also an inventor (Lahanas). Hydraulic, steam and air operated machines are credited to Heron in addition to some sophisticated surveying tools (Lahanas). One surveying tool was the dioptra which was used in civil engineering to determine the direction of roads, tunnels or other structures (Lahanas).

Several ancient structures in Athens remain discernible today. The Acropolis was the fortification and sanctuary of Athens beginning in approximately 5 B.C. Over time other structural changes have rendered parts of the Acropolis difficult to ascertain but its' significance is still evident (Acropolis). Temples were built upon the Acropolis and eventually the Parthenon, Erechteion, Propylia and Temple of Nike were situated on the Acropolis (Acropolis). The beauty and achievement of this structure is on of the famous structures of Athens.

Most surviving Greek buildings, such as the…[continue]

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