Some have described this facade as "a showy and impressive piece of Tuscan architecture,' with arched doors surrounded by elaborate floral carvings, twisting columns, and shell-topped niches for statuary" (Tarin). However, I find the facade quite common and uninteresting. I would much prefer to see a more ornate and intricate style, such as the style I employed in my final plans of the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome, which was completed after my death. Rather than rely on the "traditional" as the style of this early Texas mission relies, I used other, new techniques that would live on after I was gone. One expert writes of my work on the Piazza, "[H]e articulated his new ground floor loggia with a lintel instead of the usual arches, supported by Ionic columns. The bays are divided by an order of colossal Corinthian pilasters that rise through both stories to support a magnificent entablature surmounted by a balustrade and statuary" (Hibbard 295-296). I feel it was well executed, modern, and unique - terms I cannot use often in gazing at the Alamo.
However, while my misgivings about the building are many, I can clearly see that in context, the style and design were befitting of the time here. San Antonio was little more than a bend in the river when this building was conceived and built. The facade is quite symmetrical and pleasing to the eye, and delights me with its simplicity when I think of the terms that dictated the building's design. The architect of the time did as much as he could for the space and for the needs of the mission's users. While it is not in the style I would have developed, it certainly is a fitting building for an early settlement. I must remember my buildings were created with many more people in mind, and they were surrounded by other buildings and used my many more Italians. The Alamo served its purpose, and that is one of the main functions of a building. However, function is only one part of architecture. Beauty and form are also parts that make up the whole, and here, function is primary, form is second, and clearly, beauty was last on the architect's agenda. The long, clean lines of the buildings, square and efficient, do please me, and the attempt to add some distinction with the distinctive "hump" over the central entrance certainly does add a measure of interest to the overall design. Again, the symmetry is the most enjoyable aspect of the building for me - it projects the clean lines and elemental purpose of the entire structure.
Perhaps the thing that perplexes me most about this building is the scale. Walking up to it, it simply seems so small, much smaller than most people would imagine, I believe. It is dwarfed by many of the modern surrounding buildings, which adds to its diminutive status. I believe a building should be grand and impressive, and unfortunately, the Alamo is unassuming and could easily be overlooked. If I had a hand in renovation, I would add a grander facade, perhaps less symmetrical but with more interesting and relevant details, such as more columns, and certainly a balustrade accessible for tourists to ascend to and view the surrounding plaza. I may seem too critical of what is obviously a very important American historical landmark. However, the building is not nearly as impressive as its' history to me, and I think it could be made much more memorable by adding a bit more style, color, and interest. I understand the phrase here in Texas is "Remember the Alamo." I however, will not carry its memory with me for long, as I feel it suffers from architectural apathy, rather than a real joyous interest in creating a unique and valuable monument to God - and to the architect who had a vision for detail and design.
De Tolnay, Charles. The Medici Chapel. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948.