Andrea Palladio and Palladian Style Architecture

Palladian architecture shows influence from Roman times, but is famous for it's grand, orderly look.

The reader might have, at one time or another, pondered what style of architecture the White House is. What about Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia home, known as Monticello? The answer stems from a Venetian architect from the country of Italy.

History of Palladian Architecture

Palladian Architecture began in the early 1500s. Andrea di Pietro della Gondola began designing buildings in Italy that would eventually lead to the Palladian style of architecture know throughout Europe and the United States.

Throughout much of the 1500s, Andrea Palladio (as he was later renamed by an influential local scholar,) was commissioned by many important noble men to create gorgeous country villas and grand urban palaces.

He would also go on to create several churches and various other religious buildings. Among his most famous of work is perhaps the Villa Capra (referred to as the Rotunda,) which is an architectural masterpiece reminiscent of the Roman Pantheon. Today, many of Palladio’s works are protected as part of the City of Vicenza (and the Palladian Villas of Veneto) World Heritage Site.

It was Andrea Palladio’s work that would begin the movement known as Palladian architecture. Palladian architecture would gain in fame in the 1700s and 1800s.

Characteristics of Palladian Architecture

Palladian architecture is laced with influences from Roman architecture. Columns and stonework are almost always seen. This is mostly due to Andrea Palladio studying Roman architecture, as well as his work as a stone cutter in his early teens.

One of the most recognizable features of Palladio’s work was perhaps the Palladian window that adorned the front of many buildings. Many of Andrea Palladio’s work involved a large central window that featured a semicircular arch. Each side of the Palladian window was framed by a pilaster.

Palladio favored symmetrical design which can be seen throughout his various architectural works.

Famous American Palladian Architecture

Today, many government buildings are built in the Palladian style. This goes true for all cities and towns across the United States. Perhaps the most famous of American architecture is the White House, or Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The White House has evolved in style and size over time, but has always kept a Palladian influence. The same can be said for Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, which was actually built using drawings from Andrea Palladio’s book; The Four Books of Architecture.

While it is unlikely that Americans will be resurrecting the Palladian style of architecture, it is easy to see why it was so well loved. Andrea Palladio brought into his architecture a sense of order and symmetry as well as grandeur and elegance; all of which allowed his work to carry through several hundred years and into several different countries.