Looking Up – We Drink Inspiration

Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.
- Frank Gehry

Beautiful architecture is as much a work of art as it is a feat of engineering. One such building is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Conceived as early as 1846, the first stone was laid in 1920 and it was finished in 1959. The inside of the building is continually a work in progress.

Basilica Outside Front

We require from buildings two kinds of goodness: first the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful  and pleasing in doing it.
-John Ruskin

Designed to rival the great cathedrals of the Old World, the Basilica is as beautiful as it is majestic, inside and out. The exterior of the building is Romanesque in style, massive in size, with arches, piers, vaults and towers, emphasizing symmetry.

Basilica Tower 2The interior is Byzantine style, where a dome sits over a square structure. The Basilica is constructed entirely of stone, brick, tile and mortar. There isn’t a single piece of steel framework to be found.

Basilica Window Pipe Organ 2

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.
-Winston Churchill

What do you think? Are the people who live and work in buildings shaped by them? Psychologists say yes to that question. The design and color of a space can affect your mood.

Walking into the Basilica left me in awe and made me feel humbled. Walking into a big box store makes me anxious and overwhelmed. Both buildings are large, but the ambiance of the church creates a peaceful feeling, and the big box store evokes an inner disquiet (for me). Have you noticed your mood change when you enter a room or a building?

Basilica Dome and Building

I call architecture frozen music.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Envisioning the whole building before the first stone was laid must have had everyone involved vibrating with anticipation. I imagine the many craftsmen creating their special piece, a part of the whole. When the last stone was laid, the harmony of all the elements came together like a musical composition; each workman a part of the symphony.

Church Window Basilica 2

Architecturally, the Basilica offers endless beautiful structural details, plus stained glass windows, sculptures, paintings, woodwork and artwork that could keep you occupied for days.

These are a few photos I took “looking up” for Bastet’s Pixelventures.

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22 Comments

  1. I’m not normally into architecture, but that is one gorgeous building.
    Twindaddy recently posted…Share Your World – 2014 Week 12My Profile

  2. This is a fantasti church! It really looks as though it should be at home in Europe … a great take on the prompt Rob, thanks. Ciao, Georgia.
    Bastet recently posted…The Dinner – Haibun Thinking: Week 10My Profile

  3. Interesting thought. Does man affect architecture, or does architecture affect man? Perhaps a bit of both?
    Carol recently posted…Share Your World – 2014 Week 12My Profile

  4. …”vibrating with anticipation” what an awesome figure of speech, Robin! That whole paragraph was truly lovely and really made this memorable building seem so much more special for me. Thanks!
    Aisha recently posted…Photo Poem: I’ll Always Look Up To YouMy Profile

    • Thanks, Aisha. That means a lot, coming from someone who is a writer. I admire your writing very much.
      Robin recently posted…Looking Up – We Drink InspirationMy Profile

    • Awesome photos and description. Surroundings and buildings do effect me as well. On our travels the buildings were amazing and when you think of how long ago they were constructed and what they were able to do before all the technology. I’m so proud of you and how well you express yourself, plus how unique your photos have progressed. Excited for you and the road ahead.

      • Thanks, Mom. My photos are pretty ordinary, but I’m glad you like them. Ancient and modern architecture can both be amazing. I agree it that what they used to build without today’s technology was extraordinary. I love how ornate many old buildings are. That is what the Basilica in D.C. has done. It is constructed without any steel and every inch is art.

  5. This is a beautiful, beautiful structure, inside and out, Robin. I’m so glad you took and shared the photos. I’ve been to the National Cathedral but never to this building. I can totally “get” that it gives a feeling of calm and peace. Love the Goethe quote too, by the way.

    • The National Cathedral is another beautiful church. It’s architecture is Gothic, which I really like. I think I took pictures of it when I was there a few years ago, but I don’t know where they are. They are probably on an external hard drive, never to be seen again. I’ll have to revisit.

      My friend and I had to postpone our visit to the Library of Congress. I am hoping to take some photos when we visit. That is another beautiful building.

      The Goethe quote is my favorite of all the quotes in this post. It is poetic.
      Robin recently posted…Looking Up – We Drink InspirationMy Profile

  6. Beautiful images and words. I get the impression that some people are relatively unaffected by their surroundings, which I find surprising, but have observed more often than expected. For myself, I am significantly affected by space, color, texture, light… In fact I find it oppressive to be in or around spaces / buildings that I dislike.

    Mess? Doesn’t bother me at all. What I consider an incongruous space… A whole other story.

    By the way, the ‘frozen music’ reference is interesting. One of my kids is studying architecture, and he uses natural light, as one would expect, as an integral part of his models. The ‘music’ of the space is fluid rather then frozen.
    D. A. Wolf recently posted…I Can’t Believe… It’s Butter!My Profile

  7. Hi D.A., I totally agree about incongruous spaces – welcome to my dining room. I have a living room/dining room space that is very large and completely open. When it was popular, we had a country kitchen/family room. In our new home, that space is very contemporary. (Years ago, we sold our dining room (contemporary Asian with cane back chairs and white leather seats, and bamboo trim on the table legs, china cabinet and buffet. It was in a room by itself.) Today, our traditional living room furniture sits side by side with the horrible country kitchen table and chairs. Talk about incongruous. When I sit in the living room, I must turn my back to the dining room.

    I think the Goethe quote fits appropriately with the outside structure of the church building. That structure was finished and will stand as is for eternity. The inside space of the church is a continuous work in progress, and changing over time, making it very fluid. It would be interesting to find a quote that makes that point, as a counter-balance.
    Robin recently posted…Looking Up – We Drink InspirationMy Profile

  8. Good architecture, like beautiful music, can speak to our souls like nothing else. The vision of people to bed able to create emotion out of these buildings is just as vital to our culture as a music composer or writer. This cathedral gives new meaning to the term *eye candy*! It’s a photographers dream. I hope to see it in person some day. Thank you for sharing your beautiful captures.
    lisa recently posted…Randomness prevails this weekMy Profile

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  11. What a magnificient church…the architecture is so beautiful. Thanks for including the history and sharing.
    Oliana recently posted…Looking Up! – Bastets Pixelventures (haibun)My Profile

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