Jefferson Memorial and the Pantheon Essays

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Jefferson Memorial and the Pantheon

The Jefferson Memorial is a testimonial to the past, present, and future of the United States. Its architecture, like most neo-Classical buildings, gives a sense of permanence. This permanence has a history far older than many would suspect. Centuries ago and thousands of miles away a building was erected that would later become the model for which many other buildings, including the Jefferson Memorial, are based upon. This building is the Roman Pantheon. Though the Jefferson Memorial borrows the basic form and elements from the Pantheon, the Memorial has distinctive differences from its predecessor.

The Memorial is located in Washington, DC in an area of the city known as "The Mall" (Weeks, AIA
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It is a grave mistake though, to believe that the Memorial is only a copy of the Roman model. No, the Jefferson Memorial is quite unique, and has distinctive differences from the Pantheon.

The Pantheon was built in Rome under the patronage of Emperor Hadrian between 125 and 128 CE. It was originally raised on a podium but that has long been covered up by centuries of dirt and debris (Stokstad, Art History, pg. 263). Its facade was made to resemble a typical Greek or Roman temple but behind this porch lies a giant rotunda, or circular building. " It has 20 foot thick walls that raise 75 feet high . . . and support a huge, round, bowl-shaped dome, 143 feet in diameter and 143 feet from the floor at its summit" (Stokstad, pg263-264). Like most Roman buildings, the Pantheon's surface consists of marble. Beneath the marble veneer lies internal brick arches and concrete that support the dome. The walls form a structural drum that holds up the dome. These structural elements are disguised by "a wealth of architectural detail-columns, exedrae, pilasters and entablatures-in two tiers"(Stokstad, pg. 264). The design of "simple repetition of square against a circle . . . established on a large scale by the juxtaposition of the rectilinear portico against the rotunda"(Stokstad, pg. 264-265). This repetition of square on circle is also repeated in the interior of the building. The floor also shows the motif of
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