Based on the doctrines of architecture formulated by the French Academy during the eighteenth century, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts system of instruction stressed drawing as the primary means of visualizing architectural form.
The Concours du Grand Prix de Rome was the ultimate test of ability, and thus the index of the Academy's ideals throughout this period.
This book reproduces, in more than 200 drawings, projects for the Grand Prix and for virtually every other type of competition or assignment at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
Included are drawings by students who subsequently became preeminent as professional architects among them Henri Labrouste, architect of the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevive, and Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris Opera.
All illustrations are accompanied by extensive explanatory captions, and a selection of important larger studies appear on specially folded inserts, enabling the reader to view them in unusually clear and precise detail.
Complementing the student work reproduced here is a selection of photographs by major Beaux-Arts buildings executed in France and the United States.
In all, the book contains 423 illustrations, 23 in color, and 10 inserts.
The Architecture of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts offers an enlightening analysis of the school.
The authors examine Beaux-Arts concepts of theory and practice and assess major work by each of the school's main factions.
The essay by Richard Chafee covers the school's complex political and administrative history and is followed by a survey of the school's evolving notions of architectural composition from Charles Percier through Garniere by David Van Zanten.
Neil Levine discusses the emergence of the Neo-Grec and the ideas of Labrouste, which in their preoccupation with literature and meaning in architecture parallel some recent concerns.
In the final essay, Arthur Drexler examines such issues as the uses of the past, the ethical implications of style versus "non-style," and the techniques of visualizing buildings that have influenced the development of modern architecture.