Experiments in Gothic Structure
Robert Mark

Published December 2013 by Bibliotheque McLean
Originally published in 1982 by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
176 pp
148 x 210 mm
Litho printed, thread sewn with 8pp flapped cover
ISBN 9780955886867
Designed by Mark Boyce

This is a work that will rank with the major modern scholarly inquiries into Gothic architecture … Mark is not a victim, as so many pure aestheticians are, of the fallacy of seeing Gothic cathedrals as physical objects only. For him, they are the product of complex social, economic, and cultural forces, from the growth of liquid capital as a result of the Crusades to the increasing technical abilities of masons and craftsmen. Neither is he swayed by their mystique. He explains cathedrals as a teacher might explain a fact of mathematics, and yet he makes one comprehend how remarkable was the achievement of their builders. Paul Goldberger.

First published over thirty years ago, this fascinating study of the structural elements of Gothic cathedrals is written by an engineer who spent fifteen years applying analytical techniques of structural mechanics to Gothic buildings. Like a detective, he used these techniques to solve continuing historical arguments about whether flying buttresses hold the roof up or are merely decorative, whether ornate pinnacles atop piers are structurally necessary or purely aesthetic, whether the ribs of the vaults hold up the ceiling as is generally believed, and whether the cathedral at Chartres deserves its place in history as the height of innovative medieval design.

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