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A very short walk to the south brings us to the Altes Rathaus in Alter Markt. The Gothic tower was added to the existing building in 1407-14. It is highly decorated, has pointed windows, spires and a turret.

The portico is a 16th century addition, composed of a semi-circular arcade, and therefore Renaissance. We will learn next semester how there was a return to “classical” detailing and construction, and semi-circular arches were back in “style.” We cannot see them, but there are groin vaults in this loggia.

We are topsy-turvy time-wise, but had to peel back a few layers to get at the core building. The original structure was done in 1330, and a seeming reconstruction is shown to the left, featuring distinctively pointed windows in the Gothic manner. Other views (see the previous view, just left of the loggia or portico addition; that section below the tower is the original) do illustrate considerable detailing. It can be assumed that this part of the façade to the right of the portico (shown on the left above), so simple and bare, is a result of post-war reconstruction. Only the pointed windows appear to be faithful to the original.

It would be revealing to research views of this building, because as additions were made to the building, they were done so in the character of their time, since the tower and portico were non-existent as far as prior plans were concerned. We have seen finishing work done according to original designs – notably, of course, the Cathedral of Cologne, and with some personal characteristics, the Cathedral of Florence. It is almost unarguable to state that if building plans and designs exist, but the building either is incomplete or in disrepair, that such documents should be followed to complete or renovate the structure. Here, we can see that instead of attempting to continue an original design several centuries removed from its inception, that the portico in particular was created in the Renaissance manner, and the building not only does not suffer the change, it is enhanced by the difference. Just something to consider should the Chicago Tribune decide to add an addition.

The wall of bronze is a new addition, either enclosing a passageway and/or creating a transition to another building. Its intricate detailing seems comfortable next to the old Rathaus, yet it does not try to copy any particular style. It is just abstract, but highly detailed at the same time. In fact, the whole entity is the detailing.

The Rathaus sits atop what was the site of a Roman Praetorium (house of the Praetor, the chief administrator of a Roman province, in this case, the Governor).

© Architecture Past Present & Future - Edward D. Levinson, 2009

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