Architect Steve Bass presents a view of the proportional idea based in the ancient philosophical systems of Pythagoras, Plato and later Neo-Platonists. In this view number and geometry, the substance of proportion, are endowed with qualitative, harmonic, life-like properties. These ideas are then linked to numerical and geometrical methods of application: the methods used to describe the elements of classical architecture in reference literature such as Vitruvius, Vignola and Palladio. A central theme is the philosophical nature of beauty as a form of the good, beauty’s relation to proportion and its significance in classical art. Such a view of beauty not only fully justifies the study of the classical elements today but could even provide a pathway out of the alienation, anxiety and intentional ugliness of modernism.
Steve Bass was born in 1947, grew up in New York City, and has maintained a small personal architectural practice in the New York City area since 1974. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute, 1970; a Master of Arts from the Royal College of Art, London, 1991, where he studied under the direction of Dr. Keith Critchlow; and was a participant in the initial Prince of Wales’s Summer Course in Architecture, 1990. Steve is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in New York City where he teaches on the theoretical and applied aspects of proportion and geometry in design. He has also taught at Notre Dame University, the Grand Central Academy of Art, the New York Open Center and other venues. He has written for ICAA’s journal The Classicist, Traditional Building magazine, and American Arts Quarterly. His book, Beauty Memory Unity – A Theory of Proportion in Architecture and Design is now available from Lindisfarne Books.