History of Architecture

    Classicist Architecture
    Classicist Architecture is the first to announce modernity, through the import of formal elements (in the beginning, just morphological, and then syntactical as well) of a classic or classicized style, that became fairly common at the end of the 18th century. They originate from the influences of the European Classicism and/or Neoclassicism, brought forward through different channels (predominantly the Russian and the Central European ones) but, since the acquisitions are late and they are not taken directly from their source, it is difficult to make a clear distinction between what might represent the late Renaissance/classicist influence and the neoclassical one. Regardless of its origin, the classicist morphologic and syntactic repertoire is initially applied at the level of the facade, especially regarding cult monuments and boyar mansions (in Moldavia: The Cantacuzino Palace – before 1795 and Callimachi Palace – 1795-6, in Iasi, the round church in Letcani – 1795, Banu Church – 1800, in Iasi, the church of the Varatec Monastery – 1808, the place "over the walls"  from Frumoasa Monastery – 1818, Ruset church in Botosani – 1825; in Tara Romaneasca: Cretulescu mansion – before 1791, the Ghica-Tei palace – 1822, all in Bucharest etc.). There are well known the names of a few architects that made designs in a classicist manner: initially, foreign architects such as the Austrians "her Leopold", Johann Freiwald, the Czech, Martin Kubelka, the Russian, M. Singurov, (probably) the Catalan, Xavier Villacrosse etc., names to which are later added Romanian architects or "dilettantes" that support this type of architecture: "the architectonic Ionita", Gheorghe Asachi, Alex. Costinescu, Iacob Melnic etc., in Moldavia and Tara Romaneasca.
    In Ardeal, on a more prepared basis by the previous stylistic evolution (more closely to the Central European one), the Classicist architecture appears as a simplified late Baroque (the main facade of the Brukenthal Palace in Sibiu, the interior garden of the Banffy Palace, the reformed college – 1801, the Teleky Palaces, arch. Josef Leder – 1802 and Tholgalagy-Korda, arch. Carlo Gusti – 1801-1807, all in Cluj etc.) and it matures faster (the Roman-Catholic Cathedral in Satu-Mare – 1786-1789, the City Hall in Cluj, arch. Anton Kragerbauer – 1843-1846 etc.), the Andrei Saguna Highschool in Braşov (arch. Stefan Emilian – 1851). As for the rest of the country, with the increasing prestige characteristic of this style, its application becomes more coherent and the classicist syntax gains depth, unveiling a new interior spatiality. New classicist churches are built, such as Sf. Spiridon Church (1804) and the one of the Frumoasa Monastery (1836) in Iasi, Teiul Doamnei (1833) and Sf. Dumitru (arch. Iosif Weltz) in Bucharest etc., and many old churches are rebuilt in classicist spirits, such as Sf. Gheorghe Nou Church in Bucharest (after 1848, arch. X. Villacrosse). In parallel, this architecture is also used in the construction of various boyar mansions, some with great park arrangements, (Rosetti Mansion in Caiuti/Bacau, the Alexandru Ghica residence in Pascani/Ilfov etc.) and it starts to have an echo at the level of small domestic urban architecture.
    In the second half of the 19th century, important public classicist edifices are built, such as The National Theatre in Bucharest (1846-1852, arch. Josef Heft), the Episcopal House in Ramnicu Valcea, the Prefecture of  Argeş County in Piteşti, The Institute of Anatomy in Iasi (arch. N.C. Mihailescu, St. Emilian) or the buildings designed by Alexandru Orăscu (a diplomat in München), considered the first Romanian classicist: The University (1857-1869), the Bulevard Hotel (1865-1867), The Domnita Balasa Church (in collaboration with Carol Benis), in Bucharest, the final form (1880) of the Metropolitan Church in Iasi (started in 1833 by the architects Freiwald and Asachi).
    Although in the last fifteen years of the 19th century, Classicism begins to lose its "official style" status, (in favour of Eclecticism), one can speak about a certain resistance of the classicist trend in Romanian architecture. Thus, in time, it reappears in various forms: either in pure form, in late neoclassical constructions, (The Regal Palace in Bucharest, arch. N. Nenciulescu, in the fourth decade of the 20th century, The Ministry of Finances in Bucharest, arch. Radu Dudescu – 1947) or neo-renaissance buildings (Crisoveloni Bank, arch. G. M. Cantacuzino – in the 1920s); or simplified, in various Art-Deco or in monumental modernism forms (Faculty of Law, arch. Petre Antonescu – 1935, Ministry of Justice, arch. Const. Iotzu – 1929-1932, The Agronomic Institute, arch. F. Stănculescu, L. Plamadeala, R. Udroiu, Ministry of Foreign Affairs – 1936-1938, The War Academy – 1937-1944, The CFR Palace – 1938-1947, projected by Duiliu Marcu, the exhibitions between 1937-1939, arch. Horia Creanga, all in Bucharest, The Cultural Palace in Cernauti, arch. Horia Creanga – 1938-1940 etc.); or in "perverted" shapes, in the structure of totalitarian architectures at the end of the 20th century. Furthermore, due to the Beaux-Arts type of education, the classicist trend is transmitted in the syntax and the planimetric repartition of many buildings, even if those adopt other stylistic forms of the facade, from Eclecticism to Neo-Romanian.

Ana-Maria Zahariade