While there is little material available to the general public, it is usually assumed that Palazzo Rucellai in Florence was designed as a symmetrical building, even though it was never completed as such. In its incomplete state, Palazzo Rucellai offers itself as an ideal subject for exploring the idea of a diptych in architecture (see bibliography).

While the idea of three, or a triptych, is a standard feature of most civic architecture, there are fewer architectural examples of a diptych typology. When making abstract schemata of architecture, the numbers three and nine are traditionally used whether as a tripartite façade or a nine-square plan. Very rarely is a four-square plan or a two-part façade proposed, and when it is, it is as a two part opposition – solid / void, orthogonal gridded / round smooth. Such a binary opposition, which has underpinned thought in most disciplines, seems today to be insufficient or inadequate to deal with the complexities of the built environment in the post-mechanical age.


The idea is to mobilize, from an architectural practice, the possibility of a diptych in architecture. What that entails is a certain formalization of a diptych–traditionally a painterly idea that originated as celebratory artifacts in Roman and Byzantine times and gradually moved from a boxed horizontal surface to a framed vertical surface. The studio project is to design a structure on the site adjoining Palazzo Rucellai in such a way that it becomes part of a new diptych composition.


The studio is interested in the realization of ideas in architectural scale models and drawings. Although the idea of a diptych animates the theoretical discussion and analytic portion of the studio, it will be up to the students to develop the analogical strategy of “diptych” and how it manifests itself in their architectural proposals.

Work will be divided into three phases. Students will work individually during the analytic and diagrammatic phase, which will be completed prior to our trip to Italy. The second phase will include the site visit and the development of a parti. This phase, during which students will work in pairs, will last until the midterm week. The last five weeks will be spent developing the project in plan, section, and elevation. Final drawings and model at 1:50 scale.


Borromini, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Rome, Italy, 1638-41
Gottfried Semper, Burgtheater, Vienna, Austria, 1873-1888 (side view)
Gunnar Asplund, courthouse expansion project, Göteborg, Sweden, 1918 (earlier proposal)
Le Corbusier, Villa Cook, Boulogne-sur-Seine, France, 1924
Gunnar Asplund, courthouse expansion project, Göteborg, Sweden, 1935-1936
Marcel Breuer, Robinson House, Williamstown, MA, 1947
Luigi Moretti, Casa Girasole, Rome, Italy, 1950
James Stirling, Leicester Engineering Building, Leicester, England, 1959
Robert Venturi, Vanna Venturi House, Philadelphia, PA, 1962-63
Le Corbusier, Carpenter Center, Cambridge, MA, 1963
John Hejduk, Wall House I, 1968
Michael Graves, proposals for Whitney Museum addition, 1985–1988
OMA, proposal for Whitney Museum addition, 1985
Richard Meier and Partners Architects, proposal for Yale Art+Architecture building, 2001-4
Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, Yale Art+Architecture building
Tigerman McCurry Architects, Holocaust Memorial Foundation of Illinois, Skokie, IL,2009
Renzo Piano, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, 2015

Pierro della Francesca
Sandro Botticelli
David Salle


Week Project Method Date
Week 1 Site model class September 03
Week 2 Analysis - historical individual September 10
Week 3 Analysis - parti individual September 17
Week 4 Travel week class September 28-October 02
Week 5 Diagrammatic parti teams October 08
Week 6 Diagrammatic parti teams October 15
Week 7 Diagrammatic parti teams October 22
Week 8 Mid-term review November 05
Week 9 Selection of final projects teams November 12
Week 10 Selection of final projects teams November 19
Week 11 Thanksgiving fall break November 26
Week 12 Development of 1:50 scale drawings and models teams December 03
Week 13 Development of 1:50 scale drawings and models teams December 10
Week 14 Final review December 17


We will travel to Arezzo during the allotted studio travel week. Pier Vittorio Aureli has planned an itinerary for us in and around Arezzo, including day trips to Urbino, San Sepolcro, and Florence and Manuel Orazi and Gabriele Mastrigli will join us on portions of the trip. At the end of the week, we will visit Milan Expo (Peter Eisenman in conversation with Rafael Moneo).


Bernard Berenson, Piero Della Francesca: The Ineloquent in Art (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1954).

Hubert Damisch, “The Column and the Wall”, Architectural Design, 5/6, London: 1979, pp. 18–25.

Ivan Gaskell, “Diptychs. What’s the Point?” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 64, No. 3, pp. 325-332.

All Semesters

Fall 2017
Lateness: A Theory of the Present
Peter Eisenman, Elisa Iturbe
Fall 2016
Advanced Design Studio
Peter Eisenman, Elisa Iturbe