Architosh News Reports
  Architosh Staff ([email protected])


Palladio software for the Macintosh: Book plus PlanMaker/FacadeMaker

18 Apr 00

Currently Anthony Frausto, the editor of Architosh, is working on an academic lecture on Thomas Jefferson and discovered in the course of research that there is a Macintosh-only software program that accompanies the book Possible Palladian Villas: Plus a Few Instructively Impossible Ones, by George Hersey and Richard Freedman. The title was published in 1992, by the MIT Press.

Possible Palladian Villas is a well regarded theoretical text on the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508-80) who help defined Renaissance architecture in Italy in the period just after Michelangelo. What makes the book so different and interesting is that it represented a combination of research and effort by a Yale University art historian and professor and a Macintosh programmer from Microsoft. What they created together represented a whole new way of using computers to study architectural history.

From the book's back cover:

"Drawing on the architect's original published legacy of forty-odd designs, George Hersey and Richard Freedman reveal the rigorous geometric rules by which Palladio conceived these structures.

Where most earlier attempts to analyze the villas are mere lists of numbers and ratios that ignore space distribution, the present rules produce actual designs. Using a computer, the authors test each rule in every possible application, establishing a degree of validity not possible in ad hoc analyses. Progressing from the architect's most obvious to his subtlest geometry, the computer ultimately creates villa plans and facades that are stylistically indistinguishable from those of Palladio himself."

The book comes with a companion piece of software called Palladio -- which you must order separately! But, it's really cheap and worth the fun of experimenting and exploring more deeply the actual work of the authors. The cool and kinda interesting thing about the software is it's Macintosh-only! And get this, Richard Freedman, who wrote the program, is (or was; 1992 is a long time ago in software time) a product marketer working on MS-DOS at Microsoft.

Mac-only Palladio: PlanMaker and FacadeMaker

The Macintosh software is simply titled: Possible Palladian Villas: The Program. And it ships on a single floppy disk with a tiny piece of paper inside with simple instructions. It's no big deal to load and use but there is one slight hitch. It's for System 7.x only. Or at least that is what the book says. We tried it on both Mac OS 8.1 and OS 9 and it opened and generated plans. Where we had problems was with the FacadeMaker portion of the program. It would freeze up when we tried to create facades and go back to the generated plan. But here is the good thing. It is really no big deal to use.

Mac OS 7.x Here we go!

All you need to do is copy the entire contents of the program disk to your hard drive. The program is just 56k, plus there is a ReadMe Tutorial file and SimpleText app. Now go dig out that old System 7.x whatever version CD-ROM you have lying around and reboot your Mac with that system CD. Remember to turn off the computer with the CD already in the tray and then restart the computer and hold down the C key to force your Mac to use the System 7.x folder on the CD-ROM.

Once you have your Mac running off the System 7 CD you can go open up and play around with the Palladio software. Below are some screen shots of the program running off a PowerBook 150 (oldie but goodie) running Mac OS 7.5. The program worked perfect on this oldie.

In the screen shot about you see the whole program (minus the actual menus which consist of File, Edit, View, Options). Under Options you have the submenus: Entablature Windows, Dropped Door, Dado Railing, and Base Windows.

How the program works is through a process called Splitting -- subdivision methodology that works out the subdivisions according to Palladian rules. Quote from book: "What the computer contributes is simply the ability to calculate a huge number of possible permutations and combinations based on Palladios' rules." Moreover:

"With the disk containing Planmaker and Facademaker, our software for creating for creating plans and facades, anyone can sit down in front of a Macintosh and generate thousands of Palladian villas."

To make a new Palladian villa you tell the program what the overall dimensions are, in Vincentine feet, a very old unit of measure slightly smaller than English feet (from what we worked out: does anyone disagree with us?). In the example above we use 91 x 51 Vicentine feet, the approximate dimensions of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello (excluding the porticoes). Using the random number methodology behind the program's functional abilities it generated this first plan (note: windows and doors are generated after you choose a facade from Facademaker). If you do not like this plan's subdivisions -- which conform to rules defined by Palladio -- you choose New Plan on the bottom right and it generates a second and different plan. You keep doing this until you stop at one you want to continue with. Let's go with this one -- which is fundamentally the same as Monticello's 3x5 parts division system.

In Facademaker (part of the same program) you can choose a facade type. Palladio had three fundamental types, the one chosen above is the most advanced and the one that became very popular in Palladianism in England and eventually America. Monticello, by the way, uses a facade type based on the single story portico (temple front - third row top).

Because Axial planning is one rule of Palladio's treaty on architecture, all exterior openings align axially with interior doors, as shown in the plan below which is generated once a facade is chosen in the Facademaker.

Note that the porticoes are not drawn by the software. But all openings are created so that Palladian vistas run through the entire plan. Now this plan is not all that Palladian (that's where the "Possible" comes in the title). Palladio preferred the center primary hall rooms as being larger in size than the flanking sides. And this is the case with Monticello as well.

Thomas Jefferson Lecture

This Macintosh software was discovered as part of research for a lecture on Thomas Jefferson's architecture. This lecture will be completed next week and sometime after that will be featured on Architosh. At that point we will have more to say on this book and the software shown here. In particular, we will have a number of "possible Monticello's". And all made on a Mac!


Other Architosh News and Special Reports

Architosh Seybold Report: Mac products for CAD/AEC - Part 1

solidThinking 3D app coming to Mac OS 9 and OS X

VersaCAD returning to the Macintosh!

iDisk to be powerful tool for AEC and "design pros"

The Apple Store now sells a selection of leading, third-party Macintosh software!

The Ultimate Macintosh CAD machine: Power Mac G4/500, custom configured. starts at $2,199

Essential for your design or engineering business, FileMaker Pro 5 handles all your data business needs. $249

click on our screen grab to go there now!



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