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Architectural Detail Experts | A Blog by Worthington Millwork

The 5 Orders of Architectural Columns

Posted by Christie McClung on 6/13/17 4:38 PM

Handed down from the ancient Greek and Roman empire, the 5 Orders of Architectural Columns are still used in modern architecture. The Greek supplied us with the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian designs while the Romans introduced us to the Tuscan and Composite look. Each of these elements are unique in their own way. They are used in specific structures at precise times to bring together a stunningly designed building.

Each of the 5 Orders of Architectural Columns have distinctive designs for the capitals, the entablatures, the column shafts, and the bases. Modern architects rely on their knowledge of history to design the classic buildings that we see today.

1. Doric

The first of the 5 Orders of Architectural Columns is the Doric style, which is one of the simplest of the orders. Handed down from the Greek, Doric style columns are short, faceted heavy columns with basic, round capitals. Doric columns are normally fluted, but can be smooth. The traditional Greek Doric columns come without a base.

The Doric style can be seen in classic architecture all over the world. Some of the most iconic buildings with Doric style columns including the Lincoln Memorial, Athenian Treasury, and the Temple of Zeus.

    Lincoln-Memorial-Doric-Style-Columns.jpg          Athenian - Treasury - Doric - Columns.jpg         Temple-of-zeus-doric-columns.jpg

         Lincoln Memorial                                Athenian Treasury                          Temple of Zeus

2. Ionic

From Eastern Greece, the Ionic order is notable by the slender pillars that can be fluted or not with large bases. The capital has two opposed scrolls (or volutes) that give it a distinguished look. They are the thinnest of the 5 Orders of Architectural Columns, but they have the tallest base.

If you look closely to the Ionic cap, you can see the ‘egg-and-dart’ design. This is an ornamental device that is found in various types of moldings throughout Ancient Greece.

Ionic columns can be seen throughout Capitol Hill in Washington including the U.S. Capitol Building, The Supreme Court Building, and the Longworth House Office Building.

     US-Capital-Building-Ionic.jpg          Supreme-Court-Ionic-Column.jpg      Longworth-House-Office-Building-Ionic-Columns.jpg

               U.S. Capitol                                       Supreme Court                            Longworth House

3. Corinthian

Corinthian style columns are the last Greek inspired design in the 5 Orders of Architectural Columns. It is also the most decorative with very elaborate capitals. There are many different variations of the Corinthian columns, but most of the capitals are decorated with flowers, leaves, and small scrolls. The shaft has flutes and the bases closely resembles the Ionic column’s base.

One of the most remarkable place to find Corinthian columns is at The Hall of Columns, which runs along the North-South axis of the U.S. Capitol. It is located beneath the Hall of the House of Representatives. Some other popurlar buildings with Corinthian style columns include the New York Stock Exchange and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

    Corinthian - Column Example - Worthington.jpg   New-York-Stock-Exchanged-Corthian-Style.jpg  Metropolitan-Museum-of-art-Cornthian-Columns-1.jpg

         The Hall of Columns                        New York Stock Exchange                       Metropolitan 

4.) Tuscan

The Tuscan Columnsare the first of the 5 Orders to be handed down from the Romans. It is like the Doric style as in it is simple, but they are typically slimmer. Traditionally, Tuscan columns are smooth with no flutes. Their capitals are plain without carvings or ornaments.

These columns are often seen in the Neoclassical style of building. They were traditionally used for strong building such as utilitarian and military style buildings. Tuscan columns can be found in classical applications including The Temple of Piety, The Lower Order of the Colosseum, and The Temple of Jupiter.

    temple-of-piety-tuscan-columns.jpg    Colosseum-Tuscan-Columns-Worthinton.jpg   Temple-of-jupiter-tuscan-columns-worthington.png

              The Temple of Piety                            The Colosseum                        The Temple of Jupiter

5.) Composite

The final column of the 5 Orders of Architectural Columns is the Composite column. Also handed down from the Roman Empire, these columns are typically even more ornamental than the Corinthian columns. It combines the scrolls from the Ionic columns with the leaves from the Corinthian columns to get its unique look.

This order was not added as its own order until after the Renaissance period. Some of the famous buildings with Composite columns includes the Manchester Central Library, the Arch of Constantine, and the Pantheon in Rome.

      Manchester-Central-Library-Composite-Columns.jpg    arch-of-constantine-compsite-columns-worthington.jpg  Worthington-Pantheon-Picture-Rome-Composite-Columns.jpg

         Manchester Central Library               The Arch of Constantine                           Pantheon

Worthington specialize in providing contractors, architectures, and homeowners with any type of column to fit the specific style of a building. If you are looking for columns, be sure to try our column building tools and contact us for a free estimate on your columns.

Topics: Wood Columns, Architectural Columns, Porch Columns, Fiberglass Porch Columns

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