Maria Zack
Department of Mathematical, Information and Computer Sciences
Point Loma Nazarene University
3900 Lomaland Drive
San Diego, CA 92106 USA

N2006-ZackChristopher Wren's St. Stephen Walbrook (photo by Maria Zack)

After the Great London Fire of 1666, Christopher Wren was appointed as a member of the group that was charged with rebuilding the City of London. Over the next several decades this massive reconstruction effort was lead by Wren and Robert Hooke. Both Wren and Hooke were founding members of the Royal Society and until the Great Fire both were best known for their work in mathematics, physics and astronomy. It is a curious fact of scientific history that Wren who was the Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford, the man that Newton called one of the three "leading geometers of the day," is remembered for his work as an architect.

Wren has been credited with designing St. Paul's Cathedral as well as more than fifty parish churches that were built as part of the post fire restoration of the City of London. Current scholarship indicates that the parish churches were most likely designed by Wren, Hooke and others that worked in their office. However, based on Hooke's diaries and some parish vestry minutes, it is possible to link certain specific church designs with Wren or Hooke. Using the church architecture of Wren and Hooke as illustrations, this paper discusses the evidence for and against the notion that Wren's mathematical and scientific knowledge directly influenced his architectural designs.

About the author
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. received her BA (1984) and Ph.D. (1989) in Mathematics from the University of California at San Diego. She has held posts at Texas Tech University, The Center for Communications Research and Point Loma Nazarene University, where she is currently a Professor as well as the Chair of the Department of Mathematical, Information and Computer Sciences. Her research interests include the history of mathematics in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England.

The correct citation for this paper is:
Maria Zack, "Are There Connections Between the Mathematical Thought and Architecture of Sir Christopher Wren?", pp. 171-180 in Nexus VI: Architecture and Mathematics, eds. Sylvie Duvernoy and Orietta Pedemonte Turin: Kim Williams Books, 2006.