Michael Ytterberg
BLT Architects, 1216 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 USA

N2008-YtterbergSant'Andrea in Mantua by Leon Battista Alberti

Sant'Andrea in Mantua is the last of Alberti's churches yet it is the most complete, and the one in which his intentions seem to be clearest. It takes the form of a Latin cross, but evidence suggests that Alberti had intended a basilican plan. Alberti specified that his proposal was for a church of the type "known among the ancients as the Etruscan," but it is not planned like an Etruscan temple. The description in Alberti's treatise adhered precisely to the account of Vitruvius only in the presence of the unusual proportion of 5: 6. In spite of numerous attempts to discover the proportional system in Sant'Andrea, the present study is the first to have found the presence of the proportion 5:6 in the completed building. This paper demonstrates the systematic strategy that Alberti employed to bring every detail of the building into a coherent spatial framework related to the perceiving body, not as an abstract exercise, but as an enveloping web of meaning.

About the author
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. received undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from Rice University and a Ph.D. in the history, theory, and criticism of architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. He teaches urban design and the history of architectural theory at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He is a registered architect in a number of US states and a design principal and member of the executive committee of BLT Architects, a 130-person firm headquartered in Philadelphia. Currently under design are high rise residential towers in Philadelphia and Newark, NJ, and a new casino resort on the strip in Las Vegas, with five hotels, shopping mall and convention center. His research interests include Hadrian's Villa, the subject of his Ph.D. dissertation, architectural theory before the eighteenth century, and the changing relationship material culture - and architecture in particular - to the society it serves.

The correct citation for this paper is:
Michael Ytterberg, "Alberti's Sant'Andrea and the Etruscan Proportion", pp. 201-216 in Nexus VII: Architecture and Mathematics, ed. Kim Williams, Turin: Kim Williams Books, 2008.