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Architectural Style

Milan Cathedral



Gothic architecture was prevalent during the late medieval period (1200-1500) with many well known abbeys and cathedrals being built in this style.

Gothic architecture is most commonly identified by their flying buttresses, ribbed vaults, pointed arches and elaborate gargoyles.


Gothic architecture dates back to the 12th century. During this time there was an ongoing war between primarly British forces of Christian faith and Muslim faith-based forces primarily from the Middle East.

Due to this, knights were able to travel to the Byzantine Empire and witness their magnificent fortresses firsthand. These fortresses revolutionized engineering and architecture in Europe, initiating the emergence of Gothic Architecture.[1]

The word Gothic is derived from Nordic tribes that overran the Roman Empire during the sixth century.

Use In Building Construction

Depiction of how a flying buttress functions

Gothic architecture was a response to the challenge about how to span ever-wider surfaces from ever-greater heights. As technology began to evolve, castles and cathedrals were becoming wider and taller. Since these structures utilized load bearing walls, the challenge became how to grow these walls vertically while contending with lateral forces that came as a result of supporting a heavy ceiling. To counteract these forces the flying buttress were introduced in the late 1100s. These external structures absorb the outward thrust of the ceiling at set intervals just under the roof. [2]

Repairing the arches at McGill University

Another distinctive aspect of Gothic architecture are the large windows located throughout. The size of these windows presented another challenge in how to create large openings in load bearing walls without having them collapse. The use of stone ribs provide additional support at critical points. The ribs also help transfer the weight of the ceiling downwards towards the walls, preventing structural problems.

Perhaps the most notable (and creepiest) aspects of Gothic architecture are the gargoyles that adorn the these structures. These caricatures have a functional purpose aside from aesthetics. They are designed to spout water away from the masonry walls to prevent the erosion of the mortar holding the walls together.[3]

Gothic Revival

Yale University

Gothic Architecture made a revival in the 19th century, mainly in the form universities. Princeton, Yale, McGill, Notre Dame and Duke University are notable examples of Neo-Gothic inspired structures.

The Parliament Buildings in Ottawa Ont.

Perhaps the most famous buildings in Canada; The Parliament Buildings is another example of Neo-Gothic architecture.

Condominium Examples

Dakota 1 West 72nd Street, New York City, NY

The Dakota’s design was influenced by the Victorian and Gothic architectural styles, complete with turrets, high gables, Terra-cotta spandrels, arches, oriel windows, and oil burning lamps lighting the exterior block front of the building. Many of the building’s exterior ornamentation has become iconic in the years since its construction. In 1969, The Dakota was named a New York City Landmark, followed by the inclusion into the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and the designation of being a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

On December 8th, 1980, The Dakota secured its place in historical infamy when former Beatles member John Lennon was shot to death outside of the building by Mark David Chapman. To this day, The Dakota remains one of the most well known buildings in New York City and is a destination for both tourists and Beatles fans the world over.

Barbizon 63 140 East 63rd Street, New York City, NY

Barbizon 63 was built adopting several architectural styles and has been described as an "eclectic mixture of Italian Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance ornament." During the renovation, air-rights were purchased from surrounding lower buildings to secure unfettered views of the cityscape.

The conversion to condominiums was carried out meticulously, taking care that the iconic limestone and brick façade was protected and restored to its original grandeur. Modern cutting edge conveniences, state of the art kitchens and marble accented bathrooms have been installed and are a testament to modern interior design. Crown moldings around the French casement windows are vintage pre-war, but energy-efficient windows within the frames modern.


  1. History of Gothic Architecture
  2. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  3. Wikipedia

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