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Through intensive research, it is clear that the University of Idaho administration block design has strong connections with that of the baroque styles. The term baroque is used to denote an artistic development that happened from the late sixteenth century; it does not necessary designate a period of time. Although there was usually a lot of use of ornamentation, it is not the only main feature in the architecture of the time. Having started in Rome, Italy, it spread to all other parts of the world. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the style developed to rococo, which shifted attention from strong ornamentation, as earlier used by Catholic Church, to complex use of line for secular buildings. The University of Idaho administration block traces its origins from the Baroque designs especially because of its complex use of line.

How University of Idaho Administration Block traces its Origins from the Baroque Designs and Architecture

The building is located at the centre of the main quadrangle and faces East 851 campus drive. The original new administration block was designed by John E. Tourtellotte and was begun in 1907 and completed in 1909. It is characterized by a concrete base, red bricks, U-shape and a mixture of Baroque and Gothic styles of design. Having been built especially from money from students, the state-owned building has since then been extended to other wings to include classrooms, auditorium and library.

The interior and interior designs of the administration block at the University of Idaho are traced from about the architectural practices of mid-eighteenth century. Other than the Palouse area, Baroque styles of design, art and architecture were immensely used in other parts of the world, especially Europe. The Catholic Church’s Council of Trent initiated the institution and spread of Baroque styles as a way of responding to the Protestant reformation. There are many ways in which the design of building is rooted in the art styles of the 1700’s. To begin with, the sculptural and painting forms closely resemble those of the said time. Although they are not as intensively applied as the original designs, they definitely point towards baroque designs. Specifically, the building makes use of shapes from nature on its walls and furniture. In addition, the building adopts a painting and architectural design that depicts an illusionistic view in an upward seeing heaven, sky or dome.

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Although some authorities may not strongly attribute the design to baroque styles, the building’s use of line is strongly traced from the last stages of baroque. This is not only visible in the inside but also on the outside. For instance, a strong sense of lines is used at the main entrance to form conspicuous curvatures above the door. In addition, the windows, pillars, frames and decorative sculpture work employs mostly straight lines which are strongly linked with post-mid-eighteenth century use of baroque in secular buildings. Initially, the style was strictly used in churches especially in Rome and surrounding countries in Europe. By looking at the building, one can easily see religious connotations in its design; with some formations resembling crosses that are used in the Catholic Church.

Contemporary Meaning of the Building

The original administration block had been constructed in 1892 at the inception of the university. However, in 1906, it was consumed by fire leading to the construction of the new administration block in 1907. John Tourtellotte, the architect who had designed the State of Idaho’s capital, designed the new administration block in a bid to bring out a new meaning for the institution and its role in society. The relevance of the then new design was to indicate the university’s maturity and growth in offering higher education. The fact that a renowned architect was contracted for this noble task is a strong symbol of the institution’s need to transform from the past challenges or ‘fire’ which put it down. However, today, the university has reverted to its rich heritage and tradition. Specifically, the building has over time facilitated the formation of many alumni students for over a century now. In other words, while the new administration block was to be a symbol of change, it continues to remind the students of the nostalgic past.


There is no doubt that the University of Idaho’s administration block plays a very important role in advancing education. Moreover, it cannot be forgotten that its architectural design says a lot about its past. The building, though bearing some gothic inclinations, specifically employs the baroque style. This style, having originated from the Catholic tradition, made use of natural shapes’ impressions on furniture, walls and paintings. In a special way, the building’s use of lines to create stability is impressive. Moreover, its relevance today is greatly connected to its original administration block.

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