Ara Pacis


The selection of a modernist architect to design a structure to house Rome's historic Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) has sparked an international debate. Ara Pacis: Counter-Projects (Alinea Editrice, 2002), edited by Associate Professor Samir Younés, director of the Rome Studies Program, explores the aesthetic, political and cultural problems with redesigning an ancient landmark in a modern style. The book's essays are written in both English and Italian with contributions from architects and historians from around the world including Notre Dame architecture faculty Richard Economakis, Michael Lykoudis, Ettore Mazzola and Carroll William Westfall.

Originally dedicated in 9 B.C. to honor the Emperor Augustus, and reconstructed in 1938 from hundreds of scattered fragments, the Ara Pacis represents the enduring power of classical architecture. To tamper with that would be "the Trojan horse of a cultural political stand," architect Léon Krier writes. Ara Pacis: Counter- Projects explores ways to preserve the historical integrity of the altar and the surrounding area while creating a new structure at once economical and beautiful.

Ara Pacis: Counter Projects presents alternatives to the design from professionals and Notre Dame students alike that reflect the classical style of the original Ara Pacis while focusing on the urban coherence around the altar.

Prof. Younés was a consultant for Ara sine pacis, a documentary on the Ara Pacis that aired on Italian public television, RAI SAT, in January 2003. A conference discussing the structure is also in the works.

To order Ara Pacis: Counter-Projects, visit the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore online.