Take an Architectural Tour

Come along with us on an architectural tour.  We’ll take a look at the influences of traditional architecture, and see it on this photographic tour of the Washington State Capitol Building.


One of the best places to find beautiful architectural details is in your government buildings!  Recently we took a tour of our Washington State Capitol building.  If you know what to look for, you’ll be able to spot many architectural details from classical Greece and Rome to Art Nouveau.

Take a trip to your own state capitol. Bring a camera and take lots of pictures of the beautiful details you see. Then have fun identifying them, or finding out more about an artist or time period. Here are a few to get you started.

Government buildings usually have a lot of classical influences. Compare the characteristics of this building

Columnsto the Acropolis in Greece.

The Acropolis in Greece by RyansWorld (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Take a look at the triangular pediment (roof section) above a colonnade (a sequence of columns) on each of the pictures.  Also, notice the fine details of molding.  You’d hardly know that these building projects were done centuries apart.

This chandelier hangs in the Reception Room of the capitol building and is the most elaborate light fixture there.

Tiffany-ChandelierIt was made by Louis Comfort Tiffany (son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, the founder of Tiffany & Co.). He was well known in the Art Nouveau period, and best known for his beautiful stained glass. You may have seen a Tiffany glass lampshade or window.

In this conference room, there was a beautiful coffered ceiling framed by THREE different kinds of crown molding, all layered together– egg and dart, dentil, and acanthus leaf.

MoldingTake a little closer look. . .

Here is a closer view of egg and dart molding.

You will notice yet another style of molding on the little block sequence on the exterior of the building as well.  This style is called dentil molding.


 Above you’ll see some exterior columns of the Corinthian order.  There are five orders of columns, characterized by the capitals (tops) of the column: Corinthian, Doric, Ionic, Tuscan, and Composite. The Corinthian columns are capped by scrolls and acanthus leaves.

And the columns below are of the Tuscan order.


It is pretty amazing to tour our government buildings.  Capitol buildings, in particular, have a wide range of characteristics from many historical periods.  Almost all of them provide tours which give amazing insight into not only how our government is run, but also some spectacular architectural and artistic details.  They are architectural treats.

More From Layers of Learning

Layers of Learning has an entire art unit devoted to architecture!  You’ll learn all about architecture from an artist’s perspective and come to know the great buildings of the world.  This world is a treasure trove of beautiful art if we learn to see with an artist’s eye!

Layers of Learning Unit 4-19 cover
Unit 4-19: Technology, Home state Study II, Habitats, Architecture

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