Civic Architecture : Public Building
Palazzo della Ragione (Basilica)
The Palazzo della Ragione in Vicenza, otherwise known as “La Basilica” was one of Palladio’s first commisions (Palladio’s plan was finally accepted in May of 1549). The architect was chosen to design the repairs (the loggias) of the Basilica, which had collapsed over 40 years before. According to Beltramini, “[t]he system is based on the repetition of the serliana (i.e. an open arch of constant width) flanked by two narrower rectangular side openings of variable breadth to adjust to the different bay widths.” In fact, as Reed notes, “the Basilica possesses the most famous example of the Palladian motif [or serliana], the arched opening between two-flat-head openings.” (p.45) This building is especially significant as, Palladio based this work on a Christian Basilica, reinterpretating a religious structure format for use as a modern town hall. This commission was a great turning point in Palladio’s career, as after “La Basilica,” Palladio became the official architect of the city of Vicenza. (Beltramini, pp. 30, 32).