Myrsini Mamoli Receives Faculty Award of Merit for Best Doctoral Dissertation


Myrsini Mamoli, assistant professor of art history at the LSU School of Art, has received the Faculty Award of Merit for Best Doctoral Dissertation at the Georgia Tech College of Architecture. She was presented the award at a ceremony at Georgia Tech on April 25, 2014, for her PhD dissertation, “Towards a theory of reconstructing ancient libraries.”

Mamoli’s research interests lie at the intersection of architectural history and computation. Her direct research goals include the development of a library of three-dimensional parametric architectural components for the digital visualization of classical architecture, including libraries, peristyle halls, basilicas, and more, and the development of a generative grammar for the digital reconstruction of Hellenistic cities.

Laura Hollengreen, associate professor of architecture at Georgia Tech, served on Mamoli’s dissertation committee and said Mamoli’s dissertation “traversed the scholarship of not one but two very different fields . . . I found myself quite impressed by the scope of Myrsini’s corpus of examples and the richness of her documentation of those examples . . . I was equally intrigued by the possibilities of her study of shape grammars and her rationale for what they could teach students of the distant past.”

Mamoli joined the art history faculty at LSU in fall 2013 and teaches first- year through fourth-year seminars on the history of art, ancient near eastern and Egyptian art, classical art and archaeology, history of urban form, and deciphering ornament. In spring 2014, Mamoli lectured at the School of Architecture, where she presented her thesis research to faculty and students at the LSU College of Art & Design. Read an abstract of Mamoli’s dissertation below.

Dissertation Title:
Towards a theory of reconstructing ancient libraries

Mario Carpo, Professor, School of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology
Laura Hollengreen, Associate Professor, School of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology
Terry Knight, Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Major Advisor)
John Peponis, Professor, School of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology (Major Co-advisor)
Bonna Daix Wescoat, Professor, Art History Department, Emory University (Minor Advisor) 

The library was one of the most important buildings in the Hellenistic and Roman city, as evidenced in the writings of ancient authors and the building remains of libraries found throughout the Greco-Roman world, from Asia Minor to France and from Africa to Northern Greece. Yet, the library remains one of the least easily identifiable building forms and one of the most difficult to reconstruct, because unlike architectural types such as the temple, stoa, or theater, the library exhibits significant variety in design, scale, and monumentality and the use of different component elements.

In reconstructing libraries, scholars often rely on a prescribed set of assumptions about components and their arrangement, which limit our ability to identify libraries and understand their diversity of arrangement. “Towards a theory of reconstructing ancient libraries,” proposes shape grammars as a new, computational methodology to identify, understand, and reconstruct ancient libraries of diverse and variant scale, design, and monumentality. The work presents a comprehensive documentation of known and identified libraries; reviews the design principles of the architectural form of ancient libraries; and on the basis of this historical analysis, proposes a shape grammar for the formal specification of ancient Greek and Roman libraries.

The library grammar encodes the design principles of ancient libraries in 91 rules that are grouped in two major parts: the first generates the main hall of the library and its interior design, and the second generates the complete layout of the library including additional porticoes, peristyles, exedras, gardens, and propylon. The application of the rules generates libraries of diverse scales and monumentality: libraries known in the corpus and as well as hypothetical libraries. Thus the grammar functions as both an evaluative tool for proposed reconstructions of known libraries, as an evaluative tool for possible libraries, as a predictive tool for variant scenarios of reconstruction of known libraries, and as a predictive tool for entirely hypothetical libraries that might be excavated one day.

The dissertation assesses the opportunities and challenges that emerge in using shape grammars to identify and reconstruct libraries and also the value and impact of using formal computational methods in the systematic exploration of variations in reconstruction of the archaeological record.

More about Myrsini Mamoli
Myrsini Mamoli joined the art history faculty at LSU as an assistant professor in fall 2013. She holds a PhD in Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a major in computation and a minor in architectural history. She also holds a BA in history and archaeology from Aristotle University in Greece and an MSc in Digital Media and Cultural Studies from the University of the Aegean in Greece. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship (2006) and a Gerondellis Foundation Fellowship (2006). 

About LSU School of Art
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