Roman brick

Roman brick is a type of brick with nominal dimensions of 12" x 4" x 2" (30 cm x 10 cm x 5 cm), making it longer and narrower (6:2:1 ratio) than most types of brick (roughly a 4:2:1 ratio). Roman brick originated in Ancient Rome and was spread by the Romans to the lands they conquered. This type of brick was introduced to the United States by McKim, Mead and White, and was favored by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright in many of his Prairie Style homes.


In Ancient Rome, Roman brick was of similar proportions to the modern day equivalent. The ancient brick was often of a lesser height than the modern alternative and was also made in a variety of differing sizes.Juracek, Jack. "Surfaces: Visual Research for Artists, Architects, and Designers", ( [ Google Books] ), W. W. Norton & Company: 1996, p. 310, (ISBN 0393730077). Retrieved 3 October 2007.] The biggest difference in ancient and modern Roman bricks are in the large number of shapes and sizes that the Ancient bricks were available in. Shapes variations included oblong, square, rectangle, triangular and round, and the largest bricks found have measured over three feet in length.Peet, Stephen Denison. "The American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal", ( [,M1 Google Books] ), Jameson & Morse [etc.] : 1911, pp. 35–36. Retrieved 3 October 2007.] Ancient Roman bricks had a general size of 1½ Roman feet by 1 Roman foot, but common variations up to 15 inches existed. Other brick sizes in Ancient Rome included 24" x 12" x 4", and 15" x 8" x 10". Ancient Roman bricks found in France measured 8" x 8" x 3". The Constantine Basilica in Trier is constructed from Roman bricks 15" square by 1½" thick.

The Romans perfected brick-making during the first century of their empire and used it ubiquitously, in public and private construction alike. The Romans took their brick making skills everywhere they went, introducing the craft to the local populations.Walters, Henry Beauchamp and Birch, Samuel. "History of Ancient Pottery: Greek, Etruscan, and Roman", ( [,M1 Google Books] ), J. Murray: 1905, pp. 330–40. Retrieved 3 October 2007.] In the British Isles, the introduction of Roman brick by the Ancient Romans was followed by a 600–700 year gap in major brick production. When brick production resumed in earnest on the British Isles, the 1½" to 2" height of the Roman-style brick gradually increased during the early Medieval period.Warren, John. "Conservation of Brick", ( [ Google Books] ), Elsevier: 1999, p. 47, (ISBN 0750630914). Retrieved 3 October 2007.]

Modern Roman bricks are longer and narrower than other types of brick, and have nominal dimensions of 12" x 4" x 2".Papier, Sheryl. " [ The Quest for Reproduction Bricks for the Robie House Restoration] ," "The Newsletter of The Historic Resources Committee", 25 July 2007, The American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 3 October 2007.] Roman brick was introduced to the United States by the architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White.Scully, Vincent Joseph. "The Shingle Style and the Stick Style: Architectural Theory and Design from Downing to the Origins of Wright" ( [ Google Books] ), Yale University Press: 1971, p. 149, (ISBN 0300015194). Retrieved 3 October 2007.] At one time, Roman brick was one of three available brick types in the United States; the other two were "Standard" and "Norman." By 1920, there were at least five types of bricks commonly available to builders and architects, among them: Roman, Norman, Standard, English and Split.Johnson, Nathan Clark and Hool, George Albert. "Handbook of Building Construction: Data for Architects, Designing and Constructing Engineers, and Contractors", ( [ Google Books] ), McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.: 1920, p. 915. Retrieved 3 October 2007.] Demand has increased the availability of all types of bricks; there are more than a dozen commercially available brick types in modern construction.Beall, Christine. "Masonry Design and Detailing: For Architects and Contractors", ( [,M1 Google Books] ), McGraw-Hill Professional: 2003, pp. 49–50, (ISBN 0071377344). Retrieved 3 October 2007.]

Frank Lloyd Wright's use

Frank Lloyd Wright used Roman brick in his design for the Robie House in Chicago, and he favored it in many of his Prairie style homes." [ Buffalo as an Architectural Museum] ," Brick, The Buffalo FreeNet, "University of Buffalo". Retrieved 3 October 2007.] For the Robie House, Wright selected a brick later known as "Pennsylvania Iron Spot Roman brick", personally traveling to St. Louis to choose it.Hoffmann, Donald. "Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House: The Illustrated Story of an Architectural Masterpiece", ( [ Google Books] ), Courier Dover Publications: 1984 p. 42, (ISBN 0486245829). Retrieved 3 October 2007.] Wright's use of Roman brick in his masonry subtly emphasized the horizontal lines common to much of his Prairie style work.Roth, Leland M. "American Architecture: A History" ( [ Google Books] ), Westview Press: 2001, (ISBN 0813336627), p. 308. Retrieved 3 October 2007.] Further highlighting Wright's horizontal emphasis was the use of recessed horizontal mortar joints of contrasting color to the brick. The vertical joints were de-emphasized by ensuring the mortar was flush with, and of the same hue, as the brick.Lind, Carla. "Frank Lloyd Wright's Fireplaces", ( [ Google Books] ), Pomegranate: 1995, p. 14, (ISBN 0876544693). Retrieved 3 October 2007.] In modern times, as historic preservationists have worked to restore and preserve the work of Wright and his fellow Prairie School architects, Roman brick has proven difficult to obtain.Weil, Zarine. "Building a Legacy: The Restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's Oak Park Home and Studio", ( [ Google Books] ), Pomegranate: 2001, p. 124, (ISBN 0764914618). Retrieved 3 October 2007.]


Further reading

*Brodribb, Gerald. "Roman Brick and Tile", ( [ Google Books] ), A. Sutton: 1987, (ISBN 0862993636). Retrieved 3 October 2007.

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