MacDonald L., William. “The Pantheon: Design, Meaning and Progeny, With a New Foreword,
John Pinto”. Harvard University Press. October 2002. Paperback.
William L. MacDonald was born in 1921, and taught at Wheaton College and Yale University before joining Smith College in 1965, where he stayed for the remainder of his career. In 1974, he was appointed Alice Pratt Brown Professor of Art. His publications include: Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (1962); The Architecture of the Roman Empire (1965); Northampton, Massachusetts: Architecture & Buildings (1975); The Pantheon: Design, Meaning, and Progeny )1976); and Hadrian’s Villa and its Legacy (with John Pinto) (1995). In 1986, The Architecture of the Roman Empire was re-issued by Yale University Press and has since become the standard text for undergraduate courses in the field. That same year, MacDonald’s book was awarded the Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award by the Society of Architectural Historians, for “the most distinguished work of scholarship in the history of architecture published by a North American scholar.” He died in 2010. His books are resources used both by working professionals in many fields as well as scholars and hobbyists. This particular book is a paper bound soft-cover book. It is particularly useful for William MacDonald traces the history of the structure since its completion and examines its progeny—domed rotundas with temple-fronted porches built from the second century to the twentieth—relating them to the original. He analyzes the Pantheon’s design and the details of its technology and construction, and explores the meaning of the building on the basis of ancient texts, formal symbolism, and architectural analogy. He sees the immense unobstructed interior, with its disk of light that marks the sun’s passage through the day, as an architectural metaphor for the ecumenical pretensions of the Roman Empire.