Fodor's Expert Review Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana
Michelangelo the architect was every bit as original as Michelangelo the sculptor. He was interested in experimentation, invention, and the expression of a personal vision that was at times highly idiosyncratic. It was never more idiosyncratic than in the Laurentian Library, begun in 1524 and finished in 1568 by Bartolomeo Ammannati. Its famous vestibolo, a strangely shaped anteroom, has had scholars scratching their heads for centuries. In a space more than two stories high, why did Michelangelo limit his use of columns and pilasters to the upper two-thirds of the wall? Why didn't he rest them on strong pedestals instead of on huge, decorative curlicue scrolls, which rob them of all visual support? Why did he recess them into the wall, which makes them look weaker still? The architectural elements give the room a soft, rubbery look that is one of the strangest effects ever achieved by 16th-century architecture.