Father Pitt

Why should the beautiful die?

World’s Largest Monolithic Columns (Again)

Columns of the Mellon Institute

The Mellon Institute, designed by the prolific Benno Janssen, claims the largest monolithic columns in the world. Columns like these are usually made as a series of joined cylinders, but each column here is a single piece of stone. When the client wants to send the message “I spent money on this,” nothing is more effective than giving him the world’s largest something-or-other.

Note how, unlike most other monumental buildings in Oakland, the Mellon Institute has retained the sooty evidence of decades of heavy industry.

Addendum: Note the comment below with the rival claim of the South Carolina State House, whose monolithic columns claim to be taller by a foot. As in all such questions, of course, we can make pedantic distinctions one way or another: it depends on how we define “large.” Columns of the Corinthian order are more slender in proportion to their height; we have to say what we mean by “largest” before we can settle the question. The only thing that matters, though, is that the columns in Columbia are beautiful in themselves and add considerably to the beauty of one of our distinguished Greek Revival buildings. It is not necessary to take down one of the South Carolinian columns and weigh it to say that they are magnificent achievements.

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One response to “World’s Largest Monolithic Columns (Again)”

  1. I found your site which was helpful in that it validates one of our long held assertions here in South Carolina but unfortunately invalidates yours.

    The monolithic granite columns of the South Carolina State House are 43 feet tall making them perhaps the tallest of that type in the world, instead of the Mellon Institute’s 42 foot tall columns.

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