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Layers of Rome: Architecture, History and Geography of Ancient and Modern Rome

Roger Trancik, FASLA

Roger Trancik, FASLA
Professor, Cornell University
14 Tyler Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Tel. 607-257-5686;
Fax 607-255-1971

A Multimedia CD-ROM for Public Education Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and Cornell University Institute for European Studies

About this CD

Layers of Rome, an electronic textbook, helps you explore the ancient city of Rome, Italy and how it rebuilt itself layer upon layer into a modern metropolis. Through computer generated 3D models, photographs, video and narratives, the design of Rome is experienced while moving through layered images of the city .Virtual-space renderings take you back 2000 years to Rome's Campus Martius and the changing Roman landscape. The story of Rome provides a basis for thinking about cities today and concepts for successful public space.

Why Rome?

The famous Roman historian Livy once observed the Rome "appears more like a huge squatter settlement than a properly planned city." So why look to Rome as a model for good urban planning - a city that never really had a comprehensive urban plan, but grew by accretion? ln Rome, design guidelines were etched in to elements accumulated through time. New was grafted onto old. Materials and spaces were recycled. Rome was radically transformed from ancient to modern, yet the Romans remained committed to holding their city together as a compact unit.


Urban borders were contained, and change happened from within. This lesson is important as modern downtowns deteriorated, even disappear, while suburbia sprawls unchecked. Rome shows that it pays to stay put, to preserve and sustain the cultural and physical history of an urban place.

Learning from Rome

Layers of Rome is used in education settings (Adult, university high school) and by professionals, Rome enthusiasts, and tourists to the Eternal City. Beyond the study of Rome itself, you can use the CD to learn about spatial theory, and methods for investigating the layers of other cities. It provides a reference source for examples of good urban design drawn from principles of firmly shaped, coherently linked, humanly meaningful places.

Making Layers of Rome

As a standalone application made for desktop and laptop computers, Layers of Rome does not require additional software. All material is original. All models were constructed with Form-Z and animation, video and sound edited in ElectricImage and Adobe Premiere. Adobe Photoshop and QuickTime VR were used extensively in production. The interactive CD-ROM format was created in Macromedia Director 7. The project required extensive archival and on-site research, and consultation with experts in the fields of Roman history and archaeology. For more information visit the Layers of Rome web site at

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