This week I did a little bit of history research on medieval cloisters. I read a couple of articles: "On the Origins of the Medieval Cloister" by Walter Horn in Gesta, Vol. 12, No. 1/2 (1973), pp. 13-52 and "Cloister, Court and City Square" by Kathleen Weil-Garris Posner in Gesta, Vol. 12, No. 1/2 (1973), pp. 123-132. The first article traces the development of the medieval cloister all the way back to the cells of the early desert monks in Egypt. The second article brings up a good point that not all cloisters, even medieval constructions, were not just for enclosed monastic life. For example the atrium at Old St. Peter's in Rome, its architecture is very close to that of a cloister but it is used as a receiving area. This might be a good point to bring up when presenting my idea to build a cloister: that it would be a good place for students to meet or enjoy a book or any number of things. I also recently watched a NOVA special on PBS called Building the Great Cathedrals. It is a good source of information on Romanesque and Gothic architecture used in the Middle Ages.
Right now I am working on writing my prospectus. I have started the introduction and I am trying to decide which materials would be best to build with. Masonry would be very expensive, not to mention that I would have to find a professional willing to construct it. I did however find another school that built a cloister for a garden show. I am planning on contacting the Williamson Free School in Philadelphia to see how they built theirs. I also have to decide on a design and whether I want to use Romanesque or Gothic architecture. I have been looking at mostly whatever pictures of medieval cloisters I can find in Google images. I am planning on finding some in the city to take pictures of for inspiration. I know there is the Fourth Presbyterian Church, Old St. Patricks, and there is also a cloister-like walk at Loyola between the Information Commons and the Madonna Della Strada. If anybody can think of anymore in the city that would be great.