Ad QUADratum: The Art & Science of Cathedral Design

Everyone is invited to witness the harmonious intersection of art and mathematics on a grand scale, Friday, November 4, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, on The University of Alabama’s main quadrangle.

The beauty and grandeur of medieval cathedrals lies not only in their vast scale, but also in their harmonious proportions, created by the use of ancient principles of geometry.  On Friday, Nov. 4, students from Dr. Jennifer Feltman’s ARH 461 Gothic Cathedrals and ARH 361 Late Medieval Art History classes will demonstrate how a cathedral plan was laid-out ad quadratum, from the square, using simple tools such as stakes, string and a measuring rod. This exercise will demonstrate how proportions based on the √2 (square root of two) and the Golden Section find practical application in medieval architecture. Join us on the quad for a live demonstration of how art and mathematics work together! 

Illustration of Notre-Dame of Laon cathedral with superimposed regulator lines show that the cathedral has golden proportions.

(left) Illustration of Notre-Dame of Laon cathedral with superimposed regulator lines showing that the cathedral has golden proportions. PD-US,

The UA Department of Art and Art History provides an innovative, energetic and interdisciplinary learning environment that focuses on academic excellence in the areas of art history and studio art. We provide specialized education for majors and minors in our department, as well as offer general enrichment to students working within the broader context of a university-wide liberal arts curriculum. For more about our programs, visit our website:

For more information about the Department of Art and Art History’s art history programs, go here: