Giuliano Gondi commissioned Giuliano da Sangallo to design the Palazzo Gondi in Florence. The patron had just moved to Florence after having become wealthy through business in Naples, where he had been on good terms with King Ferdinand I.
The palace was left incomplete at Gondi's death and enlarged in the nineteenth century.
The Palazzo Gondi faces the Piazza San Firenze, which is situated a block east of the Piazza della Signoria. In the sixteenth century, the Palazzo Vecchio was extended in the rear to the street on which the Palazzo Gondi faced.
Originally, the Palazzo Gondi was six-bays wide and abutted by palaces on both sides.
The unfinished edge on the right side suggests that some expansion had been planned on that side.
After additional property became available in the late-seventeenth, the palace was enlarged on the back side.
In the nineteenth century, the street to the side of the Palazzo Vecchio was widened. This required that the palace on its left side be demolished, leaving the Palazzo Gondi on the corner. A seventh bay was added on the left, and a façade was added to the side across from the Palazzo Vecchio.
The fact that the new left bay brought symmetry to a formerly asymmetrical arrangement of doors and windows suggests that such an expansion may have been planned from the start.
On the piano nobile, the block faces are smooth and flat, and the joints are less prominent than those on the ground story. This form is called rusticated ashlar.
On the third story, the block faces are also smooth and flat, but the joints are flush. This form of masonry, in which the dressed blocks are laid with nearly invisible joints, is called ashlar. Some of the joints are incised rather than being actual breaks between blocks.
The block sizes were predetermined.
By predetermining the heights of the blocks, and therefore, the levels of the masonry courses, the horizontal joints were made to coincide with horizontal edges such as the upper and lower edges of the ground-story windows and the upper edges of the voussoirs.
By predetermining the widths of the blocks, the vertical joints could be aligned with each other.
The same pattern of large and small stones is repeated on all the upper-story bays. On the ground story, window bays match window bays, and door bays match door bays.
The outer edges of the voussoirs are cut square so that they fit into the bond of the adjacent masonry. This technique, which had been used by the ancient Romans, adds stability by locking the individual voussoirs into the bond.
The most unusual feature of the masonry is the use of cross-shaped stones in the spandrels. These stones, which extend over four and a half courses of masonry, form monolithic braces between the lower voussoirs and the courses above it.
Unlike the windows of other Florentine palaces at that time, which were largely biforate, the windows of the Palazzo Gondi are not divided by stone mullions. Instead of having two arched lights, the windows consist of a single arch.
Giuliano designed the rooftop loggia to extend across the whole width of the façade, but only an abbreviated form was completed.
The loggia's placement on the street side was unusual because rooftop loggias were generally put on the upper story of a palace's courtyard, and when they were used on street facings, they were usually positioned back from the edge to make them less visible from the ground.
The courtyard was oriented at a right angle to the façade so that its narrow, two-bay width would not be noticeable from the vestibule.
The presence of a staircase along one side of the courtyard is an unusual feature in courtyard design. Staircases were usually positioned at a right angle to or in alignment with one of the courtyard loggias.
Although the use of a staircase along one side of a courtyard was uncommon in fifteenth-century domestic palaces, it did have precedents in late-Medieval civic palaces like the Palazzo Bargello (originally the Palazzo del Podestà) in Florence.
The upper wall of the second story is lighted by oculi.
The interior of the Palazzo Gondi was richly appointed with ornate ceilings and carved trims. Giuliano's studies of ancient Roman architecture enabled him to infuse the interior with classical detail.
The ceilings of the Palazzo Gondi took several forms including the barrel vault, a type that Giuliano had used for both the portico and the Grand Salone at the Villa Medici and for the vestibule of the Sacristy of Santo Spirito.
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