Not Really, But Sort Of

I was passing through Cooper Square and noticed that the Cooper Union is undergoing facade restoration work. The very wide sidewalks around the building are protected by a rather elaborate installation of Urban Umbrella sidewalk bridge. It took me a minute to think of why this looked so very familiar.

Here’s the interior of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba:

There’s not a lot of similarity between a temporary protection scaffold made of steel and a 1200-year-old masonry building, but… When you have a series of verticals – stone piers, steel posts, whatever – set in a grid pattern and then view that grid at an angle, you get certain visual patterns. Some of the verticals appear to be set almost randomly, but some will form alleys as your viewing angle aligns with an angle that passes through the grid. In the Córdoba photo, if you start at the pier closest to the camera and then look at the line of piers immediately to its right, you’re looking at a “45-degree” angle: each pier is one row behind the one to its left and each is one pier to the left in the row from the one to its left. It’s not actually a 45-degree angle because the distance between the rows is not equal to the distance between columns in a row, but it’s a “one up, one over” pattern. There’s a similar effect in the sidewalk bridge layout.

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