Architecture / Style / Classical Revival


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The later, more refined stage of the Beaux Arts tradition influenced the last phase of the classical revival in the United States. Federal government buildings of the first half of the 20th century owed much to the Beaux Arts interpretation of classical design. The Cannon Office Building (1908, Carrère and Hastings) of the House of Representatives, with its calm composition of giant paired columns on an ashlar base and arched fenestration, is a reflection of Perrault’s design for the east facade of the Louvre. No matter how Roman the Jefferson Memorial (1937-43) may appear at first sight, the fact that its architect, John Russell Pope, studied at the Ecole (as did Carrère and Hastings) suggests that the 20th-century classical revival in the United States was the child more of the Beaux Arts tradition than of the ancient Mediterranean world. (Poppeliers, 70)

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, commissions for public buildings and grand houses of industrial moguls went to architects trained in the Beaux Arts tradition. These architects produced academic designs based on classical or Renaissance precedents. (Poppeliers, 70)

Leading Examples

Cannon House Office Building (1908, Carrère and Hastings), Washington, D.C. With its monumental size, grand entrance stairs, rusticated podium and arched first-floor windows, typifies the late classical revival style, which was especially popular for government buildings and monuments, particularly in the nation’s capital. (Poppeliers, 70)

Lynchburg National Bank (1915-16, Alfred C. Bossom), Lynchburg, Virginia. Shows the careful attention paid to the siting of classical revival buildings. Both elevations of this corner building are important and, while obviously related to each other, are subtly different. (Poppeliers, 71)

Sources Cited

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