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06 September 2006 @ 01:17 pm

U.S. Agency Picks
A Traditionalist
As Chief Architect

September 6, 2006; Page B10

The federal agency that builds courthouses, border stations and other federal buildings is set to name a new chief architect, a move that could usher in a return to a more traditional type of architecture in the government's $10 billion construction program.

The General Services Administration has selected Thomas Gordon Smith, an architect based in South Bend, Ind., according to several people who have been informed of the decision.

Mr. Smith is best known as a practitioner and promoter of traditional architecture that finds inspiration in Roman temples and palaces. His portfolio includes religious buildings in the Midwest, homes and the renovation of a building at the University of Notre Dame, where he served as chairman of the architecture school from 1989 to 1998. Mr. Smith said he is "delighted" about the appointment, but declined to comment further until the GSA makes an official announcement. A GSA spokeswoman declined to confirm the appointment.

The chief architect office is considered one of the most prestigious positions in the field of building design. It will oversee $1.6 billion of construction this fiscal year and has a long-range plan that includes around $10 billion of projects. Federal buildings are often the most prominent in town.

The previous chief architect, Edward A. Feiner, retired in January 2005, and the position has remained unfilled since. Through his "design excellence" program, Mr. Feiner recruited prominent as well as cutting-edge architects, including Richard Meier, Thom Mayne and Robert A.M. Stern. Mr. Feiner, now with architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, declined to comment.

Many, though not all, of the projects under Mr. Feiner eschewed the classical tradition of white marble and columns common in pre-World War II federal architecture. In its place are buildings such as Mr. Mayne's futuristic San Francisco Federal Building, a metal-clad rectangular structure.

Mr. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture and well known for embracing classical architectural traditions while tolerating modern ones, called Mr. Smith "a wonderful choice," though one that will "probably get a lot of people crazy." He says Mr. Smith has "a strong point of view, and that's great." Mr. Stern adds, "But he has the capacity to shift and manage his position without closing the door to others."

Others are worried federal architecture will lose its cutting-edge focus. Henry Smith-Miller, of Smith-Miller + Hawkinson, a New York firm, which designed a border station under construction in Champlain, N.Y., said he finds Mr. Smith's appointment "deeply troubling." He called Mr. Smith's traditional views "anti-progressive." It "picks up the imperial nature of Roman architecture, which was in service to the empire rather than service to democracy," says Mr. Smith-Miller.

Write to Alex Frangos at alex.frangos@wsj.com
11 August 2006 @ 07:12 am
x-posted to classicalarch and architecture

There are hundreds of new photos of classical architecture from around the world now available at GrandTradition.net.  New locations include:

Brussels, Belgium
Copenhagen, Denmark
Oslo, Norway
St. Petersburg, Russia

Here's an image from Brussels:

There's a lot of eye candy, so sit back and enjoy a slide show!  Here's a link.  Enjoy!
30 July 2006 @ 10:21 pm
I've mentioned what a great book The Complete Greek Temples is elsewhere (like here).

I recently drafted a classical order from a Greek temple, the Tower of the Winds, that I could not find in the book, much to my surprise.  Here's the upper part of the order:

It's considered a Greek Corinthian order.

I actually contacted Dr. Tony Spawforth, the author of The Complete Greek Temples, to inquire about the omission.  His reply was that the book only covers temples with peripteral colonnades (columns around the perimeter).  So, FYI, the book doesn't actually cover the complete oeuvre of Greek temples.

27 June 2006 @ 02:46 pm
can be found at http://www.grandtradition.net/component/option,com_zoom/Itemid,100/catid,25/, taken from a trip to France in March 2006

26 June 2006 @ 01:17 pm
Prince Charles' favorite architect, Quinlan Terry, gives an interview for the Telepgraph entitled 'What am I? A pastiche Michelangelo'.

21 June 2006 @ 04:09 pm
Here's a link to the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America's blog, which is maintained primarily by BLOG MASTER notable author and architectural history expert Francis Morrone.



29 May 2006 @ 10:31 am
"In art the mass of people no longer seeks consolation and exaltation, but those who are refined, rich, unoccupied, who are distillers of quintessences, seek what is new, strange, original, extravagant, scandalous. I myself, since Cubism and before, have satisfied these masters and critics with all the changing oddities which passed through my head, and the less they understood me, the more they admired me. By amusing myself with all these games, with all these absurdities, puzzles, rebuses, arabesques, I became famous, and that very quickly. And fame for a painter means sales, gains, fortune, riches. And today, as you know, I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone with myself, I have not the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt were great painters. I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times and exploited as best he could the imbecility, the vanity, the cupidity of his contemporaries. Mine is a bitter confession, more painful than it may appear, but it has the merit of being sincere."

Pablo Picasso
01 May 2006 @ 05:15 pm

I thought that maybe I'd find some interesting perspectives on classicism in the contemporary art, architecture, and humanites here! Who knows what?

When was the last time anyone got into a STYLE WAR type of conversation?