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Neoclassical architecture

Neoclassical architecture

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Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style
Architectural style
Architectural styles classify architecture in terms of the use of form, techniques, materials, time period, region and other stylistic influences. It overlaps with, and emerges from the study of the evolution and history of architecture...

 produced by the neoclassical movement
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo
Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing features of Late Baroque
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

. In its purest form it is a style principally derived from the architecture of Classical Greece
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 and the architecture of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio
Andrea Palladio
Andrea Palladio was an architect active in the Republic of Venice. Palladio, influenced by Roman and Greek architecture, primarily by Vitruvius, is widely considered the most influential individual in the history of Western architecture...

. In form, Neoclassical architecture emphasizes the wall rather than chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro in art is "an Italian term which literally means 'light-dark'. In paintings the description refers to clear tonal contrasts which are often used to suggest the volume and modelling of the subjects depicted"....

 and maintains separate identities to each of its parts.

Origins



Siegfried Giedion, whose first book (1922) had the suggestive title Late Baroque and Romantic Classicism, asserted later, "The Louis XVI style formed in shape and structure the end of late baroque tendencies, with classicism serving as its framework." In the sense that neoclassicism in architecture is evocative and picturesque, a recreation of a distant, lost world, it is, as Giedion suggests, framed within the Romantic sensibility
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

.

Intellectually Neoclassicism was symptomatic of a desire to return to the perceived "purity" of the arts of Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, to the more vague perception ("ideal") of Ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 arts and, to a lesser extent, 16th-century Renaissance Classicism, which was also a source for academic Late Baroque architecture.

Many early 19th-century neoclassical architects were influenced by the drawings and projects of Étienne-Louis Boullée
Étienne-Louis Boullée
Étienne-Louis Boullée was a visionary French neoclassical architect whose work greatly influenced contemporary architects and is still influential today.- Life :...

 and Claude Nicolas Ledoux
Claude Nicolas Ledoux
Claude-Nicolas Ledoux was one of the earliest exponents of French Neoclassical architecture. He used his knowledge of architectural theory to design not only in domestic architecture but town planning; as a consequence of his visionary plan for the Ideal City of Chaux, he became known as a utopian...

. The many graphite drawings of Boullée and his students depict spare geometrical architecture that emulates the eternality of the universe. There are links between Boullée's ideas and Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

's conception of the sublime
Sublime (philosophy)
In aesthetics, the sublime is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic...

. Ledoux addressed the concept of architectural character, maintaining that a building should immediately communicate its function to the viewer: taken literally such ideas give rise to "architecture parlante
Architecture parlante
The phrase architecture parlante refers to the concept of buildings that explain their own function or identity.The phrase was originally associated with Claude Nicolas Ledoux, and was extended to other Paris-trained architects of the Revolutionary period, Étienne-Louis Boullée, and Jean-Jacques...

".

There is an anti-Rococo strain that can be detected in some European architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 of the earlier 18th century, most vividly represented in the Palladian architecture
Palladian architecture
Palladian architecture is a European style of architecture derived from the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio . The term "Palladian" normally refers to buildings in a style inspired by Palladio's own work; that which is recognised as Palladian architecture today is an evolution of...

 of Georgian Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 and Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, but also recognizable in a classicizing vein of Late Baroque architecture in Paris (Perrault
Claude Perrault
Claude Perrault is best known as the architect of the eastern range of the Louvre Palace in Paris , but he also achieved success as a physician and anatomist, and as an author, who wrote treatises on physics and natural history.Perrault was born and died in Paris...

's east range of the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

), in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, and even in Rome, in Alessandro Galilei's facade for S. Giovanni in Laterano. It is a robust architecture of self-restraint, academically selective now of "the best" Roman models, which were increasingly available for close study through the medium of architectural engraving
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

s of measured drawings of surviving Roman architecture.

Characteristics


High neoclassicism was an international movement. Though neoclassical architecture employs the same classical vocabulary as Late Baroque architecture, it tends to emphasize its planar qualities, rather than sculptural volumes. Projections and recessions and their effects of light and shade
Chiaroscuro
Chiaroscuro in art is "an Italian term which literally means 'light-dark'. In paintings the description refers to clear tonal contrasts which are often used to suggest the volume and modelling of the subjects depicted"....

 are more flat; sculptural bas-reliefs are flatter and tend to be enframed in friezes, tablets or panels. Its clearly articulated individual features are isolated rather than interpenetrating, autonomous and complete in themselves.

International neoclassical architecture was exemplified in Karl Friedrich Schinkel
Karl Friedrich Schinkel
Karl Friedrich Schinkel was a Prussian architect, city planner, and painter who also designed furniture and stage sets. Schinkel was one of the most prominent architects of Germany and designed both neoclassical and neogothic buildings.-Biography:Schinkel was born in Neuruppin, Margraviate of...

's buildings, especially the Old Museum
Altes Museum
The Altes Museum , is one of several internationally renowned museums on Museum Island in Berlin, Germany. Since restoration work in 1966, it houses the Antikensammlung of the Berlin State Museums...

 in Berlin, Sir John Soane
John Soane
Sir John Soane, RA was an English architect who specialised in the Neo-Classical style. His architectural works are distinguished by their clean lines, massing of simple form, decisive detailing, careful proportions and skilful use of light sources...

's Bank of England in London and the newly built White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 and Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

 in Washington, DC in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The Scots architect Charles Cameron
Charles Cameron (architect)
Charles Cameron was a Scottish architect who made an illustrious career at the court of Catherine II of Russia. Cameron, practitioner of early neoclassical architecture, was the chief architect of Tsarskoye Selo and Pavlovsk palaces and the adjacent new town of Sophia from his arrival in Russia in...

 created palatial Italianate interiors for the German-born Catherine II the Great in St. Petersburg.

Italy clung to Rococo until the Napoleonic regimes brought the new archaeological classicism, which was embraced as a political statement by young, progressive, urban Italians with republican leanings.

Spain




Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 Neoclassicism counted with the figure of Juan de Villanueva
Juan de Villanueva
Juan de Villanueva was a Spanish architect. Alongside Ventura Rodríguez, Villanueva is the best known architect of Spanish Neoclassicism....

, who adapted Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

's achievements about the sublime and the beauty to the requirements of Spanish clime and history. He built the Prado Museum, that combined three programs- an academy, an auditorium and a museum- in one building with three separated entrances. This was part of the ambitious program of Charles III
Charles III of Spain
Charles III was the King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to 1788. He was the eldest son of Philip V of Spain and his second wife, the Princess Elisabeth Farnese...

, who intended to make Madrid the Capital of Art and Science. Very close to the museum, Villanueva built the Astronomical Observatory. He also designed several summer houses for the kings in El Escorial
El Escorial
The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a historical residence of the king of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres northwest of the capital, Madrid, in Spain. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and...

 and Aranjuez
Aranjuez
Aranjuez is a town lying 48 km south of Madrid, in the southern part of the Community of Madrid. It is located at the confluence of the Tagus and Jarama rivers, 48 km from Toledo. As of 2009, it has a population of 54,055.-History:...

 and reconstructed the Major Square of Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, among other important works. Villanueva´s pupils expanded the Neoclassical style in Spain.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth



The center of Polish classicism
Polish classicism
The Neoclassical architecture in Poland was centered in Warsaw under the reign of Stanisław August Poniatowski, while the modern concept of a single capital city was to some extent inapplicable in the decentralized Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Classicism came to Poland in the 18th century as the...

 was Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 under the rule of the last Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 king Stanisław August Poniatowski. Vilnius University
Vilnius University
Vilnius University is the oldest university in the Baltic states and one of the oldest in Eastern Europe. It is also the largest university in Lithuania....

 was another important center of the Neoclassical architecture in the Eastern Europe, led by notable professors of architecture Marcin Knackfus
Marcin Knackfus
Marcin Knackfus was a Polish–Lithuanian Neoclassical architect of German descent. Born near Warsaw, he worked in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and particularly in its capital Vilnius...

, Laurynas Gucevičius
Laurynas Gucevicius
Laurynas Gucevičius was an 18th century architect born in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and most of his designs were built there....

 and Karol Podczaszyński
Karol Podczaszynski
Karol Podczaszyński was a Polish-Lithuanian architect, a representative of the neoclassical architecture and a professor of the Imperial University of Vilna, as well as one of the pioneers of industrial design....

. The style was expressed in the main public buildings, such as the University's Observatory, Vilnius Cathedral
Vilnius Cathedral
The Cathedral of Vilnius is the main Roman Catholic Cathedral of Lithuania.It is situated in Vilnius Old Town, just off of Cathedral Square. It is the heart of Lithuania's Catholic spiritual life....

 and it town hall
Town Hall, Vilnius
Vilnius Town Hall is a historical town hall in the square of the same name in the Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania.- Palace :The town hall in Vilnius was mentioned for the first time in 1432...

. The best known architects and artists, who worked in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

 were Dominik Merlini, Jan Chrystian Kamsetzer, Szymon Bogumił Zug, Jakub Kubicki
Jakub Kubicki
Jakub Kubicki was a renowned Polish classicist architect and designer. One of the most renowned architects of his epoch, since 1781 he was the personal architect of king Stanisław August Poniatowski. Among the most notable of his works are a number of palaces and summer residences in Poland,...

, Antonio Corazzi
Antonio Corazzi
Antonio Corazzi was an Italian architect who designed a number of buildings in Warsaw, the capital of Poland.He was born in Livorno.Amongst the buildings he designed are:* Staszic Palace...

, Efraim Szreger, Christian Piotr Aigner and Bertel Thorvaldsen
Bertel Thorvaldsen
Bertel Thorvaldsen was a Danish-Icelandic sculptor of international fame, who spent most of his life in Italy . Thorvaldsen was born in Copenhagen into a Danish/Icelandic family of humble means, and was accepted to the Royal Academy of Arts when he was eleven years old...

.

Interior design



Indoors, neoclassicism made a discovery of the genuine Roman interior, inspired by the rediscoveries at Pompeii
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

 and Herculaneum
Herculaneum
Herculaneum was an ancient Roman town destroyed by volcanic pyroclastic flows in AD 79, located in the territory of the current commune of Ercolano, in the Italian region of Campania in the shadow of Mt...

, which had started in the late 1740s, but only achieved a wide audience in the 1760s, with the first luxurious volumes of tightly-controlled distribution of Le Antichità di Ercolan. The antiquities of Herculaneum showed that even the most classicizing interiors of the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

, or the most "Roman" rooms of William Kent
William Kent
William Kent , born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, was an eminent English architect, landscape architect and furniture designer of the early 18th century.He was baptised as William Cant.-Education:...

 were based on basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 and temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

 exterior architecture, turned outside in: pediment
Pediment
A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure , typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding...

ed window frames turned into gilded
Gilding
The term gilding covers a number of decorative techniques for applying fine gold leaf or powder to solid surfaces such as wood, stone, or metal to give a thin coating of gold. A gilded object is described as "gilt"...

 mirrors, fireplaces topped with temple fronts, now all looking quite bombastic and absurd. The new interiors sought to recreate an authentically Roman and genuinely interior vocabulary, employing flatter, lighter motifs, sculpted in low frieze
Frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

-like relief or painted in monotones en camaïeu ("like cameos"), isolated medallions or vases or busts or bucrania or other motifs, suspended on swags of laurel or ribbon, with slender arabesques against backgrounds, perhaps, of "Pompeiian red" or pale tints, or stone colors. The style in France was initially a Parisian style, the "Goût grec
Goût grec
Goût grec is the term applied to the earliest expression of the neoclassical style in France, it refers specifically to the decorative arts and architecture of the mid-1750s to the late 1760s. The style was more fanciful than historically accurate though the first archaeological surveys of Greece...

" ("Greek taste") not a court style. Only when the young king acceded to the throne in 1774 did Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette ; 2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was an Archduchess of Austria and the Queen of France and of Navarre. She was the fifteenth and penultimate child of Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I....

, his fashion-loving Queen, bring the "Louis XVI
Louis XVI of France
Louis XVI was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and Navarre until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before being executed in 1793....

" style to court.

Late phase


From about 1800 a fresh influx of Greek architectural examples, seen through the medium of etchings and engravings, gave a new impetus to neoclassicism that is called the Greek Revival
Greek Revival architecture
The Greek Revival was an architectural movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, predominantly in Northern Europe and the United States. A product of Hellenism, it may be looked upon as the last phase in the development of Neoclassical architecture...

.
Neoclassicism continued to be a major force in academic art
Academic art
Academic art is a style of painting and sculpture produced under the influence of European academies of art. Specifically, academic art is the art and artists influenced by the standards of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts, which practiced under the movements of Neoclassicism and Romanticism,...

 through the 19th century and beyond— a constant antithesis to Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 or Gothic revivals— although from the late 19th century on it had often been considered anti-modern, or even reactionary, in influential critical circles. By the mid-19th century, several European cities – notably St Petersburg, Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 – were transformed into veritable museums of Neoclassical architecture.


United States of America


In the new republic, Robert Adam
Robert Adam
Robert Adam was a Scottish neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer. He was the son of William Adam , Scotland's foremost architect of the time, and trained under him...

's neoclassical manner was adapted for the local late 18th and early 19th-century style, called "Federal architecture
Federal architecture
Federal-style architecture is the name for the classicizing architecture built in the United States between c. 1780 and 1830, and particularly from 1785 to 1815. This style shares its name with its era, the Federal Period. The name Federal style is also used in association with furniture design...

". One of the pioneers of this style was English-born Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who is often noted as America's first professional architect and the father of American architecture. The Baltimore Basilica, the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States, is considered by many experts to be Latrobe's masterpiece.

The widespread use of neoclassicism in American architecture, as well as by French revolutionary regimes, and the general tenor of rationalism
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

 associated with the movement, all created a link between neoclassicism and republicanism
Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 and radicalism
Political radicalism
The term political radicalism denotes political principles focused on altering social structures through revolutionary means and changing value systems in fundamental ways...

 in much of Europe. The Gothic Revival
Gothic Revival architecture
The Gothic Revival is an architectural movement that began in the 1740s in England...

 can be seen as an attempt to present a monarchist
Monarchism
Monarchism is the advocacy of the establishment, preservation, or restoration of a monarchy as a form of government in a nation. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government out of principle, independent from the person, the Monarch.In this system, the Monarch may be the...

 and conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 alternative to neoclassicism.

In later 19th-century American architecture, neoclassicism was one expression of the American Renaissance
American Renaissance
In the history of American architecture and the arts, the American Renaissance was the period in 1835-1880 characterized by renewed national self-confidence and a feeling that the United States was the heir to Greek democracy, Roman law, and Renaissance humanism...

 movement, ca 1880-1917. Its last manifestation was in Beaux-Arts architecture (1885–1920), and its very last, large public projects in the United States were the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

 (1922), the National Gallery
National Gallery of Art
The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden is a national art museum, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, in Washington, DC...

 in Washington, D.C. (1937), and the American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History , located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, United States, is one of the largest and most celebrated museums in the world...

's Roosevelt Memorial (1936).

Today there is a growing movement toward a revival of Classical Architecture as evidenced by the groups such as The Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America. The School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, currently teaches a fully Classical curriculum.

Neoclassical Architecture in Washington D.C and Virginia


Neoclassical architecture is the reflection of Greek and Roman artistic styles in various institutions and public works. This is most evident throughout Washington D.C. and Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 in the United States of America.

Key Concepts

  • Neoclassicism
    Neoclassicism
    Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

    : the revived interest in classical ideals and forms that influenced European and American society through thought, politics and fine arts during the 18th and 19th century. This term refers to the art forms created after but inspired by ancient time. This period derives from the Classicism movement.
  • Classicism
    Classicism
    Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

    : the period in which Greek and Roman principles and styles were reflected in society.

Nonetheless, do not mistake the two periods as interchangeable terms. Classicism refers to the art with produced in antiquity or inspired by it afterwards while Neoclassicism always refers to the art inspired by ancient times, but created later.

History


The Neoclassical period emerged as a response to the birth of a new nation. In 1783, the devastating American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 ends and the construction of a new nation begins. The Founding Fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 looked towards inspiration that will define the liberated nation. They turned their heads towards ancient Rome. The creation of a national identity lasted about a century.

Neoclassicism emerged after the discoveries of ancient Roman cities like Herculaneum and Pompeii. So, before Neoclassicism reached America, it flourished in Europe. Due to the close ties with Britain and London (which had stimulated interest in neoclassical taste), Neoclassicism became a transatlantic phenomenon that spread across the ocean.

Examples of Neoclassical architecture are in almost every major city in the United States.

Ancient Roman Influence


The Roman legacy has survived since its founding in 753 BCE until now through architecture, more specifically, public works. Roman architecture
Roman architecture
Ancient Roman architecture adopted certain aspects of Ancient Greek architecture, creating a new architectural style. The Romans were indebted to their Etruscan neighbors and forefathers who supplied them with a wealth of knowledge essential for future architectural solutions, such as hydraulics...

 greatly influenced the design of various significant institutions in the Western World especially in the United States of America (Washington D.C and Virginia). American architects were inspired by Neoclassicism because of the aesthetic purposes, political motives and the intellectual movement. The Founding Fathers hoped to create a national identity to bind the new republic and its citizens through architecture. Also, the architects wanted to make the analogy between the young nation and imperial Rome, especially in the designs of government buildings.
Political

In ancient Rome, politics were a combination of democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 and a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. The Romans used the idea of checks and balances with 3 branches of government (Executive (government)
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

, Legislative and Judicial). The Romans also developed principles of justice, law and liberty. This ancient political system lasted almost 482 years; it had a long life.

As a result of this success, the Founding Fathers looked towards Greece and Rome for political inspiration. The Roman principles became American principles and the first Articles in the American Constitution are based solely on the establishment of those three branches in American politics. Ultimately, American architects and politicians wanted to reflect the longevity and success of Roman politics in their own, but also in their public institutions where political activities take place. Classical forms suggested democratic values which was considered essential components in the development of the nation.
Aesthetic

In Roman architecture, public works can be described by their simplicity of geometric forms and grandeur of scale along with dramatic use of columns and common use of blank walls. Besides political inspiration, America wanted to build a country that was as visually appealing as ancient Rome.

American architects also wanted the buildings of the new republic to be breath-takingly beautiful while expressing a quiet, serene grandeur. The order, simplicity, clarity and reason of a free nation were beautifully reflected in society because the monuments expressed such characteristics in themselves too. Appreciation of beauty was also viewed as a vital component in the creation of the United States.
Intellectual

Ancient Romans believed in reason and order. Not only were American politics influenced but also their ideals as well. Consequently, those neoclassical ideals permeated American art and architecture.
The neoclassical architecture suggested learning and moral virtue: other valuable and necessary components to the growth of America as a republic.

Notable Examples


In Washington:
  • United States Capitol Building

A government building where Congress holds its meetings and creates new legislation. It was built from 1792-1830 with the designs of William Thornton
William Thornton
Dr. William Thornton was a British-American physician, inventor, painter and architect who designed the United States Capitol, an authentic polymath...

, Benjamin Latrobe
Benjamin Latrobe
Benjamin Henry Boneval Latrobe was a British-born American neoclassical architect best known for his design of the United States Capitol, along with his work on the Baltimore Basilica, the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States...

 and Charles Bulfinch
Charles Bulfinch
Charles Bulfinch was an early American architect, and has been regarded by many as the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession....

. This public work is definitely an example of 19th century neoclassical architecture. The exterior is made entirely of marble. Additionally, the institution was based on the Corinthian order
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

 (one of three styles of columns along with Doric
Doric order
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

 and Ionic
Ionic order
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...

) which is characterized to be the most ornate with slender columns decorated with acanthus leaves and scrolls. In the center lies an iron-cast dome. The interior is lined with smooth walls and vaults. Also, a prominent figure is represented amongst Roman figures on the ceiling of the dome. The Apotheosis of Washington depicts Roman gods and goddesses with George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 and other American heroes.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 even wrote that the building “captivated the eyes and judgement of all as to leave no doubt…of its preference over all which have been produced…It is simple, noble beautiful, excellently distributed and moderate in size.”

The Capitol building is an example of the grandiose institution; the design of this building followed the neoclassical style thus implying the political ideals of ancient Rome as well.
  • Jefferson Memorial
    Jefferson Memorial
    The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial in Washington, D.C. that is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father and the third President of the United States....


A monument dedicated to remember Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States and one of the nation’s Founding Fathers who drafted the Declaration of Independence
Declaration of independence
A declaration of independence is an assertion of the independence of an aspiring state or states. Such places are usually declared from part or all of the territory of another nation or failed nation, or are breakaway territories from within the larger state...

. The design for this edifice drew inspiration from the Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

 in Rome.

Some features include: the signature round dome, the circular colonnade, and Corinthian order. The memorial has virtually the same porch with only slight proportional differences. Jefferson is the prominent figure is incorporated which is like how ancient Romans publicly displayed statues of their various gods and goddesses.

In Virginia:
  • Monticello
    Monticello
    Monticello is a National Historic Landmark just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, United States. It was the estate of Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia; it is...

    (second version)

After Jefferson’s time in France, he reconstructed his house, Monticello, built from 1768 until 1809 (between the first and second versions). It is considered one of the “finest examples of the early Classical Revival architecture style in the United States”. Jefferson envisioned his home to be monumentalized. The house was expanded ; the entrance hall was replaced and each floor doubled in size. The windows of the first and second floor are encased in long frames to imply the illusion of the building only having one story; it gives the impression that the house is colossal. Jefferson went to great lengths to make his home a symbol of and architectural movement away from English tradition.
There were classical characteristics as well, such as the portico and an octagonal dome and simply columns.

In 1987, this home was selected to be a World Heritage site by UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

.

The Monticello demonstrates Jefferson’s passion of neoclassicism and his efforts to represent the style even in his own home.
  • University of Virginia
    University of Virginia
    The University of Virginia is a public research university located in Charlottesville, Virginia, United States, founded by Thomas Jefferson...


Designed by Thomas Jefferson, he refused to use traditional designs. He called this institution an “academic village” and from a bird’s-eye view, the university looks like three sides of a rectangle. The “village” was created to provide a space of shared learning and for the students to pursuer “life of the mind”.

On one side of the campus, there is yet another Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

 inspired rotunda
Rotunda (architecture)
A rotunda is any building with a circular ground plan, sometimes covered by a dome. It can also refer to a round room within a building . The Pantheon in Rome is a famous rotunda. A Band Rotunda is a circular bandstand, usually with a dome...

 (a round building with a dome) that housed the library. This building represented the enlightenment of the human mind. On the adjacent dies were two rows of five separate pavilions. Each pavilion was for one professor and discipline in the university; they were all unique in itself. A portico
Portico
A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls...

 connected each pavilion.

Jefferson wanted the university to be based on the “illimitable freedom of the human mind”. This is an example of how classical ideals were reflected from an architectural piece.
  • Virginia State Capitol
    Virginia State Capitol
    The Virginia State Capitol is the seat of state government in the Commonwealth of Virginia, located in Richmond, the third capital of Virginia. It houses the oldest legislative body in the United States, the Virginia General Assembly...


This government institution was also designed by Thomas Jefferson himself and began construction in 1785. The state building was based on the Roman Maison Carrée
Maison Carrée
The Maison Carrée is an ancient building in Nîmes, southern France; it is one of the best preserved temples to be found anywhere in the territory of the former Roman Empire.- History :...

 in Nimes, France, a temple dedicated to Lucius
Lucius Caesar
Lucius Julius Caesar , most commonly known as Lucius Caesar, was the second son of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder. He was born between 14 of June and 15 July 17 BC with the name Lucius Vipsanius Agrippa, but when he was adopted by his maternal grandfather Roman Emperor Caesar...

 and Gaius Caesar
Gaius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar , most commonly known as Gaius Caesar or Caius Caesar, was the oldest son of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Julia the Elder...

, the adopted sons of Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

. This edifice is the first building to be directly based on an ancient temple. Like many of the other examples, the columns were built in Corinthian order
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

. There is also a portico that surrounds the building with columns at regular intervals eventually connecting with pilasters, rectangular columns projecting from the walls.

This state building also demonstrates the desire to reflect styles of ancient Roman institutions in order to visually represent the valued beliefs of antiquity

List of other architectural institutions (throughout America)

  • Washington Monument
    Washington Monument
    The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...

     (Washington, D.C.)
  • White House
    White House
    The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

     (Washington, D.C.)
  • Massachusetts State House
    Massachusetts State House
    The Massachusetts State House, also known as the Massachusetts Statehouse or the "New" State House, is the state capitol and house of government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is located in Boston in the neighborhood Beacon Hill...

     (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • Tontine Crescent (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • Washington Arch (New York, New York)
  • Beacon Hill Memorial Column (Boston, Massachusetts)
  • Second Bank of the United States
    Second Bank of the United States
    The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, five years after the First Bank of the United States lost its own charter. The Second Bank of the United States was initially headquartered in Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the...

     (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • Bank of Pennsylvania
    Bank of Pennsylvania
    The Bank of Pennsylvania was established on July 17, 1780, by Philadelphia merchants to provide funds for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War...

     (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • Philadelphia Stock Exchange
    Philadelphia Stock Exchange
    Philadelphia Stock Exchange , now known as NASDAQ OMX PHLX, is the oldest stock exchange in the United States, founded in 1790. It is now owned by NASDAQ OMX and located at 1900 Market Street, in Center City Philadelphia.-History:...

     (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  • Monumental Church
    Monumental Church
    Monumental Church is a former Episcopal Church that stands at 1224 E. Broad Street between N. 12th and College Streets in Richmond, Virginia. Designed by architect Robert Mills, it is one of America's earliest and most distinctive Greek Revival churches and is listed on the National Register of...

     (Richmond, Virginia)
  • Virginia State Penitentiary (Richmond, Virginia)
  • Baltimore Basilica (Baltimore, Maryland)

See also

  • Neoclassicism
    Neoclassicism
    Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

  • Roman architecture
    Roman architecture
    Ancient Roman architecture adopted certain aspects of Ancient Greek architecture, creating a new architectural style. The Romans were indebted to their Etruscan neighbors and forefathers who supplied them with a wealth of knowledge essential for future architectural solutions, such as hydraulics...

  • United States Capitol Building
  • Jefferson Memorial
    Jefferson Memorial
    The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial in Washington, D.C. that is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father and the third President of the United States....

  • Monticello
    Monticello
    Monticello is a National Historic Landmark just outside Charlottesville, Virginia, United States. It was the estate of Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia; it is...

  • Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

  • Charles Bulfinch
    Charles Bulfinch
    Charles Bulfinch was an early American architect, and has been regarded by many as the first native-born American to practice architecture as a profession....

  • Benjamin Latrobe
    Benjamin Latrobe
    Benjamin Henry Boneval Latrobe was a British-born American neoclassical architect best known for his design of the United States Capitol, along with his work on the Baltimore Basilica, the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States...


The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics




In the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 (1917–1991), neoclassical architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 was very popular among the political elite, as it effectively expressed state power, and a vast array of neoclassical building was erected all over the country. Soviet architects sometimes tended to over-use the elements of classical architecture, resulting in gaudy-looking buildings, which rendered Soviet neoclassical architecture the derogatory epithet "wedding cake-architecture." The Soviet neoclassical architecture was also exported to other members of the Soviet bloc and other socialist countries. Examples of this include the Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw
Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and the Shanghai International Convention Centre in Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

.

Great Britain


In Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, the writings of Albert Richardson
Albert Richardson
Sir Albert Edward Richardson K.C.V.O., F.R.I.B.A, F.S.A., was a leading English architect, teacher and writer about architecture during the first half of the 20th century...

 were responsible for reawakening an interest in pure neoclassical design in the early 20th century. Vincent Harris
Vincent Harris
Emanuel Vincent Harris OBE, RA was an English architect who designed several important public buildings.He was born in Devonport, Devon and educated at Kingsbridge Grammar School. He was articled to the Plymouth architect James Harvey in 1893; in 1897 he moved to London where he assisted E. Keynes...

, Bradshaw Gass & Hope
Bradshaw Gass & Hope
Bradshaw Gass & Hope is an English firm of architects founded in 1862 by Jonas James Bradshaw . The style "Bradshaw Gass & Hope" was adopted after J. J...

 and Percy Thomas
Percy Thomas
Sir Percy Edward Thomas OBE , was an award-winning British architect based in Wales for the majority of his life. He was twice RIBA president ....

 were among those who designed public buildings in the neoclassical style in the interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

. In the British Raj
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Sir Edwin Lutyens
Edwin Lutyens
Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, OM, KCIE, PRA, FRIBA was a British architect who is known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era...

' monumental city planning for New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

 marked the sunset of neoclassicism.
In Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and the north of England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, where the Gothic Revival was less strong, architects continued to develop the neoclassical style of William Henry Playfair
William Henry Playfair
William Henry Playfair FRSE was one of the greatest Scottish architects of the 19th century, designer of many of Edinburgh's neo-classical landmarks in the New Town....

. The works of Cuthbert Brodrick
Cuthbert Brodrick
Cuthbert Brodrick FRIBA was a British architect, whose most famous building is Leeds Town Hall.- Early life :...

 and Alexander Thomson
Alexander Thomson
Alexander "Greek" Thomson was an eminent Scottish architect and architectural theorist who was a pioneer in sustainable building. Although his work was published in the architectural press of his day, it was little appreciated outwith Glasgow during his lifetime...

 show that by the end of the 19th century the results could be powerful and eccentric.

The Third Reich



Neoclassical architecture was the preferred style by the leaders of the National Socialist movement in the Third Reich, especially admired by Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 himself. Hitler commissioned his favourite architect, Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

, to plan a re-design of Berlin as a city comprising imposing neoclassical structures, which would be renamed as Welthauptstadt Germania
Welthauptstadt Germania
Welthauptstadt Germania refers to the projected renewal of the German capital Berlin during the Nazi period, part of Adolf Hitler's vision for the future of Germany after the planned victory in World War II...

, the centrepiece of Hitler's Thousand Year Reich. These plans never came to fruition due to the eventual downfall of Nazi Germany and the suicide of its leader
Death of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler committed suicide by gunshot on Monday, 30 April 1945 in his Führerbunker in Berlin. His wife Eva , committed suicide with him by ingesting cyanide...

.

Canada


An instance of this neoclassic revival style is reflected by the Lillian Massey Building in Toronto, Canada. The building resides in the Bay Street Corridor neighborhood and has stood the test of time since 1913, when it first opened as the University of Toronto's Faculty of Household Science. The faculty housed some of the university's first female professors. Today it houses the Canadian head office and flagship store of the retail brand Club Monaco. According to Leland M. Roth and his text Understanding Architecture Its Elements, History and Meaning neoclassicism is defined as a reproduction of Classical Greek and Roman building whether in the entirety of buildings or selected details which begun in the later 18th century. The Club Monaco building in particular seems to belong more to the Classical Roman style than to the Classical Greek style. The Roman Ionic order there is no swelling pulvinus between the columns. Furthermore the antae are for ornamentation rather than structural support. The heavily decorated entrance is reminiscent of baroque classic Roman architecture. The classical elements adapted and reused within the style of Neoclassicism contribute to the coherence of the building.

Neoclassicism today


After a lull during the period of modern architectural dominance (roughly post-WWII until the mid 1980s), neoclassicism has seen somewhat of a resurgence. This rebirth is maily due to postmodern architecture
Postmodern architecture
Postmodern architecture began as an international style the first examples of which are generally cited as being from the 1950s, but did not become a movement until the late 1970s and continues to influence present-day architecture...

, whose decorative tastes includes columns, capitals and tympana. In particular, neo-eclectic architecture
Neo-eclectic architecture
Neo-eclectic architecture is a name for the architectural style that has dominated residential building construction in North America in the later part of the 20th century and early part of the 21st...

 and neo historicist architecture are Postmodernism outgrowth that deals with an increasing demand in contemporary classical architecture. In the United States, an increasing number of architectural firms such as Robertson Partners, Fairfax and Sammons, Michael Imber and others adhere to classical principles. Buildings, such as the Schermerhorn Symphony Center
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
Schermerhorn Symphony Center is a symphony center in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Ground was broken for construction on December 3, 2003. The center formally opened on September 9, 2006, with a gala concert conducted by Leonard Slatkin and broadcast by PBS affiliates throughout the state...

, are again being built in neoclassical style today.

In Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 a number of architects are active in the neoclassical style. Two new university Libraries, Quinlan Terry
Quinlan Terry
Quinlan Terry is a British architect. He was educated at Bryanston School and the Architectural Association. He was a pupil of architect Raymond Erith, with whom he formed the partnership Erith & Terry....

's Maitland Robinson Library at Downing College and ADAM Architecture's Sackler Library
Sackler Library
The Sackler Library holds a large portion of the classical, art historical, and archaeological works belonging to the University of Oxford, England.- History :...

 illustrate that the approach taken can range from the traditional, in the former case, to the unconventional, in the latter case. The majority of new neoclassical buildings in Britain are private houses. Firms like Francis Johnson
Francis Johnson (architect)
See Francis Johnston for Irish architect of similar name.Francis Frederick Johnson CBE, , was an English architect, born in Bridlington in the East Riding of Yorkshire.-Education and Early career:...

 & Partners specialise in new country houses.

Recently, Prince Charles came under controversy for promoting a classically designed development on the land of the former Chelsea Barracks
Chelsea Barracks
Chelsea Barracks was a British Army barracks located in the City of Westminster, London, adjacent to Chelsea, on Chelsea Bridge Road.-History:The barracks was originally built in the 1860s to house two battalions of troops...

 in London. Writing to the Qatari Royal family (who were funding the development through the property development company Qatari Diar) he condemned the accepted modernist plans, instead advocating a classical approach. His appeal was met with success and the plans were withdrawn. A new design by architecture house Dixon Jones is currently being drafted.

Neoclassical architecture is usually now classed under the umbrella term of "traditional architecture" and is practised by a number of members of the Traditional Architecture Group.

Further reading

  • Hakan Groth. Neoclassicism in the North
  • Hugh Honour, Neoclassicism
  • David Irwin, Neoclassicism (in series Art and Ideas) (Phaidon, paperback 1997)
  • Stanislaw Lorentz. Neoclassicism in Poland (Series History of art in Poland)
  • Thomas McCormick, 1991. Charles-Louis Clérisseau and the Genesis of Neoclassicism (Architectural History Foundation)
  • Mario Praz. On Neoclassicism

External links