February 7, 2020
In recent days, public questions have arisen about the Neoclassical style of architecture. The Neoclassical style reflects a particular tradition, in which 18th and 19th century architects, principally in Europe and the United States, celebrated the influence of the Classical Mediterranean tradition. In antiquity, however, Greco-Roman architecture was not a singular or static canon, but a series of fluid and dynamic traditions that often engaged in dialogue with those of surrounding cultures. Contemporary celebration of this responsive, adaptive, and multivalent tradition merits continued engagement with the diverse architectural contexts and multiplicity of cultures in this country and around the world. Exquisite new designs like the National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrate the living dialogue between architecture and community. In the end, perhaps we should focus less on style, but consider how the building responds to the needs of its local context and communities—past, present, and future.
Additional information on this topic can be found in a February 4, 2020, article by Cathleen McGuigan in the Architectural Record, “Will the White House Order New Federal Architecture To Be Classical?”