July 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
Optimism and an entrepreneurial spirit bred by economic expansion and the exuberance of a country coming into its own as a world power marked Washington at the beginning of the 20th century. The remaking of Washington occurred in the context of a particular set of social and cultural preoccupations prevalent in the years leading up to and following the turn of the century. Unlike today, in the past architects were at the forefront of the city’s urban form and development. The precise manner in which the “new United States” was to be realized in Washington over the 100 years of the 20th century is a story of the coalescence of private and public vision, of architecture and real estate, of ideologies and practices expressed through building designs (and rhetoric about them) coupled with means for achieving their construction through expert commissions, committees, and regulating bodies, through private and public will. With a view to understand these forces, this course will highlight the role of design in the nation’s most significant symbolic city.