Classical Revival Architecture - Late Phase - Neoclassical Architecture in Washington D.C and Virginia - Notable Examples

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, Benjamin Latrobe and Charles Bulfinch. 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 (one of three styles of columns along with Doric and Ionic) 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 and other American heroes.

Thomas Jefferson 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

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. The design for this edifice drew inspiration from the Pantheon 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 (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.

The Monticello demonstrates Jefferson’s passion of neoclassicism and his efforts to represent the style even in his own home.

  • University of Virginia

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 pursue “life of the mind”.

On one side of the campus, there is yet another Pantheon inspired rotunda (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 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

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 in Nimes, France, a temple dedicated to Lucius and Gaius Caesar, the adopted sons of Augustus. 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. 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

Read more about this topic:  Classical Revival Architecture, Late Phase, Neoclassical Architecture in Washington D.C and Virginia

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