Building a National Image: Architectural Drawings for the American Democracy, 1789-1912

Bates Lowry, Author National Building Museum $75 (228p) ISBN 978-0-8027-0873-1
Selected from federal archives, the architectural drawings here range from early austere designs for the U.S. Capitol to several bold proposals for a Lincoln memorial, some of which are attributed to Rockwell Kent. There are works on a tiny scaleof ornamental detailswhile others are grand views of cities. Together the plates are a vivid, fascinating look at architectural vision and the construction process. In comparison, the text, by the director of the National Buildings Museum in Washington, does not live up to its title. Lowry devotes most of his attention to the design and construction of the Capitol and the mechanisms for overseeing the building of other federal edifices. He catalogues changing styles, which were largely adapted from Europe, and explores the politics and in-fighting over federal building design. Ultimately, Lowry's narrative belies his thesis that federal government buildings reflect the nation's ""uniqueness'' and its ``special destiny as a political body whose power came solely from the consent of its people.'' (March)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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