Modernized Classicism: The Architecture of Paul Philippe Cret in Washington, D. C.

McDonald, Travis C., Jr., Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Wilson, Richard, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Nichols, Frederick D., Department of Architecture, University of Virginia
Wiebenson, Dora, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia

The origin of my interest in Paul Cret and modernized classicism can be traced to a Washington car-pool in 1975-77. The most vivid memories of an otherwise uninspiring twenty minutes of morning and afternoon rush-hour traffic are of the Federal Reserve Board Building. The dignity of that facade was apparent even then, to someone not versed in visual aesthetics. More than once, usually on an early spring morning, the members of the car-pool would remark on the superiority of the Federal Reserve's landscaping. There was just something about that building which made you look twice. The fact that the car-pool's destination a few blocks from the Federal Reserve was also a modernized classical building (the Department of the Interior) , only stimulated some latent questions regarding that style. The opportunity to write a term paper on the Federal Reserve Board Building in the Fall of 1977 did not satisfy the unanswered questions, it stirred them. As the feasibility of a thesis topic took form the scope became an all important question. Naively beginning with a whole style by the tail, the scope was repeatedly reduced by the advisor's terse remarks that this was a thesis and not a dissertation! Even with the accepted scope of one architect's work in one city, it could still be argued that the tiger at the end of that tail was too large. There has been a great amount of pleasure experienced in dealing with Paul Cret and a small part of his work. To intimately study an architect through his drawings, writings and works is to know him; to step inside his mind in those brief moments when your thoughts and his seem to merge, is to comprehend what being a historian is all about. To be sure, many frustrations were also felt. To know that there are still so many areas where the thesis could be improved is a nagging thought

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Cret, Paul Philippe, 1876-1945. , 20th century Architecture , Washington (D.C.) , Classicism in architecture, buildings, structures
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