forwards and backwards

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Virginia Tech


The New World has always had an obsession with establishing its legitimacy through recreating previous architectural styles. Our colonial architecture imported the architecture of the Old World. The more important the building, the more grand the style. Most often our civic architecture received the most lavish attention. Washington DC became the home of the government and with that government came the most prestigious and most conservative European styles. These styles gave the new government a legitimacy and a connection to past.

Washington is becoming a museum of architecture frozen in time. With our fragile new world and shallow history we hold on to every precious building. The neighborhoods of Georgetown and Alexandria embody these ideals of historic landscapes. Regardless of how old a building may truly be, it is most important now to feel old and to fit in.

Contrast this to the architecture of Europe. True, even Europe has its various historic centers, but the majority of the landscape is a lively mix of architecture. European architects and the clients who commission them are far less intimidated by the past. They feel comfortable building a thoroughly modern edifice squeezed between a 16th century building on one side and an 18th century building on another. It is a landscape where the past is is the canvas onto which contemporary builders must paint.

This thesis records the process of creating a more honest architectural timeline.



Architecture, Virginia, Alexandria