Statement on Proposed Executive Order on Classical Design for Federal Buildings

The following was approved by the SCS board of directors on February 7, 2020.

The Society for Classical Studies joins the Society of Architectural Historians in opposing the proposed Executive Order “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.”  As students and scholars of the ancient Greco-Roman world and its ongoing cultural impact, we recognize that classical antiquity provided some of the many traditions that have shaped this nation, and we appreciate the examples of neo-classical architecture, both public and private, to be found throughout the United States.  But we firmly believe that the architectural style of public buildings should not be dictated in advance, but rather freely and deliberately chosen in view of all relevant considerations, and we reject the supposition that a style derived from classical models is necessarily better suited than any other to express the history, values, and aspirations of the American people.

Please see the letter below from the Society of Architectural Historians and a number of other scholarly societies, including SCS.

February 10, 2020

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Re: Opposition to proposed Executive Order “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again”

Dear Mr. President,

The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) expresses strong opposition to the proposed Executive Order “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.”

SAH is the principal scholarly organization for architectural historians worldwide.  Its members represent a broad spectrum of academic and professional specialties, with membership spanning the globe.  Our membership strongly opposes the language in the proposed Executive Order “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again.”  We share the concern expressed by the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the academic associations listed below that have made common cause with us by signing this letter.

As an organization whose members have observed, recorded, and analyzed both historic and contemporary architecture since our inception in 1940, we have come to understand that most significant public architecture in the United States has resulted from the intersection of monumentality, permanence, and aesthetic significance and the specific local demands of site and community.  While we appreciate and encourage the attention paid to new federal courthouses, federal public buildings in the national Capitol region, and all federal buildings in the U.S. with budgets in excess of $50 million, we nonetheless remain convinced that the dictation of style – any style – is not the path to excellence in civic architecture. 

Democratic by Design:  Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture (1962), concluded, “Major emphasis should be placed on the choice of designs that embody the finest contemporary American architectural thought…Design must flow from the architectural professional to the Government, not vice versa.”   An important but often overlooked precept of Democratic by Design was the emphasis on “contemporary American architectural thought,” not necessarily contemporary design.  It encouraged both architectural practitioners and government officials to look for ways to express the ideals of American democracy in architectural form by looking to voices of the American public, rather than the amplification of a federal dictate from on high. 

The influence of Democratic by Design has been enduring and wide reaching.  This initiative has led to the design of several landmarks of American architecture, including the U.S. Tax Court Building in Washington, DC.  That courthouse was described by architecture critic Ada Louis Huxtable as “a progressive, sensitive contemporary solution fully responsive to Washington’s classical tradition and yet fully part of the mid-20th century—a period of exceptional vigor and beauty in the history of structure and design.”   A more recent example of this influence is the Oklahoma City Federal Building that replaced the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, destroyed by a domestic terrorist bombing in 1995.  In her Oklahoma City Journal Record piece describing the design of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, architect Carol Ross Barney’s statement echoed the enduring significance of Democratic by Design: “Obviously, the best thing to make it bomb-resistant was to make it hard, make it concrete.  But that’s the wrong message.  The message is that government has to be open.” 

A robust return to the principles of Democratic by Design would result in federal architecture that is monumental, permanent, and beautiful. This would be achieved by listening to the voices of the American public, placing emphasis on the communities in which these new buildings are to be located, and stressing the General Services Administration’s role in insuring that this diversity of voices is heard.  Instead of proscribing a particular stylistic outcome, such a path would instead promote architectural excellence, and a thoughtful fit between new federal architecture and the communities in which these buildings are to be constructed. 

While SAH opposes the language of proposed Executive Order “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” we strongly support a renewed effort to encourage the design and construction of federal buildings that embrace architectural excellence based on the best architectural thinking and technology available. America’s best can be embodied in an architectural expression that is monumental, permanent, community-centered, and beautiful.

Respectfully submitted,

Society of Architectural Historians

Middle East Studies Association

National Council on Public History

Organization of American Historians

Society for Classical Studies

(You can view the above letter on the SAH website at https://www.sah.org/about-sah/news/sah-news/news-detail/2020/02/06/society-of-architectural-historians-letter-in-opposition-to-proposed-executive-order-making-federal-buildings-beautiful-again)


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The SAGP Board has decided that the 2022 Annual Meeting will again occur via Zoom. This makes it possible to stretch out the time-frame so that we do not have simultaneous panels. We will schedule panels on weekends, Friday through Monday (avoiding Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, since those are the heaviest teaching days for most people). We will schedule starting September 23, and ending November 19, for this round.

Members of the Society are invited to propose Zoom panels. Organizers should specify the topic of the panel, the proposed speakers (with academic affiliation and email address) and tentative title (check with them first!), and preferred date (and an alternate). Some preference for organizers who would be able to host a zoom event themselves.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 05/20/2022 - 8:40am by .

Call for Papers

Sapiens Ubique Civis IX – Szeged 2022

PhD Student and Young Scholar Conference on Classics and the Reception of Antiquity

Szeged, Hungary, August 31–September 2, 2022

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Fri, 05/13/2022 - 10:47am by .
Res Difficiles 3 poster with full schedule of speakers

Classical Studies at Boston University and Classics, BU Center for the Humanities, Philosophy, & Religious Studies at the University of Mary Washington present Res Difficiles: A Conference On Challenges and Pathways for Addressing Inequity In Classics. 

When: May 20, 2022 , 9:00am - 4:00pm Eastern

Where: Live-streamed via Zoom. Registration now open

Dr. Kelly Nguyen (Stanford University) will deliver the keynote address, "(Be)Longing and (Re)Orienting In and Beyond the Classics Classroom"

The event will be live-captioned. Participants/viewers may live-tweet the event on the hashtag #ResDiff3.

You can find more information about the speakers and read the full program at https://resdifficiles.com/

Any questions can be directed to the co-organizers: Hannah Čulík-Baird and Joseph Romero.

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 05/11/2022 - 8:57pm by Helen Cullyer.
blue lecture poster, Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece

On Thursday, May 12 at 6 pm ET, the AIA’s Student Affairs Interest Group (SAIG) and SCS’s Graduate Student Committee (GSC) will hold the 2022 SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecture! This annual talk is a collaborative effort intended to highlight the work of a senior doctoral candidate whose research features interdisciplinary work between the fields of archaeology and Classical philology, and to support the student networks between these related fields.

Amanda Gaggioli, doctoral candidate at Stanford University and second SAIG/GSC Dissertation Lecturer, will present “Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece.” This virtual talk integrates data from archaeology, history, and ancient languages with those from environmental sciences to discuss how earthquakes and other geological hazards affected human-ecological interactions in the ancient world. Full details are available below.
 

Earthquakes and the Structuring of Greco-Roman Society: the longue durée of human-geological environment relationships in Helike, Greece

Amanda Gaggioli, PhD Candidate, Department of Classics | Stanford Archaeology Center, Stanford University

May 12, 2022 | 6pm EST via Zoom

Registration is required at the following link:

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Mon, 05/09/2022 - 9:13pm by Helen Cullyer.

The Classics Program at Hunter College is pleased to announce the 84th Josephine Earle Memorial Lecture on Friday, May 13, at 5pm. The lecture is taking place virtually over Zoom. Pre-registration is required at the link below. The event will begin with a ceremony for student award ceremony and a celebration of recent graduates from Classics. The lecture will follow.

84th Josephine Earle Memorial Lecture

Friday, May 13, 5-7pm

"Aesthetic Hierarchies in Greek Comedy"

Ralph Rosen, Professor of Classical Studies (University of Pennsylvania)

Register at this link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0tcOCprD8sHNN9TMpKixBXOiljw9H3zrag

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Fri, 05/06/2022 - 9:07am by .

(Dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of Greece-Georgia Diplomatic Relations)

The Institute of Classical, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (Georgia) is pleased to announce the Call for Papers of the International Student Conference “Contemporaneity of Antiquity” to be held in hybrid mode (via ZOOM and face-to-face) on June 6-8, 2022.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 04/28/2022 - 9:36am by .
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Theater in Greece and Rome (TIGR), a committee affiliated with The Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS), invites proposals for a workshop to be held under TIGR’s sponsorship at the 119th CAMWS Annual Meeting, March 29-April 1, 2023 in Provo, Utah, at the Provo Marriot Hotel and Conference Center at the invitation of The Utah Classical Association.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 04/26/2022 - 12:16pm by Helen Cullyer.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Anne Carson’s Euripides: Six Takes on The Trojan Women (2021) and H of H (2021)

When: 11am-1pm CDT, Friday, April 29th, 2022

Where: Virtual (Zoom)

An online event organized by Laura Jansen (Bristol), Sarah Nooter (Chicago) and Mario Telò (Berkeley)

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Fri, 04/22/2022 - 10:01am by .

Third Annual Conference: Temple/Carleton Consortium on Women, Marriage and the Household from Antiquity to the Present: An Interdisciplinary, Global Conference 

WOMEN AND RITUAL ACTS

When: May 12-14, 2022

Where: Temple University Rome: Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia, 15 and Virtual participation available via Zoom

Co-DirectorsKaren Klaiber Hersch and Jaclyn Neel

View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 04/20/2022 - 10:44am by .

Call for Applications: Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection
Hellenic (formerly Library) Research Fellowship Program 2022-2023

**Contingent on continued on-campus operations during 2022-2023 academic year**

Thanks to generous ongoing funding from the Elios Charitable Foundation, the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Foundation, and the Tarbell Family Foundation, the University Library is pleased to offer the continuation of the Hellenic (formerly Library) Research Fellowship Program (HRFP) for a 10th year. The name change is intended to better convey and reflect the focus of the program. The Program supports the use of the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection by fellows for scholarly research in Hellenic studies while in residence in Sacramento, CA.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 04/20/2022 - 10:01am by .

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