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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Two pairs of teachers and students. The teacher on the left, seated on an uncushioned stool, plays a flute, his mantle pushed down to his waist. His young pupil stands facing him, wrapped in his mantle. The teacher in the center is seated on a cushion.

Our sixth interview in the Contingent Faculty Series is a virtual conversation between Dr. Theodora B. Kopestonsky and Dr. Stephanie Kimmey. Dr. Stephanie Kimmey recently joined the Department of Classics at Colorado College as a Visiting Assistant Professor. She received her PhD in Art History and Archaeology from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 2017. Stephanie’s research explores the intersection of Greek religion and daily life through everyday objects and ceramics to better understand the individual, personal experiences through the things people leave behind. She has been active in excavations throughout Greece since 2006, working at Nemea, Mycenae, and Aidonia. Before joining Colorado College, Stephanie worked as the Assistant Director of the MU Writing Center.

Theodora B. Kopestonsky: How did you become interested in the field of Classics and, more specifically, what led you to Greek archaeology and field work?

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 10/04/2021 - 10:32am by .

(Resposted from dignitymemorial.com)

Dr. Ashley A. Simone, 33, died September 16, 2021 in Colorado Springs, CO. She was born February 4, 1988 in Colorado Springs to Jeanie Young and Gary Crooks and grew up in Palmer Lake, CO.

Ashley graduated high school from The Classical Academy. She showed exceptional talent in art and an aptitude for Latin at an early age. During her junior high and high school years, Ashley enjoyed riding and showing horses. She also competed in 4-H horse judging and knowledge bowl competitions, and enjoyed many special friends who joined or supported her in those activities.

In 2009, while pursuing her undergraduate degree at Baylor University, Ashley traveled abroad for a semester of study at St. Andrews, Scotland. She spent the following summer in Athens, Greece, where she was an excavator at an archaeological dig.

Ashley completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Baylor, graduating magna cum laude in May of 2011. As a University Scholar, she studied Classics and Great Texts in Baylor’s Honors College and her undergraduate thesis was awarded outstanding distinction.

View full article. | Posted in In Memoriam on Wed, 09/29/2021 - 9:21am by Erik Shell.

A Call for 2023 Program Directors

Would you like to direct a tour or workshop for the Vergilian Society in 2023? 

Vergilian Society tours are designed to appeal to a wide range of travelers interested in the ancient Mediterranean.  We welcome college students, high school students, instructors and nonprofessionals.

For 2023, we are particularly interested in tours of the ancient Mediterranean or study programs (such as Latin workshops) that are based at the Villa Vergiliana, a study center in the Bay of Naples, Italy. 

If you have any questions about proposal submissions, please contact the Chair of the Villa Management Committee, John Wonder, at jwwonder@sfsu.edu 

You'll find previous tour details at https://www.vergiliansociety.org/previous-tours/

For those interested, please send a proposal to the Chair of the Villa Management Committee.  The proposal may be a paragraph describing the planned program or a longer version.  The Vergilian Society has offered study programs since 1937, and our directors have enjoyed many rewarding experiences.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Tue, 09/28/2021 - 11:30am by Erik Shell.

Symposium Cumanum, 2022

CALL FOR PAPERS

Title: “Dido Unbound: Queen of Carthage before, in, and after Vergil”

Co-Directors: Zara Torlone (Miami University), Giampiero Scafoglio (University of Nice).

Tentative Dates: June 21-25, 2022.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/27/2021 - 1:27pm by Erik Shell.
A large, brown-skinned man, nude with a beard, stands amid a group of smaller men in togas. He is standing on some men and holding others in his hands.

One of the fascinations occupying Classical Studies in North America and Western Europe during the 1980s and 1990s was the way images refract the particularities of societies that produce them. One look at the imaginary of sixth- or fifth-century Athens would provide you a blistering array of human forms: doughty warriors, mourning women, drunken gods; the young and the old, Greek and barbarian. This last pair seemed especially interesting at the twilight of the Cold War.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 09/27/2021 - 9:23am by Christopher Stedman Parmenter.

The following members were elected in the ballot held this Summer. They take office in January 2022, except for the two new members of the Nominating Committee who take office immediately.  Thank you to all SCS members who agreed to stand for election this year.

President-Elect

Matthew Roller

Financial Trustee  

Joseph Farrell
Vice President for Education

Teresa Ramsby

Program Committee

Rosa Andújar

Board of Directors

Young Richard Kim

Nandini Pandey

Nominating Committee

Ronnie Ancona

Pramit Chaudhuri

Goodwin Committee

Rhiannon Ash

Yopie Prins

Professional Ethics Committee

Deborah Beck

James Rives

Referendum items on converting appointed to elected positions on the board: Conversion of all three positions (graduate student member, contingent faculty member, and Equity Advisor) was approved.

View full article. | Posted in SCS Announcements on Thu, 09/23/2021 - 3:59pm by Erik Shell.

SEARCH FOR EDITOR OF THE CLASSICAL OUTLOOK
 
 

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Wed, 09/22/2021 - 10:31am by Erik Shell.

Deadline Extension

We've extended the deadline for the SCS Outreach Prize to September 27, 2021.

The annual Outreach Prize of the Society for Classical Studies (SCS), a prize of $300, recognizes an outstanding project or program by an SCS member or members that makes available and accessible an aspect of classical antiquity to an audience other than Classics scholars or students at their home institutions.

You can send nomination materials to the Executive Director at xd@classicalstudies.org

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 2:39pm by Erik Shell.

Experiencing Space: Passages from Antiquity to the Middle Ages VIII

Tampere, August 17-19, 2022 (in person/hybrid conference)

The focus of the Passages conference series lies on society and the history of everyday life. This time we are concentrating on the social construction and experiences of space, aiming to understand how it affected social frameworks, built communities and shaped individual lives. The “Spatial Turn” has directed scholars’ interest towards the interconnection between communities, individuals and space, but larger comparisons between eras and cultures are still mainly missing. We aim to approach space as an analytical tool, “experience” offering a novel conceptual method for the study in this field.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 1:07pm by Erik Shell.

Call for Papers:

Horror vacui: Fear of Space in the Ancient World

Biennial Classics Graduate Student Conference

Conducted virtually via Zoom

New York University

November 5th, 2021

Keynote: Amy Russell (Brown University)

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/20/2021 - 4:18pm by Erik Shell.

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