New Classical architecture

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Chapel at Thomas Aquinas College by Duncan Stroik (completed in 2009)

New Classical architecture is a contemporary movement in architecture that continues the practice of classical, historicist and traditional architecture, that never ceased during the twentieth century, even as modernist styles became more dominant.

Since it is not a homogeneous architectural style and can appear in various forms, contemporary classical buildings might be also described with the terms Neo-Historism (or Historicism/Revivalism), Traditionalism or simply Neoclassical Architecture as a continuation of the historical style.[1] Some may also perceive it as a part of the Postmodern or New Urbanist movements, although these rather contributed to a general enthusiasm for new classical architecture.

Contemporary buildings that continue the language of early modern movements, such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Streamline Moderne and Expressionism, may also be described as New Classical.


Roots in Europe[edit]

Böttcherstraße in Bremen, Germany — a 1920s/30s expressionist take on the regional Brick Gothic architecture.

At the beginning of the 20th century, historicism and Jugendstil were still dominant styles in Germany. The Austrian architect Adolf Loos criticized his time's architecture as too "grandiloquent" and "opulent", and longed for a complete abandonment of architectural ornaments in his 1910 essay Ornament and Crime.[2] Along with the British Arts and Crafts movement, a major clash between "modernist" and "traditionalist" architectural visions loomed. As early as the first major modernist movements like Werkbund and Bauhaus gained momentum in Germany, the desire to continue and develop classical styles sprouted.[3] From 1904 until around 1955 the Heimatschutz style prospered in Germany, which focusses on vernacular traditions and can be roughly translated to cultural protection style. Examples of this early new classical style are the Hamburg Museum, the Prinzipalmarkt in Münster and the market square of Freudenstadt. The 1922-1931 Böttcherstrasse in Bremen is an expressionist approach towards regional Brick Gothic architecture.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s the architect Raymond Erith continued to design classical houses in England despite the Modernist Movement. Quinlan Terry, a New Classical Architect who continues to practice with his son Francis Terry, was an employee, later a partner and now the successor of the late Raymond Erith. In the late 1970s several young architects in Europe began challenging modernist proposals in architecture and planning. To broadcast them, Leon Krier and Maurice Culot founded the Archives d'Architecture Moderne in Brussels and began publishing texts and counterprojects to modernist proposals in architecture and planning.[4] Krier's work and that of others was introduced to America through Andreas Papadakis' editorship of London-based "Architectural Design" and "Academy Editions".[5] In Britain it received a boost from the sponsorship of Charles, Prince of Wales, especially with The Prince's Foundation for Building Community.[6]

In the United States[edit]

In the 1940s, and continuing until the 1980s, primarily in the southern region of the United States, but also elsewhere, there continued a demand for traditional and classical designed houses and small commercial buildings that were satisfied by a group of architects that maintained a small practice, and were devoted to classical design despite the influences of Modernism. These architects include Edward Vason Jones (1909-1980), Philip T. Shutze (1890-1982), James Means (1904-1979), Lewis Edmund Crook Jr. (1898-1967), Henry Sprott Long (1915- ), A. Hays Town (1903–2005) and John F. Staub (1892-1981), Allan Greenberg, John Blatteau,[7] John Barrington Bayley

In these years Post Modern Architecture developed a critique of Modernist Architecture. Among them were certain influential Post Modernist architects such as Charles Moore, Robert Venturi[8] and Michael Graves who used classical elements as ironic motifs in order to criticize modernism's sterility. A broad spectrum of more than two dozen architects, theorists, and historians presented other alternatives to modernism.[9] Among them were several serious New Classical architects who saw classicism as a legitimate mode of architectural expression, several of whom would later become Driehaus Prize Laureates, including some such as Thomas Beeby and Robert A.M. Stern, who practice both in post modern as well as classical modes.

Thomas Gordon Smith, the 1979 Rome Prize laureate from the American Academy in Rome, was a devotee of Charles Moore. In 1988 Smith Published "Classical Architecture - Rule and Invention" and in 1989 was appointed to be chair of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture.[10] Smith and colleague Duncan Stroik transformed the program into the only architecture school entirely dedicated to classical architecture. Others joining the faculty had come from Colin Rowe's program at Cornell and Jaquelin Robertson's at University of Virginia. Several architects used their offices to nurture young architects in classicism, among them Allan Greenberg. Michael Lykoudis left Greenberg to join Notre Dame's faculty in 1991 and, in 2004, become its Dean.

Smith Center in Las Vegas, Neo Art Deco style by David M. Schwarz[11] to echo the nearby Hoover Dam, opened in 2012

Today other programs exist which teach in part New Classical Architecture at the University of Miami, Judson University, Andrews University and beginning in 2013,[12] University of Colorado Denver.

Alongside the academic and scholarly development of the new classicism as a reaction to Modernist hegemony in formal architectural academia, a populist and professional manifestation of contemporary and new classicism has existed and continues to develop. The 1963 demolition of McKim, Meade and White's Pennsylvania Railroad Station in New York City provoked the formation of Classical America and its regional chapters, led by Henry Hope Reed, Jr..[13] Classical America advocated the appreciation of classically inspired buildings and for the practice of contemporary classical and traditional design by teaching architects to draw the classical orders, hosting walking tours, educational events, conferences and publishing The Classical America Series in Art and Architecture.[14] Its members and proponents carried on the tradition of classicist and traditional architectural design throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Also through the mid-twentieth century, interior decoration and design offices maintained the practice of traditional and classical design in interior decoration. Most notably, the office of Parish-Hadley fostered the development of an architectural department in the mid-1980s whose members, with others, ultimately formed the Institute for the Study of Classical Architecture in the early 1990s. This new formation attracted proponents and patrons of traditional and classical architectural design, historic preservation and the components of the construction industry geared toward restoration and the creation of new historicist and classically inspired work. Among the individuals from the Parish-Hadley office were Richard Cameron, Gil Schafer, Donald Rattner, Mark Ferguson, Oscar Shamamian and Bunny Williams - and among those from the publishing and construction industry were (Acanthus Press ?) Clem Labine, Kevin and Roy Zeluck, Michael Rielly, Jeff Davis, and Jean Wiart.

The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art currently supports and is supported by regional chapters across the United States, almost all of which host awards programs [15] which recognize significant accomplishments in new classical and traditional design and construction. The ICAA publishes The Classicist,[16] a peer-reviewed journal exclusively dedicated to the theory and practice of contemporary classicism in architecture, urbanism, and the allied arts. The ICAA offers continuing educational programming to architectural professionals and the general public [17] and is host to the Beaux Arts Atelier, a one-year intensive program in the study of design, architecture, and art following the method of the École des Beaux-Arts.[18] It also awards the Rieger Graham Prize for architecture and the Alma Schapiro Prize for fine artists.

Philosophy of New Classical Architecture[edit]

Fundamental tenets of the New Classicism is that it is not limited to neoclassical architecture and that "classical" is not a style in itself, but a way of elevating the art of building to the art of architecture.[19] A classical building uses imitation to express its tectonic truth, which is not the same as the facts of its construction, and finds its beauty not in originality and style but in the handling of the traditional forms that have always been its vehicles. Classical buildings also always account for the differences between the public and the private realms in addressing the urban and rural conditions where they are built.

New classical architects also emphasize the awareness of sustainability, the aim is to create long-lasting, well-crafted buildings of great quality, with an efficient use of natural resources.[20]

Driehaus Prize for New Classical Architecture[edit]

In 2003, Chicago philanthropist Richard H. Driehaus established[21] a prize in architecture to be given to an architect "whose work embodies the principles of classical and traditional architecture and urbanism in society, and creates a positive, long lasting impact." Awarded by the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, the Driehaus Architecture Prize is seen as the alternative to the merely modernist Pritzker Prize.

The Driehaus Prize is given in conjunction with the Reed Award, for an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and art through writing, planning or promotion.[22]

Other high-profiled classical architecture awards are the US-American Palladio Award,[23] the Edmund N. Bacon Prize,[24] and the Rieger Graham Prize[25] of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA) for architecture graduates.


The following architects were awarded the Driehaus Prize[26] since 2003:

Year Laureate Nationality Photo Example work (years built) Website Ref.
2003 Krier, LéonLéon Krier  Luxembourg The inaugural laureate Léon Krier in Frankfurt, 2007 Village Hall of Windsor Village Hall of Windsor, USA (1997) [27]
2004 Porphyrios, DemetriDemetri Porphyrios  Greece Whitman College Whitman College, Princeton University, Princeton, USA (2002) Porphyrios Associates [28]
2005 Terry, QuinlanQuinlan Terry  United Kingdom Richmond Riverside Richmond Riverside, London, UK (1984–87) Quinlan and Francis Terry Architects [29]
2006 Greenberg, AllanAllan Greenberg  South Africa Dupont Hall Dupont Hall at University of Delaware, Newark, USA (1998–2002) Allan Greenberg LLC [30]
2007 Robertson, Jaquelin T.Jaquelin T. Robertson  United States Celebration Town Square Celebration masterplan, Osceola, USA (2000) Cooper, Robertson & Partners [31]
2008 Duany, AndrésAndrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk  United States Andrés Duany in Biloxi, 2005 Seaside architecture Seaside masterplan, Walton, USA (1980) Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company [32]
2009 El-Wakil, Abdel-WahedAbdel-Wahed El-Wakil  Egypt Mosque of the two Qiblas Masjid al-Qiblatain extension, Medina, Saudi Arabia (1980) Awwakil [33]
2010 Martos, Rafael ManzanoRafael Manzano Martos  Spain Prado Museum Museo del Prado extension, Madrid, Spain (1990) Estudio Manzano [34]
2011 Stern, Robert A. M.Robert A. M. Stern  United States Fell Hall at Brooklyn Law School Fell Hall at Brooklyn Law School, New York City, USA (1994) Robert A. M. Stern Architects [35]
2012 Graves, MichaelMichael Graves  United States McNair Hall at Jesse Jones Business School McNair Hall at Jesse Jones Business School, Houston, USA (1999) Michael Graves & Associates [36]
2013 Beeby, Thomas H.Thomas H. Beeby  United States Meadows Museum in Dallas Meadows Museum, Dallas, USA HBRA Architects [37]
2014 Bontempi, Pier CarloPier Carlo Bontempi  Italy Pier Carlo Bontempi in 2014 Place de Toscane in Serris, France Place de Toscane, Serris, France Studio Pier Carlo Bontempi [38]
2015 Schwarz, David M.David M. Schwarz  United States Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, United States Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Las Vegas, USA David M. Schwarz Architects [39]


While modernist teaching remains dominant at universities and architecture faculties around the world, some institutions focus solely, mainly or partly on teaching the principles of traditional and classical architecture and urban planning. Some of these are:[40]

In India
In the United Kingdom
In the United States

Organisations in New Classical architecture[edit]

Various organisations are engaging to revive the general awareness of classical architecture qualities, provide education and donate to related causes. Many of these have a national or regional focus - and might appear in the form of citizens' groups, that work on a townscape-friendly classical building culture in and around historical town centers.


Examples of built new classical structures.



Middle East[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Neo-classicist Architecture. Traditionalism. Historicism.
  2. ^ Loos, A. (1908). Ornament and Crime. Innsbruck, reprint Vienna, 1930. 
  3. ^ Banham, Reyner (1960). Theory and Design in the First Machine Age - Characteristic attitudes and themes of European artists and architects 1900-1930. 
  4. ^ Leon Krier and Maurice Culot, "Counterprojets: Prefaces," (Brussels: Archives d'Architecture Moderne, 1980).
  5. ^ Especially important was Demetri Porphyrios, ed., "Leon Krier, Houses, Palaces, Cities," (London: Architectural Design AD editions, 1984).
  6. ^ Charles, Prince of Wales, "A Vision of Britain: A Personal View of Architecture," (New York: Doubleday, 1989).
  7. ^
  8. ^ Robert Venturi, "Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture," (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966).
  9. ^ Andreas Papadakis and Harriet Watson, eds., "New Classicism: Omnibus Volume," (London: Academy Editions, 1990).
  10. ^
  11. ^ Schwarz Architects about the Smith Center
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ An important clarion call was that of Demetri Porphyrios, "Classicism is not a Style," in "Architectural Design" vol. 52, no. 5/6, 1982, and reprinted various places.
  20. ^ New Classical Architecture and 10 years of the Driehaus Prize, Notre Dame School of Architecture (Video)
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Driehaus Prize Nomination Process". University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  23. ^ "Palladio Awards". Active Interest Media. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  24. ^ "Edmund N. Bacon Prize". Philadelphia Center for Architecture. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  25. ^ "The Rieger Graham Prize". Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in New York. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  26. ^ "Driehaus Prize Recipients". University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  27. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2003". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  28. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2004". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  29. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2005". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  30. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2006". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  31. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2007". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  32. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2008". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2009". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2010". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2011". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  36. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2012". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  37. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2013". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  38. ^ "Driehaus Prize 2014". NDSA. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  39. ^ "Architect David M. Schwarz to Receive the 2015 Richard H. Driehaus Prize". Notre Dame School of Architecture. Retrieved 21 January 2015. 
  40. ^ INTBAU - A guide to academic institutions/universities teaching New Urbanism and traditional/classical design. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  41. ^ Tirumala S.V. Institute of Traditional Sculpture and Architecture (SVITSA) in Tirupati, India
  42. ^ National Design Academy Nottingham, degree course for heritage interior design]
  43. ^ Portsmouth School of Architecture: Design Classical. The school presents its award-winning course in the elements of classical design and how to design in the classical idiom, for CPD credits., PDF, retrieved 10 March 2015
  44. ^ "Andrews University School of Architecture, Art & Design". Retrieved 4 April 2014. Throughout the educational process, students are challenged to base architectural decisions on thoughtful and learned criteria, including the body of knowledge found within vernacular and classical traditions. 
  45. ^ American College of the Building Arts in Charleston


External links[edit]

  • INTBAU - A guide to academic institutions/universities teaching New Urbanism and traditional/classical design