“Washington at War” Architectural Tour Series in D.C.

The National Civic Art Society, an excellent nonprofit on whose board I am pleased to serve, focuses on restoring dignity and quality to taxpayer-funded architecture in the United States. My good friend Justin Shubow leads the organization. NCAS has had success in crimping some of the indignities of the Eisenhower Memorial, and it leads the charge in advocating for a renewed Penn Station in New York.

The National Civic Art Society is running a wonderful series of walking tours in Washington, D.C. this spring. The details are here. There is a $10 cost for a ticket, only to ensure that everyone shows up. The series is called “Washington at War,” and runs from April 14 to May 19. It focuses on battles in and around the capital.

More details:

The National Civic Art Society cordially invites you to take part in our 2018 walking tour series “Washington at War.”

About the tour guide: Edward Lengel holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia, where he directed the Washington Papers Project for many years, and also served as Chief Historian of the White House Historical Association. A military historian, he has authored several books including General George Washington: A Military Life; To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918, and the upcoming Never in Finer Company: The Men of the Great War’s Lost Battalion. Lengel leads history and battlefield tours throughout Europe and the United States, and he writes regularly for Military History Quarterly and other publications.

Tours are limited to three hours in length and begin at 10 AM at the location indicated. The cost per tour is $10. NCAS members, students, interns, and Hill staffers may obtain free tickets by e-mailing [email protected] You must RSVP in advance. If you have any questions, please e-mail [email protected] or call (202) 670-1776.

There are five tours in all. Please check it out if you’ll be in D.C. this spring.

Why does NCAS exist? Because the federal government is the largest purchaser of architectural services in the nation, and yet it seems repeatedly to commission decamillionaire starchitects to build baffling, inhumane buildings intended to insult, rather than to ennoble, the taxpayers who underwrite them. For an example, see the new Federal Building in San Francisco. Modern architecture is a hustle: cheap buildings at a high price, confusion masquerading as complexity, so ridiculous that they need to be torn down and replaced within twenty years.

Say what you want about columns and pediments, but at least the traditional neoclassical idiom of our government buildings is less expensive, simpler to design, simpler to build, longer-lasting, and makes everyone within and without happy.

Actually, maybe that is everything that needs to be said.

N.b. NCAS is a small nonprofit operating on a shoestring budget. It has outsized influence because of Justin’s genius and the hard work of the people around him. If you would like to support the organization, here’s how.