Federal Buildings' Lost Grandeur

RECEIVED Sat., June 23, 2012

Dear Editor,
    As a former architecture critic in New Orleans, I am compelled to comment on the photo of the nearly complete federal courthouse which ran in the June 15 Chronicle [Headlines, News]. It is perhaps a sign of the times we live in but, if you look back at federal buildings through the years, they have certainly lost the grandeur and imagery of, say, the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. These buildings were meant to make a statement about the power of government – which in the case of the Supreme Court also was a statement that the government served the people. One look at the new Austin courthouse certainly expresses the power of government, but in a manner that would make the Founding Fathers cringe. It is domineering, unfriendly, and ought to have the infamous slogans of George Orwell's 1984, including such gems as "War Is Peace" carved onto its walls. It is unfortunate that such an anti-urban structure should stand across from one of Austin's original public parks, a neighbor to the equally offensive Downtown post office.
John Ferguson
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