The New York Times reports the finalization of Donald Trump’s agreement to renovate the old U.S. Post Office Building, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., as a hotel. This is one of my favorite buildings and I’m glad to hear it is going back into use. I used to frequent it when it was basically a failed office building surrounding a highly successful food court beneath an atrium of nine stories. What a glorious place to hang out! I hope the Trumps’ renovation – with the Fine Arts Commission looking over their shoulder – will not bring an end to its grand pubic usage.
The article is full of cliches and falsehoods, though no harm done. The writer, Eugene Meyer, says the Richardson Romanesque pile, completed in 1899, seems “out of place” among its Beaux Arts neighbors that went up in the 1930s. Not so! The picture above from the Times proves that. The buildings fit well together, as they all have classicism at their root, especially when one keeps in mind what might have gone in that space today, or in the 1970s when the feds wanted to tear it down. (The federal government was actually the last major American institution to abondon classicism for modernism.) And either the Donald or daughter Ivanka says you could not build this building today – but, oh, yes you could. It would be revolutionary, and given what modernism has done to the craftsman trades, it would be expensive, but yes, it could be done.