Traditional Building confab


A lane on Beacon Hill, across Boston Common from the conference site. (

Boston hosts the latest Traditional Building Conference next week. The event, on Wednesday and Thursday, July 16-17, will feature a range of panels, and some are sure to tickle the fancy of fanciers of traditional architecture. Several of these traditionalist conferences, with overlapping speakers and panel topics, take place each year. Washington was the site of the first conference of the year, in April, New Orleans the second in May, and the next one is scheduled for September in St. Paul. All are molded by the redoubtable Clem Labine, founder of Traditional Building magazine and Old Home Journal, whose continuing series of columns rattle all the cages most in need of cataclysm.

Trinity Church, by H.H. Richardson.

Trinity Church, by H.H. Richardson.

The schedule of panels features such superstars of classicism as Gary Brewer, who will speak about Robert A.M. Stern Architects’ new book Designs for Living (the book is by a host of RAMSA partners, including Gary); Steve Mouzon, author of The Original Green, who will speak about “Makers, Innovators and Tradition”; John Massengale, who will speak about Street Design, the book he has co-authored with Victor Dover; Philip James Dodd, who will speak about “The Art of Classical Details,” which is also the title of a book he wrote that was published last year; and a host of others whose topics and stature in those topics can be examined at the conference website, where registration, too, is possible.

I would especially want, if I could attend [it now turns out I can and will attend], to hear Donald Powers, of Union Studio Architects, in downtown Providence, speak on “Traditional Building in a Modern World.” It seems, from the description, that he will describe how a square peg, you might say, can be fit into a round hole without offending such tender sensibilities as my own – and, I suspect, those of most other attendees (although it would be a blessing – some would say a blessing in disguise – if a cell of modernists were actually to startle everyone by showing up, whether out of morbid curiosity or some more sinister and nefarious reason; the desire to learn something about beauty would be an unlikely motive, nor would it fit into any of the stated categories of more or less devious motivation … but excuse me, I drift).

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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