Another classical courthouse

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Proposed federal courthouse in Mobile, Ala. (

Tuscaloosa recently saw the completion of a beautiful classical courthouse, federal, that might have stepped directly off the Acropolis in Athens. Now Mobile, seems about to begin building a beautiful classical courthouse, also federal, designed by the Washington, D.C., firm of Hartman-Cox. It is lovely, and although I’m sure a megafirm such as H-C has committed its share of atrocities, it is also responsible for the 1990 addition to the John Carter Brown Library, on the Brown University campus here in Providence.

Is this perhaps the result of Thomas Gordon Smith getting a consolation prize of a salaried architectural fellowship when the General Services Administration knuckled under to modernists to block his rumored appointment as the agency’s chief architect in 2006? Just wonderin’

Here is a local article from Mobile (hard to say what media platform is it, with more illustrations of the proposal – which apparently beat our or even replaced an earlier modernist design by Safdie Architects.

And below is the John Carter Brown Library and addition.


John Carter Brown Library and (right) 1990 addition. (Photo by David Brussat)

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.
This entry was posted in Architects, Architecture, Architecture Education, Architecture History, Art and design, Development, Preservation, Providence and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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