This blog aims to promote a revival of classical and traditional architecture in Providence, R.I., and around the world by suggesting that lovable buildings needn’t be old but can be made new today, if only modern architecture can be somehow convinced, or shamed, or forced, into permitting an even playing field for major commissions in architecture.
David has written a book, Lost Providence, published in 2017 by History Press. He is writing another book. He also operates a writing and editing consultancy. For details on how to hire his services, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone him at 401.351.0457.
“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
David was born in Chicago and grew up in Washington, D.C. After earning a degree in journalism from American University, he entered the world of newspapers. Two short stints writing editorials for two small papers in the South led to the editorial board of The Providence Journal, where he wrote edits, laid out pages and put out a weekly column about architecture from 1990 to 2014. In 2002, he won an Arthur Ross award for his writing from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, where he has served on the board of its New England chapter since 2007.
David started this blog in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal. It has since gone independent under the WordPress imprint.
David lives in Providence with his wife, Victoria, their son Billy and cat Gato. If you would like to read his blog posts, please click “Follow” button in right margin of blog, or email him at email@example.com.
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I am reading a history book, Tales of Oak Bluffs, by Skip Finley, about Marthas Vineyard. In it he mentions that many of the early Gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs were designed by Perez Mason, a Providence architect. Do you have any more information about the career of this person? Thank you.
Dear David –
Couldn’t help but think of you when in Nassau, Bahamas, last week. Adjacent to stately old British Colonial Hotel located on the waterfront catty corner to Prince George’s Wharf, rises The Pointe, a gruesome concatenation of glass and steel cages being built by the chicom government. Ostensibly a hotel, at which would one rather stay?
Always enjoyed your columns when in Rhode Island prior to moving ‘down there, Flahda’. Delighted to find your blog. Sickening, what was done to Nicholson Mansion gate house. Seen this too many times over the decades. Concur totally with you on modern architecture.
Uncle Phil, Philip Franklin Eddy, was born in Providence in 1904 and left us too soon, late 60s. Too many Benson & Hedges. He enjoyed two periods. As the young architect about Providence, 1920s and ’30s and then his post-war heyday. Designed many homes in Freeman Parkway historic district.
He’d have plenty to say about modern so-called architecture, as he did back when I so fondly enjoyed visiting with him.
Count me in as a regular, found your blog googling around after reading Will Morgan’s epistle in today’s GoLocal. ProJo foolishly left you? Wear it as a badge of honor. A pleasure to read your thoughts. All the best.
In today’s Projo Cathy Z. applies the proverbial lipstick to the Klutz Haus, ‘scuse me, Klotz House by Charles Moore. My take: “What a fiasco. There’s no architecture here, just carpenters run amuck.”
I’ve actually lived at The Sea Ranch and it all fits…there…but Moore’s out of his element here.
Wrapping a Brutalist abomination in a skin of shake’n’shingle does not a modernist wonder make.
Color me a Phyllis Stein, but It’s just really, truly painful on the eyes…all that shingle and glass…wasted.
This from someone who’s actually made the hadj to Wright’s Zimmerman house in N.H.
In some books, it says, modern architecture or modernist architecture is a term applied to a group of styles of architecture which emerged in the first half of the 20th century and became dominant after World War II. It was based upon new technologies of construction, particularly the use of glass, steel and reinforced concrete; and upon a rejection of the traditional neoclassical architecture and Beaux-Arts styles that were popular in the 19th century. Modern architecture continued to be the dominant architectural style for institutional and corporate buildings into 1980s, when it was challenged by Postmodernism, and then by “Neo-modernism” and other schools which gradually supplanted it. Congrats to your blog sir! 🙂
Thank you, Westley. You are certainly correct in your analysis. In my own discourse arising from these facts, and to the dismay of many modernists, I think it is useful, and valid, to conflate into one phenomenon the original modernism (the International Style) and the later modernisms that arose after the postmodernist challenge to the International Style. The main characteristic of this discourse is not their various differences but the one primary thing they all had in common – the rejection of classicism and its derivatives. All of the factors that went into that rejection may have been valid concerns of society, but neither individually nor collectively are they valid reasons for rejecting an architecture that had evolved for hundreds and thousands of years as a successful art and technique of city building. All of that aside, I very much appreciate your kind words.
Hi David ,
My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.
I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Architecture Here and There | Style Wars: classicsm vs. modernism has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 100 Architecture Blogs on the web.
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I’d like to send you a copy of a forthcoming book from New Vessel Press, IF VENICE DIES, by the art historian Salvatore Settis that I’m sure will interest with you.
http://newvesselpress.com/books/if-venice-dies/ It has plenty to say about culture in general and contemporary architecture in particular.
Here’s a brief description:
What is Venice worth? To whom does this urban treasure belong? This eloquent book by internationally renowned art historian Salvatore Settis urgently poses these questions, igniting a new debate about the Pearl of the Adriatic and cultural patrimony at large. Venetians are increasingly abandoning their hometown—there’s now only one resident for every 140 visitors—and Venice’s fragile fate has become emblematic of the future of historic cities everywhere as it capitulates to tourists and those who profit from them. In If Venice Dies, a fiery blend of history and cultural analysis, Settis argues that “hit-and-run” visitors are turning landmark urban settings into shopping malls and theme parks. He warns that Western civilization’s prime achievements face impending ruin from mass tourism and global cultural homogenization. This is a passionate plea to secure the soul of Venice, written with consummate authority, wide-ranging erudition and élan.
“A chilling account of the slow agony of Venice as illustrative of a global consumerist epidemic. Richly documented and imbued with deep angst about this supreme urban creation.”
— Philippe de Montebello, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Could you please send me your email and postal addresses? Thank you.
Dear David, I am a french documentary film director. We are currently preparing a project about Mont Saint-Michel’s history, its architecture and different stades of the site construction. We are looking for some international specialists to interview. Can I contact you by email in order to explain better our project? My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance. Denis
Perhaps you might direct your considerable talent onto the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. If you haven’t visited it you should. It’s one of the most moving memorial’s I’ve traveled to. Because of it’s remote location in historic Bedford Virginia it has suffered financially. On D-day, June 6, 1944, Bedford received the greatest number of dreaded war dept telegrams per capita. there wasn’t a home or family that was spared an invasion loss.
May I invite you to write something about the D-Day memorial in Bedford and I will publish it? Not a home or family that was spared an invasion loss? If so, I imagine that’s why the memorial is there. I find the design somewhat dodgy, but I offer you a forum for its defense, and for advocating a donation to relieve its peril as we relieved that of France.
Suggest you read about the “BEDFORD BOYS”. A beautiful little town just down the road from VMI.
Dodgy?? How so??
I guess the word suggests a feeling that the D-Day memorial, while it has some admirable features such as the temple, also has other features, such as its large arch, that are more dubious. As a whole, it seems a hodgepodge of elements, and its plan looks like Mickey Mouse (though people do not see it from above). I suppose that’s what I mean by dodgy. I appreciate the opportunity to think it through more usefully, Lux.
The temple you admire houses a life size sculpture of Ike. The Arch provides a triumphant entry to the heroic sculptural depiction of thousands of troops charging onto Omaha beach through a deadly hale of artillery. It’s dimensions are significant. It is 44′ 6″ tall representing the D-Day date in June (6) 1944. Perhaps you noticed its black and white cap stones, which represent the Black and White stripes painted on the wings of Allied aircraft so that they would not be fired upon by allied invasion forces.
As for it being a “hodgepodge”, perhaps photography does not covey the physical impact on visitors. Vets who visit are profoundly affected by the story the memorial retells. As importantly, children come away with a better education then they receive in school about WW2, heroism, valor, courage and sacrifice. Would you not agree that one function of a war memorial is to infuse a sense of patriotism in this and future generations of children?
Perhaps I will consider writing something here which you might consider publishing as an article. My interest is solely to bring the D Day National Memorial to the attention of your readership as a possible destination if they visit Virginia. Your willingness to let your readership draw its own conclusions sans our critical judgement would allay my concerns.
Thanks. Pleased to have found your well informed and thoughtful blog. Return visits to follow. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox.
I found myself wondering today why your column is no longer in the Providence Urinal, and was disappointed to find, by Googling, that you were laid off. Count me chagrined, angry and culturally deprived. Here’s hoping a better news organization will find you. I think you would be a perfect fit for the Wall St. Journal’s weekly Mansion section on Fridays. And if I may suggest a topic … how about a column on Newport’s Audrain building restoration and repurposing?
I tried signing up for your emails. No luck. All of the addresses I tried were rejected as invalid. Something is wrong.
David, The Blackstone Neighborhood Association has just formed. Time is tight. We are confronting the “major subdivision” of the large historic proper at 460 Rochambeau, the prominent corner of Roch-and Blackstone. This is new high density zoning that will make the whole area suffer. Please contact me for details on this disastrous proposal before the Hearing in a few weeks. We need you.
Dear David Brussat- I write to let you know how deeply disappointed I am in the Providence Journal for letting you go. A significant newspaper should have an architecture critic! Although I often disagreed with your comments, I enjoyed your column very much. I look forward to reading your blog. warm regards, Deborah Berke
Deborah, how very kind of you to write, and bless you for your pleasing sentiments. May I hope that if you continue to read you might someday agree? Either way, I am much more uplifted by those who say they like my writing than by those who say they agree with it, wonderful as those latter may be. My opinion is held by many, but it is mine only by dint of how it is stated. Many thanks!
October 4, 2014
Despite the unshocking news of you being laid off by the new ownership and its ‘producing captives’ at the Providence Journal, I still must evoke the pain that overcomes me as the last breath of printed newspapers yells out “au revoir, Mon. Brussat” to perhaps one of the last vestiges of the world gone by. But, alas, we may take refuge by realigning our eyes and readjusting our thoughts to the new world a-comin: Seek out “David Brussat and his blog” while at the same time you may reach out to grab a respirator!
P.G. Watts, Jr.
Yes, dear Gregg (my old school chum from D.C.), in the future the blind man may not be king, but he will be enviable if current architectural trends continue!
I see noses in header image.
Noses? Perhaps. More like bellies, seems to me.
On second thought, I think the bulges in the balusters do look more like noses than bellies. On third thought, maybe a good compromise might be breasts. They look like breasts.
I see noses in the header image.
Aum! David…Glad I’ve found you at WordPress.com! You’ve inspired me to start blogging again. ” I Hope You can imagine,…”
So glad to hear from you, Ibrahim. I will be visiting your blog.