Neoclassical Architecture

Neoclassicism is an artistic movement and approach to architectural design that takes inspiration from the principles and proportions of Classical Greek and Roman architecture. Neoclassical architecture was an exceptionally popular international style, dominating the 18th century, with particular resonance in England, France, and the United States.

One of the most important hallmarks of Neoclassical architecture is the use of columns and the revival of the Classical orders, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. These styles follow artfully crafted ancient standards of proportion and beauty.

Two of the best examples of the Classical architecture of antiquity that inspired Neoclassicism are the Pantheon in Rome and the Parthenon in Athens. These ancient structures were viewed as the pinnacle of culture, design, and purity, and they collectively feature the often imitated signatures of the Neoclassical approach, including columns that rise the full height of the building, symmetry in design, domed roofs, and triangular pediments.

Neoclassical as a term also encompasses Greek Revival, Federalist, Georgian, Antebellum, and Beaux Arts architecture. Neoclassical homes show principles of symmetry and balance, with windows equally dispersed on each side of the front door, and often feature columns and pediments.

Due to the romanticization of the ancient orders and simplicity of forms, entire cities were designed around Classical principles, including Washington D.C. and areas of Paris and Milan, cities that promoted Enlightened values. Neoclassicism represents a rational order and an aesthetic link to the principles of Greek democracy and Roman republicanism, linking the present to a past that valued philosophy, culture, and equality. Conversely, the Gothic Revival style tended to demonstrate a link to the monarchy.

Neoclassical architecture remains popular on college campuses and with banks and monuments, and is also the typical style for city capital buildings and courtrooms. The style truly is an international classic and has had a resurgence in the past several decades.

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