Lecture: The federal style: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an architecture class. Professor: Okay, today we're going to continue our discussion of early United States architecture. Last time, we discussed the characteristics of the federal style of architecture, which was a dominant school of design in the United States in the late 1700s. What were a few of the characteristics of the federal style? Allen? Allen: Well, their exterior design was relatively simple and very symmetrical, like the front of the door would have the door in the middle and it would have the same number of windows on each side and a chimney at each end of the house, so the left side of the house and the right side of the house were mirror images of the other. Professor: Okay, good! Allen: But the interior design was more complex and asymmetrical. You know, you didn't have just four square rooms, two on each side of the hallway like older houses had. Professor: Okay good! Those are two of the primary defining characteristics of the federalist style. There are many other findings, of course but you can review those on your own. Last time, I also mentioned in passing that the federal side incorporated many elements of ancient Roman architecture. And before we read the federal style, I'd like to take a few moments to consider the question: why? Why did architects in the newly formed United States in the 1700s have this fascination with an architectural style that took its fuse from ancient Rome? I'm afraid the "why" question doesn't get the full attention it deserves and I'm as guilty for that oversight as other any architecture professor. Architecture is a course about design and is about schools of thought and all of that. But it's also about culture and history and the context those history and culture it provides. These external factors are not just a backdrop for the design of the building. And they're not just interesting historical footnotes. They are as much a part of the study of the design of the building as the design itself. So, back to my question. Why ancient Rome? Well, in part the influence of ancient Rome in architecture was indirect, arriving by way of Great Britain, specifically, by way of a British architectural firm known as Adam Brothers. Adam Brothers was a prominent firm that designed many homes for the British upper class in the mid-1700s. And by the late 1700s their style had arrived in the United States, where it was especially popular with wealthy merchants. Now, Adams Brother architects were themselves greatly influenced by ancient Roman architecture. So when architects in the United States built, so to speak, on the Adams Brother's style, to create the federal style, they were also actually indirectly adopting many elements of ancient Roman architecture. Okay, and there is another reason why this style resonated so deeply in the early United States. Jenifer? Jenifer: This is really a shot in the dark, so don't write this down or anything. But I mean the writers of the American constitution and a lot of the early presidents I know that they admired ancient Rome. Is it possible that admiration somehow led to an influence on the architecture of that time? Professor: Actually, that is a big part of the answer. The early political leaders of the United States, the Founding Fathers, had a great respect for the politics and the culture of ancient Rome. And so, this new style of architecture being practiced by the Adam Brothers among others, immediately struck a cord with them, especially with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, you may recall, drafted the Declaration of Independence and later became the third president of the United States. Jefferson was himself an architect and the designs for many of his buildings, like the Capitol Building for the state of Virginia, were based directly on Roman architecture. Jefferson also sponsored other architects like Benjamin Latrobe who worked on the design of the United States Capitol Building in Washington DC, which also incorporated elements of Roman architectural design.