Old City Hall with its retro faux-Miesian addition. Photo by Bill O’leary of the Washington Post.
The picture at right is the new addition to Washington’s Old City Hall, better known as the District Court of Appeals in Judiciary Square. According to an article in the Post, Architect Hany Hassan designed it the way he did because he “felt strongly that this addition should be of its own time.”
Excuse me? That sort of glass and steel box was the height of fashion in the 1950s and was championed by an architect born in 1886. There is absolutely no way that faux mid-century modernism qualifies as “of our time”.
I don’t have any problem with retro buildings, but let’s be honest about them. What Mr. Hassan is done is intellectually no different than what Toll Brothers does. If the fans of modernism out there want to build in their favorite style then hey, that’s cool, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking it’s original.