Video of "Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism"

The National Civic Art Society, together with ICAA-Mid-Atlantic, co-sponsored this lecture by James Stevens Curl on his new book Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism. Curl tells the story of the advent of architectural Modernism in the aftermath of World War I, its protagonists, and its astonishing global acceptance after 1945. He explains how the triumph of architectural Modernism in the second half of the 20th century led to massive destruction, the creation of alien urban landscapes, and a huge waste of resources. The coming of Modernism, however, was not inevitable.

Curl is Professor at the School of Architecture and Design, Ulster University; Professor Emeritus at De Montfort University, Leicester; and has been a Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge. He was awarded the President's Medal of the British Academy "for his contribution to the study of the History of Architecture in Britain and Ireland." Curl is the author of numerous books, including Victorian Architecture and Georgian Architecture, and he is co-author of The Oxford Dictionary Of Architecture.

Introductions by Justin Shubow and Stefan Hurray

Date: May 10, 2019
Location: Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C.

"Making Dystopia" Lecture by James Stevens Curl in D.C. May 10


The National Civic Art Society and ICAA-Mid-Atlantic cordially invite you to a lecture by distinguished architectural historian James Stevens Curl on Friday May 10 in Washington, D.C. Curl will speak about his new book Making Dystopia: The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism.

Curl will tell the story of the advent of architectural modernism in the aftermath of World War I, its protagonists, and its astonishing global acceptance after 1945. He will explain how the triumph of architectural Modernism in the second half of the 20th century led to massive destruction, the creation of alien urban landscapes, and a huge waste of resources. The coming of Modernism, however, was not inevitable.

According to Theodore Dalrymple's review of Making Dystopia, "Professor Curl has written an essential, uncompromising, learned ... critique of one of the worst and most significant legacies of the 20th century. ...  It is a loud and salutary clarion call to resist further architectural fascism."

AIA CE credits are available for this lecture.

Date and Time: Friday May 10, 2019

6:00 PM - Reception

7:00 PM - Lecture

Location: Cosmos Club ( 2121 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.)

Cost: $15 for National Civic Art Society and ICAA Members, $25 for Non-Members


About the Speaker: Professor James Stevens Curl has been Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. In 2014, De Montfort University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Arts in recognition of his "distinctive contribution... to the intellectual and cultural life of the nation and region." His many publications include studies of Classical, Georgian, and Victorian architecture, and the most recent edition of his Oxford Dictionary of Architecture was published by Oxford University Press in 2015. In 2017 he was awarded the British Academy President's Medal for "outstanding service to the cause of the humanities and social sciences" in his wider study of the History of Architecture in Britain and Ireland.

NCAS Research Fellow Catesby Leigh to Speak on "Classical Sculpture: A Lost Art?"


On April 27 in Boston, National Civic Art Society Research Fellow Catesby Leigh will be giving a keynote address sponsored by the New England Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architectural & Art, in celebration of the 2019 Bulfinch Awards. Leigh's lecture is on the theme "Classical Sculpture: A Lost Art?"

The Greeks defined monumentality in sculpture during the fifth century, B.C., and the classical standard they established in doing so held sway well into the Christian era. That standard re-emerged during the Renaissance, but it was losing traction by the time our nation won its independence. To understand why, one must distinguish between style and content in sculpture. The high-quality classical sculpture for which the Greeks and modern masters ranging from Michelangelo to Houdon are known is very complex in its formal content. Since the late 18th century, and partly thanks to Canova's "neoclassicism," the focus has been on style at the expense of content. The advent of photography in the mid-19th century reinforced this trend, and photography's vitiating influence on the academic tradition remains as powerful as ever. It's reasonable to ask, even at a time when classical architecture is enjoying a noteworthy resurgence, whether classical sculpture, as the Greeks understood it, is a thing of the past. Even if that is so, it does not mean sculpture has not continued to play an essential role in our classical institutional buildings and monuments.

Catesby Leigh has been writing about public art and architecture for over 20 years. Particular areas of interest have been monuments (and anti-monuments), institutional buildings, urban planning, and painting and sculpture. His commentary has appeared in The Wall Street JournalCity JournalFirst ThingsNational ReviewWeekly StandardClaremont Review of BooksModern AgeArts & Antiques, and other publications. Leigh is a co-founder and past chair of the National Civic Art Society. Currently an NCAS research fellow, he is working on a long-term book project concerning the nature of monumentality and its American manifestations. He lives in Washington, D.C..

To register for the event, which runs from 9:00 AM to noon, click HERE.

Panel Discussion on "The Future of Penn Station" October 24 in NYC

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Everyone agrees that New York's Penn Station is an utter disaster and embarrassment to the city. The depot is ugly, cramped, dark, dangerous, difficult to navigate, and plagued by train delays. Are we capable of building a world-class station for a world-class city? Should we leave Madison Square Garden in place and add a glass wall to the station on 8th Avenue? Should we rebuild the original Beaux-Arts station? Is there a way to improve train traffic and passenger circulation?

In partnership with Rebuild Penn Station: a project of the National Civic Art Society, Agora presents "The Future of Penn Station," an evening addressing various proposals to alleviate these problems. We hope you will join us for this rich conversation. A reception will follow.

Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door. Tickets may be purchased HERE.

Wednesday October 24, 2018
7:00 PM 

W83 Ministry Center
150 West 83rd Street
New York, NY 10024


Kevin Baker is a New York-based writer who is the author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books, including the City of Fire trilogy, the middle volume of which won the 2003 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction and the 2003 American Book Award. He is a regular contributor to PoliticoThe New York Times, and The New York Times Book Review. He is a contributing editor and columnist at Harper's, and a contributing editor at The New Republic.

Richard Cameron is a principal designer at Atelier & Co. in Brooklyn. He is the co-founder of both the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art and The Beaux-Arts Atelier, an educational platform for practicing architecture as a fine art. In 2013 he received The Arthur Ross Board of Directors Honor Award from the ICA&A.

Wally Rubin has been District Manager of Manhattan's Community Board Five for eleven years. During that time, he has worked on the five year Greater East Midtown rezoning effort, the current Garment Center rezoning, the various efforts around the West Midtown Transit Corridor (including Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal), the growth of the pedestrian plazas, and all the other issues that have shaped the central business district over the last decade. Earlier, Rubin worked as Director of Theatre for the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, for Borough President Ruth Messinger, and as an aide to Congressman Ted Weiss.

Dani Simons is Vice President for Strategic Communications at the Regional Plan Association. She oversaw the rollout of RPA's Fourth Regional Plan, and is working with RPA staff and partners to create a communications strategy to speed the implementation of the plan’s recommendations. She previously served as the global head of communications for Motivate, a global leader in bike share and was part of the launch team for Citi Bike, the largest and most successful bike share program in the western world.

Samuel Turvey is Chairman of the Rebuild Penn Station Steering Committee. He is a native New Yorker and daily Penn Station commuter from Northern New Jersey. A long-time community activist and participant in charitable causes, he founded and produced the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Manhattan’s Tompkins Square and Marcus Garvey Parks. He is a trustee of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and the John Noble Museum of Maritime Art on Staten Island. Turvey is a Regulatory and Compliance attorney at TIAA.

MODERATOR: Justin Shubow is President of the National Civic Art Society, a non-profit organization that promotes the classical and humanistic tradition in public art and architecture. He is a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

"The Architecture of Bureaucracy" Event in Washington, D.C. on October 17

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The National Civic Art Society and C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State cordially invite you to attend an event on "The Architecture of Bureaucracy" in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday October 17, 2018.

Catesby Leigh, the National Civic Art Society's 2018-2019 Research Fellow, will deliver the keynote address. He will discuss the intellectual and aesthetic inspiration for bureaucratic buildings of the New Deal and later eras, and their stark contrast with the classical principles that influenced the architects of our Capitol, White House, and our republic’s other early buildings.


  • 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM: Registration & Reception

  • 6:00 - 6:10 PM: Welcome by Adam White & Justin Shubow

  • 6:10 - 7:20 PM: Keynote Address by Catesby Leigh

  • 7:20 - 8:15 PM: Reception

Location: Decatur House (748 Jackson Place NW, Washington, DC 20006)

The event is free and open to the public.

Register HERE.

Rebuild Penn Station Panel and Photo Exhibition in New York City on October 4

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Opened in 1910, to a miraculous design by McKim, Mead & White, and torn down in 1963 for a shamefully inferior replacement, New York's Penn Station today remains one of the city’s great lost causes. 

On Thursday October 4 in New York City, Chartwell Booksellers will host a conversation on Rebuild Penn Station, the National Civic Art Society's project to rebuild the original station. The conversation will feature leaders of Rebuild Penn Station together with design collaborators ReThinkNYC and Atelier & Co.

The conversation which begins at 6:00 PM, will take place in the lobby of the Park Avenue Plaza building at 55 East 52nd St. (between Park & Madison Avenues).

The event will include an exhibition of never-before-seen photographs of the original Penn Station taken by the late-Bob Parent, who is most famous for his portraits of jazz musicians. The exhibition includes Parent's resonant image (see above) of the Penn Station track sign for the train to the  August 28, 1963 "March for Jobs and Freedom" in Washington, D.C., where Dr. Martin Luther King would deliver his "I Have A Dream" speech.

The event is free and will be followed by a reception. 

RSVP: 212-308-0643 or


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The National Civic Art Society cordially invites you to attend a book talk and discussion in conjunction with the publication of Classical Architecture and Monuments of Washington, D.C.: A History and Guide by Michael Curtis. A reception will follow. RSVP here.

Discussing the book will be Al Cox, Historic Preservation Manager for the City of Alexandria, and Andy Seferlis, a professional tour guide and stone-carver who updated the book The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington D.C.: A Comprehensive Historical Guide.  

About the author: A co-founder of the National Civic Art Society who serves on its Board of Directors, Michael Curtis studied classical architecture at the University of Michigan, and painting, sculpture, and engraving in Florence, Italy. He has been a sculptor for more than 25 years. Major commissions include The History of Texas at the Texas Rangers Ball Park in Arlington, Texas, the largest American frieze produced in the 20th Century, as well as portrait busts for the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Thurgood Marshall Building, and many other public venues. His specialty is portraiture and fine medals. 

Upcoming Event: Dramatic Cultural Change and the Future of Architecture

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On November 14, 2017 at 6 p.m. at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C., the National Civic Art Society is hosting a dialogue discussion on"Dramatic Cultural Change and the Future of Architecture."

The question is: In a time of increasing globalization, technological growth, and social alienation, what role ought architecture play? Should it keep pace with "modernity" and be equally au courant? Should it look back to tradition to encourage people to feel at home in the world? Or is there a third way?

Our speakers will be architects Duo Dickinson and Michael G. Imber, FAIA.

For more information, and to register, click HERE.


On October 16, 2016, the National Civic Art Society hosted a lecture at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. by Calder Loth, Senior Architectural Historian for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. His subject was "Reconstructing Lost Architecture: A Commendable Tradition." He provided the arguments for rebuilding destroyed historic landmarks, and offers examples from around the world. Loth noted that the reconstruction of demolished historic structures has long been considered strictly forbidden. The loss of a significant building is usually considered to be an opportunity to rebuild with a structure reflecting a "contemporary" aesthetic and lifestyle. Nevertheless, a widespread popular sentiment holds that natural or man-made disasters should not deprive us of important heritage, and that accurate rebuilding of landmarks is a commendable activity since reconstructions serve emotional, patriotic, aesthetic, and educational needs. Moreover, the majority of reconstructions are serious, scholarly achievements. Time has shown that few people regret these resurrected buildings.

"The Glory of Penn Station: Lost Forever?" Lecture in NYC on October 26


New Yorkers continue to mourn the loss of McKim, Mead & White’s magnificent Pennsylvania Station, which opened in 1911 and was egregiously razed a mere 53 years later, to intense public outrage. It lives on in our collective memory and in countless books and documentaries. But how many of us dream that one day, the quintessence of Beaux Arts glory would return? Sound far-fetched?  Maybe not. On October 26 in New York City, architect Richard Cameron will detail the National Civic Art Society's plan to rebuild McKim’s masterpiece. Historian David Garrard Lowe will begin the program with an illustrated tribute to Charles Follen McKim, and the presentation will conclude with a discussion of the campaign to resurrect the station. An event not to be missed!
Date and Time: October 26 at 6:00 PM
Location: India House, One Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004
Cost: $59
Details: The lecture will be preceded by a cocktail reception and followed by a buffet dinner.
RSVP: You must reserve directly with India House at (212) 269-2323, press 3; or e-mail Payment required in advance to India House, cash or check only.

About the Speakers:

Richard Cameron is principal at Atelier & Co, a boutique architecture and design firm based in Brooklyn. In 1991 he co-founded the Institute for the Study of Classical Architecture (now The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art). He has taught drawing, design, and history at the Institute since its foundation. He is currently the Acting Director of Education and the Director of The Beaux Arts Atelier. His work has appeared in The New York TimesWall Street JournalHouse & Garden, and Period Homes.

David Garrard Lowe is a well-known lecturer, cultural historian, and author. His articles have appeared in The New York TimesWall Street JournalAmerican HeritageHouse & Garden, and City Journal. His books include Stanford White's New YorkBeaux Arts New YorkLost Chicago; and Art Deco New York. Mr. Lowe has lectured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Smithsonian, Art Institute of Chicago, American Academy in Rome, on cruises in the Mediterranean, and crossing the Atlantic on Queen Mary 2.



On May 13, 2015 at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., the National Civic Art Society hosted a panel discussion on "New Urbanism and the Human Habitat: Beauty in the Natural and Built Environment."


  • James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere
  • Michael Mehaffy, Portland-based urban designer
  • Roger Scruton, English philosopher and public commentator
  • Moderator: Orsolya Ujj, Pannonius Fellow of the Common Sense Society

U.S. House Briefing on the EISENHOWER MEMORIAL

On July 18, 2014, at the U.S. House Rayburn Office Building in Washington, D.C., the National Civic Art Society hosted a briefing to discuss the current state of the Eisenhower Memorial and its future prospects. The panel concluded that the design is dead, and advocated for a new, open competition.


  • The Hon. Bruce Cole, former Chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities, and President Obama's appointee to the Eisenhower Memorial Commission
  • Justin Shubow, President of the National Civic Art Society
  • Catesby Leigh, art and architecture critic
  • Moderator: Howard Segermark, Chairman Emeritus of the National Civic Art Society