Art: Masterpieve on the Mall

In Washington, D.C., a great new museum by I.M. Pei

America's contribution to the language of modern architecture has been immense. But little sign of that could be seen in its capital, Washington. Where were the modern designs to rival the dominant idioms of 18th century Georgian and 19th century Beaux-Arts by the Potomac? There was not much to see. The preferred manner, in a low-horizon city dominated by L'Enfant's neoclassical plan, was Beaux-Arts thinly covered with a "modernist" veneer: the cake minus the icing. From the postwar office blocks to the alternately coarse and...

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