Art: New Monument

With its oppressive scale and formal axial planning, Washington, B.C., has long been an architectural disaster area studded by a few fine buildings. Any architect tackling a new public structure there faces problems should he wish to produce a design that is both imaginative and in coherent harmony with what already exists. Thus when Architect I.M. Pei was asked to design a new extension to the neoclassical National Gallery of Art, he had to overcome difficulties that seemed insuperable. As the building on the Mall nearest the Capitol, it needed to be monumental. But the site is an awkward trapezoid...

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