As the style evolved, American architects included traditional Greek architectural aspects into their designs, with the goal of visually evoking the grandeur, majesty, and virtues associated with ancient Greece. The adoption of Greek elements into American architecture began in the early 17th century when English settlers first came to what would later become the United States. These settlers brought with them the classical Greek form of architecture which was popular at the time. As these buildings were built using local materials with local builders, they did not resemble Greek buildings as seen in the Antiques market today but rather they looked like colonial buildings.
During the 18th century, American architects continued to use Greek elements in their designs. George Washington ordered that a new federal city be constructed after the American Revolution and he wanted it to look like a classical Greek city. The streets in this new city were planned according to strict geometrical forms and there were several other examples like this one where American architects showed an interest in Greek culture. After this interest in Greek culture faded away, so too did the use of Greek elements in American architecture.
During the 19th century, American architects began to use French styles instead. The Greeks had a hand in this because many Greek immigrants lived in the U.S. and they brought with them ideas from their home country about how buildings should be designed.
Greek Architecture in Contemporary Buildings in the United States Greek Revival architecture was frequently inspired by ancient Greek temples. The Greek Revival style dominated American architecture from the early 1820s until the late 1850s. It is characterized by two equal columns supporting a flat entablature and pediment. The style is still found in many public buildings in the United States.
American architects also looked to the Romans for inspiration. The Roman Empire ruled from England to Germany, but only ruins remain today. However, the technology it developed became the foundation for much of what we call modern architecture. The Romans used brick or stone as their main building material instead of wood. They also used arches instead of beams or joists under the floors to provide more strength for less weight. Arches are seen in many Roman buildings including theaters, arenas, and public baths.
The Renaissance and Baroque styles were also influential on American architects. Like the Greeks and Romans, Americans at this time were exploring new ways of doing things. Therefore, they looked to these other cultures for inspiration rather than following the traditional styles of Europe. The Renaissance brought new ideas about geometry and proportion into design. It is seen in many large buildings built during this time such as Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and George Washington's Mount Vernon.
The Neoclassical architectural style incorporates Federal and Greek Revival forms, which were key influences in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Many of the basic structures of the United States government were built during this time period. The style was popular among both Democratic-Republicans and Federalists, who were political parties in the young country.
Neoclassicism is characterized by symmetry, order, and grace. It was adopted by American architects because of its simplicity and ease of construction compared with other European styles. The federal government was responsible for building many of these structures, so they used a style that was easy to replicate rather than something unique like Gothic architecture. Houses of worship also often follow this style because of its resemblance to Christian churches worldwide.
Federalist-designed buildings are more likely to be found in larger cities with strong political communities. These buildings are usually located in areas of high social status such as town squares or near schools. They tend to be taller, wider, and have more elaborate details than Republican-designed buildings. Examples can be seen in Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; New York City; Boston; Baltimore; Louisville; Charleston; Indianapolis; St. Louis; San Francisco; and Los Angeles.
In Republican-controlled towns or counties, local officials may hire an outside architect to design public buildings.