They stand in the heart of our cities. In stone, steel and glass they make powerful statements about who we are and what we stand for. They are incubators of leadership and proving grounds for progress, especially in our fraught political moment. Yet many of us take them for granted. They are our city halls.
CITY HALL (Schiffer, 2020) will be the first book to feature the most architecturally distinctive and historically significant city halls in the United States. Organized chronologically, the book will trace the evolution of American civic architecture from the early nineteenth century to the present day, and represent diverse styles, such as Federalist, Art Deco, and Modern. Text will include insights from architects, elected officials, historians, and preservationists who tell the story about how each city hall came to be, what it says about its city, and why it’s important architecturally. CITY HALL will raise public awareness about these often under appreciated civic structures, boost preservation efforts, and affirm architecture’s unique power to inspire civic engagement.
During my interview with Mayor Eric Garcetti, he spoke about how Los Angeles City Hall affects the way he performs his job. His response captures the spirit that animates CITY HALL: “It’s the great democratic space. In a world that has too many divisions, this is a place that is the great equalizer and [it] reminds you that this work is not petty work, it’s as important and as strong as the building itself.”