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Petitioning City of Philadelphia Art Commission

A Declaration of Architectural Independence: No Reactionary Design for a Revolution Museum!

When in the Course of urban events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the architectural bands that trap it in historicism, mimicry, and blandness, a decent respect for the opinions of urbanists, historians, architects, and city dwellers everywhere requires that they should declare the causes which impel this separation.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Cities are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Confidence, Diversity, and Authentic Architectural Expression—That a building erected in the 21st century should represent the Tastes, Ideas, and Materials of the 21st century—That a building meant to house a progressive Revolution should embody such a Spirit in its design—That any significant Museum erected in the City of Philadelphia should be endowed with the highest level and quality of Design and Architecture and Landscape Architecture—That the fields of Architecture and Landscape Architecture as practiced in the 21st century are Vital, Imaginative, and Inventive Arts, not bound by Mimicry, Tradition, or Semblance—That Philadelphia and particularly the neighborhood where the Museum of the American Revolution is to be located has always embraced a variety and range of architectural invention only one part of which is “Federal” or “Colonial”—That the People of Philadelphia, increasingly confident in a vital future for their City, have a right and a duty to demand of their Representatives in the Art Commission and at other levels and areas of Government that they throw off the Reactionary, Ham-Fisted, and Nostalgic design for the Museum and provide new Ideas and new Approaches for the Museum, and that they do so now.


That whenever any Form of Architecture becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Architecture, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Vitality and Happiness.


Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Architectural plans long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience has shown that Philadelphians are more disposed to suffer mediocre and moribund Buildings than to protest each and every regressive rendering. But when the plan for a building of immense symbolic power is also cloaked in such reactionary principles, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such a Design, and to provide new Visions for their future streetscape.


We, therefore, the undersigned People of Philadelphia, in appealing to the Spirit of audacity and frustration of the American Revolution, and willing to believe that the City deserves an inventive and forward-looking Museum for its seminal event, and not to be pigeon-holed as “historic” or “colonial” and therefore irrelevant, submit this petition to the Philadelphia Art Commission to demand that the Commission use its full Power and Prestige to rectify this abominable design and replace it with one that will, in body and in spirit, embrace the City and the Revolution it purports to celebrate.

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