Robert J. Kapsch's detailed account of the difficult process of building Washington, D.C., focuses on the shift in American architecture from dependence on gentleman builders to the emergence of professional architect-engineers. Building Washington begins with a description of the political and financial problems that accompanied the creation of a capital city for a new, relatively poor, and not well-coordinated federation of states with diverse populations and interests. The vision was George Washington's, the implementation Thomas Jefferson's. Kapsch explains the evolution from Washington's eighteenth-century amateur vision to nineteenth-century professionalization under Jefferson (16). In his introduction he ably lays out the tangle of difficulties these men faced when executing their...

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