Public Architecture - Political and Social Meaning


Public Architecture - Political and Social Meaning


Note the Gallery Media section to the left for the following two articles.

- Public Voices Volume III No. I. Public Architecture As A Political and Social Anchor in the Post Modern Age (1997). By Charles T. Goodsell.

Public architecture is presented as a potential source of shared meaning.

-Public Voices Volume III No. 3. Social Meaning of Public Architecture: A Victorian Elucidation. A theoretical framework for social interpretation of public buildings is proposed (1999). By James P. Armstrong, Jeffrey M. Coleman: Charles T. Goodsell, Danielle S. Hollar, and Keith A Hutcheson.

The authors draw from Victorian Art Critic John Ruskin’s theoretical framework for social interpretation of public architecture to identify forms of social meaning embedded in government building. The building is the Alfred B. Mullet State War & Navy Building, now known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, DC.

Armstrong et al (1998) use a framework derived from “The Seven Lamps of Architecture” by Victorian art critic John Ruskin, to examine and interpret the social meaning derived from a public building. The Mullet building is considered to be a Victorian Masterpiece of public Architecture - Alfred B. Mullet State War and Navy Building, Washington D.C.

Ruskin’s lamps are sacrifice, truth, power, beauty, life, memory, and obedience, which were the titles of chapters in his book. Based on the content of each chapter, Armstrong et al interpret Ruskin’s titles as referring to interpretations of public buildings as: controversies, metaphors, markers, museums, influences, histories and intimidation. See diagram pp. 8.

Public Voices Journal can be accessed through this link (dead link)

Public Voices is a unique journal that focuses on historical, artistic and reflective expression concerning public administrators and the public service. It is is published by National Center for Public Performance (NCPP) at the School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA), Rutgers University–Newark.


Architect - Alfred B. Mullet




Humanities & Social Sciences Online and Wikimedia


Public Voices Journal


Eisenhower Executive Office Building


Eisenhower Executive Office Building


Medium: Photograph




Public Buildings




Washington D.C.


Indian Treaty Room in the Old Executive Office Building 13076u.jpg


Architect - Alfred B. Mullet, Public Architecture - Political and Social Meaning, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 1888

Cite As

Architect - Alfred B. Mullet, “Public Architecture - Political and Social Meaning,” Virtual Museum of Public Service, accessed October 2, 2022,