Sunday, June 13, 2010

No Little Plans

When architect Daniel Burnham wrote these famous words:
Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.
He had in mind L'enfant's plan for the city of Washington. Burnham was the leading spirit of the McMillan Commission, which in 1901 reformulated the plan and led to a major rebuilding of central Washington. The McMillan Plan gave us the mall, as a grand boulevard surrounded by monuments and museums, the Lincoln Memorial, the Tidal Basin with its cherry trees, and many other refinements. But Burnham and his colleagues preserved the basic geometric structure of L'enfant's original plan. That plan has indeed lived on, asserting itself in every generation. It is an amazing thing, that a person in the right time and place can so shape history with a few weeks of work.

No comments: