Mental Balance And The Capitol Building

I’ve long had a curiosity about the differences between subjectivity and objectivity. I’ve had an innate need to understand the mind and how it interfaces with material objects. Looking within, I analyze the perception I have about the synergy of myself with personal belongings and territory.

Formality and classic balance is fascinating, especially when I observe architectural masterpieces. Skillfully executed buildings have an aesthetic balance that is especially pleasing. Such balance positively affects my emotional state. Well-executed government buildings are noteworthy because I can examine them inside and out without needing special permission.

One such well-balanced building is the Nebraska State Capitol building. It leads me to ponder the historical context of when the structure was designed and built. In the case of the Capitol building, it was conceptualized by the New York architect Bertram Goodhue in 1920. His design was strongly influenced by the Art Deco movement. Art Deco has classical balance at its heart. Construction was completed in 1932, when Art Deco was still a dominant mainstream design movement.

Art Deco appeals to me for many aesthetic reasons. There is a modern appearance to it, but it also looks pleasantly dated. The result is balance between new and old. Although Art Deco was a feature of the early 20th century, the style still influences 21st century architects and other visual artists. Art Deco, done well, is exuberant without being kitschy.

In the case of the capitol building, the style ages well because of its balance between modernity and classicism. Sometimes, when I visit Lincoln, Nebraska I allow an hour or so to include a visit to the capitol building. Its limestone construction outside coupled with polished stonework interior encourage me to feel safe and secure. I wonder which mental states were present in the mind of Bertram Goodhue as he drafted the blueprints for the capitol building. Was he inspired by the classical aspects of Art Deco? Was his design influenced more by contemporary theory or classicism?

How did Goodhue mentally cope with the necessity of compromising with Nebraska state officials who oversaw the project? How reluctant or willing were those state officials in accepting the design and style of the building? He must have been emotionally and mentally strong in order to effectively influence the staid, traditionally conservative nature of Nebraska bureaucrats. At the time of its construction, the state capitol was the most progressive, radical departure from all other buildings in the state. In its day, the building won many architectural design awards. It is also a national historical landmark.

Although the building is mostly Art Deco, there were provisions made to include contemporary accents as time has moved forward. The addition of modernistic murals on interior walls again balances the older building design with contemporary flair.

There is an organic order to this balancing act. The building, first and foremost is the seat of state government, with the legislative chamber for the Unicameral, the offices of the governor, and the State Supreme Court. These practical necessities have been balanced with the desire to house the three branches of government within an artistically pleasing, classically influenced building. It’s also almost as if Goodhue wanted a balance between conservative and liberal influences.

I wonder if Goodhue ever thought about his own personal mental balance between subjective and objective self-concepts.


The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century visual artist, Andrew Wyeth. “It’s all in how you arrange the thing… the careful balance of the design is the motion.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, cultural highlights, philosophy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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