Modern Classical Architecture speaks to what is Modern Classical architecture and define modern classical.
This was a style which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and is similar to the Beaux Arts style and was used for mostly large public buildings.
They have symmetrical main facades, flat or nearly flat roofs, a monumental order of pilasters across the front, prominent plinths and entablatures, all executed in white stone or artificial cast stone. On occasion the classical motifs of pilasters and entablatures are extremely simplified, so that the surface of the building is a grid of horizontal and vertical lines.
Smaller public buildings are often faced with brick, with contrasting stone trim. The execution is quite different in that the classical features have been flattened and made linear as though the building’s facade were reduced to a line drawing rather than being something three dimensional. Where Beaux Arts is theatrical modern classicism is dignified and restrained being a serviceable style for all kinds of public buildings.
The interior floor plans are usually symmetrical arranged along a central axis. The finishing details are less rich than those we would find in a Beaux Arts interior. The floors are wood, tile, linoleum, terrazzo with marble reserved for entrance lobbies. Walls and ceilings are plainly painted or tiled with the emphasis on economy, efficiency and sanitary convenience.
The Modern Classical style was product of its time as much as it was the progeny of the Beaux Arts style. The flamboyance and ostentation of the early twentieth century were replaced by post World War 1 sobriety. Architects trained in the Beaux Arts style of the prewar years found that they and their clients wanted something more restrained and in the 1920s this abbreviated classicism is what they constructed. Then in 1929 the stock market crash halted construction almost entirely.
When federal, state, provincial and municipal governments started make work projects in the 1930s to stimulate the economy the buildings that they commissioned were purposely frugal in character. They were conservatively classical designs with no waste of taxpayer money. The Federal governments throughout North America built a number of sizeable, multipurpose Federal buildings in larger cities as well as smaller post offices, customs and excise offices and various buildings in towns and villages.
These buildings were done in the Modern Classical style. Although Modernism had truly begun in Europe North American architects were unable or perhaps unwilling to quickly abandon the historical revival styles that had served them so well.