Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Color of Government

We seldom think about the color choices of our fore fathers or our color traditions but when it comes to government buildings color is hard to ignore. White is in and has been since the 1700's. Take the White House which sits like a majestic ghost in crisp white surrounded by meticulously kept green lawns. The sandstone building was first made white with lime-based whitewash in 1798, when the walls were finished to protect the porous stone from freezing. The white wash is no mistake or accident of history.  The White House is distinctly reminiscent of the long tradition of Southern Plantation Houses, which themselves are associated with the most powerful men of ancient times. Eighteenth Century America was as yet unaware of the polycromatic nature of Roman and Greek architecture.   When modeling the new republic on the ideals of that ancient inventor of democracy,  they also based our architecture on what they thought was properly Greek. 

In the US,  white has become synonymous with capitol buildings, court houses and Congress itself, all emulating the power of the White House.  However the United States is not the only country with a famously colored executive residence. The Pink House is the residence and office of the Argentinian President. Historically the building was painted pink to symbolize the two major political parties coming together.  With two opposing sides, one represented by white and the other red, the pink of the Pink House is a call for neutrality and unity in the Argentinian government

So what if the White House was pink? We can have a glimpse with this image of the White House lit up pink for a Breast Cancer Awareness event. Does the dwelling of our leader loose associative power without the stark formality of white or would a century of the Pink House simply change what looks powerful?

- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio


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