Hastings Councils in 1998

How the American Urban Design Foundation Began

Noticing other countries’ efforts to commemorate the Millennium by building permanent structures, Rodney Cook, Jr., had the idea to create a Millennium Monument in the United States. Mr. Cook also saw this as an opportunity to further the cause of classical architecture and renew the prospects of the area around the monument site. Since Washington, D.C. was conceived as a city of monuments and had neighborhoods in need of renewal, Mr. Cook immediately thought of locating the Millennium Monument in or near Washington.

Classical Architecture: Context for the Initial Proposal

The Prince of Wales at the opening of his first American school in Asheville, North Carolina.

Through the early 1990s, the Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture was  one of only a few institutions in the world with a curriculum focused on classical architecture. Upon the demise of the Institute, representatives of leading architecture schools met in spring 1998 to decide how to fill the void.  This ad-hoc gathering was dubbed the Hastings Council since it met in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.  The Newington- Cropsey Museum provided the venue as a courtesy to Mr. Cook, who had designed the museum building.

The Hastings Council at the Newington-Cropsey Museum

The meeting was chaired by Leon Krier, who had worked with the Prince of Wales’s Institute, and was co-sponsored by the Institute of Classical Architecture and the Newington-Cropsey Foundation. The Newington-Cropsey Museum provided the meeting venue as a courtesy to Mr. cook, who had designed the Museum building. To promote classical architecture, Mr. Cook presented the idea for the Millennium Monument to the Council. Participants decided to meet again to consider Mr. Cook’s proposal and to report on the success of efforts by other architecture institutions to absorb the courses that had been offered by the Prince of Wales’s Institute.

The 2nd Hastings Council at historic Charleston City Hall

Charleston, South Carolina, Mayor Joe Riley graciously offered the City Council Chambers as the site for the 2nd Hastings Council, held in October 1998. At that meeting, the Polites-Cook Company presented initial concept drawings for the Millennium Monument. Also at the meeting, Andres Duany proposed creating a new institute, the Institute for Traditional Architecture, which he subsequently established at the University of Miami.

The Proposal Gathers Support

In early 1999, Mr. Cook became associated with the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation and its then president, Lawrence Dodge. Mr. Dodge saw the promise of the Millennium Monument and helped establish the foundation to raise funds and oversee its planning and construction.

Later in 1999, Mr. Cook approached the District of Columbia government about the project and received an enthusiastic response. City government representatives suggested several neighborhoods–all removed from the concentration of monuments around the Mall–that needed revitalization. The Barney Circle neighborhood was among those considered.

In his search for a suitable site for the monument, Mr. Cook was also influenced by U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell, who suggested restoration of Congressional Cemetery as part of the project. Michael Franck, who had been both a student and instructor at Prince of Wales’s Institute programs, had previously presented a redesign of Barney Circle–adjacent to Congressional Cemetery–as his thesis at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. Mr. Cook suggested that Mr. Franck’s thesis become the basis for the Millennium Monument project. Consequently, Mr. Franck became director and facilitator of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Charette to choose a monument design in July 2000. Senator Coverdell became honorary chairman of the Monument Foundation.

A Design is Chosen

The University of Notre Dame School of Architecture (Carroll William Westfall, Chairman) organized an international competition for the monument’s design. The competition judges were:

  • Robert A.M. Stern, New York, New York
  • Michael Dennis, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Leon Krier, Claviers, Var, France
  • Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Miami, Florida

See The Competition web page for more about the charette that determined the winning design.

The Foundation hopes the Millennium Monument causes a neighborhood revitalization similar to that precipitated by construction of the World Athletes Monument, built to celebrate the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. The World Athletes Monument was placed at Pershing Point, where buildings had been demolished in the late 1980s to facilitate traffic flow. The surrounding neighborhood was not redeveloped until the Monument was built, and then $75 million in construction occurred within a one-block radius. Further, the Foundation hopes this example is followed in other cities and becomes a model for reclaiming neglected urban areas.

Contact the
American Urban Design Foundation at
3855 Randall Mill Rd, Atlanta GA 30327,
or e-mail millennium2@mindspring.com.

Rodney Cook, Andres Duany, and Calder Loth sign a proclamation of thanks to the Prince of Wales for the accomplishments made worldwide since the beginning of his institute, and particularly those made in the United States.
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