Quaker Studies

Redefining Quaker Simplicity: The Friends Committee on National Legislation Building, 2005

Quaker Studies (2008), 12, (2), 230–252.

Abstract

In 2005, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the major Quaker peace and justice lobbying organization in the United States, completed a substantial remodeling and expansion of its office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The building exemplifies a self-conscious effort to express Quaker values of simplicity and stewardship in architectural choices. Examining the changing meanings of simplicity as expressed in Quaker meeting houses, this article argues that contemporary Friends in the United States have given nontraditional meanings to the concept and now associate simplicity with environmental stewardship in personal and community life. For example, the use of natural light now takes on a multitude of symbolic meanings in addition to practical functions. The decision by FCNL to accept the costs and complications of ‘green building’ grew directly from this commitment to understanding of simplicity, even though the new structure itself is not necessarily simple in design and engineering.

Redefining Quaker Simplicity: The Friends Committee on National Legislation Building, 2005

Abstract

In 2005, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the major Quaker peace and justice lobbying organization in the United States, completed a substantial remodeling and expansion of its office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The building exemplifies a self-conscious effort to express Quaker values of simplicity and stewardship in architectural choices. Examining the changing meanings of simplicity as expressed in Quaker meeting houses, this article argues that contemporary Friends in the United States have given nontraditional meanings to the concept and now associate simplicity with environmental stewardship in personal and community life. For example, the use of natural light now takes on a multitude of symbolic meanings in addition to practical functions. The decision by FCNL to accept the costs and complications of ‘green building’ grew directly from this commitment to understanding of simplicity, even though the new structure itself is not necessarily simple in design and engineering.


Details

Author details

Abbott, Margery Post

Abbott, Carl