The meanings behind the architectural rhetoric of presidential libraries are not always explicitly expressed. The structures derive their authority from the social context in which they are constructed and function. Unlike presidential rhetorical speeches analyzed for persuasive content, presidential libraries are virtually unchallenged when promoting a president's legacy. However, identifying their persuasive design techniques can illuminate their intentions as architectural rhetoric.
This thesis will examine how President Lyndon Baines Johnson's verbal rhetoric, political image, and administrative culture influenced the architectural design of his library. The research will draw on case studies of presidential speeches, social context, and the architectural design. These three elements are linked in a referential chain intended to persuade the public. The architectural investigation will highlight the design of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, and will examine the personalities and cultural forces involved in the design process, the final built form, and the potency and meanings of the architecture.
As a product of this research, the document will explicate the significance attached to presidential libraries by the building's architects, the societal context, and, most importantly, the presidential administrations they represent. It will also explore the architecture's changing meanings as a symbol of an administration's legacy when a presidency fades from everyday memory to history. As a result of this inquiry, we will better understand the meanings society instills in public buildings and how presidential administrations promote their legacy through the architectural rhetoric of presidential libraries.