Copyright © 2017 Arthur Cotton Moore. All rights reserved.

Washington Comiks

To be published by International Arts & Artists in 2018.


Published by McGraw-Hill in 1998

"Acclaimed architect and preservationist Arthur Cotton Moore has transformed America's cities in tangible ways, as his portfolio of restoration projects over the last three decades–exhibited in The Powers of Preservation: New Life for Urban Historic Places–makes clear. From his first undertaking, Canal Square, a warehouse area in Washington, D.C. to the restoration of the Library of Congress in 1980, Moore has sought new uses for faded buildings; his thoughts on these endeavors and on the preservation movement are peppered with 100-odd color and b&w photos."

"When Moore strode through the Library of Congress in 1997 after the completion of its magnificent renovation, he surely felt a swirling mix of emotions. Charged with a redesign that would usher the library into the 21st century, Moore and his firm rose to the challenge, and the Library of Congress now stands as a beautifully preserved monument that will enhance the power of information for ages to come."

"Internationally recognized and a winner of numerous design awards, Moore has worked on many successful historic preservation projects in the United States. His book is a testament to his gift as a perceptive visionary; in it he looks at restoration, city preservation, the revitalization of downtowns, and the adaptation of existing buildings. Moore is not stodgy, either–he stresses the importance of preservation with a delightful sense of humor."

"Highly recommended for academic and public libraries."

–Library Journal, 9/15/98

"This is one of the most deliciously smarmy, mean-spirited, incisively malicious, and knowingly FUN books to flop into BFD’s mailbox in a long while. Writer Moore doesn’t play it safe; it’s more like he’s skating fast on the edges of lunacy. He’s as merciless as Kurt Vonnegut with some characters, as earthy as Christopher Moore with others.


The first chapter begins with the dissolution of a painter’s soul (awww, that’s bad); it ends with a three-way (heyyyy, that’s good). Pete (properly named A. Pierpont Preston) is a canvas painter with zero sales and zero prospects. He blows an inheritance on a fixer-upper in rural Scapoosa County, MD, and moves there with his wife to try to do art outside the pressures of the DC beltway. Though smart, Pete seems centerless, susceptible to the universal forces of sex, power, and money. Most scary, he seems ready and dissolute enough for anything. Naturally, of course, he stumbles upon a killing machine. He begins innocently enough, out of simple frustration and de facto self-defense. Soon, though, he’s murdering art critics (actually, that’s probably saving lives) and dealing with the morality of acting on his impulses. By impersonating an architect (the author’s profession, btw), Pete gets close with the White House’s Chief of Staff and in short order he’s offered a fortune to (need you ask?) assassinate the president. VERDICT Ain’t life a kick in the head? An intelligent, crazy li’l book."


–Library Journal, May 19, 2015


"Moore's first foray into fiction (The Powers of Preservation, 1998) is a black comedy about a struggling artist who finds a killing device that might prove beneficial to his career.


Pete Preston is an ambitious painter but not a successful one. He makes ends meet by taking odd jobs, until the day he happens upon a calculator that, by simply pressing 5, kills whatever, or whomever, it's pointed at with a heart attack. Pete dispatches a few unwholesome characters, at least one in self-defense, but it isn't long before those haughty art critics, who so often denounce Pete's work for their own agendas (like a promotion), become targets. The novel, despite featuring a protagonist who ultimately (and correctly) defines himself as a serial killer, takes a tongue-in-cheek approach. The comedy is decidedly dark--there's a joke about a school where only the older students are permitted to carry guns--but many scenes are undeniably humorous, even when they stray from the main plot, like the story of the local "Crazy Couple" and their bumbling attempts to kill one another or Pete and his pals' cross-dressing for performance art back in the '70s. Moore doesn't handle the notion of murder with nonchalance: Pete often regrets the killings, regardless of how horrible the person may have been, and after a bookie witnesses Pete using his calculator, the painter doesn't take lightly an offer of millions to assassinate the president. The story is also quite profound, as the method of offing someone is so easy (and easy to pass off as accidental) that it focuses almost solely on the consequences of murder; Pete spends more time debating whether he made the right choice than worrying about being caught. There is, however, enough death to catch police attention, which adds dashes of suspense to the narrative. The author, an architect and painter, lovingly portrays both professions: an artist who's genuinely hurt by criticisms of his work and who enjoys pretending to be an architect at a cocktail party. The ending, even if readers can guess it, is wickedly funny.


Perceptive and droll; Moore paints his story in dark but striking colors."

–Kirkus Review, 2015



After fulfilling the required three-year apprenticeship working under the supervision of a licensed architect (Chloethiel Woodard Smith FAIA, in my case), I was qualified to take the Washington, D.C. license exam—five days of written and design tests and one oral exam. I passed on the first try—a good omen; my dream of becoming an Architect had come true.

​In 1965, with a copy of my passport to the world of Architecture in my pocket, I quit my job, got on my bike, and rode around the Federal City for hours and hours, during which I decided—being unemployed, without paying clients or prospects—to make the city my first client. (Decades later, even when working on clients’ projects, in the back of my mind, I was still working for their client: the public.) 

As a sixth-generation Washingtonian, and a relative of Senator James McMillan (1901–1902 McMillan Plan), I’ve always felt an allegiance to, and patriotic pride in, our Nation’s Capital. To this day, I treasure my bond with the city and its history, and my promise to myself to be in the conversation about its future all the days of my life. 

I’ve used up several bikes on my regular weekend rides since then, going all over the city looking for opportunities in the public arena where I could make a positive contribution. 

Early on, I realized that the only way to maintain the integrity of this vocation, and to exercise the agency—the freedom—it deserved, was within a strict pro bono publico environment: there could be no clients, no compensation by money or favor, and no pursuit of architectural commissions. I would personally do the work without involving the architects in my firm. 

Only after about ten years into this saga, when I learned to balance these two very different practices, did I fully embrace the joy of volunteering a portion of my professional services—it had become one of the most rewarding and satisfying activities of my life. Not only was it the best way for me to give back to my hometown, but it gave me valuable and unimaginably complex challenges available no other way—interweaving politics, testimony, engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, real estate development, lobbying, and master planning into a practical, credible, and feasible tapestry of solutions for a hugely variant collection of would-be projects. 

These tapestries achieved their level of reality by my stepping—uninvited and mostly unwelcomed—onto the thickly guarded turf of D.C. and Federal Government agencies, which naturally reacted unenthusiastically at times because they came from the outside. When a former Associate Regional Director of the National Park Service called me a fomenter, I was complimented. 

Except for the five requests for conceptual designs, I imagined and created these ideas, and personally drew, rendered, sketched, and generated each image (with computer tech help on two of them). 

This body of work is being published in digital and limited print form because—essentially—the only people who know about it are those who kindly and generously allowed me into their purview—into their conversation—for which I am forever grateful. 


Washington DC, June 2017