We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.



How many of today’s famous architects have ever laid a single brick? How many have stood by for nearly 40 years to direct the construction of a building they designed? Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) laid the first stone of the new St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1675 (the old St. Paul’s had been destroyed by fire) and laid the last in 1710, having derived its dome’s design from that of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. He also tracked stars and comets, mapped the moon and the human body, and helped to found the Royal Society. He was an architect in the classical sense—a master builder, inventor, and polymath. Lisa Jardine’s marvelous new biography, On a Grander Scale: The Outstanding Life of Sir Christopher Wren, tells the story of a man who likely didn’t know in the morning what he would do that day, but knew that it would involve discovery of some sort. Jardine reads at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Bradford McKee)