D.C., Beyond the Iconic

Beyond the columns and the Capitol, Washington D.C. contains a wide variety of architectural gems and underappreciated neighborhoods, according to this Q&A about the city from <em>Dwell</em>.
November 22, 2008, 7am PST | Nate Berg
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Dwell talks about Washington D.C. with Martin Moeller, senior vice president and curator at the National Building Museum.

"For all the clever planning and snappy patter about historical preservation, the buildings in the District of Columbia can be remarkably staid. The multicolored row houses of Columbia Heights and the brick sidewalks of Georgetown easily outstrip more recent development, and with 45 separate historic districts, novelty rarely gets a chance to breathe. Even some of DC's attempts at modernity ring false."

Dwell: "Walkability is part of what makes DC wonderful. It also reveals its brand of weirdness, like the Khalil Gibran Memorial on Massachusetts Avenue, near where Cheney lives."

Moeller: "The typical visitor to Washington spends most of his or her time in highly ordered, controlled environments like the National Mall or Capitol Hill, while missing the diverse neighborhoods, lesser-known cultural institutions, and quirky local landmarks that punctuate the daily lives of residents. There are, for instance, an otherwise unremarkable couple of blocks of Corcoran Street NW that are peppered with delightful small metal sculptures-some freestanding in front gardens, others affixed to doors and facades–all by one artist who used to live on that street. To me, these modest works of art are as quintessentially Washingtonian as the Lincoln Memorial. They speak of a time when residents on that block knew the artist and were pleased to play a part in the permanent exhibit of his work. Sure, Washington has lost some of the eccentricity it once had–a dumpy row house that once bore a sign saying "The Embassy of Outer Space" is now an unlabeled, painfully tasteful yuppie domicile–but if people just look a little harder, they will find plenty of intriguing and quite strange tidbits lurking amid the manicured landscapes and polite facades of the capital city."

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Published on Thursday, November 20, 2008 in Dwell
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