“You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.” Albert Einstein

"Unbuilt Washington": Alternative Designs, Proposed Buildings


“Unbuilt Washington” is the National Building Museum’s best chance at drawing blockbuster crowds in years. Devoted to the might-have-beens in the wastebasket of Washington’s design history, it begins with variations on the basic city plan laid out by Pierre L’Enfant in 1791 and ends with a spectacular sculptural bridge the museum would like to construct in the enormous atrium of the Pension Building.


Projected improvements to the Washington Monument and Mall by B.F. Smith, 1852. This image shows a variation on the circular colonnade that was part of the original design for the Washington Monument but was never executed. It also shows a proposed suspension bridge across the canal adjacent to the Mall.
Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

But it is far more than a catalogue of lost opportunities and terrifying near misses. It is also a compendium of Washington’s architectural phobias and obsessions, its neurotic compulsion to grandeur and countervailing fear of anything too elegant, too bold or too French. It is, in the best sense, profoundly disorienting, an exhibition that makes you laugh at the absurdity of a pyramid-shaped Lincoln Memorial or a new White House built on the scale of Versailles. You laugh, and then you wonder why you laugh. And in most cases, the chain of questions leads back to fundamental and often arbitrary assumptions about what the architecture of democracy should look like.
Washington residents will view many of these unrealized plans with profound and proprietary relief.

Residents of Capitol Hill will be glad that long-standing proposals for an East Mall, balancing the National Mall, running through the historic residential neighborhood all the way to the Anacostia River, were never carried out. The Capitol Hill Expressway, a plan for two elevated highways along the Mall, must have seemed like an obvious solution to an obvious traffic problem when it was proposed in 1946, but the effect would have been to turn core of Washington’s downtown into a dispiriting dead zone.
In both cases, better ideas about urbanism — and local resistance — won out in the end. But how to account for a seemingly risible proposal for an ornate, faux-medieval Memorial Bridge, with turrets and towers, instead of the relatively modest, low-arched Memorial Bridge we have now? Why does an 1875 design for a Victorian Gothic Library of Congress seem so strange?


Proposal for the Lincoln Memorial by John Russell Pope, 1912. Courtesy National Archives


Proposed Masonic Temple Complex by Waddy B. Wood, 1922-24. The site of this proposed complex was where the Washington Hilton stands today.
Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Read More:http://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=17737

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