Pics: Exhibit Shows DC That Could Have Been

Ever wonder what D.C. might look like if some of America's most influential early architects -- including Thomas Jefferson -- had a say? The National Building Museum will answer this question with an upcoming exhibition, Unbuilt Washington. The exhibit will feature proposals and rare original drawings by Jefferson and other architects that would have the District looking very different than it does today. Unbuilt Washington will run from November 19 through May 28.

12 photos
National Archives
A new exhibit at the National Building Museum, "Unbuilt Washington," shows what the city could have looked like. Pictured: proposal for the Lincoln Memorial by John Russell Pope, 1912. This was one of several proposals by Pope for the Lincoln Memorial in widely different styles.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-31434
Proposed Dolphin America Hotel, designed by Doug Michels Architecture in collaboration with Jim Allegro, AIA, 1989. Architect Doug Michels was fascinated by dolphins and proposed various projects that would bring humans into closer contact with the aquatic mammals.
Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, 1976.88.6
Competition entry for the President’s House, by A.Z. (attributed to Thomas Jefferson), 1792. Strong historical evidence indicates that this design, submitted under the initials A.Z., was actually by Thomas Jefferson.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-31519
Competition entry for the Library of Congress by Alexander R. Esty, c. 1880. This proposal for the Library of Congress was an unusual application of the Gothic Revival style.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-pga-03714
Winning Competition Entry for the Washington Monument by Robert Mills, 1846. Mills’s original proposal called for an obelisk anchored by a circular, Greek-inspired temple at the base. The base was never executed, and the proportions of the obelisk itself were changed when the structure was finally completed nearly four decades after this drawing was produced.
Courtesy of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
Plan for the National Mall – Rendering of the Proposal for the Washington Monument grounds, by the Senate Park Commission, 1901-02.The wide steps, the circular pool, and the terraced gardens were all intended to provide a more dignified base for the monument, while resolving the awkward geometry resulting from its placement off the axis from the White House.
Copyright James Allegro, AIA and Doug Michels
Rendering of the proposed National Sofa, to be located across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, by Jim Allegro, AIA, and Doug Michels, 1996. Allegro and Michels were concerned that the closure of Pennsylvania Avenue following the Oklahoma City bombing would further isolate the presidency from the people. They proposed the National Sofa as a place of virtual and physical interaction to address that gap.
Courtesy Jacobsen Architecture, LLC
Proposal for “Housing on the Avenue” by Hugh Newell Jacobsen, 1974. This project would have been located on the current site of Market Square, along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The terraced design was inspired by Italian hill towns.
Edward Durell Stone Collection (MC 340), Box 104. Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville.
Preliminary proposal for the National Cultural Center (later Kennedy Center), Edward Durell Stone, 1959. Stone’s curvilinear original design contrasts sharply with the boxy design that was executed.
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-31512
Competition entry for the Library of Congress by Leon Beaver, 1873.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZC4-7736
Proposed Extensions to the White House (Executive Mansion) by Robert Owen, 1891-1901.This was one of several proposals in the late 19th century for expanding or relocating the Executive Mansion to provide more space for a growing government. Owen proposed creating two approximate replicas of the original building, rotated 90 degrees in plan and placed to either side, forming an open court with a greenhouse at the south end.
Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, 1976.88.51
Main elevation of Capitol competition entry by James Diamond, 1792. Many entries to the design competition for the “Congress House” were by amateurs, including this one notable for its crudely drawn weathercock.
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