Top Ten Essential Architecture top ten Washington DC  
     
  For a more complete list, see Washington, DC  
1 The White House  

architect

James Hoban

location

Washington, DC

date

1792

style

Renaissance Revival

construction

stone, render (Limestone clad)

type

House , Government

The White House is the official home and principal workplace of the President of the United States of America. Built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the late Georgian style, it has been the executive residence of every U.S. President since John Adams. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the home in 1801, he, with architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe expanded the building outward, creating two colonnades which were meant to conceal stables and storage. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion was set ablaze by British troops, destroying the interior and charring much of the exterior walls. Reconstruction began almost immediately and President James Monroe moved into the partially reconstructed house in October 1817. Construction continued with the addition of the South Portico in 1824 and the North in 1829. Due to crowding within the executive mansion itself, President Theodore Roosevelt had nearly all work offices relocated to the newly constructed West Wing in 1901. Eight years later, President William Howard Taft expanded the West Wing, and created the first Oval Office which was eventually moved and the section was expanded. The third floor attic was converted to living quarters in 1927 by augmenting the existing hip roof with long shed dormers. A newly constructed East Wing was used as a reception area for social events; both new wings were connected by Jefferson's colonnades. East Wing alterations were completed in 1946 creating additional office space. By 1948, the house's load-bearing exterior walls and internal wood beams were found to be close to failure. The interior rooms were completely dismantled, resulting in the construction of a new internal load-bearing steel framework and the reassembly of the interior rooms.
 
     
2 Thomas Jefferson Memorial  

architect

John Russell Pope, FAIA

location

Washington, DC

date

1943

style

NeoClassical

construction

Stone (Limestone clad)

type

Monument

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is a presidential memorial in Washington, D.C. that is dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, an American Founding Father and the third president of the United States.

The neoclassical building was designed by John Russell Pope. It was built by Philadelphia contractor John McShain and was completed in 1943. When completed, the memorial occupied one of the last significant sites left in the city.

Composed of circular marble steps, a portico, a circular colonnade of Ionic order columns, and a shallow dome, the building is open to the elements. Pope made references to the Roman Pantheon and Jefferson's own design for the Rotunda at the University of Virginia. It is situated in West Potomac Park, on the shore of the Tidal Basin of the Potomac River. The Jefferson Memorial and the White House located directly north, form one of the main anchor points in the area of the National Mall in D.C. The Washington Monument just east of the axis on the national Mall was intended to be located at the intersection of the White House and the site for the Jefferson Memorial to the south but soft swampy ground which defied nineteenth century engineering required it be sited to the east. The Jefferson Memorial is managed by the National Park Service under its National Mall and Memorial Parks division.
 
     
3 U.S. Capitol  

architect

William Thornton; Benjamin Henry Latrobe; Charles Bulfinch; Thomas U. Walter, FAIA; Montgomery C. Meigs. T.U. Walter.

location

Washington, DC

date

1793-1865

style

English Baroque

construction

cast iron dome and extensions, LIMESTONE CLADDING

type

Government

The United States Capitol is the capitol building that serves as the seat of government for the United States Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. Although not in the geographic center of the District of Columbia, the Capitol is the focus by which the quadrants of the district are divided. Curiously, the west face, which is often taken to be the "front" of the building, is actually its "back"; the true front is the east face.

The building was originally designed by William Thornton. This plan was subsequently modified by Stephen Hallet, Benjamin Latrobe and then Charles Bulfinch. The current dome and the House and Senate wings were designed by Thomas U. Walter and August Schoenborn, a German immigrant, and were completed under the supervision of Edward Clark.

The building is marked by its central dome above a rotunda and two wings, one for each chamber of Congress: the north wing is the Senate chamber and the south wing is the House of Representatives chamber. Above these chambers are galleries where visitors can watch the Senate and House of Representatives. It is an example of the Neoclassical architecture style.
 
     
4 Lincoln Memorial  

architect

Henry Bacon, FAIA

location

Washington, DC

date

1922

style

NeoClassical

construction

Stone (Limestone clad)

type

Monument

The Lincoln Memorial, which is on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is a United States Presidential Memorial built to honor 16th President Abraham Lincoln. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior murals was Jules Guerin.

The building is in the form of a Greek Doric temple and contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by Lincoln. The memorial has been the site of many famous speeches, including Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on August 28, 1963, during the rally at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Like the other monuments on the National Mall, including the nearby Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and National World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial is administered by the National Park Service under its National Mall and Memorial Parks group. The National Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. It is open to the public 24 hours a day.
 
     
5 Washington Monument  

architect

Robert Mills

location

Washington, DC

date

1884

style

NeoClassical

construction

Stone (Limestone clad)

type

Monument

The Washington Monument is a large, white-colored obelisk at the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It is a United States Presidential Memorial constructed for George Washington.

The monument is among the world's tallest masonry structures, standing 555 feet (169.29 m) in height and made of marble, granite, and sandstone. It was designed by Robert Mills, a prominent American architect of the 1840s. The actual construction of the monument began in 1848 but was not completed until 1884, almost 30 years after the architect's death. This hiatus in construction was because of a lack of funds and the intervention of the American Civil War. A difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 150 feet (45 m) up, clearly delineates the initial construction from its resumption in 1876.

Its cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848; the capstone was set on December 6, 1884, and the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885. It officially opened to the public on October 9, 1888. Upon completion, it became the world's tallest structure, a title it inherited from the Cologne Cathedral and held until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was finished in Paris, France.

The Washington Monument reflection can be seen in the aptly named Reflecting Pool, a rectangular pool extending to the west, towards the Lincoln Memorial.
 
     
6 Supreme Court of the United States  

architect

Cass Gilbert, FAIA

location

Washington, DC

date

1935

style

NeoClassical

construction

Stone (Limestone clad)

type

Government

Prior to the establishment of the Federal City, the United States government resided briefly in New York City, New York (where the Supreme Court met for the first time, in the Merchants Exchange Building) and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where the court met in Independence Hall, and later in City Hall).

After the federal government was established in Washington, the court was housed in a small basement room in the United States Capitol. It remained in the Capitol until 1935, with the exception of a period from 1812 to 1817, during which the Court was absent from Washington because of the British invasion of Washington and destruction of the Capitol in the War of 1812.

As the Senate expanded, it progressively outgrew its quarters, and the Court twice moved in to occupy a chamber abandoned by the Senate, first in 1810Senate Virtual Tour (a space it was to share "with several other courts, among them the United States Circuit Court and the Orphans' Court of the District of Columbia"[2]), and again in 1860 when the Court moved to The Old Senate Chamber (as it is now known) where it remained until its move to the current Supreme Court building.Senate Virtual Tour In 1929, Chief Justice William Howard Taft argued, successfully, for the Court to have its own headquarters, to distance itself from Congress as an independent branch of government.
 
     
7 Library of Congress  

architect

John L. Smithmeyer, FAIA, and Paul J. Pelz, FAIA

location

Washington, DC

date

1897

style

NeoClassical

construction

Stone (Limestone clad)

type

Government Library

The Library of Congress is the de facto national library of the United States and the research arm of the United States Congress. Located in Washington, D.C., it is the largest by shelf space and one of the most important libraries in the world. Its collections include more than 30 million cataloged books and other print materials in 470 languages; more than 58 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America, including a Gutenberg Bible (one of only four perfect vellum copies known to exist); over 1 million US Government publications; 1 million issues of world newspapers spanning the past three centuries; 33,000 bound newspaper volumes; 500,000 microfilm reels; over 6,000 comic book[3] titles; the world's largest collection of legal materials; films; 4.8 million maps; sheet music; and 2.7 million sound recordings. The head of the Library is the Librarian of Congress.
 
     
8 Washington National Cathedral  

architect

George F. Bodley and Henry Vaughan, FAIA

location

Washington, DC

date

1990

style

Gothic Revival

construction

Stone

type

Church

The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, known as the Washington National Cathedral, is an Episcopal cathedral in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. It is a listed monument on the National Register of Historic Places and the designated "National House of Prayer" of the United States. In 2007, it was voted one of the three most beautiful buildings in the United States in a survey by the American Institute of Architects.

The cathedral is the official seat of both the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (Episcopal Church USA) and the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. It is the mother church of the Episcopal Church in the District of Columbia and in the Maryland counties of Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's, and St. Mary's.

The cathedral was built by the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation under a charter granted by Congress on January 6, 1893. Construction began in 1907, when the foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt, and lasted for 83 years; the last finial was placed in the presence of President George H. W. Bush in 1990. The Foundation operates and funds the cathedral, which does not receive any federal or local government funding.
 
     
9 Smithsonian Institution  

architect

James Renwick

location

Washington, D.C. > The Mall

date

1846-55 (W: 1848-49)

style

faux Norman style (a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs) NeoRomanesque

construction

red sandstone

type

Education

The Smithsonian Institution Building, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., houses the Smithsonian Institution's administrative offices and information center. The Building is constructed of red sandstone in the faux Norman style (a 12th-century combination of late Romanesque and early Gothic motifs) and is appropriately nicknamed The Castle.

It was the first Smithsonian building, completed in 1855 by architect James Renwick, Jr., whose other works include St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery in D.C. Over the years, several reconstructions have taken place. The first followed a disastrous fire on January 24, 1865, which destroyed most of the upper story of the main segment and the north and south towers. In 1884, the east wing was fireproofed and enlarged to accommodate more offices. Remodeling from 1968 to 1969 restored the building to the Victorian atmosphere reminiscent of the era during which it was first inhabited.
 
     
10 Ulysses S. Grant Memorial  

architect

sculptor Henry Merwin Shrady and architect William Casey Pearce

location

National Mall, Washington, D.C.

date

1909;

style

Beaux-Arts

construction

Stone, bronze

type

Monument

The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial is a United States Presidential Memorial in Washington, D.C., honoring American Civil War General and President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant. It is located at the base of Capitol Hill (Union Square, the Mall, 1st Street, between Pennsylvania Avenue and Maryland Avenue), and like the United States Capitol above it (at the top of the hill), the monument's statue faces west, looking towards the Washington Monument and overlooking the National Mall. It is the largest equestrian statue in the United States and the second largest in the world, after the monument to Italy's King Victor Emanuel in Rome.

The monument was created by sculptor Henry Merwin Shrady, who spent 20 years of his life working on it. The platform for the monument, made of Vermont marble, is 252 feet long and 71 feet wide. It is divided into three sections. The tall, middle section depicts Grant aboard his war horse Cincinnati on a 22-foot high pedestal, and he is flanked, on either side, by fighting Union Artillery and Cavalry groups. Surrounding the main pedestal are four shorter pedestals, each one supporting a bronze figure of a lion in repose.