Thinking of Pursuing a Master of Science in Architecture? Let These DC Monuments Inspire

For any architecture graduate considering pursuing a master of science in architecture, a study of the remarkable variety of architectural styles represented by the buildings and memorials in Washington D.C. is a must.  There is no unifying theme.  Rather D.C. presents a collection of the national moods from 1790 to the present.  Its very variety strengthens the idea that, architecturally, there is no “right way”.  Rather the student should take to heart the lesson that conviction of purpose results in enduring architecture. Learn more about a master of science in architecture at NewSchool.

 Four outstanding examples of the variety of winning structures selected from the plethora of memorable structures in the district are:

  • THE WHITE HOUSE with its original 1792 Georgian style design by James Hoban emanating from his Irish roots.  The portico added to the south facade by Benjamin Henry Latrobe in 1824 converted the White House into a Neoclassical mansion. 

President Truman’s 1947 decision to append the second floor balcony overlooking the south lawn was extremely controversial with predictions that it would cost Truman the 1948 election.  Truman’s perseverance resulted in a charming addition, recently proclaimed by President Obama as his favorite spot in the White House.

  • THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL; under construction from 1907-1990, is a modern example of Neo-Gothic, or Gothic Revival.  Officially the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the Washington National Cathedral is an Episcopal cathedral with copious stained-glass windows, flying buttresses, and pointed arches derived from Medieval Gothic architecture. In a playful touch, Darth Vader is included among the Cathedral's many gargoyles.
  • John Russell Pope’s Neoclassical THOMAS JEFFERSON MEMORIAL, located in the tidal basin on the south bank of the Potomac River, was under construction from 1938-1943 with Jefferson’s statue having been added in 1947.

The Memorial’s round, domed design, modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, reflects Jefferson’s admiration of ancient Roman architecture.  Pope’s design mirrors those tastes; and, in its resemblance to Monticello, pays tribute Jefferson’s accomplishments as a scholar and an architect.

  • THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL, with deference to President Jefferson’s preferences, also resembles the Roman Pantheon with its circular domed rotunda.  Not well known today, the capitol’s most famous feature, its cast-iron neoclassical dome by Thomas Ustick Walter, was not added until the mid-1800s replacing Charles Bulfinch’s smaller model constructed of wood and copper.

This selection barely touches on the hundreds of architectural treasures waiting to inspire the aspiring architecture Master of Science graduate student in Washington D.C.


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