Sunday, February 9, 2014

Washington Metro Wins Well-Deserved Architecture Award

Washington’s Metro has won the American Institute of Architects 25-Year Award (story here).
The AIA jury’s comments state that the “striking design of the prototypical Washington Metro station revolutionized public perceptions of mass transit” and that “station designs have held up remarkably well.”  The stations are “airy and spacious” and “have become icons of Washington architecture.”  Agreed!
I had the opportunity many years ago to walk the first tunnels and stations of the Metro before it opened.  I was impressed then and I’m impressed now at the beauty of the stations and how well they have held up.
I’m not in complete agreement with all of the comments of the AIA editor, however.  I agree that “the Washington Metro gives monumental civic space to the humble task of public transit, gravitas fit for the nation’s capital.”  But I’m not entirely comfortable with the comments about Metro representing “mid-century modernist manner.”  I’m no architectural historian, but for me, when I see a large space dominated by a concrete, coffered, barrel-vaulted ceiling I think Roman architecture!  I think Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, not LeCorbusier.  Appropriate for a great republic (although, yes, I know, that building was really post-republic)!

At any rate, Metro is a great asset for our nation’s capital.

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