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July 13, 2009

In May I led a walking tour of Washington DC's modern embassies. About 25 people in all, we wandered down the District's famed Embassy Row, and though we all marveled at the stately grandeur of tony 19th-century mansions, our architectural sights were firmly set on Washington's modern edifices.

Embassy Walking Tour Group

We had appointments to tour the Royal Danish Embassy and Ambassador's Residence (the ambassador himself Friis Arne Petersen dropped in on us unexpectedly), the Embassy of Finland, and the new Swiss Ambassador's Residence designed by Steven Holl (pictured above), but much of the joy of our several-hour walk was rambling along lovely Massachusetts Avenue NW discovering the unexpected thrills the city offers. My favorite is the very strange Kahlil Gibran Memorial just opposite the British Embassy. After making our circuit, we headed to 2 Amy's Pizza for a late and much-needed lunch.


Check out this map to see our route, and consider following it yourself, though deviations are bound to be rewarding. I'll make a few notes about what we saw, but if nothing else, walk the streets of Washington, and for heaven's sake my tourist friends, leave the National Mall behind for a day and visit a crop of buildings that add so much to the city's cultural and architectural landscape. You won't find them anywhere else.

 Embassy Row along Massachusetts Avenue NW is one of the great architectural and cultural treats of Washington DC. Newly constructed embassies mingle with the brick colonials that give the city so much of its charm, but occasionally a nation will elect to built its American home in the modern style, making a bold statement about its values, aesthetics and intentions. Stroll Embassy Row as you never have before as Dwell editor Aaron Britt illuminates some of the city's modern marvels.

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