Beauty vs. Politics: The Architecture, Art, and Design of Washington DC

written by:
October 15, 2013
In light of the government shutdown there has been a lot of negativity swirling around Washington DC. While the shutdown and threat of a crippled economy are very serious topics, Washington DC doesn't have to be all politics all the time. We thought we might take your mind off of it all for just a moment by presenting some of the incredible and beautiful architecture, art, design, and ideas to come out of our capital along the way.
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  WASHINGTON, DC CITY GUIDEWashington, DC, is not all political wonks and Masonic conspiracies: It's also a highly walkable city, its diagonal avenues wide open to modern design.  Photo by: Matthew Monteith

    WASHINGTON, DC CITY GUIDE

    Washington, DC, is not all political wonks and Masonic conspiracies: It's also a highly walkable city, its diagonal avenues wide open to modern design.

    Photo by: Matthew Monteith

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  DESIGN ARMY, WASHINGTON, D.C.For co-founders Jake and Pum Lefebure of Design Army, family and business work well together. The married graphic designers have created a design firm with a distinct point of view and for that, their work has garnered numerous awards since its founding in 2003. And, nearly a decade on, they have designed for clients as diverse as Washingtonian Bride & Groom, Bloomingdale's, and the Washington National Ballet to re-imagining Neenah Papers. Dwell stopped by their offices for a tour and a talk.  Courtesy of: Dean Alexander

    DESIGN ARMY, WASHINGTON, D.C.

    For co-founders Jake and Pum Lefebure of Design Army, family and business work well together. The married graphic designers have created a design firm with a distinct point of view and for that, their work has garnered numerous awards since its founding in 2003. And, nearly a decade on, they have designed for clients as diverse as Washingtonian Bride & Groom, Bloomingdale's, and the Washington National Ballet to re-imagining Neenah Papers. Dwell stopped by their offices for a tour and a talk.

    Courtesy of: Dean Alexander

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  MODERN BRIGHT FAMILY HOME RENOVATION IN WASHINGTON, DCOne family’s effort to “smuggle a modern house into a historic district” in Washington, DC, results in a brightly transformed space made for family life.  Photo by: Eli Meir KaplanCourtesy of: © 2012 Eli Meir Kaplan Photography

    MODERN BRIGHT FAMILY HOME RENOVATION IN WASHINGTON, DC

    One family’s effort to “smuggle a modern house into a historic district” in Washington, DC, results in a brightly transformed space made for family life.

    Photo by: Eli Meir Kaplan

    Courtesy of: © 2012 Eli Meir Kaplan Photography

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  FOUNDING FARMERSWhile in Washington DC we popped into Founding Farmers, the District’s only LEED Gold certified restaurant and bar.

    FOUNDING FARMERS

    While in Washington DC we popped into Founding Farmers, the District’s only LEED Gold certified restaurant and bar.

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  HOAGIES' HEROESBest friends since middle school, Casey Patten and David Mazza have a passion for their up-and-coming slice of Washington, DC, matched only by their commitment to making you the best damn sandwich in the District.  Photo by: João Canziani

    HOAGIES' HEROES

    Best friends since middle school, Casey Patten and David Mazza have a passion for their up-and-coming slice of Washington, DC, matched only by their commitment to making you the best damn sandwich in the District.

    Photo by: João Canziani

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  KOGOD COURTYARD AT THE SMITHSONIANThe Smithsonian's Kogod Courtyard, built in 2007 as a modern complement to the nineteenth-century museum's Greek Revival–style architecture, is an oasis in downtown Washington, DC.

    KOGOD COURTYARD AT THE SMITHSONIAN

    The Smithsonian's Kogod Courtyard, built in 2007 as a modern complement to the nineteenth-century museum's Greek Revival–style architecture, is an oasis in downtown Washington, DC.

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  AI WEIWEI’S WASHINGTON MOMENTHe’s been jailed, beaten, and most recently, had his design firm, Fake Cultural Development, shut down by Chinese authorities. Now famed Beijing artist and Twitter hero Ai Weiwei is currently being showered with the most official reverence possible in the contemporary art world here in America: a retrospective of his work mere blocks from the U.S. Capitol, at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum.

    AI WEIWEI’S WASHINGTON MOMENT

    He’s been jailed, beaten, and most recently, had his design firm, Fake Cultural Development, shut down by Chinese authorities. Now famed Beijing artist and Twitter hero Ai Weiwei is currently being showered with the most official reverence possible in the contemporary art world here in America: a retrospective of his work mere blocks from the U.S. Capitol, at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum.

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  AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS (AIA)Based in Washington, D.C., the AIA has been the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners since 1857.

    AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS (AIA)

    Based in Washington, D.C., the AIA has been the leading professional membership association for licensed architects, emerging professionals, and allied partners since 1857.

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  AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS (ASID)Founded in 1975, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is the oldest and largest professional organization for interior designers. The Society’s 16,000 practicing interior designers work in all areas of commercial and residential design.

    AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERIOR DESIGNERS (ASID)

    Founded in 1975, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is the oldest and largest professional organization for interior designers. The Society’s 16,000 practicing interior designers work in all areas of commercial and residential design.

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  DAN PINK: THREE IDEAS CHANGING DESIGNIn our October story "A New Beginning," we toured the home of speechwriter, author, and former Dwell on Design keynote speaker Daniel Pink. Pink is a "Big Idea" kind of guy, and his work centers around teasing out which ideas, trends, and practices will shape business, technology, and politics. His books include Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. We got him on the phone from his home office in Washington, DC, to find what which ideas are going to shape the next decade of design.  Photo by: Eli Meir KaplanCourtesy of: © 2012 Eli Meir Kaplan Photography

    DAN PINK: THREE IDEAS CHANGING DESIGN

    In our October story "A New Beginning," we toured the home of speechwriter, author, and former Dwell on Design keynote speaker Daniel Pink. Pink is a "Big Idea" kind of guy, and his work centers around teasing out which ideas, trends, and practices will shape business, technology, and politics. His books include Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us and A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. We got him on the phone from his home office in Washington, DC, to find what which ideas are going to shape the next decade of design.

    Photo by: Eli Meir Kaplan

    Courtesy of: © 2012 Eli Meir Kaplan Photography

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  INDUSTRIAL DESIGN: ATELIER TAKAGIAfter graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 with a degree in furniture design, Jonah Takagi traveled the world for four years with indie-rock musician Benjy Ferree. When he had time at home in Washington, DC, he picked up side gigs crafting sets and props and tinkered with product one-offs at the studio in his house.  Photo by: Elizabeth Weinberg

    INDUSTRIAL DESIGN: ATELIER TAKAGI

    After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 with a degree in furniture design, Jonah Takagi traveled the world for four years with indie-rock musician Benjy Ferree. When he had time at home in Washington, DC, he picked up side gigs crafting sets and props and tinkered with product one-offs at the studio in his house.

    Photo by: Elizabeth Weinberg

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