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AIA|DC releases winning design

(Courtesy: Hickok Cole)

By Philip Kennicott

The local District chapter of the American Institute of Architects has chosen a design team for its newly leased space on Seventh St. NW, in the bustling Penn Quarter district. The winner is Hickok Cole, a large, locally based architecture and design firm with a huge portfolio of office, interior and residential work. They rose to the top in a competition to create a new public outreach space, and offices, for the AIA|DC, which wants to connect its work more directly with the public.

The renderings show a lot of glass, and the accompanying press release describes the design this way: The "design concept evolved from a conviction that the project should express light, transparency and a connection to the city." The competition was judged by a six-member jury which considered 17 proposals submitted by local architecture firms.

The rendering looks clean and professional. But... Is this really the best idea that came out of the competition? It looks like generic office space, indistinguishable from the slick, bland interiors of buildings that house Washington's ample supply of lobbyists and lawyers and associations. Was there nothing submitted that might actually make a progressive statement about design in Washington? That would advance the AIA|DC's interest in promoting Washington as a home for innovative architecture? No doubt when it is finished it will do the job that is asked of it, will look professional and fit comfortably into its environment. But will it say anything?

Just asking.

By Philip Kennicott  | October 25, 2010; 8:06 AM ET
Categories:  Architecture, Philip Kennicott  
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