America's Favorite Cityscape: DC Is Tops
Oh, the Gateway Arch and the Brooklyn Bridge are pretty cool, and the Empire State Building still stands tallest in the American imagination, but if you're looking for one city to represent the finest in American architecture, Washington remains the place to go, dominating the top ranks in a new listing of the country's best buildings.
To celebrate its 150th anniversary, the American Institute of Architects created a ballot listing its members' nominations of their favorite works of architecture in this country. The architects came up with a list of 248 structures, including office buildings, houses, sports facilties, hotels, train stations, memorials and even an airport (Denver's stark new terminal, and surprisingly not Virginia's Dulles International with the undulating roofline by Eero Saarinen.) Then, the Harris polling organization put the list of 248 finalists to a random sample of Americans, who picked and ranked the top 150 examples of American architecture.
Result: The District is home to six of the top ten on the list, including #2 The White House, #3 Washington National Cathedral (that's the big surprise for me; I didn't know it was that well known around the country), #4 the Jefferson Memorial, #6 The Capitol, #7 the Lincoln Memorial, and #10 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Filling out the rest of the top ten were #1 Empire State, #5 the Golden Gate Bridge, #8 the Ashville Estate in North Carolina, and #9 the Chrysler Building in Manhattan. New York topped the list for most number of winners among the 150 with 32. Washington came in second in total number with 17, and Chicago followed with 16.
The other D.C. winners were #12 Washington Monument, #15 Supreme Court, #28 Library of Congress, #34 National Gallery of Art West Building (yes, West--the one by John Russell Pope), #37 Union Station, #63 National Museum of Air and Space (go figure), #76 Willard Hotel, #79 Ronald Reagan Building (ok, maybe collective wisdom is overrated), #106 the Metro system (that's cool), #112 the National Building Museum (my personal fave), and #124 the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Inexplicably missing from the D.C. winners list: the I.M. Pei-designed National Gallery East Building, the FDR Memorial, and the Old Executive Office Building.
Virginia has two entries on the AIA150 list, both by Mr. Thomas Jefferson: his Monticello came in at #27 and his Virginia State Capitol building (still under renovation) at #50. Jefferson's two nods--three if you count his memorial--is very impressive, but well behind the list-topping eight structures representing the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The architect of the Jefferson Memorial, John Russell Pope, gets two mentions, the other being his part of the National Gallery.
Maryland had to settle for just one mention in the list, at #122, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the seventh of nine sports facilities on the list, behind Wrigley Field (#31), Yankee Stadium (#84), Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati (Bengals), the San Francisco Giants ballpark, Fenway Park, and the American Airlines Center in Dallas (Mavericks), and ahead of Safeco Field in Seattle (Mariners) and the Ingalls Ice Arena at Yale University (along with the Gateway Arch and TWA Terminal at JFK Airport, the other Eero Saarinen building to make the list.)
There's more on the list at www.aia150.org
So, what local treasures are missing from the list, and what's on the list that perplexes or appalls you?
By Marc Fisher |
February 8, 2007; 7:24 AM ET
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