Architecture for Statehood

If Washington, DC were to be granted statehood, what would the introduction of its new governing institutions and agencies do to the city and the federal district, spatially and symbolically? The new state, Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, would be the world’s fourth city state but would be the seat of three systems of governance, – city, state and federal – which would, in turn, multiply the three branches – executive, legislative , judicial – threefold. What forms and organizations at the urban and architectural scales would effectively articulate this complex amalgamation? 

The studio will reimagine the spatial relationship between the three branches with the intention to make the new state more just and accessible than others. The project will occur within L’Enfant’s plan of diagonal axes radiating from multiple nuclei which is superimposed upon and, by means of many anomalously wedge shaped buildings, fused with an elastic, orthogonal system of blocks.    

Washington Douglass Commonwealth will be the third least populous of the 51 states. The new state government’s programmatic scope will be modest compared to that of most states. The final projects for the studio can range in scale from the design of a single building to a conceptual development of an urban scale project. Examples of the former: a governor’s house located on axis with the White House near the Jefferson Memorial; a State House conjoined with the executive offices, residence and courthouse sited on a new sixteenth square within L’Enfant’s plan.  Example of the latter: conceptual massing and landscape designs for the new three branches programmed within a series of buildings on multiple sites across the city that either radically or subtly subvert L’Enfant’s scheme. In order to support a diverse range of projects, the scale and level of design development and the types of representation will be carefully considered and guided on an individual basis.  

The instructor has obtained a complete 3D model of the whole city including all relevant sites. This model, along with Google Earth, Maps and Bing Maps, will provide the information necessary to hit the ground running with analyses and conceptual designs for projects of diverse types and scales.