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Exhibition

  • Unbuilt Washington
    G. Martin Moeller Jr.
    Curator
    National Building Museum, Washington DC
    Nov 19, 2011 to Jun 28, 2012
  • GRANTEE
    National Building Museum
    GRANT YEAR
    2011

John Russell Pope, proposal for the Lincoln Memorial, 1912, Washington, DC. Courtesy of The National Archives.

The National Building Museum is presenting the exhibition Unbuilt Washington, featuring unrealized proposals for noteworthy architectural and urban design projects in Washington, DC, from the 1790s to the present. The exhibition includes original drawings, full-size reproductions, computer renderings, and models. As a global symbol of democracy and a center of political power, Washington has inspired a large number of notable architectural proposals. This exhibition explores how the city might be different today if some of these projects had been built, and addresses the reasons—whether political, economic, cultural, or technical—that these proposals were never executed. The exhibition challenges common assumptions about the physical character of Washington, and in so doing, illuminates the complex processes underlying the creation of buildings and cities, reveals the influence of unbuilt projects on designs that were realized, and offers lessons for the design of future projects.

G. Martin Moeller, Jr., is the curator of Unbuilt Washington. He has been the lead curator for several major exhibitions at the National Building Museum, including Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete and Reinventing the Globe: A Shakespearean Theater for the 21st Century, and was coordinating curator for Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future. Before joining the Museum in 1998, Moeller was executive director of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. He holds an March degree from Tulane University, and is an associate member of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the Society of Architectural Historians. Working independently, Moeller wrote the fourth edition of the AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, DC (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006). He has been guest critic and adjunct instructor at several architecture schools, and in spring 2010, he was a visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome.

The National Building Museum (NBM) was established by an act of Congress in 1980 and opened in 1985 as a private, nonprofit museum dedicated to advancing the quality of the built environment by educating people about its impact on their lives.  The Museum seeks to broaden understanding of, and appreciation for architecture, urban planning, construction, engineering, design, and historic preservation. In doing so, the Museum equips Americans to make informed choices about the future of the world we build for ourselves.