Mid-Century Modernism in Southwest

Southwest is full of mid-century modernist architectural gems. These include Arena Stage, River Park, and I.M. Pei's Town Center East. However, the neighborhood also gained notoriety as an early site of urban renewal. Follow along to learn details about these interesting sites, and gain new insight into the neighborhood's history.

Locations for Tour

Built in 1960, Arena Stage is home of a major Washington cultural institution and nationally prominent pioneer in the American Regional Theater movement whose innovative design expresses evolving theater production concepts. Designed by Harry Weese,…

Built between 1963 and 1966, the Harbour Square complex of apartments and townhouses was the fourth superblock completed in the Southwest Renewal Area. The buildings stand tallest at the west end, where the complex opens in a U shape to maximize…

Tiber Island, designed by Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon and completed in 1965, was part of the nation’s first Urban Renewal project. As part of the premier project, Tiber Island was considered a model for the rest of the country for its role in…

Channel Square is also one of the very few apartment buildings in DC by noted architect, Harry Weese. Though he was trained under and appreciated the Modernist approach, Weese is often considered one of the first postmodern architects, which can be…

River Park was designed by Charles Goodman and constructed in 1962. The gated community includes nine-story apartment buildings and unusual barrel-roofed apartments. The distinctive use of aluminum for ornament and the townhouses' roofs was…

Town Center East is a two-building apartment complex erected in 1960-1961 within the larger Town Center Plaza superblock planned by I.M. Pei. The twin nine-story buildings designed by Pei face each other across a landscaped yard. The complex is…

Capitol Park Apartments, completed in 1959, was the first building finished under the Southwest Urban Renewal Plan. It inaugurated Capitol Park, a model complex of apartments, townhouses, and landscape that was hailed in its day as “the first step…