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.

Arena Stage

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,…

Harbour Square

The buildings stand tallest at the west end, where the complex opens in a U shape to maximize views of the river, and they drop to three stories near 4th Street where they embrace and incorporate three historic landmarks: Wheat Row (1793), the…

Tiber Island

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

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

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

The twin nine-story buildings designed by Pei face each other across a landscaped yard. The complex is mirrored by Town Center West on the opposite side of the original retail center. The buildings are significant as one of Pei’s first forays into…

Capitol Park Apartments

Capitol Park Apartments was built on the site of Dixon’s Court, long considered a notorious alley slum. Photographs of impoverished conditions in the alley with the Capitol dome in the background were widely distributed, and were even used in Soviet…