Mid-Century Modernism in Southwest: River Park

1301 Deleware Avenue SW

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 the product of a partnership with Reynolds Metals. The company sponsored the project with the hope that it would result in aluminum becoming the era’s preferred roofing material.

While not listed in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites, the complex of buildings is potentially significant in numerous ways. It is associated with master architect Charles Goodman, whose own Alexandria Home and designs in Virginia Heights are designated. Its barrel roofs and use of aluminum made a distinctive contribution to mid century modernism in Washington.

River Park was also part of Southwest's sweeping urban renewal-era plan that replaced row houses with apartments, and displaced the neighborhood's most African-American residents. Led by the federal government, this redevelopment became a blueprint for similar projects across the country.

At the same time, the apartments also became one of the city's first racially integrated apartment complexes. River Park's mixed legacy leaves us with an architecturally unique development and an entry into discussions of race and history in Washington.