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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

Just look up
The Washington National Cathedral boats ornate gargoyles and is one of the most admired buildings in the Washington, D.C. area architecturally. Photo taken with CC permission from

Washington, D.C. architecture lacks the appreciation it deserves. 

Obviously, the Capitol Building, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theatre and the Washington Monument are some of the most well-known, frequently visited constructions in the world. However, these internationally renowned landmarks inevitably cause more unknown, yet strikingly beautiful, architectural feats to go unnoticed.

I think that there needs to be a more conscious effort to admire these architectural features, particularly sculptures, that normally go unseen. Some of my favorite generally unnoticed sculptures include the 46 Roman legionaries of Union Station, the Barr Building gargoyles and the chiseled designs on the back of the Immigration Forum building on the narrow G Pl Street.

These sculptures lack prominence, yet that is what makes them so special. They are different from massive copper, bronze and gold statues constructed on top of concrete pedestals because they do not beg for attention in such a direct manner but rather earn it. They are hidden treasures that can be far greater than these renowned sculptures because they can be uniquely your own.

The public art and construction that is deemed iconic is not always as special in person as its reputation makes it out to be, which emphasizes why it is important to form one’s own perceptions regarding what we deem individually significant or iconic. It is difficult, yet beneficial, to choose favorite buildings, statues or sculptures not by their proximity or the frequency with which you see them, but because they are “hidden treasures” and choosing to see the good in things yourself will make you a fuller, more examined person.

Every time I am walking in D.C., I see people preoccupied with their phones, caught up with their work, listening to music or simply in a rush to reach their destinations. The simplest way to experience the art form that architecture can be is to slow down and avoid conformity. Turning left at G Pl, instead of G street has become daily practice for me because it is always empty, and always a beautiful way to engage in the culture that iconic D.C. buildings have to offer. 

Furthermore, an increased appreciation and recognition of the potential community growth these architectural art forms can spur will improve our communities. Government spending is poured into programs that neglect homeless people, especially in cities like Washington, D.C., where there is a very large homeless population. This happens in a process where money is spent on a wide range of anti-homeless architecture, ranging from adding armrests to the middle of benches, to concrete spikes in underpasses and under bridges.

The funding poured into the creation of hostile architecture could be redirected to the production of new artistic construction, free to the public. The installation of new works on the corners and sides of buildings, on sidewalks and in parks would only serve to foster community growth when it comes to forming well-rounded citizens and also lessening the architectural additions aimed at negatively impacting homeless people. 

The next time you are in Washington, D.C., or any city, walk around and try to find new art pieces that you deem “hidden treasures” and remember how important it is to participate in this aspect of your city’s culture. 

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