The Washington DC that could've been

The Washington DC that could've been
The Washington DC that could've been

Library of Congress
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Sick and tired of our nation's capital? Well, that's what the inevitable gridlock of bi-partisan bickering results in thanks to the National Building Museum's exhibit, "Unbuilt Washington", you can set your peepers upon a DC you've never even fathomed.

U.S. Commission of Fine Arts

One of the few designs that actually came to fruition, more-or-less, is this depiction of the National Mall. [Not pictured: shady crack deals going down in the bushes to the left of the Washington Monument.]

Wikimedia Commons

Here's the Library of Congress (and a guy we'll call Alan) as we know it today.

Library of Congress

And here's what it woulda looked like if a dude named Alexander R. Esty had had his Gothic Revival way with it.

Library of Congress

Meanwhile, Leon Beaver didn't realize the Library of Congress had so many books... but hoped to surround the building with the shortest fence of all time.

Wikimedia Commons

Although perfection would've been a building erected to look like a top hat, the Lincoln Memorial is pretty much spot-on.

National Archives

John Russel Pope, however, had different ideas about how to honor Honest Abe's extreme fondness for stairs.

Wikimedia Commons

Still standing after G.W. Bush's eight years in residence, the White House is one of the most iconic American buildings out there.

Maryland Historical Society

When the executive mansion was in the design stages, 'ol Tommy Jefferson tossed his hat into the ring (under the pen name of "AZ"). Clearly a fan of hot air balloons, Tom was also clearly a better statesman than architect.

Library of Congress

Nearly 100yrs after the White House was built, Paul Pelz tossed out this design for a new exec mansion on Meridian Hill... which totally would've been perfect for the Sun King, Louis XIV.

Library of Congress

Around the same time, Robert Owen proposed keeping the White House where it was, but making it ENORMOUS. Jim Bob/ Michelle Duggar for Prez!

James Allegro and Doug Michels

In 1996 some super lazy dudes proposed something called the "National Sofa", where peeps could literally sit and watch the White House. Which sounds as entertaining as watching the grass grow behind the presenters on C-SPAN, but on mute.

Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Capitol is where the bulk of the nation's biz goes down. It's pretty nice-looking! They did a real swell job with it.

Library of Congress

But if William Thornton'd had his way, it woulda looked even cooler... and with more statues.

Maryland Historical Society

Check out the size of James Diamond's U.S. Capitol's weathercock!

Wikimedia Commons

That phallus is, of course, George Washington's, in the form of the Washington Monument.

Library of Congress

With any luck, Washington coulda either stood atop his phallus, or it may've been perched atop a building, like a gigantic weather vane.

Wikimedia Commons

As it stands, the Arlington Memorial Bridge over the Potomac River is nothing to write home about... unless your letter's about how plain the bridges in DC are.

Library of Congress

If the architectural team at Smithmeyer & Pelz had won the contract, it would've been all London Bridge-y (in honor of notorious anglophile Ulysses S. Grant, obviously).

Wikimedia Commons

When you see b-roll of government-types all dressed up in tuxes honoring celebrities in DC, they're usually here -- the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Edward Durell Stone Collection

The only celebrity Edward Durell Stone wanted to honor, however, was William Shatner. Hence his Enterprise-esque proposition for the place.

Library of Congress

Oh, yeah, and then there's the Dolphin America Hotel... which, thankfully, has no real-life counterpart. Interesting side note: this sketch was not done in an elementary school art class, but rather was an official submission by Doug Michels Architecture in collaboration with Jim Allegro, AIA. As it turns out, the "AIA" stands for the "American Institute of Architects", not "Adolescent Illustrators of America".

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