In a new exhibit at the National Building Museum, imagine Washington D.C. as it could have been
“Plan for the Completion of Washington, D.C,” by Léon Krier, 1984-85
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. That is a gondola plying through water in front of the Capitol. When the Museum of Modern Art commissioned urban planner Léon Krier to rethink Washington in 1984 (in advance of the city’s bicentennial in 1991), his master plan replaced the green swath of the National Mall with a Venetian-like canal flanked by pyramids and other examples of ancient architecture.
“If you can get past the flooding of the Mall, there are actually some interesting ideas in this,” says Moeller. In his critique of the urban landscape, Krier suggested mixing work and play by building four village-like communities, offering all types of amenities, in what seemed to him to be a wasteland of federal buildings near the Mall.