Monumental Scaffolding
Monumental Scaffolding Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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The first time scaffolding came up around the Washington Monument, back in the late 1990s, it was Target that picked up a good part of the tab, even bringing on a housewares collaborator, the famous postmodern architect Michael Graves, as a designer. The same freestanding, Graves-designed work was installed in June and illuminated (once again) in July of this year, when the 555-foot-tall obelisk underwent repairs for earthquake damage. And once again, it’s a bummer to see the Washington Monument unlit, naked, free of Graves’s worthy extension. No question, it’s great that the repairs following the earthquake worked out so well, but the scaffolding added a cartoonish quality to the monument and a postmodern addition to the National Mall. Fans of monumental modification may enjoy seeing the Capitol dome under scaffolding for the next two years as it undergoes a restoration, but—for the time being—the Washington Monument will never look the same.