“Planning Washington’s Monumental Core: L’Enfant to Legacy”

Federal Washington was shaped primarily by two civic blueprints: the L’Enfant Plan at the beginning of the 19th century (pictured) and the McMillan Plan 100 years later. Those designs are represented in this exhibit, as are some that were thankfully shelved: On display are early maps of what eventually became the Metro system, and the ring-road highway plan that would have driven the smallest ring between Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan. The show’s centerpiece, however, is a massive three-dimensional model of the National Capital Planning Commission’s “Legacy Plan,” which imagines itself the third great step in Washington urban planning. This fairly appalling scheme proposes redeeming some of the city’s less prosperous precincts by federalizing them, turning South Capitol Street into another Mall and replacing RFK Stadium with something that looks like Brasilia or Chandigarh. If that’s hard to visualize, check out this show: At least the model makes the NCPC’s intentions abundantly clear. At the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. FREE. (202) 272-2448. (Mark Jenkins)