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TO AUGUST 24
For D.C. architects, “L’Enfant” is the magic word. The French designer’s bold plan for Washington gives them permission to imagine such wild-eyed notions as recasting 14th Street as “The Avenue of the United States,” complete with a model of the Great Lakes at 14th and S. (Would the miniature Lake Erie be toxic, and the Lake Superior frigid?) Inevitably, this show includes some proposals that would be disastrous, as well as others that are vague, jargony, or pointlessly symbolic. (One calls for a mini-Manhattan on a New York Avenue traffic island—sorry, Las Vegas already did that.) Still, many of the proposals treat real urban wounds in a therapeutic manner. Several plans focus on the Northeast section of New York Avenue, and two would integrate the haughtily aloof Kennedy Center into a new neighborhood. (Both plans, however, call for redesigning the arts complex; if you’re going that far, why not just put the whole thing downtown where it should have been in the first place?) As for the plans for covering over I-395, replacing the Southeast-Southwest Freeway with an extended Virginia Avenue, and taking back Arlington—let’s get started today. At the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. FREE. (202) 272-2448. (Mark Jenkins)