You might not know it amid the dim lights, the out-of-service escalators, and the egg crate-like concrete encasing you, but as you wait for your Metro train, you’re standing inside an architectural gem.

So decreed the American Institute of Architects, which just bestowed upon D.C.’s Metro system the 25 Year Award for architecture, reports Architect magazine.

The award is given to a project that’s between 25 and 35 years old and whose design has stood the test of time. The Metro system opened in 1976, which, the mathematicians among you may note, was 38 years ago. But the phase considered by the jury was completed in 1986—-the year the Orange Line was extended out to Vienna.

Metro is currently undertaking a project to install brighter lighting and new stairways in its stations. Is Metro fixing what ain’t broke? Or 25 years hence, will we be receiving more accolades for our new and improved stations?

Photo by Darrow Montgomery