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It’s been exciting to watch the U.S. Institute of Peace headquarters take shape on 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue. The Moshe Safdie-designed building is a striking addition to this avenue of monolothic marble structures: Its soaring openness is uplifting just to look at, in contrast to the the forbidding, fortress-like presentation of most museums and administrative buildings in the Mall area. Perhaps the most extreme example of the old model sits right across the street—the American Pharmacists Association, which looks more like a mausoleum than a place where people do living work.
Safdie, whose other project in the District is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, doesn’t appear to have more projects in the works for D.C. Its similarly light and airy submission for the National Museum of African American History and Culture was rejected in
favor of a squat, monumental design by Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup. But we’ve got another chance to lighten up the Mall: Here’s hoping the National Museum of the American Latino follows the U.S. Institute of Peace’s lead.