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AIA Guide to the Architecture of Washington, D.C. Paperback – October 24, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0801884689 ISBN-10: 0801884683 Edition: 4th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press; 4th edition (October 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801884683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801884689
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,014,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Accessible to architects and tourists alike, and perhaps especially locals.

(Jamie Hammon Roll Call 2006-01-00)

Although the guide is designed for the pedestrian, all but the most tireless trekkers will want to use the Metro subway system to get to at least some of the sites.

(Lori D. Kranz Bloomsbury Review 2006-01-00)

About the Author

G. Martin Moeller Jr. is senior vice president and curator at the National Building Museum and is the former executive director of the Washington Chapter/AIA.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 6 customer reviews
The last is best available at a place like the National Gallery itself.
I highly recommend this book for architectural historians and serious cultural tourists.
Jon L. Albee
The attention to detail is impressive, the guide is timely and VERY informative.
Ms. K

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By M M on July 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
A confession: I'm not a big architecture afficionado and had never heard of the AIA or its guides before my in-laws gave me this book, but I do live in Washington and am always looking for new sources of info about the city. This is a great overall guide to DC, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone ranging from locals to tourists.

Why? This book is great for three main reasons.

First, it's a great source of history about the big picture of DC and its most prominent areas as well as the nooks and crannies of the city. At the same time, that history isn't presented in an overwhelming way that makes the reader feel as if s/he is preparing for a high school history test. And even the minutiae that it contains are really pretty interesting, partly due to the high quality of the writing (more on this below.)

Second, it does a great job of organizing the city and guiding the reader through the different areas. All guide books break down the city into areas to some extent, but I often wonder if the writers have actually spent much time in DC. One can always quibble about where certain neighborhoods begin and end, but this book is far better than most and gives a good feel for what the actual areas are really like and how they got that way.

Finally, it's a great source of architectural info about tons of buildings throughout the city. Although I live here, it turns out that I've often walked past many notable buildings without a second glance. Now, not all of these buildings are notable for their strengths (which is one of the fun features of the book - it includes some dogs along with the highlights), but what I've found having read through much of this book is that I now notice some of the more subtle features of the buildings that the book points out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen on July 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
this is a remarkable book--it is a must for anyone curious about the architecture of our nation's capitol (and even the briefest walk around town will make one curious). the selections are interesting and very well written; the reviews are largely objective and that was a relief. one major flaw in this book is the lack of good or appropriate photography to support the descriptions--i found myself confused when reading descriptions of buildings i wasn't standing right in front of and trying to decipher what i was supposed to see in the photo provided. for such an exceptional architectural guide, the author should really consider splurging on better and more descriptive photos! i thought setting up the guide along suggested walking routes was helpful as well.

one more thing--why no comment or information on that odd and misplaced structure stuck on to the side of the washington monument?
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jon L. Albee TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Other than the Smithsonian, tourists come to DC for the architecture. From the historic colonial and Federal buildings in Georgetown to the enormous neo-classical monuments, DC is about buildings. In fact, Washington has one of the most striking collections of public structures in the world.

It's a good thing too, because DC needs a BIG draw. It is not the most hospitable city, to say the least. A convoluted and insufficient system of roads and highways, a skeletal subway system, and an enormously competitive population combine to make DC a high-strung city. It's the road rage capital of the world, so keep this in mind when you visit. Take your time and enjoy the buildings. If the locals don't like it, who cares? This is YOUR city.

Of course, Washington DC is known for immense neo-classicism, designed by the country's (and the world's) most important Beaux-Arts architects. This guide does a nice job of presenting the impressive array of neo-classical structures to the reader. The book is really quite comprehensive. In its fourth edition, the author knows what buildings we're going to be interested in. The essays are well written, for the most part, tending toward architectural detail rather than historical provenance. Editorializing is kept to a minimum, which is nice considering the stark emotions Washington DC is able to inspire. The building selection is good, with a nice balance between historic, neo-classical and modern. I wish the authors had spent a little less time on the neo-classical theme and fleshed out Federal Georgetown more. An excursion to Alexandria would have been nice too. I know, you can't have it all.

Most of the photography is off-the-shelf and is characteristically mundane, though practical.
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