While Washington’s Metro has its share of problems as anyone who has ridden it knows, its stunning yet simple brutalist design by Harry Weese still stands the test of time and is a true architectural symbol here in the nation’s capital. The mid-century modern design has now garnered the 2014 American Institute of America’s Twenty-five Year Award, which recognizes architectural design of enduring significance. “The Twenty-five Year Award is conferred on a building project that has stood the test of time by embodying architectural excellence for 25 to 35 years,” according to the AIA. “Projects must demonstrate excellence in function, in the distinguished execution of its original program, and in the creative aspects of its statement by today’s standards.”
See what the jury had to say:
“The striking design of the prototypical Washington Metro station revolutionized public perceptions of mass transit in the mid-to-late 20th century. The station designs have held up remarkably well despite the phenomenal population growth of the Washington region and accelerating pressures on the system.
“The stations are airy and spacious, avoiding the claustrophobic qualities of so many older subway facilities in other cities. They are quintessentially modern while maintaining a certain grandeur befitting the nation’s capital. The original stations are now–and have always been–largely free of graffiti and litter, thanks in part to thoughtful planning on the part of the original architects–the designs actively discourage the sort of degradations that plague many other mass transit systems.”
The award will be presented this June at the AIA National Convention in Chicago, Weese’s hometown.