I wanted to make sure everyone saw the Washington Post’s feature on Charles Goodman’s River Park in Southwest, which opened in 1962 and is celebrating its Golden (Aluminum?) Anniversary. Reporter Monica Hesse delves into the architecture along with the social impact of the community, interviewing long-time owners and newer residents attracted to Goodman’s unique designs. As part of Southwest Washington’s urban renewal efforts in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Goodman’s firm designed River Park, a cooperative housing project of townhomes and an apartment block built by the Reynolds Aluminum Corporation as a way to showcase aluminum as a building material.
Here’s how Hesse kicks off her piece:
“The barrel-roof townhouses of River Park are Campbell’s soup cans, halved the long way, balanced on top of metal cubes two blocks from Southwest Washington’s Waterfront Metro station. They are called ‘houses’ — because people live in them, and really, what else could they be called? — but they are architectural punch lines, visual acid trips, the left-behind parts of the secret UFO that docked down by the waterfront half a century ago and then flew away before anyone caught it on camera. The barrel-roof townhouses of River Park were —
“’They were fantastic,’ says Arthuryne Taylor. In the 1960s, she had come to Washington from Tennessee, where the houses had things like shutters and shingles. ‘I had never seen anything like them. They were cosmopolitan. Nashville was country. This was cosmopolitan.’ She and her husband discovered the community through an open house. “’I said, this isit.’”