Madness & Method at St. Elizabeths

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Madness & Method at St. Elizabeths
St. Elizabeths Main Building, ca. 1900.

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Madness & Method at St. Elizabeths
St. Elizabeths Main Building, ca. 1900.

Washington D.C.’s next major addition is a department headquarters that challenges the city’s views on temporality, functionality and even irony.

Washington D.C. is often used as a backdrop for tales of idiosyncratic power (Veep, House of Cards, Homeland, 24, Newsroom, The West Wing, just to name a few) and why not? The architecture’s symbolism and ideology can be matched only by the cynicism and suspicion these structures inspire. So therefore it seems somehow fitting that DC’s next major addition, the Headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will be perched on a hilltop just across the Anacostia River, physically and gesturally overseeing all before it.

Yet beyond maintaining constant visuals on the terrain, this headquarters represents a change in the city’s views on temporality, functionality and even irony. Because this is a space with a past, one it both embraces and fears.

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