Complexity without Contradiction: Chloethiel Woodward Smith and Daniel Urban Kiley Capitol Park, Washington, DC

Binsted, Linda, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Wilson, Richard, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, Department of Architectural History, University of Virginia
Longstreth, Richard, George Washington University

Capitol Park, comprising rental apartment towers, townhouses and landscape features, designed by Chloethiel Woodard Smith in collaboration with Daniel Urban Kiley, was Washington, DC’s first built urban renewal project, identified as Area B of the Southwest Redevelopment Area. This thesis will argue the planning and design for the project represents not only an exemplary and unique approach to mid-century urban renewal with a desired commitment to provide moderate income housing but also an architectural and landscape design meriting distinction among both the urban renewal projects and market rate projects throughout the United States constructed during this time period.
Setting the groundwork for this argument, a review of the local governmental urban renewal planning process and eventual establishment of a master plan for Southwest Washington will be addressed. This includes Smith’s, with Louis Justement, contribution of a renewal master plan that was not advanced. Smith’s and Kiley’s interpretation and application of twentieth century planning tenets in the layout of Area B will be explicated and evaluated against planning in the contemporary context, including I.M Pei’s Society Hill in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Mies van der Rohe’s Lafayette Park in Detroit, Michigan. The architecture and landscape design will be described in detail, again in juxtaposition to analogous contemporary designers and their work; local, national and international. The comparisons to other urban renewal ventures and market housing will illuminate an integrated, masterful design solution unique to its creators and one that represents not only the full flowering and surpassing of the spirit espoused by the critical city thinkers of the 1920’s and 1930’s but also an architectural and landscape design that advances both the theory and design implementation practices of their respective disciplines.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Chlothiel Woodard Smith, Daniel Urban Kiley, Louis Justement, Capitol Park, Capitol Park Apartments and Townhouses, Washington, DC Architecture, Urban Renewal (1950s) Mid-century, Mid-Century Architectural Design (1950s), Apartment Housing, Townhouses
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