Monday, May 9, 2011
Minor monuments and modern courtyards
inding a spot for quiet contemplation is not a problem in Washington, D.C. Small monuments to great minds, such as the Albert Einstein memorial, lie off the beaten path in the nation’s capital. Secluded memorials to half-forgotten patriots, like George Mason, sit in the shadow of structures honoring more famous founding fathers, in this case Thomas Jefferson.
But my favorite hidden gem for peace and quiet is not among the area’s myriad monuments. My top spot for thinking is Kogod Courtyard. It combines history, modern architecture, and art. The courtyard lies between the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. While both are part of the Smithsonian, they are several blocks from the National Mall and are not obvious destinations for most tourists. The first tenant was the U.S. Patent Office in 1840. Maybe some of the innovation that once percolated through these halls still lingers, inspiring visitors.
Even when brilliance fails to strike, Kogod Courtyard is still a nice to write, people watch, and relax. I am not the first to quietly hum its architectural praises. I love staring up at the wavy glass ceiling and the interesting shadows the crisscrossing steel frames create.
I wish I could say today’s “F” is found near the courtyard, but this letter comes from nearby Baltimore, Maryland. This and other letters are patiently waiting to be deployed. The wheels of progress continue to grind as GDL Studio approaches reality. I hope to make an announcement in early June. Thanks for your patience.