Brutal DC

October 14, 2023 - March 2, 2024

Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s reimagining of the Hirshhorn Museum.

BRUTAL DC is a design exhibition comprising archival documents, recent re-imaginings, and fine art photography that considers the historical underpinnings, current state, and future possibilities of key Brutalist buildings in Washington, DC. 

The exhibition introduces visitors to the history of Brutalism and traces its story in the American capital by examining the past, present, and future of seven exemplary Brutalist buildings and the Metro in DC Archival documents, architectural drawings, and construction photographs illustrate how the Brutalist phenomenon and these structures first emerged in the US capital city during the Cold War; contemporary, fine art photographs of these iconic buildings and Metro stations, as well as commentary from DC locals and visitors, highlight current state of Brutalism; and reimaginings created by leading architecture firms, including Brooks+Scarpa, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Gensler, BLD.US, as well as students from the School of Architecture at UNLV, illustrate potential futures for several of the buildings, such as the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building.

This project is a curatorial partnership between noted professional photographer Ty Cole and award-winning scholar Dr. Angela Person. Cole’s work has been published in Dwell, Architectural Digest, Departures Magazine, and more. Dr. Person is an associate professor of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma, where her research and teaching engage architectural history and behavioral and emotional outcomes of the built environment. They produced BRUTAL DC in consultation with Deane Madsen, a DC-based architectural writer and brutalism preservation advocate, as well as Josh Vermillion and Eric Strain (UNLV) and Eric Weber (University of Arizona), who provided content support.


Image: Diller Scofidio + Renfro's reimagining of the Hirshhorn Museum, 2009. Courtesy of the architects.