Unfortunately for us, in the ’60s and ’70s, the federal government only hired architects with early onset glaucoma.
These architects littered the city with monolithic temples to bureaucracy, using only concrete, brutalist architecture — and sadness. Here are the seven most heinous, unforgivable scars ever allowed to pollute our otherwise architecturally pleasant nation’s capital.
7. Welcome to the U.S. Post Office building!
The U.S. Post Office bureaucracy is located in D.C.’s Scooby-Doo Ghost Town.
Otherwise known as L’Enfant Plaza. It has all the pleasantries of a crumbling, lifeless concrete island.
No human has gone here since 1973:
The building has an imaginative square form made of tiny pebbles and concrete…
…which crumbles when you kick it!
The offices come complete with roller blinds and a permanent “USPS Postal Police” garrison outside the building.
The Postal Police prevent catastrophes like this from happening:
Luckily for the workers of the USPS, there is a designated smoking section:
Right by the SpongeBob mailbox.
And if you work for the Post Office, you have the luxury of walking down the cement block to this poorly maintained park…
…to enjoy the green water!
Down from the Post Office Building, along L’Enfant’s cement, weed-choked corridor, you will find our next architectural delight!
6. Meet the Department of Energy!
The Department of Energy consists of three enormous, monolithic buildings.
“You know what this building needs, John? More cement.”
“Brilliant! We can hide the sun forever!”
What happens when you let government scientists comission art:
COST: $4 trillion (probably)
This is the Department of Energy’s version of a “park.”
Complete with a fake owl to scare away all life!
The building has leaky spigots…
Everyone knows: If you really want a tree to grow, you gotta surround it with 1,000 lbs. of concrete.
If you’re lucky you’ll get a window at the Department of Energy…
…because a large portion of the building is just a solid cement wall.
Probably your office:
(But look!!! We have solar panels!)
The building is surrounded by non-energy-efficient flood lights.
There is one kind of energy the DOE can agree on: This gasoline-powered spray washer.
Gas-powered washers are the only thing the cement respects. But the gas can is just kinda sitting there. A full can of gas. On a government building. Just sitting there.
5. Let’s head across town to meet the the federal government’s cement log!
The Department of Labor only takes up five square blocks!
Who needs more room in D.C. anyway?
Its massiveness is accentuated by the concrete, squareness of the building!
And these beautiful lamps!
Can I have one?
What happens when you let government lawyers commission art:
COST: $1.9 billion (probably)
The building is so cement and flat, the city of D.C. thought it was just an on-ramp for the interstate.
So they just put an on-ramp right in the middle of the damn building.
If you visit, be sure to watch out for the embarrassingly large chunks of the building that have fallen off onto the sidewalk!
Wish we had the “labor” to keep up our building!
Really, the only life anywhere is the weeds growing out of the storm drains…
…and the shirtless Labor employees stretching out front.
Oh, and they apparently go on the roof while taking secret phone calls.
4. Our children’s future!
The Department of Education was carefully modeled after a massive cement brick.
The Department of Education generously provides these wonderful amenities to their employees:
“Hope you need more iron in your diet!”
AGAIN: These are not out back, these are right in front of the building.
The entrance to the Department of Education has all the charm of an abandoned Eastern European apartment building.
They also maintain this beautiful park right in front of the building…
…that you would totally let your children play in, right?!
3. Ready for some healthy architecture?
Architect designing HHS: “What represents health? How about a cement square with tiny windows?”
“And instead of giving the building four regular corners, I’ll throw a gigantic cement pillar in each one!”
“That will encourage people!”
What happens when you let health bureaucrats commission art:
COST: Obamacare (probably)
Visit HHS and meet the wonderful security guard who doesn’t really care if you graffiti his little booth!
He also has state-of-the art air-conditioning!
In case there was not enough cement already, the entire building is surrounded by awkward white blocks.
Most of which are in great shape!
The natural beauty of the HHS cement is complimented by the U.S. Botanic Gardens, which it directly looms over.
The best part of the building? Its promotion of a healthy lifestyle!
Bravo, Doritos! HHS endorsement!
2. Are you ready for some time at the Space Center?!
The Department of Housing and Urban Development was designed by Buzz Lightyear in 1969.
Which explains the addition of these architecturally invaluable flying saucers:
The stated mission of HUD: “To create strong, sustainable communities and quality homes for all.”
Southeast corner of the building.
A visit to HUD is just like going to NASA!
1. Government architectural majesty at its finest:
There is no government building that more accurately reflects the soul of the bureaucracy housed inside.
Complete with a lovingly paranoid amount of surveillance…
FBI: “Hey, we have cement shrubbery containers!”
And those are all the ugliest buildings your tax dollars can buy.
All photos by Benny Johnson.