Palladio – the District’s Most Influential Architect?

For all you tourists or D.C. locals looking for a way to stay warm and combat cabin fever over the weekend, this is your

Andrea Palladio Portrait
Andrea Palladio.

last chance to see the Palladio architectural exhibit at the National Building Museum before it closes on Sunday.

So what’s the connection to D.C. history?

Andrea Palladio influenced the designs of numerous public buildings throughout D.C. – including the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

He might be the most influential American architect you’ve never heard of…and he’s not even American.

Palladio lived and worked in Italy throughout the Renaissance in the 16th Century, but all of the Founding Fathers certainly knew his name.

Thomas Jefferson called Palladio’s Four Books of Architecture his Bible, and they influenced his own designs for his home Monticello and the University of Virginia.

Last September, the National Building Museum mounted a great exhibit of Palladio’s architecture in Italy and his enduring influence across the Atlantic. The show wraps up this Sunday, January 30.

You can see detailed, miniature replicas of his celebrated villas in Italy, as well as discover which public buildings in Washington bear his architectural stamp.

It’s also a rare chance to see Palladio’s original drawings on display – all done precisely in his own hand – so don’t miss it!

And while you’re at it, the National Building Museum is a great place to spend a few hours: beautiful and vast interior, interesting permanent exhibit on the symbolism and evolution of D.C. as a city, and a truly great gift shop.

For those of you battling the snow, sleet, and slosh in the District, you have my deepest sympathies.

So far, all of these postings have been done from the warmth of an African summer, where I’ve been working for my day job for the past two weeks.

I get back to the U.S. this weekend with a flight through New York City – a perfect opportunity to write a little more about the first capital.

Come back next week for a posting about George Washington’s inauguration in the Big Apple, and to see what traces of  New York’s “capital history” I can still find there.

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