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Washington Drawings: Abet Zoo

Dhiru A. Thadani has a unique knowledge of Washington DC. Before the internet and his Google Maps, Mr. Tadani has been working since the 1970s, where he led a group of volunteers for 13 years to accurately map out the footprints of the capital’s buildings and public spaces. The plan, based on the famous Roman Noli Plan of 1748, was a monumental and ambitious project with no clear financial goal in mind. In other words, it was a labor of love. That account can explain the many projects throughout his Thadani career, a Bombay-born architect who is now one of America’s most respected urban designers.

His latest love affair also includes DC, the city Sadani adopted for nearly 50 years. Washington Drawings: Abet Zoo, increased the need for a restless pandemic. Thadani paints constantly and travels a lot. The pandemic brought him closer to home and he began taking excursions around his DC area to document places of personal interest. The result is his 26 full-page drawings containing text for every letter of the alphabet, plus more renderings and plans of the introduction.

I highly recommend this black-and-white, self-published book for urbanists who want a quick, easy-to-understand, visually-rich tour of the US capital. painting of washington It’s attractively designed and full of insight into DC’s history, places, people, and urbanism.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial with the Washington Monument in the background. On the right is the Key Bridge with Georgetown buildings. A painting by Dil Thadani.

Originally planned by Pierre Enfant in 1791 and chaired by Senator James McMillan in 1902, the most prominent designers of the time: Daniel Burnham, Charles McKim, Charles Moore and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gadens.

Georgetown, on the other hand, is remote, without a subway station, and poorly connected to the DC street network, as it was founded and explored 40 years before the US capital moved to its current location. is. Georgetown, which appears in some of Sadani’s paintings, was another city where deals were made to acquire land in the capital district. In 1795, the U.S. Congress abolished Georgetown’s local ordinance and renamed streets to match the rest of the city. Local government was taken away, but Georgetown has since been home to some of the most influential people in the country. The C&O Canal was built to transport goods from the interior of the country to Georgetown. Georgetown was the most upstream point from which ocean-going vessels could navigate the Potomac.

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. A painting by Dil Thadani.

Among the most striking paintings is the portrait of Frederick Douglass. Accompanying the drawings is a biography of his many notable achievements, especially those relating to the capital of the United States, where he lived in the southeastern quadrant. Many of the paintings focus on those who left their mark on DC, including Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and L’Enfant.

Included are images related to modern urbanism, such as the H Street streetcar, which introduced public transportation for the first time in 50 years. In the first half of the 20th century, trams ran through the cityth century, but the last historic line was closed in 1962. The two-mile-long H Street tram opened in 2016 along a regenerated corridor.

Notable Washington interiors: Union Station, left, and Library of Congress. A painting by Dil Thadani.

Thadani crossed the Anacostia River into southeastern DC, attracting St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a long-standing psychiatric hospital recently redeveloped into affordable housing. At its peak in the 1950s, the hospital housed 8,000 of his patients. Despite the recent re-use and beauty of the historic building, Thadani is critical of the planning decisions made during the transition.

“St. opened the door for its integration with the uninvested and highly infamous southeastern Anacostia district, an ongoing redevelopment despite several master plans made over the decades. The development maintains a superblock structure, which doesn’t allow for a good mix of campus and city, or close proximity to the Congress Heights subway station.”

The comments are perfectly on point, a rare criticism in a book that primarily appreciates beauty, history, and city interest. increase. Urbanists will love the sheer amount of detail and insight in this easy-to-read book. A picture speaks a thousand words, painting of washington Rapid, not necessarily linear. Start at the end, first, or in the middle, but if you like DC, architecture, or city locations, it’s well worth the price.

Critical axes from the L’Enfant project and Tadani’s reddening of public spaces.
Part of DC’s 1991 Nolli Plan. It covers the same area as the plan above. Dhiru Thadani and a team of volunteers.

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