Washington’s architecture scarred by 9/11

In the nation’s capital, it seems architecture is being shaped by post-9/11 fears. From bomb-proof glass, to constant surveillance and physical barriers, it’s obvious security is top priority in Washington DC.

­Witold Rybczynski, architect and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, calls the fixation on security “bollard envy,” where bollards, now ubiquitous fixtures in Washington, serve as a “symbol of bureaucratic status.”

You’re almost guaranteed to find bollards surrounding every high-profile government building.  But Withold points out that the September 11 terrorist attacks were aimed at the Twin Towers and the American people, not a federal building.  He questions the priority to protect a special few, rather than the public.

“It seems under a terrorist threat, which we know threatens all of us, we know that there have been bombs in train stations and in public places, it really doesn’t make sense to put all our efforts into protecting one sort of building,” Withold says.

The architect also worries that the nation’s iconic and historic buildings are turning into eyesores.

For now bollards and similar protective structures, however unsightly, will remain a permanent fixture in a city fixated on bureaucratic status.

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