Proximity Issue: The Barricades of the Federal District

“I can tell you it’s a proximity issue...Beyond that, I can’t elaborate, for security reasons.”
- Lt. Dan Nichols, U.S. Capitol police, commenting on the closure of the steps of the Capitol building to the public.

In the months following the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the public space of Washington DC was transformed. The barricades that emerged took many forms, including Jersey barrier, which were originally designed for use on highways. Around the Mall, these eight foot long, free-standing impact deflectors were installed in such quantity as to become an almost continuous, defensive dashed line, allowing people through, but keeping errant vehicles from being able to, for example, drive up the steps into the Air and Space Museum. These temporary measures were in place indefinitely, changing slowly into more architecturally harmonious forms, fixtures in the plazas and porticos that constitute the public face of America’s headquarters.

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