Photo Friday: Before there was the WELL Building Standard, there was Montgomery Meigs’ Pension Building (now the National Building Museum)

2018.01.06 dc1968 at National Building Museum, Washington, DC USA 2143
2018.01.06 dc1968 at National Building Museum, Washington, DC USA 2143 (View on

This week’s photograph was taken at the former Pension building, now the National Building Museum, in Washington, DC USA.

Because this year commemorates 50 years since #dc1968 (@dc1968project), institutions all over Washington are providing historical context and other programming (which is deeply distracting to history geeks everywhere).

The building was designed for health, way before doctors and designers realized that they loved each other and there was such a thing as the WELL Building Standard.

Built before modern artificial ventilation, the building was designed to maximize air circulation: all offices not only had exterior windows, but also opened onto the court, which was designed to admit cool air at ground level and exhaust hot air at the roof. Made of brick and tile, the stairs were designed for the limitations of disabled and aging veterans, having a gradual ascent with low steps. In addition, each step slanted slightly from back to front to allow easy drainage: a flight could be washed easily by pouring water from the top.

As with everything here, you don’t have to walk very far to see where the future was born.

Rest of the photos below.

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Ted Eytan, MD