Washington, D.C., Environmental Graphics

A Capitol Idea

Washington, D.C., is a content-rich venue for the 2010 SEGD Conference + Expo.

With its vocabulary of granite and marble and limestone, carved letters and majestic sculptures, classical architecture and stately canopies of trees, Washington, D.C., tells a story.

There are many individual stories told within the walls of its museums, inside its art galleries, and on the stone tablets marking its memorials. But collectively, the city’s monumental features tell just one: the story of what it means to be American.

The classical architectural tradition that dominates the city is a constant reminder that the roots of American democracy were transplanted from ancient Greece and Rome. And even as modern architecture has resulted in glass facades on K Street and downtown, the district’s architectural zeitgeist bows to tradition. Individual buildings are subservient to L’Enfant’s well ordered urban plan of 1791, as well as the more contemporary height limits enacted to protect it.

 For visitors, it’s a place where time seems to stand still—a place of remembrance. 

But Washington is also a place where change is a constant. In the halls of Congress, in those neoclassical government buildings, and in the offices of K Street, the wheels of change turn and events unfold to affect our nation—and the world—every minute of every day.

 These contrasts make D.C. a fascinating place to visit, and an exciting venue for SEGD’s 2010 Annual Conference + Expo June 2-5, themed Design for Change. 

The SEGD conference last convened in Washington in 1998, and much has changed since then. This issue will help fill you in on the major changes, especially those that relate to environmental graphic design. 

We’ll tell you about a new generation of national memorials and our cover story provides a sneak preview of the long-needed signage and wayfinding system for the National Mall.

 New museums, including a new incarnation of the Newseum and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, have been added to D.C.’s rich cultural offerings. A brand new United States Capitol Visitors Center is open. And a rich and diverse array of other EGD-related work has emerged, from museum exhibitions to mixed-use developments, from corporate headquarters to transit projects. We’ll tell you about these, and more. (Come to the conference and we’ll even take you to see them.)
Speaking of change, our conference headquarters will be at the Gaylord National Hotel, the anchor in the new National Harbor development across the Potomac River from D.C. There, a visionary developer transformed a blighted section of waterfront into a promising new public gathering space. EGD played an important role in National Harbor’s master development plan.
As America’s new president works to make good on his promises for change, this issue will also remind you that creating change in Washington—or anywhere, for that matter—is always a challenge. Come to D.C. June 2-5 for a conversation with designers, design thinkers, and design users about how to make it happen.

--By Pat Matson Knapp, segdDESIGN No. 26, 2009


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Upcoming SEGD Events

2023 SEGD Academic Summit
2023 Wayfinding and Placemaking
2023 Experience Washington D.C.