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Egyptian Embassy (Joseph Beale House)

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Joseph Beale House
1907–1908, Glenn Brown. 2301 Massachusetts Ave. NW

Glenn Brown's very beautiful reinterpretation of an Italian Renaissance facade suffers somewhat from its disjointed relationship to its two immediate neighbors in terms of their relative siting and scale. The gentle swell of the Beale house's curved facade is an attempt to respond to its awkward location at the corner of R Street and Massachusetts Avenue, as it partially faces, but is not wholly on, Sheridan Circle. Despite these contextual issues, it is the finest architectural work in the immediate area, with well-integrated facade, plan, and decorative program. Division of the four-story, curved facade into three selfcontained but interrelated fields demonstrates Brown's sophistication as a designer, although he is generally remembered as an architectural historian. Neo-Renaissance in style, the building has a two-story recessed loggia framed by a Palladian window, the focus of the masterfully proportioned composition. Its depth is a perfect foil for the shallow sunken planes and barely projecting quoins and door and window frames that are carefully placed on the broad expanse of the facade. The Beale house demonstrates that reduction to the primary elements of scale, balance, harmony, and proportion by the solvent of classicism can produce timeless architecture regardless of where or when it was constructed.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee
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Citation

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Egyptian Embassy (Joseph Beale House)", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/DC-01-SK18.

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 345-346.

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