Mid-Century Modernized

Born from nuanced urban planning concepts of the 1960s, renowned mid-century modern architect Charles M. Goodman partnered with the Reynolds Metals Company to develop River Park. Founded during a time of state-sanctioned segregation, River Park became known as one of the first developments in Washington D.C. to be racially integrated. Sticking to its roots, River Park remains committed to cultivating and supporting diversity while preserving the property’s distinct architectural character. Driven by and for the community, all decisions are determined by an elected board of members and resident-run committees.

1960s Now
1960s Now
1960s Now

River Park in the News

“River Park, an 11-acre cooperative in Southwest DC designed by mid-century modernist architect Charles M. Goodman and landscape architect Eric Paepcke, recently began a campus-wide rehabilitation of its grounds. The work at the property, located at 4th St. SW and Delaware Ave. SW, is part of a wider capital improvement plan intended to upgrade infrastructure, improve service reliability and increase member satisfaction. The capital improvement projects are being funded, in part, by an $8.6 million loan from National Cooperative Bank.”

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Washington is home to myriad mid-century residential buildings by nationally known architects. The most unique among these is the River Park development, located on 4th Street SW between N and O Streets. Its aluminum details and barrel-roofed townhouses stand out in a sea of concrete and brick boxes.

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Although Nina Dunham was born in the “Mad Men” era, she had never gravitated toward mid-century modern design. But when she walked into an airy 1960s lobby in Southwest Washington’s River Park, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, bright-blue tiles, and low-slung Knoll furniture, she felt at home.

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In 50 years, River Park in Southwest D.C. has gone from ahead of its time to oddly old-fashioned to, at least in the eyes of some, cool again.

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The barrel-roof townhouses of River Park are Campbell’s soup cans, halved the long way, balanced on top of metal cubes two blocks from Southwest Washington’s Waterfront Metro station. They are called “houses” — because people live in them, and really, what else could they be called? — but they are architectural punch lines, visual acid trips, the left-behind parts of the secret UFO that docked down by the waterfront half a century ago and then flew away before anyone caught it on camera.

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