What The Helen of Troy is This?

DSCN0222, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure this building out. It’s located at the 200 block of H Street, NW. Any guesses?

The murals make it slightly less of an eyesore.


23 Comment

  • it’s a ventilation shaft for the tunnel underneath.

  • There’s a similar structure on Governor’s Island in New York that I know is a bunch of fans to ventilate the Holland Tunnel, so I’ve always assumed it was something like that. There are some tunnels in that area, plus the metro needs some ventilation too I’m sure.

  • Didn’t it used to have a different mural on it? I always thought it was a missive silo for undelivered mail….

  • Ventilation shaft makes sense, although missile silo is so much cooler.

  • Yes, it is a ventilation shaft for I-395. It has been jokingly called the Nixon Memorial by some.

  • thats the place that our shadow representatives go to vote.

  • how about the Rightwing Republican Base Memorial?

  • Posts Answer Man answered that a year ago but I dont remember

  • I LOVE that thing. Pass it every day on the way to work and think it is so cool.

  • Anyone seen monkeys hovered around it wondering if they can touch it?

    m.e. – isn’t that a bit large for the RRB Memorial? Good call, though.

  • Telephone switch?

  • that’s the ventilation tower for the 3rd street / I-395 tunnel

  • hahaha its the Men in Black Headquarters!

  • From the Washington post article back in 2007…

    On H Street NW, near Second Street and Massachusetts Avenue, there is an odd-looking building that is very skinny and tall. On one side is painted the Capitol dome. Everyone I ask says it is a missile silo.

    The strange structure is actually an airshaft, built in 1975 to vent vehicle exhaust from I-395, which runs underneath the city there.

    The monolithic edifice got its unconventional look in 1988, after the city had a contest asking artists for proposals on how to decorate it. A local artist, Val Lewton, was awarded the honor to do the project.

    Lewton calls his 60-by-100-foot work “The Airshaft Mural.” It’s a trompe l’oeil design that looks as if the concrete pylon is pierced by windows through which the U.S Capitol peeps.

    “I sort of wanted to emphasize the concrete,” said Lewton. “I thought if it looked like it had been penetrated, it would make it look even more solid than it was.”

    Lewton painted a one-third scale mockup of his design on foamcore panels in his studio, carefully matching the concrete’s color. When it was time to paint the beast, Lewton hired a window-washing company in lieu of building a scaffold, so the painters could go up and down the face of the shaft freely.

    One day, Lewton said, a homeless man announced that he could help. It turned out that Victor Korenev was an artist from Bulgaria.

    “The guy could do anything,” said Lewton. “I had amateurs working on it, but he was able to take a look at what I wanted and hit just the right notes.”

    The whole painting job took a month and cost $20,000.

  • For years, that thing has been unofficially known as the Nixon Memorial.

  • Not to stir conspiracy theroies, but I have not noticed any vents inside the tunnels and it is awfully tall for a ventalation shaft.

  • this is dick cheney’s undisclosed location. it was designed to reflect all the joy and radiance of his ebullient personality.

  • It’s near the National Guard headquarters…If it’s not really ventilation shaft it looks like a good place to ride out the revolution.

  • the one for the holland tunnel in NYC is pretty darn big:


  • The holland tunnel vent is also in a flood plain and vents a much longer tunnel. I am dubious. I think it where the mind control radio transmission comes from. Better put the foil hat back on.

  • I’ve wondered what this is for four years! Thanks for the informative comments (that ones that weren’t guesses :P).

  • Unmarked Memorial for GW Bush

  • Another IM Pei church design?

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