The Octagon

Museum of the Architects Foundation
The Octagon is open to the public as a house museum, Thursday through Saturday, and serves as a venue for exhibits and events that educate and inspire the public on the value architects and architecture bring to culture and community.

Since its construction began in 1799, The Octagon has symbolized power and national influence in Washington, DC. The Octagon was the private winter residence for the wealthiest plantation family in Virginia, who built in the newly-established capital to entertain national and international politicians. Closely tied to our nation’s history, the building was designed by the first architect of the United States Capitol, William Thornton, and the building served for six months as the White House after the 1814 Burning of Washington.

Recognizing the national importance of this building, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) established The Octagon as its national headquarters in 1898. In the 1970s AIA constructed its current headquarters on the site of The Octagon’s original outbuildings, and today AIA serves more than 95,000 members. In the 1970s, The Octagon was first opened to the public as a museum. Now owned by the Architects Foundation, The Octagon continues to inspire current and future architects, and highlights important moments and movements in American and architectural history.

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