The Octagon

Museum of the Architects Foundation
Open to the public as a house museum Thursday-Saturday, The Octagon hosts programs demonstrating the cultural and societal impact of architects and architecture.

Closely tied to our nation’s history since its construction began in 1799, The Octagon is a symbol of power and influence in Washington, DC. The Octagon was built as the private winter residence for Virginia’s wealthiest plantation family, largely as a gesture of support of the newly-established capital. The building was designed by the first architect of the United States Capitol, William Thornton, and served for six months as the White House after the 1814 Burning of Washington.

Recognizing The Octagon’s national importance, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) established its national headquarters on-site in 1898. In the 1970s AIA constructed its current headquarters on the site of The Octagon’s original outbuildings, opening The Octagon to the public as a museum. Now owned by the Architects Foundation, The Octagon continues to inspire current and future architects, highlighting important moments and movements in American and architectural history.

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