What Would Happen if the White House Were Redesigned?

By Storefront for Art and Architecture Archive

In anticipation of the presidential election of 2008, Storefront for Art and Architecture and Control Group asked the public, "What if the White House, the ultimate architectural symbol of political power were to be designed today?" Their open call brought forward over eight-hundred submissions and paved the way for a series of discussions concerning the role of architecture in our political landscape.

White House Redux: Call for Ideas (2008-10-02) by Control Group and Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

Redux and reverb
Exhibitions have the power to reverberate, to generate dialog exists for longer than the lifespan of a single show, across distances unencumbered by gallery walls. Additionally, the internet allows for the circulation of media materials and questions to reach an international audience.

In honor of the upcoming election of the 44th President of the United States, Storefront and Control Group's "White House Redux" created a public inquiry surrounding questions of governance, symbols of power, and the agency of architecture.

They asked the following: what would happen if the White House were redesigned today?

Money on Money, Storefront for Art and Architecture, 1983-02-11, From the collection of: Storefront for Art and Architecture Archive
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The open call format is an important tradition for Storefront.

Previous public inquiries included "Money on Money," which asked participants to redesign the one-dollar bill to reflect the true social values of the contemporary era.

Liberty: Call for Ideas, Storefront for Art and Architecture, 1983-04-07, From the collection of: Storefront for Art and Architecture Archive
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In "Liberty," Storefront asked for new designs for the Statue of Liberty: a symbol of collective freedom and equality.

The new monument would echo contemporary society and open an inquiry on the role of the monument in our present society.

Before Whitney, Storefront for Art and Architecture, 1985-12, From the collection of: Storefront for Art and Architecture Archive
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"Before Whitney," asked for designs of the new Whitney Museum as a specifically American Architecture.

In this instance, the "open call" served as a blind lithmus test for determining the faith (or, lackthereof) of the public in the American government.

White House Redux: The Poll (2008-03-25) by Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

The White House's original design is the result of a competition hosted by President George Washington in 1792. White House Redux leans on this history, by inviting participants from all over to submit responses on what the seat of the President might look like if designed today. An online webpage was created by Control Group to collect entries from individuals around the world.

This video publicized the inquiry, contributing to the chatter news sites and online blogs were creating around this project. The internet allowed for media materials to circulate to the international audience that would eventually submit proposals to the competition.

White House Redux: Call for Ideas (2008-10-02) by Control Group and Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

An open call

Participants were asked to submit their ideas on a website created by Control Group. The site stated: "the best ideas, designs, descriptions, images, and videos will be selected...and featured in a month-long exhibition....Register now and send us your ideas for the Presidential Palace of the future!" The ease of access to this page likely contributed to the fact that over 800 entries were submitted to the competition from 42 countries.

White House Redux: WTC (2008-03-29) by Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

The jury met on the 45th floor of World Trade Center Tower 7. They printed documents from each of submissions for critique.

Designs submitted for the competition to redesign the White House in 1792: 7
Number of registered White House Redux Participants: 831
Countries of Origin: 42
Total number of tabloid-format sheets printed for the May 29 jury in WTC7: 5135

Projects proposing to create a distributed network of White Houses: 14
Projects proposing to build a new White House underground: 18
Projects proposing to repaint the White House another color: 9
Projects proposing to rebuild the White House as a tower: 31

Projects proposing to repaint the White House black: 9
Projects incorporating a gigantic media screen: 23
Number of flying White Houses: 3
Number of floating White Houses: 3
Project proposing to leave the White House as is: 1

White House Redux: Jury (2008-03-29) by Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

White House Redux: Jury Day, Storefront for Art and Architecture, 2008-09-22, From the collection of: Storefront for Art and Architecture Archive
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A film of the jury’s day-long process of sifting through over eight-hundred entries was produced for public display, reversing the typically closed-door process of selection.

This effectively turned an entire floor of World Trade Center Building 7 into a fishbowl for public observation.

White House Redux: Exhibition Images (2008-10-03) by Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

A majority of the submissions were printed and displayed at Storefront. To coincide with the exhibition, 123 selected projects and the four winning submissions were published in a book, alongside essays and the history of the existing White House.

White House Redux: Joint Third Prize Winner, Grant Gibson, Chris-Annmarie Spencer, 2008-10-02, From the collection of: Storefront for Art and Architecture Archive
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White House Redux: Joint Third Prize Winner, Wayne Congar, Arrielle Assouline-Lichten, 2008-10-02, From the collection of: Storefront for Art and Architecture Archive
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White House Redux: Second Place Winner, David Iseri, Laura Sperry, Justin Kruse, Jefferson Frost, 2008-10-02, From the collection of: Storefront for Art and Architecture Archive
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White House Redux: First Prize Winner, J.P. Maruszczak, Roger Connah (with Ryan Manning), 2008-10-02, From the collection of: Storefront for Art and Architecture Archive
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White House Redux: Manifesto (2008-10-02) by Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

Public reaction

A group which identified themselves as "Arch. Collaborators" criticized the jury's selection of winners. "A Manifesto for Storefront," quoted Le Corbusier in their demand for "architecture or revolution, and revolution can be avoided." The group cited a return to reformist engagement and criticized "post-modern indifference." 

White House Redux: Manifesto (2008-10-02) by Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

White House Redux: Election Night Special! Sleepover at Storefront (2008-11-04) by Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

When Storefront hosted the Presidential election at the "Sleepover Special," the dizzying array of projects posted on the walls of the gallery became the psychological backdrop for the insecurities and ambitions for our government.

This allowed the ideas of the countless others not in New York to remain, in the room, giving all propositions a seat at the table.

White House Redux: Election Night Special! Sleepover at Storefront (2008-11-04) by Storefront for Art and ArchitectureStorefront for Art and Architecture Archive

Much like the facade of Storefront, "White House Redux" invited the greater public access to a platform of discussion and debate established by the open call participants.

The media campaign, screening series, and protest which made up "White House Redux" created a reverberation - enabling the exhibition to find relevance even ten years later.

Credits: Story

For more information about White House Redux, please visit:
- Other Media
- Webpage


This Google Arts and Culture exhibit is curated by Parker Limón

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Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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