Local architect pens illustrations of favorite places in the capital

He hopes the book will bring everyone – from passing politicians to new residents and old locals – a deeper understanding of our famous city.

WASHINGTON – Deru Thadani has lived in the area for 50 years now – but his love affair with the city was, at first, a slow burn.

Born in Mumbai, India, Thadani made his brave voyage across the ocean to study architecture in the capital when he was just 17 years old in 1972 at the Catholic University of America. With the city suffering from the backlash to riots in the 1960s, his days of no metro and his memories of poor bus service, his entry into town had a rough start.

That all changed with the help of a few enthusiastic professors and talented professionals who helped him see the beauty designed in the depths of the walls around the area.

Since the 1970s, Thadani has thrived as an award-winning architect, author and urban designer, spending every day putting pen to paper and continuing to admire and educate about the city he loves.

“It’s, in my opinion, the greatest city in America for a variety of reasons,” he said he’s discovered through the years. “One of the things that makes Washington unique is the very beautiful plan that it has implemented [Pierre] Lanfant. The second is elevation determination, which is very unique to an American city.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when his chaotic life at work and travel seemed to be slowing down, Thadani knew this was the perfect time to work on another project. By July, he was ready to display his latest work; “Washington Drawings: Abe to Zoo” is a kind of love letter to some of Thadani’s favorite moments and history lessons in the city’s most beautiful, most famous and unique places.

Readers will find that each graphic is organized alphabetically – one for each letter of the alphabet with text providing context and history around the topic the illustration depicts. The book presents a total of 26 pencil and ink drawings.

He hopes the book will bring everyone – from passing politicians to new residents and old locals – a deeper understanding of our iconic city and a more intimate view of what they will see as they explore.

“You’ve been able to introduce a lot of notions of diversity and equity,” he said of the key perspectives he could add to the descriptions. “Other than design engineering; mistakes made [in urban design]Errors corrected.

Thadani fondly remembers creating many of his illustrations and their descriptions. He used to sit in the car at night and let his pen do the work, adding the reason why half of the drawings in the book depict a moonlit scene.

After the book was released, locals had another opportunity to view the intricate drawings up close: in a special exhibition at one location of the county independent library, Politics and Prose. Yet Thadani is so satisfied with education on the capital’s cityscapes that he is able to share it through his work and performances, all thanks to the city’s meticulous urban design enshrined in L’Enfant’s plan.

“The plan has a long life,” he said. “So when you make something that people understand up to 200 years later, after 300 years, it’s still alive… you can still learn from it. And you know, learn some really important lessons about public space.”

“Washington Drawings: Abe to Zoo” is available at Politics & Prose, National Building Museum, Dalton Brody, or online. Click here to find out more.

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WUSA9 is now running Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live and video-on-demand newscasts.

Download the WUSA9 app to get breaking news, weather and important stories at your fingertips.

Subscribe to the Get Up DC newsletter: your expectations. your commute. your news.
Subscribe to the Capitol Breach email newsletter, which provides the latest breaking news and a brief report on the investigation into the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021.

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