In January 2008 we presented an international call for ideas: “What if the White House, the ultimate architectural symbol of political power, were to be designed today? On the occasion of the election of the 44th President of the United States of America, Storefront for Art and Architecture, in association with Control Group, challenge you to design a new residence for the world’s most powerful individual.”  


Universally recognized as a symbol of political authority, one of America’s greatest tourist attractions, and the nerve center of the world’s most complex communications system, the White House is the ultimate architectural embodiment of power. Few people realize the building’s extent, since much of it is below ground or otherwise concealed by landscaping. The White House includes: six stories and 55,000 square feet of floor space, 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, twenty-eight fireplaces, eight staircases, three elevators, five full-time chefs, a tennis court, a bowling alley, a movie theater, a jogging track, a swimming pool, and a putting green. It receives about 5,000 visitors a day.

The original White House design, by James Hoban, was the result of a competition held in 1792. Over the centuries, presidents have added rooms, facilities and even entire new wings, turning the White House into the labyrinthine complex it is today. What if, instead of in 1792, the competition were to be held today? What would a White House designed in 2008, election year for the 44th President of the United States, look like? 


The best ideas, designs, descriptions, images, and videos were selected by some of the world’s most distinguished designers and critics.



Beatriz Colomina (Architectural historian, New York)
Stefano Boeri (Editor-in-chief, Abitare magazine, Milan)
Liz Diller (Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York)
John Maeda (President Elect, Rhode Island School of Design RISD)
Geoff Manaugh (BLDGblog and Dwell magazine, San Francisco)
Mark Wigley (Dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Columbia University, New York)
Laetitia Wolff (Editorial director, Surface magazine, New York)