The Islamic Center of Washington DC officially opened in 1957, the first major congregational mosque constructed in America. The Italian architect Mario Rossi, who had built similar buildings in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt in the 1940s, designed in the building in a "neo-Mamluk" style inspired by the buildings of 15th century Mamluk Egypt. The building is situated on a street lined with embassies.
The building plan is a three-iwan hall surrounded by an exterior double-riwaq arcade. The arcade is set parallel to the street, but the building is set at an angle to conform to the qibla axis. Traditional Mamluk buildings would have an open courtyard, but due to the climate the central space of the mosque is covered with a clerestory dome. A riwaq of five horseshoe arches serves as the entrance portal, another departure from the traditional Mamluk style.
The interior furnishings represent a variety of nations and styles. The mihrab is tiled in glazed tiles reminiscent of Ottoman Turkey, the wall tiles were a gift from Turkey, the chandeliers from Egypt, and the carpets from the Shah of Iran.
The building is listed, and protected by, the Historic American Buildings Survey.
Kahera, Akel Ismail. Deconstructing the American mosque: space, gender, and aesthetics, 68-72. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.