Located adjacent to Alexandria, Virginia, the community of Fairlington was designed as federal housing for defense workers and their families. It was financed and managed by the Defense Homes Corporation (DHC), an arm of the Federal Housing Administration. From 1942 to1944, nearly 3,500 Colonial Revival-style town houses and apartment units were constructed as permanent rental properties on 322 acres, making it the largest housing complex in the nation at its inception.
Designed by Kenneth Franzheim and Alan B. Mills, Fairlington is a garden-apartment complex. The site plan is characterized by curvilinear streets that connect rectilinear clusters of houses, which vary in size and type. Homes often face a central courtyard with lawns and a central parking area in the center. Between the clusters are expanses of lawn and scattered trees. Site planning took into account the land’s varied topography, and attention to planting made the dense residential community verdant soon after construction was complete. Franzheim and Mills designed two other garden-apartment complexes for the DHC in Washington, D.C.: McLean Gardens and Naylor Gardens, both completed in 1943.
Fairlington was sold to private owners in 1947, and, after 1972, the rental properties were converted to condominiums. Fairlington was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, recognizing its significance as large-scale, publicly financed World War II-era housing.