AREA ARCHITECTS have been invited to enter their proudest projects in a show at the National Building Museum. If what we see is the best they've got, area architecture may be in worse shape than we knew.

Or maybe not. It's hard to tell from the exhibit entries, most of which are presented in a lackluster fashion that's less informative than the average real-estate ad, even allowing for the limitations of architectural renderings. Some that catch the eye:

A Harry Weese proposal for a new Department of Transportation headquarters and an air-rights building over the tracks behind Union Station. Although enormous, they echo and enhance the setting, and promise inviting interiors and pedestrian pathways.

A pair of residences by Wentworth Associates that could hardly be less appropriate for their sites. The one in Bethany Beach belongs in Arlington, while the Arlington house should be on Foxhall Road in Washington.

The Reinecker & Associates sacred center for the Covenant Community of Jesus the Good Shepherd in Owings, Md., which looks like just the sort of magnificent sheepfold God might build for His flock.

The new University of Virginia Hospital by Metcalf Tobey, which is boldly modern yet creates a transition between the handsome old university and ugly old Charlottesville that Tom Jefferson himself surely would have applauded.

A presentation by Ellerbe Becket that makes little sense until you read the catalogue ($10), after which it makes no sense at all. It's a design for a hospital in Augusta County, Va., that Becket says was put together with "random precision." Dr. Feelgood, call your office.

Taken as a whole, the show is far from reassuring, considering that the oversights, excesses and errors of architects become concrete forms that may plague us for generations.

GIVE US YOUR BEST -- Through Dec. 2 at the National Building Museum in the Old Pension Building, F Street between Fourth and Fifth NW. 202/272-2564. Open 10 to 4 Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 Sundays and holidays. Metro: Judiciary Square. Adequate wheelchair access.