Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

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Ai Weiwei is using LEGOs to represent activists at the Hirshhorn Museum

Ever placed the sole of your bare foot onto a piece of LEGO left on the floor? If you have, you know the and sheer pain and annoyance at 1) How such a harmless looking single brick could cause so much pain and 2) Why it was there in the first place. If one floor-bound LEGO brick is enough to cause you such discomfort, then prepare to be triggered at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of thousands of bricks, courtesy of Ai Weiwei, will be laid on the floor to form portraits. These are not just any old pieces of portraiture, though. In Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn, the Chinese artist has chosen to represent activists. Perhaps this is fitting. Activists, to those in power, can be as aggravating as treading on a piece of LEGO. Collectively, they are more daunting—as daunting as say, walking across an entire floor of jagged LEGO. Within the circular museum, 176 portraits all comprised of LEGO and assembled by hand populate the museum's second floor, spanning 700 feet. Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn will fill the entirety of the second-floor galleries and also feature two graphic wallpapers, one of which is being exhibited for the first time. This debuting artwork is titled The Plain Version of the Animal That Looks Like a Llama but is Really an Alpaca and will cover the outer wall of the Hirshhorn's second floor. The piece includes images of surveillance and is a monochrome take on Ai's The Animal That Looks Like a Llama but is Really an Alpaca which itself will be found in the lobby of the same floor. This will be the first time Ai's Trace has been shown on the East Coast. Trace was first commissioned in 2014, opening at Alcatraz in San Francisco as a collaboration between the nonprofit FOR-SITE Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Golden Gate Park Conservancy. The exhibition and artwork featured derives from Ai's treatment by the Chinese government stemming back to 2011 when he was incarcerated, interrogated and tracked by authorities for 81 days. In addition to this, Ai was also banned from exiting China until two years ago. Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn will be on view from June 28 through January 1, 2018. The evening before the exhibition's opening, Ai will give the annual James T. Demetrion Lecture in the Hirshhorn’s Ring Auditorium marking his first appearance in the city. In 2012, the museum ran a retrospective of the artist's work, the first in the U.S., alas, Ai was prohibited from attending. Free tickets for the lecture will be released online on June 19. More details can be found on the museum website.
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New RFK memorial project launched for D.C.’s RFK Stadium complex

The start of a new memorial project for assassinated U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy at Washington D.C.’s RFK Stadium was announced by the District of Columbia's Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, the senator’s family members, and Events DC, on May 17. The memorial project is part of an overall plan for the RFK Stadium complex, a $500 million project spearheaded by New York City–based OMA. The proposal involves demolishing the current stadium and its parking lots, transforming the site into a 350,000-square-foot recreation and sports complex complete with three ball fields and a 47,000-square-foot market selling groceries. The memorial will honor the late senator, serving “as a place of remembrance and a place of teaching and practicing the civil rights and equality ideals Robert F. Kennedy championed,” Events DC said in a statement to The Washington Post. The 190-acre site sits on federal government land and will be tied to neighboring Kingman Island and the River Terrace neighborhood by three new pedestrian bridges. Events DC, the city’s official convention and sports authority, will be funding half of the project while city, hotel tax revenue, and team leases will cover the rest. “On behalf of my family, we are delighted… to begin this journey… in tribute to my late grandfather,” Maeve Kennedy McKean, the senator’s granddaughter said in the Events DC statement. “My grandfather lived his life every day in the service of others.” Officials hope that the redevelopment of the new stadium site and the memorial will begin and finish over the next five to seven years, according to Events DC. The D.C. United soccer club currently occupies the stadium and will continue to do so for another year, until the new BIG-designed stadium is completed.
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James Corner Field Operations tapped to activate Georgetown canal network in Washington, D.C.

Landscape architecture and urban design studio James Corner Field Operations (JCFO) has been chosen to develop a master plan for revisioning the canal network of Georgetown, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. JCFO has an established pedigree when it comes to re-imagining infrastructure. The firm worked on New York's much acclaimed High Line and is currently planning a similar ten-mile scheme in Miami called the Underline. The name for this project is yet to be announced, but the "The Waterline" wouldn't be a bad guess given JCFO's record. Covering one mile of the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park (C&O Canal NHP), JCFO will work with the National Park Service (NPS), Georgetown Heritage, the D.C. Office of Planning, and the local community to activate underused pedestrian paths through the site and tap into the canal network's forgotten historical heritage. In the coming year, Georgetown Heritage and the NPS will procure community info on how to maximize the site's assets which include: stone structures dating back to the 1830s, locks, towpaths, plazas, and street crossings. These features will aid the educational and recreational aspirations that stakeholders have for the site as well as contribute to the area's aesthetic appeal. The chronology of events for the project is as follows:
  • Conditions Assessment: Documenting and analyzing the current state of the physical structures of the canal, as well as how people currently use the park.
  • Historic Preservation: Inventorying and developing a plan to preserve the historic elements of the canal.
  • Safety & Accessibility: Recommendations to improve access to the canal and make it a safer, more comfortable place to be through interventions such as lighting, ramps, signage, and seating.
    • Recreation Opportunities: In addition to the paddling dock to be built in Spring 2018, the Master Plan will create opportunities and inviting spaces for all kinds of recreation; from active recreation like cycling and kayaking, to passive recreation like bird watching or gongoozling (watching activity on a canal).
  • Transformative Designs: There are five nodes/plazas within this one-mile stretch of canal that are currently underused or not used at all. The Master Plan will explore concepts for transformative designs for these spaces:
    • Zero Mile Marker/Tide Lock
    • Lock 1
    • Mule Yard
    • Fish Market Square
    • Aqueduct Overlook
  • Programmatic Plans: In order to bring life and activity back to the canal, the Master Plan will include plans for interpretation, education, and cultural programming.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Washington, D.C., and the Georgetown community to create a transformative public space that blends historic architecture with rich landscapes to create a world-class and unique destination in the heart of the neighborhood,” said James Corner, founder and director of JCFO in a press release. “The Georgetown section of the C&O Canal NHP should be a landmark park for everyone, a lively center for social gatherings, a continuous link for recreation and contemplation, a connector of neighborhoods and networks and a model for urban livability and human health and wellbeing.” “The James Corner Field Operations team brings exceptional ingenuity, boundless energy and extensive experience partnering with cities, parks, and community groups to create stunning, lively spaces that reflect each site’s distinct character and maximize its potential to engage people of all ages and cultures,” said Alison Greenberg, executive director of Georgetown Heritage. Also working alongside JCFO in the design and planning process is: MakeDC, Robert Silman Associates, ETM Associates, and Dharam Consulting. These firms will help to develop the Georgetown Canal Plan, which re-envisions this popular section of the canal.
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Washington’s Old Post Office Clock Tower (neighbors with Trump International Hotel) once again open for tours

The Trump International Hotel is no longer the only attraction at Washington, D.C.’s Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue. The National Park Service has resumed public tours of the Old Post Office clock tower, three years after they were suspended so the Trump Organization could start construction on the $200 million, 263-room luxury hotel that opened last fall. Visitors can once again go up inside the 315-foot-high clock tower for sweeping views of the city. It’s the highest public vantage point in the nation’s capital, with the Washington Monument closed for elevator repairs for at least another year. Built from 1892 to 1899 to house the U. S. Post Office Department Headquarters and the city’s post office, the Old Post Office occupies an entire city block at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. It was designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke, in a Romanesque Revival style, and was the first steel-frame building constructed in Washington, D.C. The central clock tower has an observation deck with arched openings that frame views of the city. The building served as the U. S. Post Office headquarters until 1934. For the next four decades, it housed a variety of federal agencies. During the 1960s, it was the headquarters for the wiretapping unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an agency that President Donald Trump just accused of tapping his wires at the Trump Tower in New York. It also has been the headquarters of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, two agencies that may be eliminated by the Trump administration. Under the Cooperative Use Act of 1976, it was opened to a mixture of public and private development. Now that the hotel is open, visitors to the clock tower have to enter through the building’s south side, off 12th Street N.W. Tour hours are Thursday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the last entry is 4:30 p.m.  Tourists won’t necessarily interact with the hotel guests or management; the clock tower tours are run by the park service.
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Mabel O. Wilson on race, memory, and architecture

Recently, at The Architect's Newspaper (AN) we have seen an influx of architectural projects—Motown Museum expansionThe Equal Justice Initiative's The Memorial to Peace and JusticeEmancipation Parkwhich explore methods of memorialization and the celebration of black experiences in America. On the occasion of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) last September, the museum created greater visibility for these narratives and formed new discourses on race. AN sat down with Mabel O. Wilson, an architect and associate professor at Columbia's GSAPP, to discuss her new book Beginning with the Past which details the hard-fought process of realizing NMAAHC. Wilson also participated in the original competition for the museum in collaboration with DS+R and Hood Design Studio. ANJames Baldwin, in his essay Many Thousands Gone wrote, “The story of the Negro in America is the story of America–or, more precisely, it is the story of Americans.” This quote reiterates a similar statement he made to Congress that you included in your book. Can you talk about that statement in relation to the aim you had for Beginning With The Past? Mabel Wilson: I think what Baldwin was trying to say is that the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and I would also put into that the genocide of indigenous peoples, are really the original sins of America. I think there is a way in which the notion of exceptionalism has never been able to contend with the violence that was necessary for the shaping of the nation. In 2014, the AIA released a report which surveyed architects and found that racial minorities are vastly underrepresented in both the academy and the profession. At the same time, many initiatives have emerged recently to address these racial inequalities: Paul Revere William's AIA Gold Award, the Phil Freelon GSD fellowship, the AIA's new diversity scholarship, the "Say it Loud" exhibition. Do these initiatives capture the reforms needed to address the systemic challenges that face the profession in the pursuit to increase diversity? What more can architects do? I think there are many factors that have to do with the low number of minorities in the field. It’s like movie production, it’s a field that requires access to vast amounts of capital. And so you have to, in some fashion, be able to gain access to that [capital] as an architect. I always tell people that if you want to find out the history of African American architecture, you have to go back and look at all the black builders who, particularly by the 20th century, weren’t ‘licensed architects.’ There were other ways [that] people were building and thinking about space, but it isn’t the stuff that ends up in the history books or recorded by local chapters of the professional association. But it’s out there so you have to look elsewhere. To build is to have power. That’s not something given up easily, which women have found out in architecture. It’s not an easy ceiling to break because of the ways that buildings are tied to power structures and power relations and wealth. As you describe in your book, the Smithsonian unsurprisingly sought African American-led firms and experts to participate in the competition process, casting a light on the deficiencies of architectural competitions to include minority-owned and operated entities. Beyond hiring black architects when they're able to, what can institutional clients do to include historically disadvantaged voice in the development of large cultural projects? I really respect Lonnie Bunch for insisting that the teams have a diverse range of architects. That’s huge in terms of opportunities because it’s fundamentally who you know; it’s social networking which often in this country is determined along racial lines. Even though I’d say the majority of people [and institutions] don’t think of themselves as racists, we’ve just had a huge racist backlash in this country that is showing up as antisemitism and islamophobia and other things. I think the effort to bring in diverse voices for projects is important. The Smithsonian, particularly under Lonnie Bunch’s leadership, produced teams that would not have perhaps normally come together. Your research into spatial politics and collective memory are present at various points throughout your book, especially with regard to the NMAAHC’s location on the National Mall adjacent to the Washington Monument. What does it mean for all Americans that these African American histories and narratives are consolidated on this particular site? In the wake of the NMAAHC, do you see architecture playing a bigger role in telling the story of black America? Certainly, the museum has brought this kind of sensibility to a lot of issues. It has a very important presence in that it is visible to the world. And, it’s impossible to get a ticket, still, there is extraordinary demand to experience this history because it was never told and the material wasn’t collected. That was the big challenge for [NMAAHC]. Most people think that designing the building and raising the money was the hard part. No, it was building a collection. I think it’s significant now, as we think about these legacies, how people mark these things that have already been forgotten. So that is why I think [NMAAHC] is important because that collection work was never done. I think we are still dealing with issues of race as a nation and as a world; we still have work to do.
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D.C. United stadium approved, despite design “disappointment”

On February 16, D.C. United was granted approval by the D.C. Zoning Commission for the construction of Audi Field, the MLS team's new $300 million stadium designed by stadia specialists Populous and local practice Marshall Moya Design. On February 27, this coming Monday, ground will break on-site at Half Street at 3 p.m. The process, however, hasn't all been smooth sailing. Although the five-member committee was unanimous in their decision, zoning commissioners Peter May and Michael Turnbull were reluctant in doing so. "I still do feel like this application left something to be desired," said May. "I am still disappointed in the design. It has been a disappointment all the way through. I hope it turns out better than expected." The stadium will be built at Buzzard Point near the Anacostia River. The site was determined four years ago, but issues raised by the Buzzard Point advisory neighborhood commission and the D.C. Department of Transportation induced delays. Problems relating to public space, retail, parking, and the environment were ironed out in December when the design went before commissioners; the stadium was then awarded prior approval at the time. Even then, however, Commission Chairman Anthony Hood remarked that "major work" was still required with regard to transport in and around the site. In response to neighborhood concerns, the soccer team will donate $50,000 to non-profit organization Breathe DC for the purchase of air purifiers, as well as put in place a bike sharing facility with parking for 447 bicycles. 500,000 square feet (total) of retail space is also now part of the development. Plans, though, are yet to be finalized for parking and traffic management when D.C.'s baseball team, the Washington Nationals, play a few blocks down the road. Aside from the concerns, Audi Field is due to open in 2018. The new stadium will boast a capacity of 20,000 and offer 31 luxury suites. The arena is set to host numerous sporting and cultural events, community activities, and concerts. "We are extremely excited to break ground on this site, a project that has been 21 years in the making," said Jason Levien, United managing partner. "Since Erick [Thohir] and I assumed stewardship in 2012 we’ve been on a mission to deliver to our fans and this community a new, permanent home." D.C. United currently play at the RFK Stadium, the area around of which is the focus of OMA's New York office for a major upheaval. The estimated $500 million proposal includes three ballfields (two for baseball, one for youth soccer), a 350,000-square-foot recreation and sports complex, and a 47,000-square-foot market selling groceries and concessions.
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Explore these two major adaptive reuse projects in Washington, D.C.

Arlington, Virginia—based practice Antunovich Associates has recently completed two adaptive reuse projects in Washington D.C. through Douglas Development: The former Hecht Company Warehouse and Uline Arena now offer living units and offices respectively, while both are home to new retail spaces. Located along New York Avenue, NE and a stone's throw away from the U.S. Capitol, the Hecht Company Warehouse is now home to 335 loft-style apartment units and 150,000 square feet of retail. Kevin Sperry, senior principle at Antunovich Associates, said the warehouse is "an esteemed Washington landmark." The firm has retained the building's historic and iconic glass block exterior, which stands six stories tall and runs along both New York Avenue and Fenwick Street. The glass block crown that sits atop its rounded corner is a rejuvenated beacon whose life and vitality is mirrored by new street-level activity. Here, a series of shops—notably a Nike outlet—now line New York Avenue, joined by broad sidewalks and shade-providing trees that accommodate outdoor dining and sidewalk cafes. In addition, an exterior court to the southeast of the historic portion of the Hecht Company Warehouse will accompany a grand entrance to the building. Residents, meanwhile, live in the five floors above. To cater to its new inhabitants, as well as the influx of people to the neighborhood, a garage and street parking facilities were built to the east of the building. This was achieved through the partial demolition of the one-story warehouse additions that adjoined the building. Southwest of Ivy City, in the NoMa neighborhood, Antunovich Associates undertook another mixed-use historical re-working. The 2.5-acre site of the Uline Arena encompasses the arena itself and an Icehouse building. The former hosted the first live Beatles performance in the United States in 1964, meanwhile, the latter, as its name suggests, featured a skating rink and ice hockey events. Work on the project saw the addition of more than 50,000 square feet of retail space and three times that of office space. A new above-ground parking structure accommodates 175 spaces while an interior courtyard (also new) provides abundant natural sunlight and a tranquil space for office tenants. Founder of Antunovich Associates, Joseph Antunovich will be speaking at the next Facades+AM conference in D.C. this March 9. There he will discuss his firm's adaptive reuse work in further detail. Seating is limited. To register, go to am.facadesplus.com.
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$2 billion waterfront project in Washington, D.C., adds SHoP Architects, Michael Van Valkenburgh, HWKN, and others

It’s awards season, even in the architecture world. This week developer Hoffman-Madison Waterfront (HMW) announced the 11 architects chosen for the second phase of the District of Columbia’s waterfront development, The Wharf. The Wharf is a $2 billion project that runs along nearly one mile of the Washington Channel’s Southwest neighborhood. At completion, The Wharf will bring more than three million square feet of mixed-use space to the D.C. area. Phase 1 of The Wharf project (about 1.9 million square feet of mixed-use development) is currently scheduled to open in October 2017, with Phase 2 breaking ground sometime in mid-2018. “We have selected a diverse group of locally, nationally, and internationally renowned designers, knowing they will bring their talent and expertise to The Wharf, building a waterfront neighborhood that is an integral part of the city,” said Shawn Seaman, AIA, principal and senior vice president of development of PN Hoffman. Washington, D.C.–based firm Perkins Eastman DC will continue to act as the master planners and master architects of The Wharf, allowing for continuity between Phase 1 and Phase 2. Firms (all New York City–based, unless otherwise noted) joining the team are as follows: SHoP Architects will design two office towers in Parcels 6 and 7 with related retail spaces in collaboration with WDG Architecture, who will act as the architect of record. ODA will design mixed-income multifamily apartments and related retail on Parcel 8 of the project, while Rafael Viñoly Architects will add luxury condominium residences in Parcel 9. Morris Adjmi Architects will be designing their first commercial building in Parcel 10, adding more office space to the development. Washington, D.C.–based STUDIOS Architecture has been chosen to design the multi-use marina services building. Hollwich Kushner (HWKN) will be designing the Wharf Marina, and S9 Architecture will be responsible for Wharf Marina Operations and the Cantina Marina Pier. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) will design M Street Landing, the outdoor space connecting the waterfront to the Arena Stage. Wolf | Josey Landscape Architects will continue their work from Phase 1 of the project, which included the detailing of The Wharf Promenade, The Channel rooftop, and other public space. The first phase of The Wharf will open on October 12, 2017. More information about The Wharf is available here.
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Not your grandfather’s two-by-fours: A new exhibition showcases modern wood construction

Here we are in the year 2016, getting ready to ride in robot cars and eat meat grown in labs, but a skyscraper built out of wood still seems outlandish. Why? Wood is one of the world’s sturdiest and most versatile building materials. It has a single raw ingredient that doesn’t require intensive energy to produce: trees. The Horyuji temple precinct in Japan has wood structures that have been standing since about 700 AD. The onion-domed wooden churches on Russia’s Kizhi Island date to the early 18th century.

Today we have an innate distrust of tall wood buildings, a sense that they’ll roar into flame at the first spark. This distrust is, in part, a legacy of terrible 19th-century conflagrations like the Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Boston Fire of 1872. Those disasters and others led to the adoption of fire codes that prohibited wood structures above a certain height, saving lives in the process.

But it’s the 21st century, and a new exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington challenges us to let go of our fear and embrace the future. The structural wood products that have recently entered the market are not your grandfather’s two-by-fours. Engineered timber beams have been proven in tests to be just as fireproof as steel, and arguably more so, since their cores as less likely to melt in a fire. They are also surprisingly strong.

In 2009, a nine-story apartment block in London was completed with an all-wood structure—load-bearing walls, floor slabs, elevator cores. Building with modern timber calls for a front-loaded process, which begins with sustainable forest management and expert milling (in close collaboration with the architect), and ends with a relatively quick assembly of prefabricated components. In other words, it changes how materials are sourced and how buildings are built. An overused cliché seems warranted here: Mass timber (the catch-all term for a host of different products) could disrupt the design and construction industries.

On display through May 21, 2017, Timber City occupies a single long room and part of the adjacent hallway on the second floor of Washington’s cavernous National Building Museum. Happily, wood is both the message and the medium in the exhibition design, by Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura of the Boston-based firm IKD. Information is presented on tall wooden boards propped against the walls. Large wood lozenges, stacked like pennies, hold the models. It’s a tactile and even olfactory show: Visitors can run a hand down a curved glu-lam beam, count the layers in a sandwich of cross-laminated timber (CLT), and compare laminated veneer to laminated strand lumber. Groups of tree stumps at either end of the room let you sit down for a moment to sniff the air (with so much wood, the room smells great).

Among the projects featured is a carousel pavilion in Stamford, Connecticut, that is just shy of completion, and a charter school in New Haven that opened a few months ago, both by Gray Organschi Architecture. The model of the carousel pavilion shows the undulations of precisely milled CLT in a cupola with three skylights, supported by a glu-lam rim beam. The UMass Design Building by Leers Weinzapfel Associates, now under construction in Amherst, Massachusetts, also makes extensive use of timber, including in its zipper-trussed atrium.

Those structures don’t exactly pierce the sky (the Design Building is four stories). But Framework, a project by Lever Architecture, will rise to 12 stories after it breaks ground next year in Portland, which will make it the tallest timber structure in the United States so far. Framework and another wood tower design by SHoP Architects, 475 West 18th (planned for a site on the High Line), won a prize from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is promoting tall timber—another sign this is not a passing fad.

For a small show, Timber City packs in a lot of information, and at times I wished it had more space to breathe. The Timber Over Time mural on one of the short walls is based on a clever conceit: It presents the history of wood construction through concentric tree rings. But as elsewhere, the text is small and dense. A board explaining the “forest-to-frame” life cycle is compelling—it really does seem to be a virtuous circle, with trees harvested at their carbon-storing peak, milled with little waste, and replaced by new growth—but I missed a more vivid sense of how trees become beams and boards. Too bad there wasn’t room to show footage from inside a factory or a time-lapse video of one of the buildings going up. (There is, however, a neat case of different wood byproducts that explains their uses.)

The exhibit is sponsored in part by the lumber industry, and it feels a bit like a sales pitch. But perhaps that’s necessary. The concrete and steel industries are huge; building codes are entrenched and slow to change (many of the early mass-timber buildings have gotten special code exemptions). Still an upstart, the timber camp may have to shout to make itself heard. Timber City proves that we all should be listening.

Timber City National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., through May 21, 2017

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OMA reveals design for sports complex around RFK Stadium

Even if the Redskins keep their name and leave D.C., the city is taking steps to ensure the area around RFK Stadium offers ample space for residents to play, too.

Events D.C., the city's semi-independent convention and sports authority, has unveiled plans to replace the ocean of surface parking that fronts the soon-to-be-demolished stadium with recreation space and a food market. The whole scheme, pictured in the gallery above, is designed by New York–based OMA.

The estimated $500 million proposal includes three ballfields (two for baseball, one for youth soccer), a 350,000-square-foot recreation and sports complex, and a 47,000-square-foot market selling groceries and concessions. According to the Washington Post, the sports center will host bowling, go-kart, and video-game facilities; a memorial to Robert F. Kennedy will be installed nearby, as well. To tie the programming together, three pedestrian bridges will connect the site to Kingman and Heritage islands.

“The RFK Stadium Armory-Campus—currently under-utilized—is poised to be transformed into a vibrant place that connects D.C. to the Anacostia River," OMA partner Jason Long told the Washington Business Journal. "Working together with Events D.C., we have formulated a plan that strategically locates new facilities that will draw people to and through the site, while refining the vision for larger redevelopments in the years ahead.”

As the 190-acre site is owned by the federal government, federal and local agencies must approve the plan before any shovels hit the soil. Half of the project will be funded by Events D.C. while the city, hotel tax revenue, and team leases will pay for the rest.

Although the Redskins moved to the suburbs years ago, the team is scoping sites for a move—maybe to D.C., or maybe not, if the team refuses to change its racist name. Regardless, the D.C. Zoning Commission gave its initial blessings to the BIG-designed stadium last month, and the commission is expected to give its final okay for the project at its February meeting. Right now, Major League Soccer's (MLS) D.C. United plays at the stadium, and it will continue to play tournaments on-site until the new stadium is complete in 1–2 years.

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Foster-designed Apple store proposed for historic Carnegie Library in D.C.

The Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square, a historic building next to Washington’s Convention Center, is likely to become the home of a flagship Apple store designed by Foster + Partners of London. Events D.C., the convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, last week entered into a letter of intent with Apple to lease portions of the 63,000-square-foot library, which is under its jurisdiction. If negotiations are successful, the development will reimagine the historic site for the 21st century, while remaining consistent with its original purpose. The plan calls for the tech giant to renovate the 1903 library at 801 K. Street N. W. and pay market-rate rent to operate a store designed by Foster + Partners, which was founded by Norman Foster and also designed Apple stores in San Francisco and London. “This is an extremely important repositioning of an iconic building—a building whose original purpose was about community, information and sharing of knowledge,” said Max Brown, chairman of the board of Events DC. "Amid rapid change in our city, we are confident the space can become a true blend of the square’s past and future.” “We are excited that Apple is interested in joining our growing tech ecosystem,” said Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser. “The store’s proposed location… will link D.C.’s rich history to our continued economic renaissance, will demonstrate the strength of our retail market, and will tell companies across the globe that the District is open for business.” According to Events DC, the proposed arrangement calls for Apple to lease portions of the library’s ground floor and basement levels under a 10-year lease, with two five-year options to renew. Events DC will have certain rights to use non-retail areas of the library for special events, and Apple will “co-locate” in the library with its existing tenant, The Historical Society of Washington. “A partnership with Apple would be a tremendous opportunity for Events DC, for the Historical Society, and for the District,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive officer of Events DC. “Not only can this new partnership cement the Shaw neighborhood as a convention and entertainment district in the city, but it can also drive economic impact with substantial revenue opportunities. Designed by Ackerman & Ross in the Beaux Arts style, the Carnegie Library was one of thousands of libraries funded by steel industry titan Andrew Carnegie, and it was the first fully-integrated public building in Washington, D.C. In 1999, Congress granted $2 million and a 99-year lease to the historical society to use the building as a history museum about Washington, D.C. After $20 million worth of renovations funded by local donors, the library has served as the home of the historical society’s exhibits, public programs, and renowned Kiplinger Research Library since 2003. The area around the library has seen rapid growth in recent years, with the opening of the Marriott Marquis Washington and a series of new restaurants, stores and housing developments. In 2014, Carnegie Library was considered as a new home for the International Spy Museum, which had outgrown its current location at 800 F. Street N. W. But the museum and its architect, MGA Partners, wanted to build additions to the existing structure and their plan was turned down by historic preservationists. Now that Events D. C. has shown support for Apple’s project, plans still must be approved by the National Capital Planning Commission and Washington’s Historic Preservation Review Board before construction can begin. It would be the second Apple store in Washington, after one in Georgetown.
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The National Museum of African American History and Culture proves that architecture is still relevant

In September, the most important American building of the 21st century opened in Washington, D.C.  The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) truly delivers something that few pieces of architecture can: It is a cascade of metaphors for collectivity, but is also in harmony with its content and program. Together they are a vehicle for the triumph of African-American history on the national stage. (While the completion of New York’s One World Trade Center might fulfill some myth of national pageantry, as a building it does not offer very much of architectural note.) To truly appreciate how great this building is, let us start with the story of how it came to be. Exactly 100 years ago, the National Memorial Association was founded, starting a serious debate about the possibility of some kind of monument or museum to African-American history in the United States. The project received funding in 1929 from President Calvin Coolidge but fell through in 1933. Efforts continued, and from 1988 to 2003, Georgia congressman John Lewis introduced a bill every single year that would have finalized the plans for such a museum. President George W. Bush gave the final go-ahead in 2005, and in 2009, the winning team was announced. That team consisted of a trio of black architects. J. Max Bond—of Davis Brody Bond and the namesake of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at City College of New York's Spitzer School of Architecture—joined Phil Freelon and David Adjaye in collaboration with the Smith Group. The collective calls itself FAB/S, and they beat out a high-profile group of competitors, among them Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Foster + Partners, and Moshe Safdie, all heavy hitters in the cultural building sector. The making of the museum, which is the newest building on the National Mall—the country’s public commons—was an expectedly daunting process of building consensus. Who decides on a building that represents an entire group of people? According to Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of NMAAHC, there were many opinions. “The building must be monumental and marble; it must be boldly black; it must look African; it must not look African. In every case, they said, it must not obstruct the public's view of surrounding monuments,” he said in his introduction to Mabel O. Wilson’s book, Begin with the Past, which tells the story of the museum in detail. The result is an object-building that at first seems like an out-of-place, estranged box that confronts and withdraws simultaneously its surroundings. However, it is exactly the opposite of that as an urban experience. Site What makes this building so great is that this backstory—while intensely interesting—really only sets the stage for the building to enact one of the greatest American history stories on one of the most important sites in the country. The large, brown building stands four stories above grade, with the Washington monument in the near distance. While most of the other buildings and memorials on the mall are white, what does it mean to be a brown building that recognizes the contributions of a non-white group? And what does it mean that it is also the closest building to the Washington Monument, a white marble obelisk to a single man who was the slave-owning first president of our country? Now that this building has taken its place on the mall, and thus American history, it cements the story of African American struggle as a part of the American story, which in itself is a great step of progress for both African Americans and the nation in general. One of the ironies of its site is that George Washington actually gave some of his land to former slaves, most notably at Gum Springs, Virginia, where some of his former slaves formed a community. So perhaps he wouldn’t have minded this situation almost 250 years later. Of course, some figures from history would be appalled. But this museum isn't about a confrontation of people, it is about collectivity, sharing, and inclusion. Threshold On the south side of the building, facing the mall, this attitude of inclusion and coming together manifests in the building’s formal site strategy. A covered outdoor space is a scaled-up version of the vernacular American covered porch, which represents a black space that has historically been used by the African diaspora as a place for sharing, socializing, telling stories, and giving lessons. Here, it acts as a mediating threshold between the normative history of America as told through the national mall, and the new story that is being anchored with the NMAAHC. It is meant to be a welcoming place for visitors of all backgrounds to share in this incredible story. This means that the entrance on the ground floor is completely open to the Mall, giving visitors spectacular views and creating a welcoming transparent and continuous space that represents openness and inclusion—foundations of a collective future that the museum might allow us to envision. The overhang is also a shading device, a formal nod to vernacular passive strategies. Form The overall form of the museum’s exterior is what the designers call a "corona"—inspired by a sculpture by Nigerian artist Olowe of Ise that shows a crown with similarly angled masses. The shape also references a group of people with their arms raised in celebration, as if to telegraph the one hundred year triumph that is exalted so proudly in the galleries within. It announces the arrival of African American history in the official Smithsonian. The angle of its tilted facade matches the top of the Washington monument. It is meant to fit in with its surroundings, not confront them. The iconic profile should serve as a marker for those looking for the museum, and it certainly sets the new structure apart from its neighbors in the vicinity, both in color and ornament. Symbol The ornament is an important and complex part of the narrative of the building. Adjaye produced a single patterned cast-aluminum panel that is tessellated to create the iconic, translucent facade. The pattern was abstracted from cast-iron work produced by black workers in Charleston and New Orleans. Adjaye mapped out the welded connections, literally the points where the work was done. There is some artistic license here, and the pattern comes off as somewhat arbitrary, but the story remains. This particularly American form of modernity is a perfect glimpse into the unique history of the American South, but also the contributions that African Americans have made to the country—many of which have gone underreported due to institutional racism. The bronze facade reflects the patterns and creativity that enslaved people brought to the ironwork of Charleston and New Orleans, and thus to American history itself. Experience Which brings us to the galleries. Of course, a building cannot serve only as a metaphor, it must also serve a purpose. In this case, this purpose is to function as a museum that has all of the same goals as the building itself. The 100,000 square feet of exhibition space is home to items selected from roughly 40,000 artifacts assembled over a decade. It is fitting that this building's facade and programs, such as education center, theater facility, and public spaces, represent a collective celebration of African American history and a new space dedicated to it. The galleries extend the metaphors into physical, phenomenological architectural experience. To experience the choreographed architecture of the galleries designed by Davis Brody Bond, visitors start by descending 65 feet below ground in an elevator. Deep underground, the exhibition starts with an overview of the earliest days of the slave trade, in a global seafaring economy. Diagrams of how to pack the most humans in a slave ship are just a few of the haunting artifacts displayed here, where a low ceiling and dark walls recreate the feeling of being in the hull of a boat, with nowhere to go. Working through the timeline of American history, the galleries provide a sensory spatial experience that works in harmony with the content. Much like the museum is a chorus of many people distilled into one building, the curators sought to tell larger stories through single artifacts or single people who could collectively encompass larger narratives. The year 1776 is shown—rather shockingly—with Thomas Jefferson standing on a plinth as if to suggest that he is at a slave auction. A pile of bricks is next to him, each one representing one of his slaves. The museum’s narrative is surprisingly self-reflexive. It is not confrontational with any group of people, but it certainly sheds light on some of the darker parts of a normally whitewashed past. In this moment of freedom, the path opens up to an open, massive four-story space. The story of Jefferson’s slaves problematizes the notion that 1776 was the birth of a free nation. Because freedom from Britain did not mean freedom in any literal sense for all African Americans, it is back into the constricted hallways of history, as visitors work through the antebellum era, with slave memorabilia and Civil War artifacts that include a slave cabin as well as a tent from one of the “contraband camps” of freed slaves who were put up by the government during the Civil War. These proto-refugee camps were dotted all over the south, as many freed slaves worked for the Union Army. Once again, upon the completion of the Civil War, we re-enter the large open space but are immediately back in the dark, constricted space of the pre-civil rights era. This is probably the most poignant part of the museum, where architectural artifacts are brought in at full scale, including a guard tower from Louisiana State Penitentiary that was previously a plantation—an unapologetic reference to contemporary mass incarceration. There is also a segregated rail car, as well as the best part of the whole museum: The actual Greensboro lunch counter where students staged protests against segregation. The museum has rebuilt it, but integrated interactive screens to educate people who can sit at the counter and learn. The final stretch, after the murals and “Whites Only” signs, is the popular culture of the 80s and 90s, followed by the ultimate (symbolic) triumph: the inauguration of President Obama. Walking up the ramp toward this moment is the perfect metaphor for struggle and overcoming. Of course, there is still much work to do, and a screen right next to the image of the 2009 inauguration shows clips of people addressing issues of white privilege and unequally distributed, state-sponsored violence. It will be interesting to see how the museum evolves along with its content, as the two are in constant dialogue. In another perfect metaphor made real in a spatial experience, the above-ground galleries are filled with a celebration of black culture, from sports and entertainment to the contributions of African Americans in society, from science to the military. The circulation spaces in this museum are not very good. They have the feeling of an airport, and the main lobby is sloppily organized and too big. But that is not really the point. The galleries work really well as a narrative, and the symbolic content of the facade and overall form of the building work so well in the context of the National Mall that we can easily forgive some of the shortcomings. Most importantly, the National Museum of African American history transcends its value as a museum and casts a narrative of inclusion, as one of the most important yet marginalized and unrecognized groups of people takes a bold new position in the image of society, partly through architecture that has been carefully calibrated to do just that.