Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

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Study shows that Washington, D.C.'s bike-share program is reducing traffic congestion

Research by Casey J. Wichman for the think tank Resources for the Future (RFF) has found a causal relationship between bike sharing programs and traffic congestion in Washington, D.C. In a report summary by the RFF, "findings show a reduction in DC traffic congestion of an average two to three percent that can be attributed to the presence of a Capital Bikeshare dock." Wichman emphasizes the importance of such schemes noting its "health, environmental, and traffic congestion benefits." Another finding was that in areas adjacent to those with bike docks, traffic congestion actually increased. Wichman hypothesized that this might be the case due to drivers possibly opting "to avoid streets populated with cyclists." [h/t Planetizen.]
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Before the Department of Homeland Security moves into its old insane asylum home, the National Historic Landmark will need some intense TLC

Although a designated landmark, the proposed new site for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the heart of the St. Elizabeths West Campus, Washington D.C., is an intense fixer-upper. Working with architects Shalom Baranes Associates and contractor Grunley Construction, the General Services Administration proposes a total renovation of the 264,300 square foot Center Building, a collection of seven connected structures that served as patient treatment rooms and administrative offices for the original Government Hospital for the Insane. It later became known as the St. Elizabeths Hospital. Once rehabilitated, the Center Building will house the DHS headquarters and the Secretary’s Office. Located north of the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, the 176-acre west campus was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1990. The Center Building was shuttered three years ago following the transfer of St. Elizabeths Hospital functions to the east campus, and photos submitted to the National Capital Planning Commission show that the building is deteriorating on the inside. Its exterior openings were boarded up in 2014 in advance of its reuse. "Basically, this project entails the integration of a completely new building within the envelope of the original and restored facades,” reads the submission to the NCPC. “Critical to the project's success is not only the preservation of important historic fabric, but the optimum interplay between historic planning ideals and modern, efficient workspace." The preservation and restoration project includes building stabilization from below grade, masonry repairs, window replacements, the removal and reconstruction of interior walls and floors, porch reconstruction, and landscape upgrades, among other fixes. To finance the repairs, President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2016 budget request includes $379.7 million to fund the second and third phases of the DHS campus consolidation.
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These five finalists are vying to design a memorial for World War I in Washington, D.C.

Five finalists have been named in the competition to design a new World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission received more than 350 proposals for the memorial, which will rise on Pershing Park near the White House. The park is named for John J. Pershing who led the American Expeditionary Force during the war. The five teams will work with the Commission and public agencies to refine their plans over the next few months, and a winner will be announced in January. Here is a bit about each of the finalists. "Plaza to the Forgotten War" by Brian Johnsen, Sebastian Schmaling, and Andrew Cesarz from Johnsen Schmaling Architects.
From the architects: “A steadfast grid of 1,166 illuminated bronze markers, one for every hundred U.S. deaths in the war, immediately conveys the scale of these losses in a seemingly endless expanse created by gently folded landforms. … Allées of distinguished red oaks and somber paper birch trees unite to create metered spatial definitions buffering the plaza from the noise of the surrounding environment while maintaining open and inviting views through the site. The use of bronze extends to a colonnade of memorial pillars that lines the plaza’s main pedestrian boulevard.
"World War One Memorial Concept." (Courtesy Kimmel Studio) "World War One Memorial Concept." (Courtesy Kimmel Studio) "World War One Memorial Concept" by Devin Kimmel, Principal at Kimmel Studio, in Annapolis, Maryland
From the architect: “The style of the monument is inspired by the time of the Great War. …Once in the site the visitor immediately begins to descend into the heart of the monument. As the visitor moves down, the walls move up and in. The noise of the street gradually dissipates. Once in the monument’s most sacred space, a still black pool of water seeps from within the rusticated stone base of the tower above. It becomes evident that the visitor is no longer in the realm of the street and the smooth cut marble of the victory tower. They are in the space of in-between, caught for a moment between life and afterlife.”
"The Weight of Sacrifice." (Courtesy Joseph Weishaar) "The Weight of Sacrifice." (Courtesy Joseph Weishaar)  "The Weight of Sacrifice” by Joseph Weishaar of Chicago, IL
From the architect: “For those who were, and those who will be, let the weight of one-hundred thousand men stand firm in common interest and absolute resolve as to become a singemasse who’s [sic] volume may never be surmised, greater than any force could rend in a single blow. Not a memorial of trenches and wire, but rather a shadow of the great tirade amongst continents, oceans, and skies. A platform from which we may stand and look out on loftier horizons… across a sea… to those we lost on distant shores.”
"An American Family Portrait Wall in the Park” by STL Architects in Chicago.
From the architects: “Our proposal for the new WWI Memorial in Pershing Park pays tribute to the American men and women who participated in the war by remembering that each of them were members of a great family: the American Family. These are the stories of our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles, our mothers and fathers. We honor them in the Family Portrait Wall of America, and through these photographs we acknowledge their commitment and sacrifice as we celebrate the bonds that were forever created, the friendships that were sealed, the covenant of brotherhood that echoes even today.”
"Heroes' Green" by Maria Counts of Counts Studio in Brooklyn, NY.
From the architects: “Heroes’ Green seamlessly blends memorial, park, and garden into a new type of public space. A highly integrated composition of topography, paths, walls, and plants create a landscape of dynamic views, distinguished prospects, shaded valleys, and woodland glens. Five 30-40’ wide arcing pre-aged copper walls embedded in monolithic earthworks render historic imagery through digitally perforated Ben-Day holes. These abstracted life-size images are woven into the landscape and become moments of reflection, while recognizing the diversity and scale of American contributions and sacrifices in the War. The Memorial Tree Garden is comprised of 116 Ginkgo trees planted within a sculptural composition of earthworks and meandering paths. …Soldier’s Glen is an elevated hillside landscape of native woodland plants and sweeping views, punctuated by 16 stately Tulip Poplar canopy trees… The resulting grove of trees shades Doughboy Plaza, the symbolic heart of Heroes’ Green.
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This giant ball pit in New York City is all about "the transformative power of play"

By now you’ve surely seen a friend or relative’s selfie from the massive ball pit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The installation, dubbed The BEACH, was designed by Snarkitecture and includes nearly one-million all-white, translucent, recyclable plastic balls. It's like a McDonald's ball pit, but artsier and probably a little bit cleaner. As AN reported earlier this summer, “A mirrored wall at one end creates the illusion of an unending abyss of translucent orbs. Bordering the enclosure is a 50-foot ‘shoreline,’ filled with umbrellas and monochromatic beach chairs for lounging in the sunshine that filters through the window-laden ceiling four stories above.” If you’re not able to hit The BEACH before it closes on Labor Day, you now have another chance to swim through a sea of plastic and strangers. AMNY reported that New Yorkers are getting their very own ball pit from August 21st to September 21st. The installation, called JumpIn!, comes from the London- and New York–based creative agency Pearlfisher. According to the company, the installation is all about “promoting the transformative power of play.” While the ball pit will likely be quite popular, and a lot of fun, let’s not kid ourselves here: with a grand total of (only) 81,000 white plastic balls, JumpIn is a fraction of The Beach. (You win this round, Washington!) https://instagram.com/p/x16nbCpN3D/ JumpIn! will be at Pearlfisher's Soho offices, which are on the 5th floor of 455 Broadway. It's free to enjoy, but reservations must be made in advance. You can do that here. https://instagram.com/p/x6sSRKJN4y/ [h/t Curbed]
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Gensler opens parKIT, Washington, D.C.'s first-ever seasonal parklet

A new parklet has popped up in Washington D.C., and unlike the short-lived public spaces that appear in parking spaces for PARK(ing) Day, this one is sticking around until mid-October. The seasonal space, dubbed parKIT, opened on July 14 and takes over two parking spots. parKIT features yellow triangular benches and planters and was created by two designers at Gensler who won an in-house competition for the project. (The parklet sits right outside of Gensler's Washington office. Golden Triangle Business Improvement District funded the project and will be hosting small events with Gensler in the space once a week. "We are always looking for more ways for people to enjoy the outdoors in our great neighborhood," said Leona Agouridis, executive director of the BID in a statement. "While we have many parks, this is a fun way to think differently about a part of our community." If you're in the District and want to park it at parKIT, swing by 2020 K Street NW. [h/t GreaterGreaterWashington]
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On View> In the Library: Setting the Scene with Theater Architecture and Set Design

In the Library: Setting the Scene with Theater Architecture and Set Design National Gallery of Art 6th and Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. Through October 2 Performance venues have constantly morphed with the times, from the amphitheaters of ancient times to the digitally enabled entertainment centers of today. During the 18th and 19th centuries, theaters presented a special challenge to architects because of the demand to reconcile excellent acoustics with a design emblematic of a city’s cultural patrimony. Expected to be at once modern and a showcase of traditional arts and culture, theaters of the day demanded a particular brand of architectural prowess. This exhibition at the National Gallery of Art recounts the comedy and drama of this important era in theater architecture and set design as told through the collection of nearly two-dozen rare books.
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Last year a labyrinth, now a giant ball pit: National Building Museum hosts indoor beach in its Great Hall

The magnificent, four-story Great Hall of the National Building Museum is now a site for executing cannonballs, rolling on the floor laughing, and other acts of gleeful revelry. A giant ball pit filled with recyclable translucent plastic orbs cuts between the colossal Corinthian columns, bounded by an enclosure made from scaffolding, wooden panels, and perforated mesh all painted stark white. A mirrored wall at one end creates the illusion of an unending abyss of translucent orbs. Bordering the enclosure is a 50-foot “shoreline,” filled with umbrellas and monochromatic beach chairs for lounging in the sunshine that filters through the window-laden ceiling four stories above. Adults can recline on “dry” land with a book, play paddleball, or have a drink at the snack bar. The installation, titled The BEACH was dreamed up by Brooklyn-based design firm Snarkitecture, which bills it as “an exciting opportunity to create an architectural installation that reimagines the qualities and possibilities of material, encourages exploration and interaction with one’s surroundings, and offers an unexpected and memorable landscape for visitors to relax and socialize within.” The fun-fest is part of the National Building Museum’s ‘Summer Block Party’ series, which last year hosted Big Maze by the Bjarke Ingels Group. Visitors wandered through an 18 foot-high maple plywood structure inspired by ancient labyrinths, garden and hedge mazes of 17th and 18th-century Europe and modern American corn mazes.
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Scandalous no more: The Watergate Hotel post-$125 million renovation looks more classy and elegant than ever

As Washington, D.C.’s first “unapologetically luxurious” stomping ground for the rich and famous, The Watergate Hotel recently underwent a $125 million modernizing facelift. Inextricably connected with the Watergate scandal, the hotel has maintained its avant-garde design and curvaceous, classic elegance in a nod to its 1960s design by Italian architect Luigi Moretti. Moretti designed a series of curvilinear buildings made from reinforced concrete as a counterpoint to Washington's conformist neoclassical architecture. New York–based real estate developer Euro Capital Properties commissioned Ron Arad Architects to design the lobby, whisky bar, and restaurant, filling these spaces with custom-designed sculptural furnishings by the architect. “In its heyday, the Watergate Hotel was a playground for powerful people. My vision was to recreate that by celebrating [Luigi] Moretti’s original design and updating it with modern, luxurious details that guests and locals will value,” said Rakel Cohen, Vice President of Design & Development, Euro Capital Properties, in a statement. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby frame views of the Potomac River, with the graded black granite ceiling and floors creating a floating sensation akin to Moretti’s inspiration of a boat sailing on the Potomac. Pops of color complement the sculptural metalwork and showstopping chandeliers, while a wall of hand-patinated brass tubes draws the eye toward the Potomac. Avoiding straight lines altogether, the 46 foot-long brass reception desk recalls the building’s signature curves. Meanwhile, twisted columns made from mirror-polished stainless steel tubes create distorted reflections. On June 16, 1972, four men rented two rooms in the Watergate Hotel and dined on lobster at the hotel restaurant. That same evening, they broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters on the sixth floor of the Watergate office, triggering the scandal that caused Nixon to resign two years later. Arad admits that the Watergate scandal was an irresistible lure for him when asked to come on board. “Working within such a significant period piece, you can’t ignore the context, but at the same time you don’t want to mimic it. Instead, you want to create something complementary, but most importantly, something new,” Arad said in a statement. “We have tried to enhance Moretti’s original curves using our own, while at the same time influencing the anticipated flow of people through the spaces. To honor Moretti, we introduced a brilliant Italian fabricator to the project as a way of completing the cycle,” Arad continued, referencing Italian furniture designer Moroso, which manufactured most of the hotel's sculptural furnishings. The lobby of the 377-room hotel features a new double-height space carved out of the original building, with casual and fine dining concepts under a black polished plaster ceiling with eight custom-made spiral chandeliers. The fine dining restaurant is wrapped by a red, curving banquette and decked with bespoke Watergate Chairs designed by Arad for Watergate Hotel and manufactured by Moroso.
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The 2015 winners of the Rudy Bruner Awards serve up a healthy dose of urban excellence

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence has announced its 2015 gold and silver medalists. For the past 27 years, the biennial competition has honored “transformative places distinguished by physical design and contributions to the economic, environmental and social vitality of America’s cities.” This year’s gold medal—and $50,000—goes to Baltimore’s “Miller Court,” an abandoned industrial facility that was transformed into a mixed-use building with housing, and a focus on fostering teachers and education-focused non-profits. The transformation was spearheaded by the Seawall Development Company, Enterprise Community Investment, and Marks, Thomas Architects. The project was completed in 2009. “Aware of the challenges facing the Baltimore school system and professionals entering the field through programs like Teach for America, Seawall sought to build a safe, welcoming community for teachers and a home for allied nonprofits that would strengthen the neighborhood and city,” the Bruner Foundation said in a press release. “Attracting national attention as a model, the project has generated additional investment in Remington and has been replicated in Philadelphia.” Below are the four silver medalists, each of which received $10,000. Falls Park on the Reedy Greenville, South Carolina
From the Bruner Foundation: "The renaissance of a 26-acre river corridor running through the heart of Greenville, restoring public access to the falls and greenspace and catalyzing adjacent downtown development. (Submitted by the City of Greenville)"
Grand Rapids Downtown Market Grand Rapids, Michigan
From the Bruner Foundation: "A new downtown public space promoting local food producers and community events, entrepreneurship, and education about nutrition and healthy lifestyles. (Submitted by Grand Rapids Downtown Market)"
Quixote Village Olympia, Washington
From the Bruner Foundation: "A two-acre community of 30 tiny houses and a common building that provides permanent, supportive housing for chronically homeless adults. (Submitted by Panza)"
Uptown District Cleveland, Ohio
From the Bruner Foundation: "The redevelopment of a corridor linking art, educational and health care institutions with surrounding neighborhoods, creating outdoor gathering spaces, retail shops and restaurants, student and market-rate housing, and public transit connections. (Submitted by Case Western Reserve University)"
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This Seattle architect built a basement man cave housing 250,000 neatly arranged LEGO bricks

One Seattle architect’s much ballyhooed basement isn’t built from LEGO bricks, but it houses 250,000 of them in 150 meticulously sorted bins. Jeff Pelletier, who runs a small architecture practice Board & Vellum, has amassed a collection worth an estimated $25,000, with containers categorized by color, food, Lego leaves, heads, torsos, Lego latticework, satellite dishes, legs, gold bricks, red bricks, and lime. When Pelletier bought the unfurnished house in 2006, he found a lone red Lego brick in the attic and construed it as a sign that it was the place to put down roots–and his LEGO man cave. Like many aficionados of the self-adhering plastic bricks, Pelletier has been collecting since toddlerhood. At age 16, he relegated his collection to the storage room, unearthing it again in 2005 when he resumed collecting and acquired the collection he has today. When he remodeled his whimsical-looking lime-and-raspberry home in 2011, he decided to transform his basement into a media room, bar, and giant Lego repository, where Pelletier has built a Lego library, ships, bars, houses he’s lived in and even a miniature version of his brightly colored home. “Since I was 2 years old, I always wanted to be an architect. I think a lot of that was because of LEGO,” Pelletier told Komo News.
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National Endowment for the Arts awards nearly $75 million in grants across all 50 states

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) on Wednesday announced the latest round of its Art Works and State and Regional Partnerships programs, funding a symphony in Alabama, StoryCorps in Brooklyn, and more than 1,000 different projects across the country. NEA said it will make 1,023 awards totaling $74,326,900 to nonprofit arts organizations in all 50 states—plus the U.S. jurisdictions of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the District of Columbia—by the end of their fiscal year in September. Here's the full list of 1,023 awardees by city and state. The recipients run the gamut from established museums—Tucson Museum of Art will get $15,000 to support an exhibition exploring the art of the American West in popular and mass media, for example—to smaller arts councils and community initiatives. Civic programs are also among the winners. Public Schools systems in Boston, Seattle, and Nashville will receive grants of roughly $100,000 each to expand arts education. Collectively 263 panelists reviewed 1,794 applications for funding, according to an NEA press release. This week's announcement brings NEA funding awarded to date in fiscal year 2015 to $103.47 million.
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Washington, DC’s Architecture Week 2015 Starts April 23

  Think DC’s architecture begins and ends on the National Mall? Think again. The 17th annual Architecture Week starts on April 23 to give you a sneak peek into the buildings and attractions of Washington, DC! Organized by the Washington Chapter for the American Institute of Architects (AIA|DC), Architecture Week 2015 starts off with a LEGO Happy Hour on Thursday, April 23 and closes on Wednesday, April 29 with a discussion on “Why Architecture and Preservation Matter.” Architecture Week 2015 brings many occasions for people of all ages to learn about the city in exciting ways including tours, film screenings, children’s activities, and networking events. Get the chance to go behind the scenes and tour a Smithsonian construction site, a variety of historical landmarks and foreign embassies, and even a local DC brewery (also sample their beer)! Public events held throughout Washington, DC will be of interest to visitors and residents alike, architecture enthusiasts, children, and, of course, architects looking for exciting opportunities to earn learning units. With over 20 free and low cost events, there’s something for everyone during Architecture Week. View the calendar for more information and to register for events www.aiadc.com/architectureweek.