Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

Placeholder Alt Text

Facades+AM in Washington, D.C. to spotlight the District’s particular building culture and challenges

Washington, D.C. has a vibrant architectural culture, not limited to the neoclassical masonry of government buildings and major museums. The upcoming Facades+AM conference gives the District design community a chance to share ideas on building envelopes' contributions to sustainability and occupants' quality of life. Compressed into the morning of March 15 at the Washington Plaza Hotel, the nine-presentation event will address three essential themes in facade design: transparency, opacity, and connectivity. Gathering architects, specifiers, engineers, and others in the field, this Facades+AM is Washington, D.C.'s fourth annual event in the Facades+ series. According to conference chair John Jackson, a senior facade consultant at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, the conference's regional focus allows “a nice balance of projects to showcase–projects that we might not see every day here in DC, but also projects right here in the District which are custom, inspirational, and innovative.” He added that a knowledge transfer from “big, cool, fun projects with endless budgets” to quotidian practice is a high priority. Each panel will include an architect/designer, a consultant/engineer, and a contractor/fabricator to foster interdisciplinary conversations. Glass is the typical skin-type featured at Facades+ events and Jackson’s own specialty, but he made sure to include a broad range of facade types. The opening panel considers glass curtain walls and custom glazing systems. The second panel addresses the construction and performance of opaque walls, such as brick cavity walls, terra cotta, and metal panel rainscreens. The closing panel looks at connections between glass and opaque systems, which Jackson describes as often being a “no man's land," given the "ambiguity and lack of clarity of who 'owns' the design." Jackson anticipates lively discussion of new and innovative technologies that are advancing facade performance on multiple fronts. “The industry is constantly pushing greater improvement in the thermal performance of the envelope,” he said, and is now being more carefully looked at by code reviewers. Increasingly higher-performing building envelopes contribute to energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and control of condensation, particularly in humidified spaces. In the buildings of today and the future, “we expect to see full thermally broken aluminum-framed curtain-wall systems, for example, and high-performance insulating glass with low-E coatings, argon-filling, etc.” New materials and technologies challenge clients to balance performance, cost, and risk, drawing on both predictive estimates and direct experience; though testing using industry standards such as ASTM and AAMA are incredibly valuable, he says, “nothing will ever replace Mother Nature and the test of time.” The city poses its own unique set of climate and planning challenges. The mid-Atlantic climate of Washington, D.C. has wide temperature fluctuations from month to month and season to season, which requires careful attention to the design of exterior walls and hygrothermal performance.  The swing seasons also offer ample opportunity for building users to enjoy fresh air from the outdoors with operable envelope elements, which are particularly popular in multifamily residential buildings, yet less so in commercial and institutional projects. The District's height limit also typically results in cast-in-place concrete as the structural system of choice, which results in limited building lateral movement under wind loads, for example, compared to tall and more flexible steel skyscrapers often found in other cities, which has an effect on the design of the facade joints.  D.C. building owners, he adds, often with government end users, can also present unique challenges in other respects, including design of glazing systems for security requirements such as blast, forced entry, and ballistic resistance. The conference website lists the speakers and topics, along with details on registration, sponsors, and the ten other Facades+ events across the US in 2018. Bill Millard is a contributor to the AN, Oculus, Architect, Metals in Construction, LEAF Review, Icon, Content, and other publications.

Architecture & Design Film Festival: D.C. 2018

The Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) is the nation’s largest film festival devoted to the creative spirit that drives architecture in design. Join us for the inaugural festival in D.C. Over the course of three days, the festival screens films that explore the life and work of architects such as Rem Koolhaas and Bjarke Ingels, and journalist, author, and activist Jane Jacobs, fashion designer Dries Van Noten, and timely topics such as design for positive social change and generative healthcare design. ADFF: D.C. presented by the Revada Foundation. The Museum will be the venue for all films, featuring three separate theaters, two of which will be specially outfitted for the festival, including the Museum’s iconic Great Hall. Films include: BIG TIME Building Hope: The Maggie’s Centres  Community by Design: Skid Row Housing Trust  Citizen Jane  Columbus  Dries Eames: The Architect and the Painter  The Experimental City  Face of a Nation: What Happened to the World's Fair?  The Gamble House  Getting Frank Gehry  Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place  If You Build It  Integral Man  Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect  Made in Ilima  The Oyler House: Richard Neutra's Desert Retreat  REM  Windshield: A Vanished Vision  Workplace
Placeholder Alt Text

Elon Musk receives exploratory permit for D.C. to NYC Hyperloop

Seven months after Elon Musk claimed that he had “verbal governmental approval” from the Trump administration to build an underground Hyperloop from Washington D.C. to New York City, it looks like his plans might actually come to fruition. Musk’s The Boring Company has received a permit to begin exploratory digging in Washington, D.C., for what could one day be a stop along a D.C.-Baltimore-Philadelphia-New York route. Musk has made some ambitious claims about the Hyperloop, a high-speed rail system that would reach nearly 800 miles an hour and cut the 229-mile trip between D.C. and NYC to only 29 minutes. For contrast, the fastest train in the U.S. is Amtrak’s Acela Express, which tops out at 150 miles an hour and makes the same trip in three hours. Unlike Amtrak’s light rail network, the Hyperloop system would be more akin to a supersonic subway, moving small pods of up to 16 people, or vehicles, on electrically-powered sleds between widely dispersed stations scattered through each city instead of one centralized train hub in each. Now, The Boring Company will begin excavating a vacant parking lot at 53 New York Avenue NE, near the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives headquarters, after being granted a somewhat vague permit by the D.C. government. The initial exploration is just one piece of navigating a logistical boondoggle, as The Boring Company would need to tunnel under buildings, infrastructure, utilities, roads and just about everything else if an interstate Hyperloop network were to come to fruition. The city’s Department of Transportation has reportedly been trying to determine what other permits Musk’s company would need. Still, every piece of regulatory go-ahead has helped the Hyperloop inch closer to reality. In October 2017, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan gave Musk permission to begin excavation of a 10-mile stretch of Hyperloop track for the future New York-to-D.C. line, although city leaders along the way expressed their surprise at the decision. The federal government would also need to grant the Boring Company the appropriate permits to dig under federally owned land, of which the proposed route crosses several stretches. While testing of the Boring Company’s drilling technology and ability to tunnel under urban areas is still ongoing in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, at least the company will be able to fund its endeavors; at the time of writing, Musk had sold out of promotional Boring Company flamethrowers.
Placeholder Alt Text

Hiroshi Sugimoto completes spiral-based lobby revamp for the Hirshhorn Museum

The renovation of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. by Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto has been completed only two months after renderings were first revealed for the project. The lobby’s light new look not only pays homage to the curved Gordon Bunshaft-designed museum housing it but will also introduce a serpentine café when it opens to the public on February 23. Sugimoto and his Tokyo-based architectural firm, New Material Research Laboratory (NMRL), drew inspiration from the clash between the uneven swirls of the natural world and the mathematically perfect (and unnatural) roundness of the Hirshhorn. As previously reported, Sugimoto had discussed transplanting the roots of a 700-year-old Japanese nutmeg tree into the lobby, and he made good on his promise by turning the root bundle into a twin set of glass-topped tables. The effect is quite striking, as the chaotic branches have been trimmed down, cut in half, and trapped under a sheet of manmade material. “Looking deeper into the roots, I became equally delighted by the randomness of the lines, drawn by nature. There are no perfectly round circles or perfectly straight lines,” said Sugimoto in a statement. “I found it fitting to place one of nature’s circles inside this manufactured one so that we might compare the two: notional shapes and natural shapes.” The lobby’s white chairs also reference natural spirals in their design, with their backs twisting as they rise, resembling the helical curve of DNA strands. Brushed brass benches with legs made of optical glass blocks, referencing Sugimoto’s storied photography career, have been installed throughout the space. The largest change to the lobby has been the removal of a dark film over the 3,300 square feet of curvilinear windows, which has allowed natural light to flood the space, and the installation of Your oceanic feeling (2015), a swirling light sculpture by Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson that hangs from the ceiling. While the Hirshhorn had held a special preview event of the space last week, the lobby will officially open to the public on February 23, 2018. Visitors will be able to check out the new Dolcezza Coffee & Gelato café, a 20-foot long coffee bar clad in diamond-shaped tin and brushed-brass plates that resembles serpent scales. Guests can also view a video preview of Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988–2000 before the projection is once again displayed on the museum’s exterior.
Placeholder Alt Text

[UPDATED] Hirshhorn Museum reschedules Wodiczko’s massive gun projection for March

After a February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida left 17 people dead, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. announced that it would be rescheduling the projection of Polish artist Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC, 1988–2000 scheduled to take place on February 14 and 15. The 30-foot-tall, 68-foot-wide piece would have been projected across the museum’s curved façade, and features a hand holding a gun on one side, and a hand holding a lit vigil candle on the other. Wodiczko’s site-specific work was originally displayed at the museum in 1988 from October 25 to 27, and touched on the death penalty, reproductive rights and the media’s role in providing partisan voices for both sides of these issues. The installation’s return on February 14 and 15 would have coincided with the launch of Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s, a retrospective examining the intersection of the art world and marketing in the ‘80s, and the launch of the newly revamped lobby. After postponing the projection, the museum has rescheduled the projection's run for Wednesday, March 7, through Friday, March 9, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The museum will remain open until 9:30 p.m. on those nights as well. In announcing the postponement, Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu said in a statement,“Now is a time for mourning and reflection, and out of sensitivity to our community in D.C. and beyond, the Hirshhorn, Smithsonian leadership and artist Krzysztof Wodiczko have made the decision to postpone the artist’s projection, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C. We remain committed to exhibiting this important work, which is still relevant today—30 years following its original showing. We look forward to restaging the work in its original format at a later date.” Gun control advocates took to Twitter after the postponement was announced to express their disappointment, with many of them stating that Wodiczko’s work has only been made more poignant and urgent in the wake of another mass shooting. The decision to postpone the showing was made in agreement with Wodiczko, although a taped version of the piece was available in the lobby for that time instead.
Placeholder Alt Text

Proposed tower could be Washington, D.C.’s tallest

There’s a new development that’s aiming to replace the Washington Monument as the tallest building in the Washington, D. C. area. A group headed by Clemente Development Company and a Saudi partner is acquiring land in northern Virginia to build a 2.8-million-square-foot mixed-use project called The View at Tysons. As part of its plans, the team has proposed a 48-story tower that would be 615 feet tall, making it 60 feet higher than the 555-foot-high Washington Monument on the National Mall. Gensler is the designer of the tower, which will contain two levels of retail space, topped by 13 floors of hotel space and luxury condominiums above that. Other elements of The View at Tysons include two rental apartment buildings, two office towers, a performing arts center and a public plaza. The land is at the intersection of Leesburg Pike and Tyco Road, near the Spring Hill Metro Station, and the team needs zoning approval before it can begin construction. When complete, the Tysons tower would be the second tallest building in Virginia, after the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center hotel in Virginia Beach.
Placeholder Alt Text

BIG reveals sweeping changes to Smithsonian campus master plan

After facing criticism over an initial 2014 master plan for renovating the historic southern campus of the Smithsonian Institute, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has revealed a sweeping overhaul of its original design. The firm presented their new scheme in front of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), a federal agency responsible for reviewing design proposals in Washington D.C., and were told to go back to the drawing board. The Smithsonian Institute’s southern campus runs alongside D.C.’s National Mall, one of the most iconic stretches of park in the country. Any changes to the surrounding landscape, especially when it involves renovating the Smithsonian’s Castle, which opened in 1855, and the adjacent four-acre Enid A. Haupt Garden, were bound to be controversial. The largest addition, and the one that drew the most ire from preservationists, would have replaced the roof of the sunken Quadrangle Building under the Haupt Garden with a glassy, upswept volume, and built a new subterranean auditorium, gallery space, café, and store. Bjarke Ingels was on hand to personally present the “Smithsonian's Preferred Alternative F” to the CFA yesterday. Among the biggest changes to the original scheme was the toning down of the buried gallery’s corners, so that a new Haupt Garden could be built on top of the space. A sloping entrance to the Castle had been included in the original plan, but was left out of this revision, although the underground space will still be ringed with skylights at the ground level. The entrance to the Castle would be moved closer to the Mall, and Ingels stressed that the new garden topping the Quadrangle building would retain “the character and feel” of the Haupt. He defended the new roof's design, saying "we also want to make more accessible some of the hidden treasures underneath the Haupt Garden – the National Museum of African Art and the Sackler Gallery – which are so well hidden that they’re under-enjoyed compared to the value they represent. If we can make them more accessible, more people might be tempted to explore." The Hirshhorn Museum, which also sits on the campus, will expand underground as well, although plans to remove the walls enclosing the site have been scrapped. Community input over the original design has reportedly played a large part in the new design. The CFA took umbrage with the plan’s demolition of the existing garden and entrances, as well as BIG’s lack of use for the existing Arts and Industries Building on the campus. Some of the commissioners in attendance were particularly harsh. “This is a redesign,” said Elizabeth Meyer. “It has nothing to do with preservation and it’s not good design.” Ultimately the CFA took no action, and told BIG to come back with alternative schemes and more information at a later date. Regardless of the final design, the southern campus will need extensive renovations. The initial 2012 existing conditions survey discovered that all of the buildings on the campus are in need of a mechanical systems upgrade, that the roof of the current Quadrangle building leaks, and that the Castle needs to be better protected against seismic events. The first stage of the $2 billion plan, the renovation of the Castle, is expected to begin in 2021, and the entire campus renovation should finish in 2041.
Placeholder Alt Text

Hiroshi Sugimoto reveals renderings for renovated Hirshhorn Museum lobby

Artist and photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto has been selected to redesign the lobby of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the first time the space has been touched in the museum’s 42-year history. The Tokyo-born artist, along with his Tokyo-based architectural firm, New Material Research Laboratory (NMRL), will be responsible for not only designing sculptures and furniture for the lobby of the Gordon Bunshaft-designed museum, but the new café in the lobby’s east end as well. Seeking to reference the round form of the Hishhorn building, Sugimoto drew inspiration for the furnishings from the roots of a 700-year old Japanese nutmeg tree. The imagery of twisted, chaotic roots will be reflected in the lobby’s central group table, and the spiraling chairs surrounding it. "I became fascinated by the roots of an enormous tree, which fanned out to form a large circle, and I decided that this was the circle I would install in the Hirshhorn lobby - a symbol of life," said Sugimoto. "All art takes its inspiration from the power inherent in nature, and my hope is that as visitors enter the museum, they will experience the balance of the man-made and natural circles." Sugimoto will be leaving Bunshaft’s original terrazzo floors, deeply coffered ceiling and exposed aggregate walls, but the artist removed the dark film that covers the lobby’s 3,300-square feet of windows, and opened the space up to views of the National Mall. The rotunda will also see new signage and welcome desks, in addition to the installation of Your oceanic feeling (2015), a swirling light sculpture by Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The lobby’s renovation will coincide with the opening of Dolcezza Coffee & Gelato at Hirshhorn, and Sugimoto has designed a 20-foot long, serpentine coffee bar plated in diamond-shape brass and tin plates. The Hirshhorn and Sugimoto have a long history together, as in 2006 the museum was the first institution to present a career survey of Sugimoto’s work. The new lobby, and Dolcezza, will formally open to the public in February 2018.
Placeholder Alt Text

2017 Best of Design Awards for Temporary Installation

2017 Best of Design Award for Temporary Installation: Living Picture Architect: T+E+A+M Location: Lake Forest, Illinois Living Picture wraps a playful array of lightweight aluminum frames with digital imagery on vinyl to produce an immersive outdoor theater on the grounds of the Ragdale Foundation. The project digitally re-creates elements from Howard Van Doren Shaw’s 1912 design for the original Ragdale estate: low limestone walls, columns topped with fruit baskets, and a lush landscape of trees and hedges that once formed the proscenium, wings, and backdrop. By reinserting images of these historic elements among the trees and buildings of the current Ragdale estate, the project blurs the boundaries between past and present, stage and proscenium, reality and artifice.
"This project translates some of the most forward-looking ideas about the post-internet and digital images and applies them to a larger scale environment. It is good to see people thinking about how we react to and perceive images (and architecture) in the 21st century."- Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, The Architect's Newspaper (juror)
Structural Consultation: Brian McElhatten and Jorge Cobo, Arup Acoustical Consultation: Ryan Biziorek, David Etlinger, and Rosa Lin of Arup Fabrication Consultation: Shane Darwent Project Manager: Reid Mauti Project Manager: Tim McDonough Honorable Mention  Project: Big Will and Friends Designer: Architecture Office  Location: Syracuse, New York and Eindhoven, the Netherlands  This installation redraws the popular Morris and Co. wallpaper “Thistle” (designed by John Henry Dearle) into an inhabitable visual environment. The designers suggest that wallpaper’s collapse of illusion and material are a problem where multiple forms of knowledge must meet. Live performances bridge the installation with its surroundings. Honorable Mention  Project: Parallax Gap Architect: FreelandBuck Location: Washington D.C If most ceilings imply shelter, defining the limits of the room, others suggest the opposite: extension beyond concrete limits. This winning proposal for the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s “ABOVE the Renwick” competition curates a historical catalog of notable American architectural styles and renders them through 21st-century technology and visual culture—a dose of trompe l’oeil.
Placeholder Alt Text

Museum of the Bible opens near National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The Museum of the Bible opened last week in a new home designed by Washington, D.C.–based SmithGroupJJR. The museum occupies a renovated 1922 former refrigerated warehouse that later served as Washington’s Design Center, and will comprise a large glass addition meant to evoke an ancient boat (or perhaps ark) floating above the city. In a prepared statement, the designers call it “a palimpsest: the built equivalent of a manuscript that bears traces of several versions of text added and erased over time.” At the main entrance of the eight-level, 430,000-square-foot building, a tall, narrow opening originally used for trains has been restored and is flanked by two large bronze panels inspired by typesetting blocks from the original Gutenberg Bible. It refers to one of the main curatorial concepts of the museum: that the meaning and interpretation of the Bible are historically dependent on its means of production and dissemination. The designers removed several floor slabs added during an earlier renovation to open up the industrial cargo area into a tall atrium that, the designers say, suggests the nave of a Gothic or Renaissance church. The circulation paths are arranged in a vertical hub-and-spoke model that allows visitors to choose their own adventure, rather than make their way along a fixed vertical path as is the case in many multi-level museums, especially those on tight urban sites. The hall now serves as both an orientation and gathering place, while also providing access to the adjacent museum shop and the cafe on a mezzanine above. The new construction sits atop the original industrial brick structure. In the exhibition spaces, removable raised flooring gives curators flexibility, while “digital docents” will be available as either a priest or a rabbi. The museum also includes 12 theatres, a 475-seat performing arts venue, conference amenities, biblical garden, rare manuscript library, a 450-seat ballroom, spaces for scholarly research, and hotel rooms for visiting scholars. The museum will be visible from the National Mall when looking down 4th Street, and it hovers above an existing Metro train line and also adds to an axis along 4th Street that includes the National Building Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Air & Space Museum. The museum opened to the public last Friday, November 17.
Placeholder Alt Text

Is D.C.’s WWI Memorial moving to the National Mall?

What is going on with Washington, D.C.'s World War I Memorial? On November 9, the World War I Centennial Commission hosted a symbolic groundbreaking for the WWI Memorial in Pershing Park, a public square designed by M. Paul Friedberg just blocks from the White House. The groundbreaking last week, a day ahead of Veteran's Day (observed), was purely ceremonial, as the project hasn't gotten the requisite approvals or permitting. Some say that the WWI Centennial Commission, the government group in charge of the memorial's construction, is now looking to place the memorial at the National Mall, but the Commission maintains that there are no plans to relocate the memorial at this time. It was just in July of this year that D.C.'s planning board, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), voted in favor of adding a memorial to Pershing Park, and allowing the memorial to move forward from its concept stage to design development. The vote allowed the WWI Centennial Commission and the National Park Service to work with the winning design team to refine the memorial. (At press time, the NCPC could not be reached for comment on the memorial plans.)

The winning design for the WWI Memorial, selected in January 2016 after a two-phase competition, is titled The Weight of Sacrifice, and was submitted by GWWO Architects, New York sculptor Sabin Howard, and Chicago architect Joseph Weishaar. Their proposal would replace an onsite kiosk and cut a path through Friedberg's concrete pool, a defining feature of the 1.8-acre park.

While many in landscape architecture and preservation circles acknowledge the importance of a WWI memorial, they believe the memorial design will alter Pershing Park beyond recognition. In a letter to the NCPC, Friedberg called the memorial's defining feature "a persistent and intrusive one note wall that’s being forced into the space, thus obliterating the scale and meaning of the original design.” The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts had told the WWI Commission in March of this year to come up with a design that wouldn't overshadow the original late modern landscape. For his part, the director of the WWI Memorial Foundation would like a memorial on the National Mall, not Pershing Park. "We're 100 percent for the National Mall," said David DeJonge, president and co-founder of the WWI Memorial Foundation. The park, he said, is a half-hour walk from the other war memorials on the mall, and the park's landmark protections would make it hard for the memorial to be realized in the way stakeholders desire. At the ceremonial groundbreaking last week, Dejonge told Curbed DC that the WWI Centennial Commission had nixed Pershing as the site for the memorial. However, the WWI Commission's Colonel Tom Moe said Pershing is still under consideration as a memorial site. WWI Memorial Foundation Co-Founder and Centennial Commission Vice-Chair Edwin Fountain added that the group hopes the memorial will remain in the park. The WWI Centennial Commission echoed Colonel Moe's statement. "No. We are not moving the memorial. That is an erroneous blog post," said Chris Isleib, director of public affairs at the WWI Centennial Commission, referring to the Curbed piece. To support his statement, Isleib emailed a resolution to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) from a March 22, 2017 Centennial Commission meeting that outlined the group's stance on the National Mall location: "We would obviously like to consider the option of being on the National Mall, but Congress ultimately decides the issue of the memorial's location. ... Congress authorized the memorial for Pershing Park." At the meeting, the 12-member commission voted to consider the National Mall—if the option becomes available. However, shortly before the November 9 groundbreaking last week, according to DeJonge, the WWI Commission again discussed moving the memorial to the National Mall. Isleib at first declined to comment on the encounter, then followed up to say he did not know if any conversation had taken place. DeJonge is hoping to leverage federal law to site the memorial on the National Mall. The former Main Navy and Munitions Building, which sits over Constitution Gardens, was home base for WWI planning headquarters, and given the connection between WWI and the Mall, DeJonge believes a section of the Antiquities Act of 1906 could be leveraged to build the memorial. Among other provisions, the law allows presidents to create national monuments on federal property. To that end, his group is petitioning President Donald J. Trump to authorize the building of the memorial on the National Mall, which is overseen by the National Parks Service. (He outlined the Foundation's plans in a press release last week.) As of now, the memorial is the early stages of design development, and it hasn't gotten final approvals from two key agencies, the NCPC or the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. Nor have any building permits been issued. Any D.C. memorial must comply with the Commemorative Works Act, a federal law that guides the construction of monuments on the National Mall and other areas, and gain approvals from the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission (NCMAC). Whatever site is selected, the WWI memorial still faces a stringent and lengthy approvals process moving forward.
Placeholder Alt Text

Rooftop ice rinks are the new High Line

Just in time for the cold weather to set in, a new trend in urban entertainment is heating up: rooftop ice rinks. The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. will open a skating rink and lounge on November 16, giving guests and visitors another reason to visit its rooftop bar and a new way to take in views of the nation’s capital, 14 stories above the street. “There are other skating rinks in the District of Columbia, but there isn’t another hotel in D.C. that has a skating rink on the roof,” said Debbie Johnsen, the hotel’s digital marketing director. The hotel's management team was looking for a way to attract people to its Top of the Gate rooftop bar during the winter months, and decided adding a rooftop rink would do that, explained general manager Jeff David. "We were brainstorming about how we could keep the popularity of the Top of the Gate going–how we could extend it for 12 months of the year," he said. "This was almost a no-brainer." Becoming a popular ice skating destination is perhaps an unexpected direction for the Watergate, which is known for its association with the 1972 break-in of the Democrat National Committee headquarters in the adjacent Watergate office building. The hotel marks its 50th anniversary this year, after closing in 2007 and reopening last year following a $125 million, six-year renovation. The hotel's oval rink, called Top of the Skate, measures 70 by 20 feet and can accommodate 40 to 50 skaters at a time. Open during the winter months, it offers views of the Potomac River and the city’s monuments while patrons enjoy S’mores, mulled wine, and German-style pretzels in the lounge. The rink also features a skate-up bar so guests can order a drink without leaving the ice. The Watergate’s rink is the latest in a series of rooftop ice rinks that are opening around the world, often as part of hotels. These rinks constitute a new trend aimed at rejuvenating cities by giving people another reason to come downtown in the winter months, when tourists tend to visit in fewer numbers. They also represent a relatively low-cost, creative use of previously dormant urban space. Their appeal is unmistakable; they combine two things many people like: skating rinks and rooftop bars. For patrons, they offer vistas that ground-level rinks don’t have and a new way to socialize, combining entertainment and exercise. For hotels, rooftop rinks are photogenic and provide a new experience to draw patrons. They’re ideal settings for “selfie” moments that can later be posted on Facebook, further promoting the hotel. The Watergate even has an ice skating package, which includes skating and skate rentals and a reduced room rate for skaters who want to stay overnight. Some rooftop rinks are made with real ice. Others, including the one at the Watergate, are made with synthetic ice, composed of interlocking polymer panels designed for skating with conventional metal-bladed ice skates. The synthetic ice panels don’t add as much weight to a roof as actual ice would and require less maintenance. They can also be installed in a relatively short time and dismantled when the season is over. Europe’s highest rooftop rink opened last winter atop the 354-meter OKO tower in Moscow’s commercial district. London got its first rooftop rink on November 2, when Skylight London opened at Skylight Tobacco Dock in East London. Located on the 10th floor of the Penning Street parking garage, where a croquet court was, the rink doubles as a rooftop bar, complete with cocktails and chocolate fondue. In Toronto, a division of the Molson Coors Brewing Company built a temporary, 100-foot-by-45-foot rink atop a 32-story office building for winners of its #AnythingForHockey contest in 2015. There was so much interest the rink was later opened to the public for group bookings, but it was eventually dismantled. Other rinks prove that winter temperatures aren’t a requirement to enjoy this amenity. Las Vegas has The Ice Rink at Boulevard Pool, a 4,200-square-foot rink on the roof of The Cosmopolitan Hotel, where skaters can take in views of the Strip from four stories up. Construction also began this month on Atlanta’s Skate the Sky, a 3,500-square-foot rink 10 stories above Ponce City Market on Ponce De Leon Avenue. Capable of holding 90 to 100 skaters at a time, it’s scheduled to open November 20. “I don’t think there’s another rooftop skating rink anywhere in Atlanta or maybe even in the Southeast," Brett Hull-Ryde of Slater Hospitality, which will operate the rink, told Fox5 in Atlanta. “We’re happy that we’re getting this opportunity to show people another way to have some fun."