Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

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Construction begins on Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’s Spy Museum

British architect Richard Rogers and his London-based firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RHSP) saw construction break ground on the not-so-well hidden International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. Situated on L’Enfant Plaza, the 140,000-square-foot museum is part of wider effort to reinvigorate the area. It will replace the current 19th Century building located in Penn Quarter. According to a press release from RHSP, the new museum will offer a "glass veil" that will be draped in front of a "enclosed black box exhibition space." This will let the buildings circulation be viewed from both interior and exterior perspectives, something that the architects say will contribute "new energy along 10th Street." The "sense of veil" and "black box" will also be visual cues evoking the secrecy and mystery associated with espionage. "Behind this veil, the prominent facade of the box angles out over the street and public space to one side, breaking the building line to create a disruptive landmark at the crest of 10th Street, visible from the National Mall at one end and Banneker Park at the other," the firm said. In addition to this, the new building will also expand exhibit and educational spaces, including a theater and "unique" event spaces.  The aforementioned event spaces and a roof terrace will be located above a double-height lobby. Working with the Malrite Company from Cleveland, who founded the museum, the District was able to make sure that the museum stayed in D.C. “As a Navy veteran, I, along with my family, take pride in setting the stage for the International Spy Museum to grow," said Milton Maltz, the founder of The Malrite Company. “We consider it essential to ensuring the contributions of the dedicated men and women who serve in our intelligence agencies. They are recognized for the invaluable roles they’ve played in winning wars and protecting Americans at home and around the globe.” "The international spy museum has long been a destination for residents and visitors, finding innovative ways to keep us connected with our past," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. "The new museum will be a welcome addition to southwest as we continue to attract businesses and expand economic opportunity." The museum is due to open at some point in 2018, however, the museum's lease at its current location at 800 F Street NW is set to end in 2017.
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Watergate Hotel reopens after a $125 million gut renovation, with design nods to the 1960s

Bellhops dressed in Sixties-themed uniforms created by costume designer Janie Bryant from the Mad Men television series. Guest rooms that resemble cabins on a cruise ship, only filled with midcentury modern furniture. Guest room keys bearing a message that makes a not so subtle reference to the Nixon era: “No need to break in…” Those are just a few of the design touches guests will find at the Watergate Hotel, on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington, D. C. Located at 2650 Virginia Avenue N. W. and closed since 2007, the hotel reopened today after a six-year, $125 million renovation. As part of the work, the number of rooms has increased from 251 to 336, including 32 suites. 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space have been added, including a 7,000 square foot ballroom. The developer is Euro Capital Properties of New York, headed by Jacques and Rakel Cohena, a husband and wife team. The architects were BBGM of Washington and Ron Arad Architects of London. Room rates start at $435 per night. Originally designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti in 1961, the Watergate Hotel gained attention for its contemporary design, and it came to epitomize the lifestyle and sophistication of its time. In the latest renovations, the 1960s exterior was preserved, but the interior was gutted and rebuilt. The architects put emphasis on playing off the midcentury modern design and playing up the sense of retro luxury and swank that distinguishes this hotel from more traditional Washington hotels such as the Willard InterContinental on Pennsylvania Avenue. Much of the furniture has been designed to look as if it dates from the 1960s. In a nod to the hotel's Italian heritage and inspired by its curves and undulations, Arad looked to sculptural, modern furnishings by the Italian designer Moroso. Arad also designed a new whiskey bar that's marked by a sculpture made of metal and whiskey bottles. The rooftop bar has a fire pit and sweeping views of the Potomac River, the Capitol, and the Washington Monument. The designers and developers didn't shy away from the Watergate’s link to the break-in that brought down a president. The hotel's customer service phone number ends in 1972, and recordings of Richard Nixon’s speeches will play periodically in public restrooms. “The Watergate is undoubtedly one of the most glamorous and illustrious hotels in the world," said Rakel Cohen, senior vice president of design and development for Euro Capital Properties. "We have paid meticulous attention to every detail in its renovation…. Its intrigue is driven by evocative design, from the retro feel that we have infused to the mystique that lies behind every curve of the hotel's architecture."
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Four finalists named in Memorials for the Future competition

Four finalists have been named in the “Memorials for the Future” design competition, launched to find new ways to create, experience and think about memorials in the nation’s Capitol. Competition sponsors on Wednesday announced the finalists, who were selected from a group of 30 semi-finalists by an 11-member jury. The jurors originally planned to name three but ended up adding a fourth that they didn’t want to eliminate. The proposals were very different from each other, ranging from a series of oral histories of significant places, told by a “roving flock of bright parrot-like automated story tellers,” to high definition videos of national parks projected inside the Anacostia Metro station, to disappearing rows of cherry trees that would show the effect of climate change and rising sea levels. The competition was organized by the National Park Service, the National Capital Planning Commission and the Van Alen Institute. The finalists will be asked to ask to take part in a research and design process that will lead to proposals for site specific memorials in Washington, D. C.  A winner will be named on September 8. The finalists are: American Wild: A Memorial Team: DHLS. Members: Forbes Lipschitz, Halina Steiner, Shelby Doyle, Justine Holzman American Wild virtualizes the National Parks through an interactive, immersive installation. Using ultra-high-definition video, recordings of each 59 natural parks can be projection-mapped at full scale. Audio recordings heighten the visceral experience and establish emotional connections to the landscape. The memorial democratizes National Park access by creating an installation in one of the most economically and racially diverse neighborhoods in the nation’s capital. Full scale, immersive environment design expands access to both phenomenological experience and ecological understanding. In so doing, the memorial reinvigorates the ways in which we interact with the cultural and biological diversity of the American landscape. Climate Chronograph Team: Azimuth Land Craft. Members: Erik Jensen, Rebecca Sunter A platform for witnessing rising seas, the Climate Chronograph is a living observatory for an unfolding global story. As seas rise, cherry trees die in place, becoming bare branched delineations of shorelines past. Over a lifetime, a visitor will experience the same place in its ever-changing condition, a legible demonstration of generational-paced change. This new memorial is continually becoming, and in doing so offers a new approach to monumentality. A light human hand sustainably initiates a profound pastoral meditation. This landscape chronograph marks both our vulnerability and our response. It records the challenges before us. The IM(MIGRANT) : Honoring the Journey Team: Honoring the Journey. Members: Radhika Mohan, Sahar Coston-Hardy, Janelle L. Johnson, Michelle Lin-Luse The experience of movement and migration is the elemental experience of what it means to be an American. Leaving home, hopeful and expectant, and meeting hostility and kindness, misunderstanding and acceptance. Overcoming obstacles fueled by ambition and resourcefulness. Making a new home among people familiar and strange. Immigrant experiences, including those of native peoples, are at the foundation of the national psyche. They are also experiences that divide our country and have been a part of our political debate since the country’s founding. THE IM(MIGRANT) is a proposal that responds to these ideas, reinforcing core American beliefs by unfolding and commemorating the varied journeys that grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and strangers have taken through the landscape of Washington, DC. It offers the visitor access to the experience of movement, of arrival, and of making a new home. VOICEOVER Team: Talk Talk. Members: Anca Trandafirescu, Troy Hillman, Yurong Wu, Amy Catania Kulper VOICEOVER: histories, memories, and flights of fancy. VOICEOVER is a project that embraces a spirit of revisionism as a means toward a broader and more democratic form of national memorialization. Rather than a freestanding monument, VOICEOVER is a supplemental overlay that expands the original monuments’ meanings and extends the territory of possible memorial subjects deeply into Washington DC’s urban fabric. Fragmentary and dependent by nature VOICEOVER makes no claims toward cultural conclusions on historic events. Rather, VOICEOVER is a loud call to reawaken a nation to its relevant and multi-faceted pasts. It gives voice to the diverging understandings and conflicting perspectives of a multi-cultural society.
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Semifinalists announced for Washington, D.C. Memorials for the Future competition

Thirty semi-finalists for the Memorials for the Future competition have been announced. Launched in mid-April, the competition was organized by the National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute, and seeks a design concept for a temporary memorial somewhere in Washington, D.C. (see our prior coverage here). Part of the competition criteria was that the memorial be adaptive to different perspectives/narratives, ephemeral, virtual, interactive, or event-focused. One semi-finalist submission, The Installation of 6 Million Stars, commemorates the victims of the Holocaust. This interactive memorial consists of two joined open triangles whose lights can be activated digitally (i.e. remotely) or by touch. While certain details on this project are forthcoming, the proposal states that selecting a light would lead you to more information on a Holocaust victim’s name and his/her biography. Because the lights can be activated from different places and at different times, the memorial would be constantly changing. The Installation of 6 Million Stars intends to encourage the participation of young people through its digital interface. Among the many semi-finalists that utilize digital technology is M.A.R.K. (Memorial Augmented Reality Key). M.A.R.K. consists of physical markers and a M.A.R.K. mobile device app. When a marker is scanned using the app, your phone can display different points in history of the landscape, “[adding] a visual and auditory layer of history to the existing scene,” according to the design summary found on the competition’s website. RFID, GPS, and your camera allow this virtual reality to be accessed. A timeline on your phone's screen acts as a time machine, from which users can select a time period to see the surrounding landscape. At a time when virtual reality experiences are exponentially gaining popularity, this type of memorial aims to fit into the dynamic environment of D.C. and encourage a broad audience to engage with history. A less digitalized memorial is Memorials for the Future Lost Cities which commemorates cities that will likely be radically changed or destroyed by the rising sea level. An elevated pavilion-like structure located on Hains Point would include “a small exhibition space, a covered picnic/play area and a server to host a digital library.” The library will document the history of these “future lost cities.” Of the semi-finalists, many pay tribute to American history, environmental concerns, or current issues such as terrorism and gun violence. Finalists will be announced on June 8.
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New details emerge for REX’s sleek office building with a fluted facade

Brooklyn-based architecture firm REX, led by Marcus Prize winner Joshua Prince-Ramus, has announced plans for a new 450,000 square foot "premium" office complex for real estate company Tishman Speyer.

The building—which AN first reported on last year—will be located on 2050 M Street in Washington D.C. and aims to "set the new standard of trophy office buildings" in the district's "golden triangle," a renowned business hub.

The project will feel light given its surrounding buildings—which range from Beaux Arts, Neoclassicism to Art Deco and Brutalism—feature heavy masonry exteriors. 2050 M Street's distinction will be further accentuated by its lack of ornamentation.

In this respect, REX's office building could be considered a contemporary take on Mies van der Rohe's high modernist style. While 2050 M Street avoids Mies's trademark use of steel structure, the principles of openness, proportionality, and legibility (in renderings, at least, the floors remain clearly visible) remain. As REX described in a press release, the project employs "hyper-transparent, floor-to-ceiling glass" that hide the view of "impending mullions."

To achieve this, the glass will use "subtly-reflective pyrolytic" coating on the exterior. A relatively new advancement in glass technology, the process involves applying the coating while the glass is in a semi-molten state, allowing the chemical composition to form a bond and become part of the glass surface. The coating provides enhanced durability against scratches and other forms of degradation. In addition, a low-e coating will be applied within the glass’s insulating cavity to improve thermal performance by reducing solar heat gains. Both coatings will be applied to the curving panels that repeat 900 times along the building's facade to create a shimmering, kaleidoscopic effect, thus hiding the mullions. The panels' curvature also has a structural purpose: the "curve’s inherent rigidity in compression" means "only the top and bottom edges of the panels are supported from the floor slabs." Meanwhile, the "‘mullion-less’ vertical edges are flush-glazed for a minimalist aesthetic that improves sight lines, while gaining useable floor area." The lobby will also house site-specific art that has not yet been commissioned. The project has not broke ground but REX, in press release, stated that completion is due for 2019.
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Restoration of the Main Hall at Washington Union Station is finally complete

Frequent visitors to Washington’s Union Station may notice on their next trip that something is missing. For the first time in half a century, managers say, the Main Hall of Daniel Burnham’s Beaux Arts train station is free of all construction-related scaffolding and other obstructions and can be viewed as the architect intended. For once, in other words, there is no major repair work underway, no blocked-off construction zones to walk around to get to the train. Also missing are the Center Café and two indoor planters that were added in previous renovations and took up much of the space under the barrel-vaulted ceiling. “Today, Washington Union Station reveals a restored, historic Main Hall,” said leaders of the Union Station Redevelopment Corp. (USRC), steward of the building at 50 Massachusetts Avenue N. E., in a statement dated May 9. “Covered for the past four years in scaffolding as rehabilitation work was underway, the historic space is now unobstructed, as originally designed, for the first time in almost 50 years.” Scaffolding went up after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the region in 2011, damaging the train station and other historic structures. Besides replastering the coffered ceiling, contractors introduced a new “seismically sound” support structure for the ceiling and improved the heating and air conditioning systems in the attic. Before that was a series of modifications designed to make the station more of a destination for residents and travelers, including a National Visitor Center timed with the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976 and subsequent plans to make it a festival marketplace. Part of the just-completed restoration involved removal of a large café and round planters in the center of the Main Hall, a move that represented the culmination of several years of discussions between the Federal Railroad Administration and the State Historic Preservation Office. The Center Café closed on March 1, and removal of the restaurant enclosure and planters began soon afterwards, opening up the Main Hall. “We are very excited to reveal a fully-restored Main Hall for the public to enjoy that is also consistent with the original design envisioned by the world-famous station architect, Daniel Burnham,” said USRC President and CEO Beverley Swaim-Staley. “This is the first time in many of our lives where we can fully appreciate this space as it was historically designed.” The Main Hall opened in 1907 as the General Waiting Room for the station and was known for its impressive scale. It measures 219 feet by 120 feet, and its gold-coffered ceiling is 96 feet high. Lined with mahogany benches, the Main Hall functioned as a large open space until the 1940s, when World War II brought an increase in passenger traffic and ticket counters were expanded from the West Hall into the Main Hall to meet demand. In the 1970s, as train travel declined and air travel became more popular, managers considered new ideas to keep the station active. They designated the train station a National Visitor Center in honor of the nation’s Bicentennial. The Main Hall was reconfigured to contain an elaborate slide show that featured scenes of Washington and other tourist attractions. The slide show proved unpopular and was closed in 1985. That same year, the entire station was shut down for a renovation that included the Center Café prominently positioned in the center of the Main Hall, and other stores and restaurants nearby to make more of a hub for shopping and entertainment. The August 2011 earthquake provided an opportunity to rethink the station again. Besides causing damage that required immediate attention, it triggered a larger discussion about the best way to preserve and restore the Main Hall. In 2012, contractors began restoration of the damaged ceiling. As part of the work, they installed an elaborate system of steel framing to provide a new support structure for the ceiling, designed to help protect it in case of future earthquakes. The entire ceiling bay was also repainted and new gold leafing was applied, with help from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a $350,000 corporate donation from the American Express Foundation. The grant helped repair the ceiling by aiding in the replacement of more than the 120,000 sheets of 23-karat gold leaf. Besides the repair work on the ceiling itself, the heating and air-conditioning systems in the attic, behind the ceiling, were improved by realigning ductwork and creating new connections to the ceiling diffusers that will allow them to be cleaned and serviced more regularly. In April, once the ceiling restoration was completed, deconstruction began on the Center Café and the two circular planters, which once served as fountains. Swaim-Staley said the last four years’ worth of repairs were a team effort, involving the Federal Railroad Administration; Union Station Investco, an entity of Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, (manager of the station’s retail spaces); the State Historic Preservation Office, and other historic agencies. London-based Hayles and Howe led the plaster ceiling restoration. Preservationists say they’re glad to know the work is done. “Over the last 30 years both Union Station and the adjacent Capitol Hill neighborhood have been transformed by restoring the historic urban and architectural fabric,” said Lisa Dale Jones, president of Capitol Hill Restoration Society.  “The restoration of the Main Hall’s open floor plan, together with repairs to the coffered and gilt barrel vault ceiling, are important milestones in this recovery.”
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Plans unveiled for taller White House fence designed to deter intruders

Donald Trump may want to build a wall on the border between the U. S. and Mexico, but the Obama administration is more focused this week on building a new fence—around the White House. The National Capital Planning Commission was briefed Thursday on plans for a new White House security fence that would roughly double the height of the existing one and have a new concrete foundation—a response to the recent rash of “jumpers” and intruders who have tried to break into the 18-acre compound at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. “We would like to be able to ultimately rebuild the fence as it stands right now. This is an immediate need,” said Tom Dougherty, chief strategy officer for the Secret Service. “The current fence simply is not adequate for a modern era,” Dougherty said in an earlier briefing to federal officials, a recording of which was broadcast by NBC News4 in Washington. “It is entirely scalable, depending upon the circumstances. And we now have a society that tends to want to jump over the fence and onto the 18 acres.” Plans by the U. S. Secret Service and the National Park Service call for the new fence to be about 14 feet high, compared to the existing fence that is about 7 feet high. Entrance gates would be slightly higher. The new fence would have 1¾ inch pickets and “anti-climb” features such as intrusion-detection sensors. Renderings also show spikes along the upper edge similar to the “pencil point” spikes that were added to the existing fence in 2015. Mills + Schnoering Architects of Princeton, New Jersey, has been working on the design, which must be approved by the National Capital Planning Commission and the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts. One challenge is “reconciling contemporary standards of protection with the historic and highly symbolic property,” according to a letter from the Fine Arts Commission to the Park Service and the Secret Service. Federal officials say the fence will be in keeping with the Park Service’s design standards for the historic mansion and surrounding area, which draws millions of visitors a year. The planning commission did not take any formal action on the proposal at its meeting. A preliminary schedule calls for the taller White House fence to be under construction by 2018. A later phase would include a new fence to surround the nearby Treasury Department and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Memorials for the Future

The National Park Service (NPS), the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), and Van Alen Institute are collaborating on Memorials for the Future, an ideas competition to reimagine how we think about, feel, and experience memorials. Memorials for the Future calls for designers, artists, and social scientists to develop new ways to commemorate people and events that are more inclusive and flexible, and that enrich Washington’s landscape while responding to the limitations of traditional commemoration. As the NPS celebrates its centennial in 2016, Memorials for the Future creates new ideas for honoring our diverse histories, heritage, and culture. Three teams will be selected to participate in a research and design process, working closely with the competition partners to develop site-specific designs for memorials in Washington, DC that are adaptive, ephemeral, virtual, event-focused, or interactive. The teams’ proposals will advance a framework for the design of 21st-century memorials and provide future memorial sponsors with fresh approaches to commemorating their subject matter. THE COMPETITION
Memorials enshrine what we as a society want to remember. But the places, people, and stories that we memorialize, and the audiences who engage with them, are in fact constantly changing. A memorial tells its story through subject matter and design. This story is often complex and multi-dimensional as a memorial’s interpretive elements embody ideas of identity, culture, and heritage, and each have intensely personal interpretations for every individual. As a national capital, Washington is a place of collective memory. The wealth of monuments sited throughout the city take on heightened significance as they reflect relationships among nations, of national remembrance, and of many important events and figures in our history. Often the traditional and fixed nature of memorial design does not allow for adaptation and redefinition over time, or encourage more than one interpretation of a given narrative. The traditional approach to developing memorials in Washington has resulted in a commemorative landscape that is thematically similar and increasingly land-intensive, which poses challenges for Washington’s urban park system, and has long-term implications for the potential uses of a memorial's surrounding park setting. The planning and design process is often costly and time consuming, which limits opportunities to groups or individuals with significant resources. Current trends raise a number of questions about the future of Washington’s memorial landscape and the ability to provide space and resources for future commemorative works. Location The competition proposals should be based on specific places or areas in Washington, DC. Proposals may take a physical form or may be virtual. Preference will be given to teams that propose a site or sites outside of the National Mall. The following locations are suggestions reflecting typical opportunity sites for new memorials in Washington: Near the monumental core: The Belvedere Within a residential area: Randle Circle or Tenley Circle Around a natural setting: Hains Point For more information on the types of sites in Washington, DC, and these sites specifically, please visit the project website -http://future.ncpc.gov Provocations The following provocations are meant to fuel and direct the competition submissions. Concepts that address several of these provocations are more likely to meet the competition's goals. Memory • How can we commemorate events or acts with long time frames that are still occurring today? • How can memorials be adaptive or temporal rather than permanent? • How can a memorial’s narrative continue to evolve as new generations evaluate its significance within the larger context of our ongoing national history? Identity • How can memorials advance dialogue around contemporary social, economic, health, or ecological problems that have historical roots? • How can memorials look forward while acknowledging a historical event or person? • How can memorials contribute to a more inclusive and more representative national narrative? • How can memorial designs encourage more, rather than fewer, sponsors? Placemaking • How can we memorialize, while also balancing the need for active public space? • How can memorials engage more diverse audiences, in more flexible and interactive ways around a given narrative? • What unconventional physical or digital forms could memorials take? • How can memorials respond to various neighborhood contexts and scales while also commemorating national events or serving the national interest? The competition partners invite participants to propose additional questions. The goals of the competition are to create new approaches to and forms of memorializing: • That advance a framework for the planning and design of commemorative works in the 21st century. • That demonstrate how temporary, mobile, interactive or adaptive displays can provide powerful and memorable experiences that are cost-efficient. • That develop ways to commemorate that are inclusive of multiple narratives and have the potential to be flexible as perspectives change. • That honor the scale, context and national significance of Washington, DC. The competition results will be displayed online and at an exhibition in Washington, DC, published in an illustrated report, and inform NCPC, NPS, and their partners on future design and policy opportunities.
The deadline for registration and electronic submission of the request for concepts is 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 4, 2016 at the competition website.
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OMA unveils ideas for transforming RFK stadium property to an urban playground for the nation’s Capital

RFK Memorial Stadium would be torn down to create an urban playground along the Anacostia Riverfront for residents of Washington, D.C. and beyond, under plans by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) that were unveiled at a citywide meeting last night. OMA partner Jason Long and associate Laura Baird of OMA’s New York office outlined two design proposals—"The Stitch" and a "North-South axis"—for a 190-acre stretch of riverfront known as the RFK Stadium-Armory campus. Currently, it's covered mostly with the 55-year-old stadium, the armory, and surrounding parking lots. The Dutch firm OMA, founded in 1975 by Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, was hired last year by Events DC to explore ideas for the RFK stadium property after consultants concluded that there is no economically feasible way to renovate the building for continued use as a sports facility. Events DC is the District’s sports and conventional authority. The 75-year old armory would remain. Ideas in both proposals included a 20,000-square-foot arena for the Washington Wizards and Capitals, to replace the Verizon Center in Chinatown, or a 65,000-seat stadium for Washington’s NFL team, which has hired the Bjarke Ingels Group as its lead designer but has not settled on a site. There was also an option for no stadium or arena at all but other sorts of sports-and recreational facilities. Other ideas included playing fields, a field house, a water park, an aquatic center, art pavilions, a science center, a new home for the National Aquarium, and a sports complex comparable to Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. Also, hiking and biking trails, community gardens, a floating pool, a picnic area, a skatepark, an ice rink, an ecology lab, and an exercise park. There were short term and long range ideas. Two manmade islands just off the shoreline, Kingman and Heritage islands, could be made more accessible by a series of pedestrian bridges. OMA’s Long said that since the property is owned by the National Park Service and leased on a long term basis to the District of Columbia, the design team explored recreational uses consistent with the Park Service’s mission. But Long said OMA also wanted to use the planning effort to introduce a wider range of recreational, cultural, and entertainment offerings. OMA wants to show the potential for creating a new gateway to the nation’s Capitol, including taking advantage of efforts to clean up the Anacostia River and providing more public access to the water’s edge. He noted that the RFK property is just about as long as New York’s High Line and just about as wide as Central Park, two of the most popular and heavily-used urban recreational areas in the country. However, it has essentially been devoted to a single use for decades. “We wanted to be much more diverse, in terms of programming,” he said. “This site has the scale to be an amazing place in which the city could connect to the riverfront.” The design team did not provide construction cost estimates. The cost of an NFL stadium or basketball arena alone, experts say, could approach $1 billion. The difference between OMA’s two design options was the way buildings were set along the waterfront and how open space was used to connect them with the waterfront and the rest of the city. One option, called “North-South axis,” would use the site’s sloping topography to conceal a linear “plinth” that spans the length of the site and provides underground parking. On top of this plinth would be a multi-structure sports complex, with a retail promenade at street level. The linear sports complex could contain either the arena, the stadium, or no large sports anchor at all. A series of stairs and ramps would draw visitors down to the waterfront, which would be transformed with parks, fields and possibly an “urban beach.” The existing road network would be restructured to accommodate traffic while providing multiple access points to the plinth so parking is evenly distributed along the site. The second option, called “The Stitch,” builds on the site’s existing “funnel-shaped” road network by adding two pedestrian boulevards and weaving circulation access routes through an urban campus. The plan “stitches” together elements of culture, sports and recreation into three zones.  To the north, amenities include a sports complex, aquatic center, and farmers’ market. The central zone lines up with the National Mall and features a “grand plaza” for outdoor events. To the south would be a marketplace and retail-lined parking structures. Again, this option could accommodate the arena, the NFL stadium or no large sports anchor. Long said the OMA team was aware that the Bjarke Ingels Group has been designing a football stadium, but the two design teams have not meet to discuss how BIG’s design might fit onto the RFK site. One of the features of the BIG design, unveiled last month, was a moat around the stadium that could be used for kayaking and other activities. The football team is considering sites in D. C., Maryland, and northern Virginia. Nearly 400 people came to the two hour presentation at the Washington Convention Center and expressed a variety of opinions. There seemed to be no clear preference for one option or another, or whether a football stadium should go on the site. Audience members asked questions about a number of issues. They wanted to know whether the plan could be modified to include housing; how traffic flow and access from the Metro could be improved; how to make the site more walkable, and whether a beach would make sense with Washington’s  mosquito-infested summers and cold winters. One man suggested moving the National Zoo to the site and selling the zoo property in Woodley Park to help pay for construction. Long said OMA designers will take the comments into consideration as they refine their plans and analyze costs in preparation for a follow-up community meeting in a few months. He said he was impressed by the turnout and the “high level of discussion” about the preliminary design concepts. “It’s good that people want to hear more,” he said.  “It’s great that they want to push it to the next stage.”
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Re-Ball! winner Hou de Souse reuses 650,000 plastic balls for interactive installation in abandoned D.C. trolley station

It has been a little over two and a half weeks since the last submissions rolled in March 4 for Re-Ball!, an international competition hosted by Dupont Underground. Raise/Raze, the winning design by New York City-based architecture firm Hou de Sousa, emphasizes interactivity and social interaction, inviting users to make their own mark on the building (and destruction) process. Re-Ball! is an organization seeking to bring life to a defunct trolley station under Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. The station opened in 1949 and was abandoned in 1962, when the city stopped its streetcar service. (Though in the 1960s parts were used as a fallout shelter and later a food court.) Dupont Underground signed a five-year lease with the city in 2014, and hopes to create a Low Line-like experience, yet with a more cultural bend, hosting art and design exhibitions, community and educational events. They also want to host pop up restaurants and retail, creative incubators, and more, both temporary and permanent. To start activating the Dupont space and get those creative juices flowing, the competition asked entrants to create a site-specific installation repurposing over 650,000 translucent white plastic balls used in a former National Building Museum installation last summer. They asked entrants to create a design to help fill the 14,000 square foot east platform, now mostly raw concrete and subway tile, beneath Dupont Circle. “The winning entry should be thoughtful, provocative, witty, safe, and executable on a limited budget, in a limited time frame, and within the confines of the site,” Dupont Underground wrote in their competition brief. “Raise/Raze is like sand in a massive sandbox; it allows its users to alter their surroundings with ease,” said the designers in a statement. To see the installation when it opens April 30, you’ll need to make a reservation. Advanced admission tickets are available via the Indiegogo campaign. The installation will run through June 1. Check out the finalists here and a gallery of all proposals over here.
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Plans for D.C.’s Pershing Park mired in debate over protection and progress

Adored by some who consider it a neatly sculpted Modern landscape worthy of protection, and loathed by others who see it as an alienating 1980s byproduct that perpetually falls short in its public duties, Pershing Park conjures up some polarizing perspectives. Located in Northwest D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue, the park's condition is shopworn, but its redevelopment continues to divide opinions. Home to the WWI General John Pershing memorial (a protected monument) Pershing Park was designed in 1981 by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg. At the time it was a tranquil environment, a welcome contrast to the hectic urban surrounding. Its layout is ordered, and clean lines run through the park, maintaining a harmonious and symmetrical relationship with the water and greenery—at least, that was what was meant to be. Once upon a time, the park promised to be a place to ice-skate in the winter and relax in the summer. The fountain and ice-skating framework however, have been defunct for years. The water's serenity and sense of calm is easily disrupted when upkeep is ignored as litter fills the pool and steps become dirty. Paving slabs are riddled with cracks and are uneven, the slick lines now lost. It's no coincidence that that idyllic images shown on the American Society of Landscape Architects's website (via The Cultural Landscape Foundation, TCLF) are clearly dated (though the date of the photographs is unknown). Now, the World War I Memorial Centennial Commission is eager for change. A competition which the commission ran in 2015 resulted in architect Joseph Weishaar, landscape architect Phoebe McCormick Lickwar and sculptor Sabin Howard winning with their proposal: The Weight of Sacrifice. The design does away with the water. A problematic feature, seen as a catalyst to the park's downfall, it is replaced by a lawn that is partially surrounded by 10-foot-high walls that hug the perimeter, using bas-reliefs to inform visitors about WWI.
  The aim is to provide more space to relax, but it also sees a change in the park's role, becoming a place for historical education too. Costs are estimated at $38 million by the commission who has currently raised $6 million in their bid to bring about change. Change however, may not come so easily. On the other side, those who fight for the parks protection are attempting to place the park on the National Register of Historic Places. If successful, any changes, regardless of money raised, would be significantly curtailed. It's not hard to see both sides of the argument. On one hand, to maintain the current style and layout of the park pays respect to the WWI General John Pershing memorial of which it was designed to do. On that note, any change would disrupt the relationship between the park and the memorial. Conversely, the space's decline surely implies that it is unsuccessful, so much so that none bother to maintain it. For this to be fixed, more need to be welcomed in and more space is needed to facilitate this. Joe Weishaar argues that the dropped water feature is a “blind spot” and is hence ignored. Sculptor Sabin Howard envisions an “uplifting story of transformation, showing how noble the human race can be.” While the campaign for change gathers steam, the fight for protection does have some weight in the form of Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF)  and Darwina Neal, former president of ASLA among others. Here, Birnbaum argues for “making some changes, but keeping the signature and character-defining features intact.” From a withdrawn perspective, one cries out for collaboration between the two parties. Jared Green of The Dirt points out: "Whatever the outcome, one long-term question is: can this park be well-maintained moving forward? If not, we may be back to where we are now 30 years in the future."
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Stay Cool: ICEBERGS ahead at the National Building Museum

The National Building Museum, in Washington D.C., will open a radical new exhibition, ICEBERGS, on July 2 of this year. Designed by New York–based landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, the exhibition will feature stunning underwater glacial ice fields that stretch across the Museum's Great Hall. The one-of-a-kind installation will focus on three recurring themes of construction, geometry, and landscape representation. Part of the museum's Summer Block Party series, Corner's ICEBERGS includes glacial-style landscaping throughout the Great Hall, all coming in a various sizes comprising reusable construction materials like scaffolding and polycarbonate paneling—often found in greenhouses. Hanging 20 feet from the ceiling, a "water line" divides the space which subsequently facilitates panoramic views from both the supposed ocean surface plane and down below by the icebergs. The "bergs" however, aren't exactly small. Designed to appear imposing and at times ominous, the tallest artificial iceberg area will rise to 56 feet, soaring above the waterline up to the third-story balcony. A viewing area has also been incorporated into the inside the largest iceberg, allowing visitors to step inside, walk along an undersea bridge, chill out in icy seabed grottos, choose from a selection of "shaved-ice snacks," and engage in educational programs on landscape architecture and the environment. Corner said in a press release,“ICEBERGS invokes the surreal underwater-world of glacial ice fields. Such a world is both beautiful and ominous given our current epoch of climate change, ice-melt, and rising seas. The installation creates an ambient field of texture, movement, and interaction, as in an unfolding landscape of multiples, distinct from a static, single object." All in all, ICEBERGS will take up 12,540 square feet within the museum. The exhibit runs through September 5, 2016.   “ICEBERGS symbolizes an extreme counterpoint to the sweltering heat of the Washington, D.C. summer,” said Chase W. Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum. “We hope that James Corner Field Operations’ striking design will provoke both serious public conversation about the complex relationship between design and landscape, while also eliciting a sense of wonder and play among visitors of all ages.”