Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

REX unveils a fluted glass office building in Washington, D.C.

As the United States capital,Washington, D.C. is a de facto magnet for smart people who want to make an impact on government. The city doesn't often make headlines for its contemporary architecture, though occasionally, a sharp new project breaks into the parade of undistinguished office buildings. One of those is a newly unveiled 11-story structure by Brooklyn-based REX at 2050 M Street, between Washington and Dupont Circles. While the client is Tishman Speyer, CBS will be the 400,000-square-foot building's primary tenant. The project's executive architect is Houston's Kendall/Heaton. The building responds to D.C.'s strict zoning codes and its prevailing office building typologies: the Neoclassical, Beaux Arts, or Brutalist box, and the smooth, soulless glass box. Zoning requires buildings to have similar height and mass, but do not regulate, or encourage, aesthetic harmony. As a result, statement buildings with similar width and height, but widely divergent styles, compete for attention. To reconcile this peculiarity, REX's building combines the mass of a stately Neoclassical building with a transparent, fluted glass facade. According to REX, the facade is comprised of "nine hundred identical, insulated-glass panels—11.5 feet tall by 5 feet wide—are subtly curved to a 9.5 foot radius through a heat roller tempering process." The floor-to-ceiling "mullion-less" windows allow sightlines that extend through the interior. The result is an exterior that catches light at regular but unexpected angles and throws pleasantly distorted images of its neighbors back at the viewer. To offset the rigidity of glass, the lobby is clad in decidedly non-vegan cowhide, and is large enough to accommodate a site-specific sculpture by an as-yet-unnamed artist. When it is complete in 2019, 2050 M Street hopes to achieve LEED Gold certification. See the gallery below for more images of the project. 2015 was a successful year for REX. In September, principal Joshua Prince-Ramus won the Marcus Prize. The biannual honor (and cash prize) is given to an architect "on a trajectory of greatness." As part of his Marcus Prize acceptance, Prince-Ramus will teach a graduate studio on adaptive reuse at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee School of Architecture this Spring.

OMA selected to master plan Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium–Armory Campus

Washington, D.C.'s rundown Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium–Armory Campus, home to soccer team D.C. United, is finally edging closer to redevelopment. The New York office of Rem Koolhaas' Rotterdam-based firm OMA has been commissioned to master plan the 190-acre site. The stadium, located in the Southeast quadrant of the District, boasts a significant soccer pedigree, having hosted five World Cup matches in 1994. Constructed in 1961, the RFK Memorial Stadium was famed for being one of the first multi-sport sports venues, pitched as both a baseball and soccer arena. After almost 60 years of service, the stadium is now long overdue for a facelift. The project is being overseen by Events DC and the Sports Authority for the District of Columbia. OMA will also work with management firm Brailsford & Dunlavey to develop long- and short-term concepts for the future usage of the site. The project will be managed by OMA's New York office, with the intention of creating a "holistic conceptual plan" that "resonates with the surrounding community" forming axis points and public meeting points, acting as a social hub for residents. Jason Long, partner at OMA, said in a statement that the plan will seek to to play an "important role in reconnecting the city to the Anacostia waterfront.” No renderings have been released to date. OMA will seek to integrate the stadium into the 190-acre site, a vast expanse currently covered by surface-level parking lots, underutilized green spaces, and wide roadways. The windswept campus today appears eerily abandoned. “The goal of the project is to develop conceptual master plans for the entire Campus that complement the site, benefit the community, and create access points and public areas of convergence for residents and visitors” Laura Baird, associate at OMA, said in a statement. Plans and concepts for the project will be released in January 2016. The campus master plan is OMA's second commission in Washington, D.C. The firm also won a design competition, with landscape architecture firm OLIN, to build the 11th Street Bridge Park that spans the Anacostia River.The so-called "Anacostia Crossings" proposal configures the bridge into an X-shaped , multi-story linear park. According to AN's October 2014 report on the bridge, nearly $16 million had already been raised for the project, with a goal of $40 million more.

Gallaudet University announces four finalist teams to create the “first urban environment for the deaf”

Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. is doubling down on design for the deaf. The university has announced four finalists in an international design competition that will add to an ambitious program to build DeafSpace, the "first urban environment for the deaf." Designing public space with the deaf in mind brings its own unique challenges. "Do crosswalks have to heighten visibility? If sidewalks have to be wider, do they cut into sidewalk cafes and increase the area of surfaces impermeable to rainwater?" Gallaudet turned to the design community to come up with ideas in its competition. The two-part competition garnered responses from 51 multidisciplinary teams (comprising 320 architecture firms, consultants, and specialists). The brief called for a space specifically tailored to the needs of the deaf community and required the design team to propose a new campus gateway and "redefine the university's urban edge as a vibrant, mixed-use, creative and cultural district." The shortlisted finalists are:
  • Hall McKnight Architects with AECOM, Nomad RDC, Whybrow Wayfinding, L’Observatoire International, Dr Adams-Costa, and Patrick Cullina (UK)
  • Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Ltd., with Richard Burck Associates, Landscape Architecture Bureau, Bohler Engineering, Small Design Firm, Tillotson Design Associates, Cavanaugh Tocci Associates, Inc, Pentagram, Jensen Hughes Associates, Buro Happold, Tarek Atoui and Jacob Shamberg (US)
  • Marvel Architects with Quennell Rothschild Partners, ARUP, Local Projects, James Lima Planning + Development, Future/City, Jim Conti Light Design, Doyle Partners, Tom Fruin (US)
  • MASS Design Group with Jeffrey Mansfield, DLR Group, TENxTEN, Small Stuff, Urban Ingenuity, Integral Group, Wendy Jacobs, Michael Gulliver, Chisato Minamimura and Sarah Pickthall (US)
Located on the southwestern edge of the university, the competition is sited along 6th Street NE and hopes to connect the deaf and hearing communities. The university is calling the larger area "DeafSpace" and aims to fit the competition project into an existing 10-year master plan. In what will be the "first urban environment for the deaf," public spaces in and around the campus and four sizeable plots will be developed under the master plan. Started in 2012, the ten-year master plan is well under way. In 2014 architect Morris Adjmi was chosen to design the four plots totaling 1.3 million square feet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=14&v=PcSnNMSkbf4 The competition project will feature "DeafSpace" design principles, which are based on the knowledge that the built environment, largely constructed by and for hearing individuals, presents a variety of challenges to which deaf people have responded with a particular way of altering their surroundings to fit their unique ways-of-being. Examples of DeafSpace design elements can be found on the Gallaudet campus in two of its buildings. This project is the first time these design principles will be incorporated into a public space off the Gallaudet campus. The university "realized its campus didn't suit how the Deaf use buildings and streets," according to Greater Greater Washington. DeafSpace hopes to correct that. The design of DeafSpace takes into account the visual nature of sign language—American Sign Language (ASL) requires view of the whole upper body. Practitioners use lots of personal space when communicating with their hands, so in DeafSpace, "there are as few manually opening doors as possible." Hallways and corridors are designed to be wider. Hansel Bauman, leader of the DeafSpace project is keen to take the idea further. To "design spaces more tightly around human behaviors and sensations, irrespective of specific abilities." He noted how easy it is for society to forget how humans physically and visually interact with our surroundings. "The design competition is an important first step in one of the most dramatic neighborhood revitalizations the District has seen in some time," Fred Weiner, assistant vice president of administration at Gallaudet and CEO of the Gallaudet University Foundation, said in a statement. "This integration into the surrounding community will allow for greater opportunities for our students, faculty and staff to engage with those that live and work alongside us, and for those outside the campus boundaries to better understand our culture and the deaf ways of being." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBBdQnni9Go  

Developers get smart on the eventual redo of D.C.’s Brutalist J. Edgar Hoover Building

A long-standing fortress of state secrecy is under siege. The federal government is selling Washington, D.C.'s J. Edgar Hoover Building to a developer who, citizens hope, will turn the FBI's headquarters into a mixed use development. Designed by Charles F. Murphy and completed in 1975, the 2.8 million square foot Brutalist building is praised and reviled for all the reasons Brutalist buildings are praised and reviled. Despite its historical significance and because of $80 million in deferred maintenance, the building will likely be replaced with development that creates a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape. There are, however, massive bureaucratic hurdles to clear before the property can be developed. First, the congressionally-approved 1974 master plan must be revised s0 the site can be developed as a non-office building. However, the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, the entity that created the plan, folded in 1996. Its responsibilities are now shared by the National Park Service, the General Services Administration (GSA), and National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). The three agencies must agree on every step of the plan for it to move forward. When and if these master plan revisions are approved, the agencies can develop design guidelines for the site. The design guidelines must be adopted before developers can bid on the property because of a particular arrangement the federal government requires of this site. The GSA, the federal office responsible for securing land for a new complex, must offload underperforming assets (like the J. Edgar Hoover Building) before acquiring new ones. The developer will take a risk in buying this property because the exchange must occur before what can be built on the property is absolutely final. Finally, the developer's plans will go though the city's design review boards. Developers willing to endure a potentially Kafka-esque wait will be rewarded with prime land on the capital's most prestigious avenue.

The White House is up for auction—or at least an old piece of it

Here's your chance to own a piece—a very small piece—of the actual White House. No large lobbyist pockets required. A relic from the presidential mansion will go up for auction at a live event later this month. The piece is an architectural ornament from the main hall of 1817 that President Madison rebuild after an 1814 fire. The wooden ornamental plinth was actually removed from the White House in 1902 during Theodore Roosevelt's renovation. It's part of an architectural ensemble forming the trim around a doorway and was used as a base, sitting at the bottom of the frame. Measuring approximately 14 x 30 x 4 inches, it was constructed using a pine base with pine moldings, cast composition ornaments, and hand-forged nails. In addition, it has 17 layers of paint of which three are gold leaf. From this evidence one can assume the that White House was repainted for each president, thus allowing the plinth to be representative of 17 terms of U.S. presidency. The auction will be hosted by RR in Boston later this month on Monday, September 28 at 1:00 PM EST.

Architects design an interactive installation at the Smithsonian that calls for participants to overthrow dictators

Viva la revolución? A new interactive installation in Washington D.C. named Starry Heavens aims to use architecture for anarchy by unifying participants and encouraging them into carrying out collective acts of mobocracy. The brainchild of game designer Eric Zimmerman and architect Nathalie Pozzi, Starry Heavens is a quirky neo-political game (of sorts) which features a sleek white, snake-like form that sits above the participants. Below is a grid with black, grey and white interconnected bases, which if anything, is emulative of molecular lattice-like structure. According to The Creators Project, users have to stand on these bases and can only move when instructed to do so by a "central ruler," who is the only one allowed to talk. The aim of the game is for the players (who can join at any time) to overthrow the dictator. After meeting on Craigslist in 2008, Zimmerman and Pozzi have collaborated on similar projects prior to this one. In their first venture in 2009, they created BlockBall for the Come Out and Play festival. This isn't the first outing Starry Heavens has had either as the game in fact was initially designed for a MoMa event, exhibited in 2011. Speaking to The Creators Project, Pozzi explained why the exhibition space at the Smithsonian was a pulling factor. "For the installation at the Smithsonian, the white curve was very much a response to the physical space, we wanted to design a visually striking element that connected the play on the ground with the stunning Kogod Courtyard. The curve serves as a theatrical backdrop for the project and also as the 'heavens' of the title, Starry Heavens." The installation was fabricated by Erik van Dongen of Air Design Studio. Clara Ranenfir contributed to the design. Described by the pair as a "political fable" the installation seeks to use the physicality of the space to enliven themes of power and control, amplifying how this can shift via collaboration of the masses. "Starry Heavens tells an absurdist story of a pointless conflict. Players conspire with and against each other to overthrow a central Ruler, who commands where they can step. Whoever becomes the new Ruler takes over the nonsensical goal of trying to pull down a gigantic helium-filled balloon before they themselves get overthrown and replaced." "The way an architect structures space through material is very much like the way a game designer structures behavior through game rules," Zimmerman explains. "Perhaps architecture can learn to think of itself as a responsive discipline that reflects its environment and its users in a more honest and immediate way." The physicality of architecture in particular appeals to Zimmerman. "Maybe games can learn to be less disposable," he says. "I love the idea of designing a game that—like a building—is meant to last for decades or centuries."

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.]

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.

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.

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]

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]

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.