Posts tagged with "Washington D.C.":

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Before the Department of Homeland Security moves into its old insane asylum home, the National Historic Landmark will need some intense TLC

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Washington, D.C.’s first “unapologetically luxurious” stomping ground for the rich and famous, The Watergate Hotel recently underwent a $125 million modernizing facelift. Inextricably connected with the Watergate scandal, the hotel has maintained its avant-garde design and curvaceous, classic elegance in a nod to its 1960s design by Italian architect Luigi Moretti. Moretti designed a series of curvilinear buildings made from reinforced concrete as a counterpoint to Washington's conformist neoclassical architecture. New York–based real estate developer Euro Capital Properties commissioned Ron Arad Architects to design the lobby, whisky bar, and restaurant, filling these spaces with custom-designed sculptural furnishings by the architect. “In its heyday, the Watergate Hotel was a playground for powerful people. My vision was to recreate that by celebrating [Luigi] Moretti’s original design and updating it with modern, luxurious details that guests and locals will value,” said Rakel Cohen, Vice President of Design & Development, Euro Capital Properties, in a statement. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby frame views of the Potomac River, with the graded black granite ceiling and floors creating a floating sensation akin to Moretti’s inspiration of a boat sailing on the Potomac. Pops of color complement the sculptural metalwork and showstopping chandeliers, while a wall of hand-patinated brass tubes draws the eye toward the Potomac. Avoiding straight lines altogether, the 46 foot-long brass reception desk recalls the building’s signature curves. Meanwhile, twisted columns made from mirror-polished stainless steel tubes create distorted reflections. On June 16, 1972, four men rented two rooms in the Watergate Hotel and dined on lobster at the hotel restaurant. That same evening, they broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters on the sixth floor of the Watergate office, triggering the scandal that caused Nixon to resign two years later. Arad admits that the Watergate scandal was an irresistible lure for him when asked to come on board. “Working within such a significant period piece, you can’t ignore the context, but at the same time you don’t want to mimic it. Instead, you want to create something complementary, but most importantly, something new,” Arad said in a statement. “We have tried to enhance Moretti’s original curves using our own, while at the same time influencing the anticipated flow of people through the spaces. To honor Moretti, we introduced a brilliant Italian fabricator to the project as a way of completing the cycle,” Arad continued, referencing Italian furniture designer Moroso, which manufactured most of the hotel's sculptural furnishings. The lobby of the 377-room hotel features a new double-height space carved out of the original building, with casual and fine dining concepts under a black polished plaster ceiling with eight custom-made spiral chandeliers. The fine dining restaurant is wrapped by a red, curving banquette and decked with bespoke Watergate Chairs designed by Arad for Watergate Hotel and manufactured by Moroso.
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Washington, DC’s Architecture Week 2015 Starts April 23

  Think DC’s architecture begins and ends on the National Mall? Think again. The 17th annual Architecture Week starts on April 23 to give you a sneak peek into the buildings and attractions of Washington, DC! Organized by the Washington Chapter for the American Institute of Architects (AIA|DC), Architecture Week 2015 starts off with a LEGO Happy Hour on Thursday, April 23 and closes on Wednesday, April 29 with a discussion on “Why Architecture and Preservation Matter.” Architecture Week 2015 brings many occasions for people of all ages to learn about the city in exciting ways including tours, film screenings, children’s activities, and networking events. Get the chance to go behind the scenes and tour a Smithsonian construction site, a variety of historical landmarks and foreign embassies, and even a local DC brewery (also sample their beer)! Public events held throughout Washington, DC will be of interest to visitors and residents alike, architecture enthusiasts, children, and, of course, architects looking for exciting opportunities to earn learning units. With over 20 free and low cost events, there’s something for everyone during Architecture Week. View the calendar for more information and to register for events www.aiadc.com/architectureweek.
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Grimshaw & Beyer Blinder Belle to oversee 2nd phase of master plan for DC’s Union Station

Grimshaw and Beyer Blinder Belle have been tapped by Washington, D.C.'s Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) to spearhead a master plan to spruce up the city's iconic train station. The "Master Development Plan for Union Station's 2nd Century" builds upon the hugely ambitious, $9 billion development plan that Amtrak and developer Akridge unveiled in 2012. As AN wrote at the time: "The 3-million-square-foot project promises to unite the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and NoMa, a former industrial area transformed into a leafy residential neighborhood." Now, Grimshaw and Beyer Blinder Belle are tasked with making that vision (or something like it) a reality. To do so, the firms will be conducting a comprehensive planning process with public engagement and environmental assessment. They will also draw up conceptual designs to improve the passenger experience and overall functionality at the station. "The Master Development Plan for Union Station’s 2nd Century will respect and reinforce the station’s historic setting, while also integrating it with surrounding neighborhoods, and the construction of Burnham Place, a three-million-square-feet of mixed-use space, parks, and plazas to be developed over the rail yard," said the USRC, Amtrak, and Akridge in a statement. This master plan will actually be the second Union Station master plan that Grimshaw is currently overseeing. Last fall, the firm unveiled a very futuristic vision for Los Angeles' train station of the same name.
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This Week> Facades+AM Washington Three by Three

With its combination of iconic references to the nation's past and the machinery that drives our political present, Washington, DC presents a particular set of problems and possibilities to facades innovators. Top experts in high-performance building envelope design and construction will this gather this Thursday, March 5, to explore some of these issues during Facades+ AM: Washington Three by Three, a morning seminar taking place at the District Architecture Center. Facades+ AM is a quick-take variation on the popular Facades+ conference series. Over the course of the morning, three panels of three experts and one moderator each will take up questions concerning facade design and construction in the nation's capital. Session one, "Design Opportunities in a Blast Resistant World," moderated by Steve White, president of AIA DC, will consider how innovative designs can flourish despite security restrictions. Washington Post columnist and University of Maryland professor emeritus Roger Lewis will moderate session two, "Innovative Facades Come to Washington," highlighting cutting-edge facades in the DC area. Session three, "The New Face of Monumental Washington," moderated by Washington Architectural Foundation president Janet Bloomberg, will describe the role played high-performance building envelopes in both old and new monuments. Mark Strauss, senior partner at FXFOWLE, and AN's editor-in-chief William Menking will deliver opening and closing remarks. Seats are limited; register today for Facades+AM: Washington Three by Three. For more information, include a detailed agenda, visit the symposium website.
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LEGO Architecture honors the Great Emancipator with a miniature of the Lincoln Memorial

A miniature LEGO model of the Lincoln Memorial has just launched under the LEGO Architecture brand, a “Lego for grownups” product line that celebrates architecture and the chameleon capabilities of the LEGO brick. Featuring recreations of landmark buildings such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Sydney Opera House and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the latest set honors the memorial completed in May 30, 1922 in homage to the 16th president of the United States. The final cost of the memorial approached $3 million, although just $2 million had been initially allocated. Despite not being immediately apparent to the naked eye, the building’s columns and exterior walls are slightly inclined toward the interior to compensate for visual perspective distortions that would make the building appear to bulge at the top. Honoring the 57th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, the memorial designed by Henry Bacon resembles a Greek temple, with 36 fluted Doric columns to represent the number of recognized states at the time of Lincoln's death. Visible from the outside is the famous oversize statue by Daniel Chester French, with Lincoln’s left hand clenched to symbolize strength and determination and his right palm open in a show of charity and compassion. While the LEGO model measures a mere two inches tall, 4 inches wide, and 3 inches deep, it has an easily removable roof for viewing the statue inside. Aspiring towards a true-to-life remake, the model includes the steps leading up to the building from the reflecting pool. The set includes a sorely-needed plastic brick separator for detaching those notoriously clingy flat bricks, as well as a 65-page instruction manual.
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With some help from Gensler, ASLA to turn its headquarters into the Center for Landscape Architecture

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has tapped Gensler and landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden to turn its Washington, D.C. headquarters into the state-of-the-art Center for Landscape Architecture. ASLA bought its 12,000-square-foot home in 1997 for $2.4 million and watched as its value increased to $6.9 million. Since the building was about ready for some fixing up, the society decided it was a good time to go ahead and truly transform it at a cost of $4 million. The building’s existing facade is set to be altered so that the new center is more inviting to passers-by. Inside, the building will be reconfigured to create rooms for meetings and events, exhibitions, a catering kitchen, and restrooms. An existing enclosed double staircase will also be opened to create a three-story atrium that can be dressed up with elements of landscape architecture. The renovation has something for ASLA’s current (and future) employees as well. The new space comes with an upgraded kitchen and restrooms, new conference rooms and administrative space, and even a “wellness room” and “focus rooms." Gensler is aiming for LEED Platinum designation with the renovation. “This is an opportunity to create a facility to reflect the image and ethic of our profession—a world-class Center for Landscape Architecture that will inspire and engage our staff, our membership, allied professionals, public officials and the general public,” said Mark A. Focht, the immediate past president of ASLA, in a statement. ASLA's board of trustees unanimously approved the plan in November and funding is already a third of the way there. Construction is slated to start this fall.