The historic Wardman Tower in Washington D.C. is getting an interior update courtesy of Deborah Berke. The New York–based architect has been tapped by JBG Companies to update all of the building’s interior spaces and its 32 private residences. According to JBG Companies, the renovation “will pay tribute to the opulence of mid-century Paris while adding an open and contemporary feel to the spaces.” If it wasn't obvious, that's code for: Expensive. As in, these condos will be very expensive—priced between $2 million and $8 million. According to the Washington Post, that could make the Wardman condos “the most expensive units ever to hit Washington." “The sites and the views are absolutely spectacular due to the ingenious layout and cruciform shape of the building,” Berke said in a statement. “The gracious, large apartments will not be flamboyantly traditional nor will they be jarringly modern but rather a happy overflow of styles." When the renovation is completed next year, this high-profile building with its high-profile designer, will likely attract some Washington elites. And that's nothing new for the Wardman. Since it opened nearly 100 years ago, presidents including Herbert Hoover, Dwight Eisenhower, and LBJ have rested their historic heads in the building. While renovations continue on Berke's interiors in D.C., she has some substantial work underway in New York City. In Lower Manhattan, Berke is designing 700 apartments in a 66-story art deco tower and in Midtown, she is doing the interiors for Rafael Viñoly's 432 Park, which is the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere. You can watch Berke describe her design approach at 432 Park in the video below. Click play and let the jealousy ensue.
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[beforeafter] [/beforeafter] Frank Gehry has offered up another design for his remarkably controversial Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C. The revised approach comes a few months after the National Capital Planning Commission shot down Team Gehry’s last design which included massive metal tapestries and columns that obstructed views of the capitol dome. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] For the new iteration, Gehry ditches the large tapestries and columns that frame either end of the site, but he hasn't given up entirely on the tapestry idea just yet. The memorial still includes the significant mesh screen that runs the length of the memorial and is supposed to depict the Kansas landscape where Ike grew up. Overall, the commissioners seemed to appreciate the design changes, but let's not overstate things. DCist reported that Ellen McCarthy, the director of Washington's Office of Planning, questioned the team’s decision to keep two freestanding 80-foot columns at the site. The director reportedly compared them to left-over pieces at the end of a Planet of the Apes movie. California congressman Darrell Issa said they look more like the structural columns holding up Eisenhower’s interstate highway system. Still, Issa said he would rather move forward with this plan than start over with an entirely new design. The panel will vote on the revised plan at its next meeting.
It finally happened. After decades of planning, five years of construction, and months of delays, Washington D.C.'s brand-new Silver Metro line welcomed over 50,000 commuters for its opening weekend. The new 11.4-mile line, which includes five new stations, will ultimately connect the city to Dulles Airport in Virginia. That part of the line is scheduled to open in 2018. The Silver line, though, is more than an attempt to connect a city with its airport—it's the latest, multi-billion dollar effort to expand a rail system, spur economic development, and create more walkable, pedestrian-friendly destinations. So, yes, it's ambitious. And, yes, it was expensive. A host of local and national officials—including Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx—were on hand this weekend to test out the new rails, which were first proposed in the early 1960s. Many of the excited commuters on their inaugural rides told local news crews that the Silver line will significantly cut down their commute time and may even allow them to ditch their car altogether. The Metro predicts there will be 50,000 daily riders on the Silver line by this time next year, and more than twice that by 2025 when the line is connected to Dulles Airport. Of course, building an entirely new rail line comes with significant costs (and significant delays and significant cost overruns). This first section of the project cost $2.9 billion, which is $150 million over budget, and opened six months late. All told, this first phase of the line cost nearly $47,000 a foot. The second phase is expected to cost $2.7 billion. About half of the total cost of the first phase came from increased tolls on the Dulles Toll road. The remaining half is a mix of funds from federal and local levels. In between DC and Dulles is Tysons Corner—an area in Virginia that's trying to shake its reputation as just a collection of shopping malls and office towers. That is no easy task, but the powerful interests in town see the opening of the Silver line as a crucial test of whether that's even possible. “There's not much riding on the Silver Line except the future of the American suburb as we know it,” CityLab recently declared. “A half-dozen Fortune 500 companies are based [in Tysons],” explained the site. “The area is rife with high-end hotels, restaurants, and department stores; there's even a Tesla dealership coming in. But grocery stores never arrived in any substantial numbers, nor did churches or parks or any of the other sorts of services that could help make a place feel like home for the roughly 19,000 people who live here now.” To achieve that, Tysons is planning new permanent green space, pop-up parks, new trees, overall streetscape improvements, and thousands of new apartments. A key element of the Silver line's planning seems to be perfectly aligned with that goal of a more walkable, urbanistic future. But it's not what the Silver line offers Tysons—rather what it doesn't: parking. The Washington Post reported that there are no parking garages at four of the five stations in Tysons. Walking or biking to one of these stations, though, appears to be a rather hellish experience, according to Ken Archer, who works at a software firm in Tysons."I've endured the lack of crosswalks in Tysons Corner for years as a pedestrian, but assumed that Fairfax County would add crosswalks before the Silver Line began operation," he wrote on the blog Greater Greater Washington. "The county needs to create safe pedestrian pathways immediately, rather than waiting until someone gets hurt or killed."
After missing its 2013 deadline, Washington D.C.’s streetcar could possibly open this fall—that’s according to a source involved with the project. The in-the-know individual told American University's radio station, WAMU, that the H Street-Benning Road line could be up and running the first week of November. But, according to WNYC, a lot has to get done for the city to hit its revised target. In the coming months, the District Department of Transportation must run system tests, train operators, and receive safety certification from the Federal Transit Authority, all while project managers start “pre revenue operations.” Work on the 2.4-mile line began in 2008 and is just a small piece of the proposed 37-mile system.
Frank Gehry has had a hell of time with this Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. Since the architect was selected to design the memorial in 2009, his plans to honor Ike have been met with sustained and scathing backlash. Countless columnists have pilloried Gehry's design, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts objected to key elements of the memorial, Eisenhower's granddaughter compared the metal tapestries that frame the site to fences at a Nazi concentration camp, congress rejected $49 million in construction funding for the project, and then, in April, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted 7-3 to reject the the plan. But it's going to take more than that to stop Gehry. According to Reuters, the architect will unveil a revised design to the Planning Commission at their next meeting in July. It will be interesting to see what that means for the most controversial element of the project: the 80-foot-tall columns and the large metal tapestries, which are intended to depict the Kansas landscape where Eisenhower grew up. Here is Gehry explaining his proposal to the NCPC in 2010.
We’ve known for some time now that ex MOCA director Richard Koshalek has returned to Los Angeles from D.C., where he recently stepped down as director of the Hirshhorn Museum. Now we know one of his exploits: We hear that he is consulting Frank Gehry on the organization of his vast archives. Maybe this means there will someday be a Gehry museum? Certainly the architect is not getting any younger, so we may hear more soon.
After two-and-a-half years of repairs, the Washington Monument is officially back open to the public. The District’s tallest structure had been closed since 2011, when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake sent more than 150 cracks shooting through the 555-feet of marble. At the cost of $15 million—which was financed by the federal government and a private donation—all of the monument’s damaged stones were either removed or resealed, and the 55-story elevator was repaired. Some of the monument’s new marble even came out of the same Maryland quarry that supplied material for the structure when it was first built over 100 years ago. During construction, the structure was wrapped in 500 tons of scaffolding, which was designed by Michael Graves. At night, the supportive envelope was entirely lit up and appeared like hundreds of glowing bricks. To celebrate the re-opening, AN's editors gathered up 22 of the most beautiful photos of the Washington Monument through the years, dating all the way back to the beginning. Take a look below. (And also check out the monument's moving shadows on Google Maps.)
From junk metal and rubble to tomatoes and kale. That’s the plan for a vacant lot in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C. located just under six miles from the United States Capitol building. Over the next few months, the 2.3-acre site, which has been covered in trash for years, will be transformed into the world’s largest urban greenhouse. The National Journal reported that the project is getting some help from BrightFarms, a company that supports urban agriculture projects around the country. This latest project in D.C., though, will be much bigger than anything they've created before. When complete, the 100,000-square-foot greenhouse will produce one million pounds of produce a year. That major haul will be sold at 30 local grocery stores, which will boost fresh food options and cut down on the stores' carbon footprints. The space will also host educational programs to teach kids about urban farming, and is expected to create 20 to 25 permanent jobs. The project was first announced a year ago, but got a boost earlier this year when grocery store chain, Giant, signed on for the project. According to a press release, the greenhouse is being built "in partnership with the City’s Department of General Services and the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation in support of the Mayor’s Sustainable D.C. Plan, which aims to make DC the greenest, healthiest and most livable city in the nation." It's expected to take four to five months to build.
Earlier this year, the Washington, D.C. Public Library announced that Martinez+Johnson and Mecanoo had won their competition to design the next phase of the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Check out AN's coverage of the winning design here. The firm beat out two other finalists to revamp van der Rohe's iconic work. Here's AN's guide to the competition and the runners-up. According to a press release from the D.C. Public Library, each team “developed two preliminary design ideas: one of a stand-alone library and one of a mixed-use building with additional floors.” All three teams propose ways to respect and restore the structure’s original facade, but re-imagine the library’s interiors and offer ideas for what can go on top of it. There are also two competing proposals to add “a cloud” into—or onto—Mies’ structure. The Runners-up: The Patkau Architects/Ayers Saint Gross proposal removed existing interior floorplates to create what they’re calling a “Community Mixer.” Above this courtyard-like space will be “the cloud,” a “new technological form” that “distributes daylight, broadcasts information, and sustainably generates energy.” The STUDIOS Architecture/The Freelon Group team proposed a completely revamped roof with gardens, a café, a pedestrian walkway, an amphitheater and possible housing. And, yes, they’ve got “a cloud” too; it will be “ever-present through the building” and include “new library programs associated with sharing, innovation and prototyping.” Martinez and Johnson + Mecanoo's winning proposal: Read about the winning plan in AN's recent article on the project.
After nearly a decade of planning, a $2 billion, three-million-square-foot mixed-use development is underway on Washington D.C.’s Southwest waterfront. In March, construction started on Phase 1 of The Wharf, a project that is being developed by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront and designed by Perkins-Eastman. The new neighborhood will have marinas, green space, entertainment venues, and plenty of retail, residential, and hotel space. Specifically, Phase 1 covers 24 acres of land, 50 acres of waterfront, and will include 648 apartments, 240 condos, 680 hotel rooms, 200,000-square-feet of retail space, and 435,000-square-feet for offices. The development is situated along the Washington Channel and is part of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative—a 30-year, $10 billion plan to transform the waterfront. Construction on this project is slated to wrap up in 2017. Aerial renderings of the project depict a fairly standard mixed-use development with an urban layout and massing. At street-level, the project differentiates itself into a more detailed design treatment of steel, brick, and glass. Industrial light stanchions line a cobblestone promenade, and new seating and piers bring people out to the water. The facades of the ground-floor retail and restaurants are varied, adding variation and interest to the project. Or, as Perkins Eastman put it, "the architectural character relies on a diversity of scales and materials, utilizing stepped-back facades, a variety of complementary materials, and careful attention to the pedestrian scale.”
The National Building Museum was smart to wait till April 2nd to announce their latest project, lest anyone think it was a cleverly crafted April Fool's prank. The Washington, D.C.–based institution said today over Twitter ("A-MAZE-ING NEWS") that Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will design an unconventional maze to be temporarily housed in its grand atrium. Perhaps inspired by the summer tradition of the corn maze, the BIG installation will debut in the West Court of the building's cavernous Great Hall on July 4th, bringing new meaning to Independence Day to those wandering within its walls. In a material sense the Danish firm has opted to go against the grain, constructing their project out of Baltic birch plywood. Convention is also bucked in the experience of the maze itself. Traditionally a labyrinth grows more confounding as one descends deeper into its clutches. In the case of BIG's maze, penetration fosters clarity. The 18-foot-tall walls that establish the square perimeter of the structure slope towards its center, meaning that upon reaching the heart of the design, visitors are offered a 360 degree view of the entire layout of the labyrinth that, presumably, ensures a relatively painless escape. The maze will be installed through September 1st as part of the museum's Summer Block Party slate of programming. BIG is not the first firm in recent months to try their hand at such work within a museum context. The Royal Academy of Arts in London recruited seven international architects, including Diébédo Francis Kéré and Kengo Kuma to design labyrinthine installations for an exhibit entitled Sensing Spaces. The show opened in late January and runs through April 6th.
A video illustrating the general concept behind the elevated park. (Courtesy The 11th Street Bridge Park Design Competition) Washington D.C. is using the rebuilding of a local bridge as an opportunity to create a new 900-foot elevated park across the Anacostia River. Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC and the D.C. Office of Planning are hosting a competition for the design of this developing project. Participants are invited to think of the initiative as a blank slate sitting upon the extant structural piers, the only holdovers from the old bridge that will be preserved. A community design charette held on December 7, 2013 to discuss the park. (Courtesy The 11th Street Bridge Park Design Competition) Organizers have laid out four goals for the new design: "connect two diverse communities, re-engage residents with the Anacostia River, improve public health, and become an anchor for economic development.” The communities in question are the historic districts of Anacostia and Capital Hill. Efforts have been made to incorporate local opinions into the park's design. Over 200 meetings have been conducted with public figures and residents in the surrounding area. An environmental education center, a performance area, urban agricultural facilities, a cafe, and kayak and canoe launches are some of the suggestions that have emerged from these consultations. University of Washington public health scholar Dr. Howard Frumkin, Carol Mayer Reed of landscape firm Mayer/Reed, and Howard G. Robinson III, Professor of Urban Design and Dean Emeritus at Howard University will be members of the jury deciding upon the winning design this coming fall. Backers are expecting the park to cost in the range of $25 million, $500,000 of which has been raised already.