Friday, May 12, 2017

Events DC Announces Proposed Streetscaping Plans to Activate the Perimeter of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center

Metro Plaza Image (Photo: OMA-Robota)

From our friends at Events DC...

Initial Concepts Will Reimagine the Exterior of the Building and Connect to the Thriving Shaw Neighborhood to Provide a Unique Experience for Residents and Visitors

Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, presented initial concepts for exterior streetscape plans at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to the community on Thursday evening. The concepts will reactivate the exterior perimeter of the 2.3 million square foot Convention Center and better connect the building to the surrounding Shaw neighborhood. The Project Team is led by Design Architect OMA, working together with BBB (Executive Architect), OLIN (Landscape Architect) and Dharam (Cost Consultant.)

The streetscape plans will transform the fa├žade of the Convention Center through lighting, signage, canopies and furniture, as well as activate and enrich the sidewalks and enhance the exterior streetscape along 9th, N and 7th Street. Not only will the proposed plans provide added value to Convention Center clients and their attendees, but the project will create a greater sense of place for the revitalized Shaw community.

“The exterior streetscape plans are part of Events DC’s long-term strategy to create authentic experiences both inside and outside the Convention Center and reinforce our commitment to local businesses in the Shaw community,” said Max Brown, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Events DC. “We want to provide our residents and visitors with a seamless experience, as well as differentiate ourselves from other markets across the globe.”

To provide additional neighborhood-serving amenities and continued value-add for clients, the plans include the installation of nine exterior kiosks located along 9th street, with flexible and customizable retail concepts, and three new retail bays along 7th Street to provide shade and seating for the future tenants. Other improvements include a redesign of the metro entrance with incorporated light fixtures and a canopy to cover additional seating areas, planters and exterior digital signage opportunities. To showcase the District’s creative community, the streetscape plans incorporate proposals for public art, including elements such as murals, vertical plant installations and light displays.

“As Washington, DC continues to grow and attract even more events, visitors and residents to the city, it is Events DC’s goal to help enrich and enhance these experiences for all to benefit and enjoy, as well as stay ahead of innovative industry trends,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive officer of Events DC. “Reactivating the Walter E. Washington Convention Center’s exterior has the power to further invigorate the Shaw neighborhood and act as a prime example of the power of thriving neighborhoods driving the betterment and growth of a city.”

Jason Long, OMA’s Partner-in-Charge, commented, “DC’s Convention Center occupies three city blocks in the heart of the nation’s capital - its sidewalks alone cover nearly three acres. Our plan improves multiple elements of the building’s interface with the city, from paving to lighting to landscape, creating a welcoming arrival experience for the convention center and contributing to the city’s urban fabric at large. Along the building’s perimeter we’ve inserted a series of ‘activated frames’ - lush planters with integrated seating at the ground and programmed kiosks and balconies within the building’s facade - to provide a new layer of activation around and even on top of the Convention Center.”

In addition to the enhancement of the streetscape along N Street at the ground-floor level, the concept also includes the addition of a 4,000-square foot rooftop terrace facing N Street, immediately above exterior retail tenants. This flexible space can be used by retail and restaurant patrons as an additional location for dining, as well as for additional event programming.

The strategy to reactivate the exterior of the Convention Center demonstrates Events DC’s dedication to the surrounding Shaw neighborhood: new destinations and amenities aim to attract more unique and diverse events and entertainment options for both residents and visitors. Building on the recent expansion of mixed retail tenants on N Street, the streetscape plans will complement the Convention Center offerings, to further brand the revitalized Shaw neighborhood as a convention and entertainment district located in the heart of DC.

"The design is inspired by the rich musical heritage of the nearby Shaw Neighborhood,” said Hallie Boyce, Design Partner at OLIN. “The paving is patterned to evoke sound waves, which give rhythm and a better, more pedestrian scale to the sidewalks and plazas adjacent to the building. Richly colored street furnishings provide flexible seating and places for planting that add vibrancy and seasonal interest."

As a next step, Events DC will continue to maintain an open dialogue with the community, and will continue to refine the concepts through the next phases of design based on community and stakeholder feedback received. In parallel, the project team will take steps to acquire necessary regulatory approvals in an effort to move forward with the first phase of the streetscape plans. Construction is estimated to start in the spring of 2018 with a phased delivery from 2018-21.  

About Events DC:
Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, deliver premier event services and flexible venues across the nation’s capital. Leveraging the power of a world-class destination and creating amazing attendee experiences, Events DC generates economic and community benefits through the attraction and promotion of business, athletic, entertainment and cultural activities. Events DC oversees the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, an anchor of the District’s hospitality and tourism economy that generates over $400 million annually in total economic impact, and the historic Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square. Events DC manages the Stadium-Armory campus, which includes Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and surrounding Festival Grounds, the non-military functions of the DC Armory and Maloof Skate Park at RFK Stadium. Events DC also built and now serves as landlord for Nationals Park, the first LEED-certified major professional sports stadium in the United States. The most recent addition is Gateway DC, an innovative and versatile space featuring a covered and open-air pavilion in the center of a 1-acre park, conveniently located in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. For more information, please visit or find us on social media - Facebook (Events DC), Twitter (@TheEventsDC) and Instagram (@EventsDC.)

About OMA New York:
OMA is a leading international partnership practicing architecture, urbanism, and cultural analysis. Since 2001, OMA New York has been responsible for OMA’s operations in the Americas, overseeing the completion of award winning projects that include the Faena Forum - a multipurpose event space in Miami Beach, the Pierre Lassonde Pavilion - a new national museum in Quebec, Milstein Hall at Cornell University, Seattle Central Library, the IIT Campus Center in Chicago, and the Prada Epicenter in New York. Partner Jason Long leads the office’s portfolio in Washington DC, which currently includes numerous urban planning projects that provide an innovative approach to recreation, public health and equitable development: the 11th Street Bridge Park, an elevated public park; a sport and recreation masterplan for the RFK Stadium-Armory Campus; and the revitalization of the streetscape around the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. He is also developing new approaches to public space in California with a mixed-used development in Santa Monica and a new programmed park for Downtown Los Angeles. Currently, he is also overseeing the construction of a high-rise tower in San Francisco’s Transbay district. For more information, please visit or find us on social media - Facebook (OMAAMO), and instagram (@OMANewYork).

About OLIN:
OLIN is a professional studio of more than 80 landscape architects, planners, and urban designers. From offices in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the firm creates distinguished landscapes and urban designs worldwide. OLIN’s work is predicated upon social engagement, craft, environmental responsibility, and timelessness, underscored by a profound appreciation for the unique complexities of the urban realm. The firm’s award-winning projects cross boundaries of scale, typology, and site condition, yet are all driven by a central mission: to create places that enhance life. OLIN’s celebrated projects include Bryant Park and the new Pier 26 waterfront park in New York City, the J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles, the award-winning Mill River Park in Stamford, Connecticut, Dilworth Park in Philadelphia, and Washington Canal Park in Washington, DC. The firm is led by eleven design partners, including Hallie Boyce, who is leading OLIN’s collaboration with OMA and EventsDC on the streetscape revitalization at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Hallie’s other current and recent work includes the competition-winning proposal for 11th Street Bridge Park in Washington, DC, the landscape surrounding the new National Veterans Memorial & Museum in Columbus, Ohio, and the grounds of the new United States Embassy currently under construction in London.

About Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners:
Founded in 1968, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners is an award-winning architecture, planning, and interiors practice of 185 professionals in Washington, DC and New York City, with a longstanding commitment to design excellence, social integrity, and sustainable practices. The firm’s multi-faceted portfolio encompasses urban design, preservation, adaptive re-use and new construction projects that span a wide spectrum of building typologies and sectors, including cultural, civic, educational, residential, and commercial.

For more than four decades, the firm’s work has focused on the design and revitalization of such nationally-celebrated buildings and sites as Grand Central Terminal, the U.S. Capitol, Ellis Island Museum of Immigration, TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport, The Morgan Library & Museum, Lincoln Center Promenade and Fountain, and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Our D.C. area portfolio includes Central Place in Rosslyn, The Hepburn residences in Dupont Circle, Washington Union Station Expansion Plan, Adams Morgan Vision Framework, and Georgetown Gateways, among others.