The Washington DC International Spy Museum is seeking permission to relocate to a new $100 million building designed by Richard Rogers at L’Enfant Plaza. Contingent on approval from the Commission of Fine Arts, as the Washington Business Journal reports, the new 100,000-square-foot, six-story proposed museum would be sited on an open area adjacent to the L’Enfant Plaza hotel.
“I think everyone in the city knows that’s somewhat of a dead area right now,” said Spy Museum Chief Operating Officer Tamara Christian to WBJ. “When we came to Penn Quarter, it was somewhat of a dead area. Now it’s completely energized, and we’re really hoping that we’ll be able to be a catalyst to energize L’Enfant.”
Eastbanc has tapped Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura to transform a former “Four Seasons gas station” site into a mixed-use condo. According to a report on the Georgetowner, the developer has asked residents to have “an open mind” for the design, which, as Urban Turf points out, is likely to stand out in the historic Washington D.C. district. Little details have been released. “We are considering all options, from condo to rental to hotel,” Eastbanc President Anthony Lanier stated. “It’s early in the design phase.”
Nearly a year-and-a-half since the announcement of their selection, BIG has unveiled plans for a massive, 20-year-long overhaul for the Smithsonian’s southern campus in the center of Washington DC. With an overarching goal to unite the site by dissolving the notable impediments and discontinuous pathways that plague the area, BIG plans to also expand visitor, education and gallery spaces, while updating aging and inefficient building systems.
“Where today each museum is almost like a separate entity, in the future, it’s going to be a much more open, intuitive and inviting campus to meander around,” Bjarke Ingels explained.
Rogers Partners (formally known as Rogers Marvel Architects) and PWP Landscape Architecture’s redesign for the National Mall’s neglected Constitution Gardens has received unanimous approval from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). The 50-acre project, which was originally won through a competition in 2012, will now move forward with its first phase.
The AIA has given the 25 year award - for architectural projects which have stood the test of time – to the Washington DC Metro System. Designed by Harry Weese and opened in 1976, the metro system has been praised for its application of a sense of civic dignity to the function of transportation, as well as the consistency of the design across its 86 stations. You can read an accompanying article about the design of the Metro System here.
Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and professor of modern architectural history at Columbia University, will present the 62nd A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts Series. The Mellons are among the most prestigious art history lecture series in the world and have been delivered annually since 1952 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. For this year’s series, Bergdoll will present “Out of Site in Plain View: A History of Exhibiting Architecture since 1750.”
More about the lecture series after the break…
“Originally seen to reflect the democratic attributes of a powerful civic expression – authenticity, honesty, directness, strength – the forceful nature of Brutalist aesthetics eventually came to signify precisely the opposite: hostility, coldness, inhumanity. [...] Separated from its original context and reduced in meaning, Brutalism became an all-too-easy pejorative, a term that suggests these buildings were designed with bad intentions.” - “BRUTAL”/“HEROIC” by Michael Kubo, Chris Grimley and Mark Pasnik
Brutalism, an architectural movement that peaked in the 1960′s, inspired the development of countless governmental buildings in Washington DC as well as across the world. Though Brutalism’s original intentions may have been good, many believe that the actual manifestation of these buildings was not and consider them to be little more than an eyesore on the District’s landscape. One such concrete structure, the FBI’s J. Hoover Building, is currently facing possible redevelopment as the government has decided to relocate FBI headquarters and given the private sector the rare opportunity to transform this so-called “monolith” into a new kind of monument.
More on the Hoover Building after the break…
Hoffman‐Madison Waterfront, the master developer of the 3.2 million square foot Southwest Waterfront project - “The Wharf” - that stretches across 27 acres of land along the historic Washington Channel, has announced the approval of its Phase1 Planned Unit Development (PUD) by the District of Columbia Zoning Commission. The Zoning Commission’s action approves all of the architectural designs and specific plans for each parcel of the project’s first phase encompassing 1.5 million square feet of residential, hotel, office and retail uses along with three piers, numerous open spaces, gathering places and a 3‐acre waterfront park.
“The unanimous approval last night by the commissioners participating in the hearings is exhilarating. It creates momentum for ground breaking later this year,” said Monty Hoffman, Managing Member of Hoffman‐Madison Waterfront. “After more than six years of planning and substantial investment, we are preparing to launch one of the highest profile redevelopments in the country. We are ready to put shovels in the ground for this $2 billion redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront.”
More on Washington D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront project after the break.
Earlier this week, Architect Robert K. Levy optimistically declared that the study which will evaluate the federal law limiting Washington building heights is a “win-win” situation for everyone involved. Writing for The Washington Post, Levy states: “By conducting a detailed, comprehensive city-wide study, the D.C. Office of Planning and the NCPC [National Capital Planning Commission] will produce analyses and recommendations leading to a fine-grain, strategic plan for building heights across the District. [...] Ultimately this study is a win-win proposition for all stakeholders.”
But can the situation really be so rosy? While Congress spends 10 months studying and debating the possibility of making alterations to the capital’s zoning policies, urbanists, planners and citizens have already begun weighing in on the matter – and opinions are decidedly divided. Many question the true motivations behind the possible changes, and whether those changes will truly improve the livability and sustainability of the city - or just alter it beyond recognition.
We’ve gathered both sides of the argument so you can make your own informed decision – after the break…
Earlier this week at a meeting given by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, Frank Gehry unveiled a revamped design for the controversial Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial for the Mall at the base of Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. This redesign responds to strong family objections in which Gehry’s vision had been criticized for largely misrepresenting the strength and achievements of the former Commander in Chief (check out our previous coverage of the controversial memorial and its heated meeting on March 20 here). After being selected to design the memorial in 2010 by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, Gehry looked to highlight the President’s great achievements as a source of inspiration to children, to “give them courage to pursue their dreams and to remind them that this great man started out just like them.”
The original design featured an 80-foot high colonnade from which large metal tapestries hang, and a statue depicting Eisenhower as a youth gazing upon his future accomplishments. To Gehry, the memorial celebrated a hero who was deeply proud of his Kansas roots and an icon children could identify with; to Eisenhower’s surviving family members, particularly granddaughters Susan and Anne Eisenhower, the design diminished the President’s accomplishments by depicting Ike as a “dreamy boy”.
More about the new design after the break.
Weiss/Manfredi has just been selected to transform the urban campus of the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C. following a competition among top firms such as Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Diamond Schmitt Architects, and Steven Holl Architects. The project will establish new connections among the diverse collection of buildings that span more than a century on the Washington D.C. site and create a new expression for National Geographic’s international programs, museum, media, and research activities.
More after the break.
As we have shared previously on AD, Washington DC’s National Mall – America’s most visited national park with over 25 million visitors a year- is undergoing a total restoration. The $700 million project will be the first major renovation in over 35 years, and will focus on three sites of the Mall: Union Square, Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument Grounds, and the Constitution Gardens. During an intensive three part competition, the jury first evaluated scores of portfolios to select up to eight designers per site; conducted team interviews to narrow the site designers to five; and finally, during Phase Three, the jury will hold a design competition for each site. We have just been notified by Weiss/Manfredi and OLIN that their team has been chosen to develop two of the three sites; no small feat for a competition that began with over 1,2000 designers. The multidisciplinary team of architecture, landscape and planning designers will develop proposals for both the Monument Grounds and the Constitution Gardens. We are excited to see what the team will develop, and we will keep you updated on the other Phase Three finalists and their proposals as we hear more.
Earlier this month, a Washington D.C District chapter opened their doors to the streets near Chinatown and the Penn Quarter. The office joined other East Coast chapters in the movement promoting visibility, transparency and sustainability in architecture.
“It’s a clear, simple and concise concept,” says Thomas Corrado, project architect with Hickok Cole, the Washington firm that created the design. “The idea was about how to make the space a connection between architecture and the person on the street.”
The design exposes the inner workings of the chapter, building curiosity and creating an opportunity for conversation to the pedestrians passing by.
The U.S.G.S. recently reported that an earthquake struck the Washington, D.C. area with a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 (later updated to 5.9). Initial reports of damage are minor however the National Cathedral’s central tower sustained some damage. “It looks like three of the pinnacles have broken off the central tower,” spokesman Richard Weinberg said of the tower, the highest point in Washington, D.C.
Update: The Cathedral has sustained some substantial damage due to the earthquake, and experts are currently assessing the structural and aesthetic damage. For a video of the Cathedral damage, or to help join the efforts of preserving the Cathedral click here.
Update: You can also see the effects of the earthquake on a building in Virginia here.
Felt in Philadelphia, North Carolina, Boston, New York City, Martha’s Vineyard, and even Wheeling, West Virginia, the tremor raises questions of the importance of seismic considerations particularly in New York City.
Although earthquakes are not something a typical New Yorker would have cross their mind in comparison to other parts of the world such as Japan (8.9 magnitude in 2011) and Chile (8.8 magnitude in 2010), the overal size and density of NYC puts it at a high risk for extensive damage.
More photographs of the Washington National Cathedral and discussion regarding seismic considerations following the break.