Almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic, life is starting to feel like it might regain its sense of normalcy. With promising vaccines being slowly rolled around the globe, the focus is shifting away from the immediate, and into what the future looks like- including where people want to live. At the beginning of the pandemic, stories all across the media claimed that cities were dead, people were leaving as a permanent measure of safety and well-being, and that the real estate market would experience a long and slow recovery to the boom it had experienced in the pre-pandemic world. But there’s been a shift, and it’s happening fast- people are returning to cities almost as suddenly as they once left them.
Washington Dc: The Latest Architecture and News
American-Brazilian photo-artist Paul Clemence has just released the first images of the completed renovation and expansion works of Martin Luther King’s Memorial Library, originally designed by Mies van der Rohe in Washington D.C. Hoping to create a modern library that focuses on people while celebrating the exchange of knowledge, ideas and culture, Dutch design practice Mecanoo was commissioned the modernization of the structure back in 2014.
Amazon has just revealed the proposed design for its second headquarters, in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. Designed by NBBJ, the project “creates an environment that prioritizes healthy work, celebrates nature and engages the community across multiple scales.” Encompassing 2.8 million square feet of offices, public gathering areas and street-front retail, the intervention aims to create a healthier workforce and community.
Washington D.C. has earned a reputation for iconic architecture. Emerging from the L'Enfant and McMillan Plans, Washington’s cityscape includes wide streets and low-rise buildings that sprawl out from circles and rectangular plazas. From the White House to Lincoln Memorial, Washington’s architecture was built to symbolize the nation’s values. Today, new projects are designed to rethink the city’s morphology while respecting its identity.
Dutch design practice Mecanoo has released a new documentary exploring the modernization of Washington DC’s Martin Luther King, Jr central library. Called "A Legacy of Mies and King", the documentary explores both architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's vision in the sixties, as well as the recent effort to create a modern library that reflects a focus on people while celebrating the exchange of knowledge, ideas and culture.
With a complex debate underway about monuments and the way we engage history, we should start thinking about a COVID-19 Memorial. Yes, I know we are in the middle (or is it still the start?) of this pandemic, but the intensity of the moment might actually help us envision what such a memorial could be. Instead of waiting for a time when we have more distance from our current catastrophe, we should capture the passions coursing through society right now.
The Hirshhorn Museum's new plan for renovating its sculpture garden is receiving criticism for undoing postwar landscape features. The plan by Japanese artist and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto aims to open up the site to the National Mall and create space for large-scale contemporary works and performances. The concept is made to raise visibility for the garden and welcome more visitors to the museum.
Paul Philippe Cret’s 1937 building for the Federal Reserve Board (FRB)—the Marriner S. Eccles Building—stands as a prime example of neoclassical civic architecture along Washington D.C.’s Constitution Avenue. But the white marble building may have prompted new proposed guidelines around federal architecture, if conversations swirling in meetings of the Commission of Fine Arts are any indication. Plans to renovate and expand the FRB complex—the Eccles Building is joined by the FRB-East Building, designed in 1933 as the US Public Health Service by Cret’s fellow Frenchman Jules Henri de Sibour—are currently under review at the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA).
OMA / Jason Long’s 11th Street Bridge Park was granted approval by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) at the beginning of April. Designed by OMA, with landscape architects OLIN, and structural engineers WRA, the project is the winning entry of the design competition held back in 2014.
Perkins and Will propose an innovative and resilient office building in Southeast Washington, D.C, created to survive calamities and withstand natural disasters. The project reinvestigates the relationships between humans and nature.
The REACH at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C. will open to the public this Saturday, September 7th. Designed by Steven Holl Architects with BNIM, the project is the first-ever expansion in the Kennedy Center's 48-year history. Aiming to open the Kennedy Center to the surrounding city and riverfront, the team made the project as a nexus of arts, learning, and culture for people to engage with the performing arts.
The LAB at Rockwell Group has partnered with The National Building Museum to present the 2019 Summer Block Party installation LAWN. Designed to be an immersive installation taking up the entirety of the Museum’s Great Hall, the project presents a series of interactive experiences for all ages. The lawn itself is programmed with summer entertainment and activities, including movie nights, yoga, and meditation. By creating custom software, the LAB also developed an Augmented Reality game alongside the installation.