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Washington D.C.: The Latest Architecture and News

Amazon HQ2: Study by Data Science Experts Names Washington DC as Ideal Host City

Amazon’s open call for bids for its new headquarters, HQ2, closed last month, but in the months leading up to the final decision in 2018, analysts will continue to flood the internet with detailed studies evaluating who they believe should be the winner. In other words, the mirror-mirror-on-the-wall game for cities is just starting to warm up.

Earlier, ArchDaily reported on the data-driven approach adopted by Moody’s Analytics which projected Austin, TX as the winner. But another study by IT education company Thinkful now points towards Washington DC as the city most likely to make the cut. So what makes Washington DC the fairest of them all? Read on to see how data science techniques helped analysts at Thinkful with this prediction, what kind of approach they adopted, and how it differed from that of Moody’s Analytics.

Construction Begins on Frank Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial in Washington DC

The Frank Gehry-designed Eisenhower Memorial has finally broken ground in Washington DC following a tumultuous years-long approval process.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held yesterday at the National Mall site, located at the intersection of Maryland and Independence Avenues and across from the National Air and Space Museum.

© Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission © Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission © Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission © Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission + 4

Washington D.C. Unveils Its Largest Ever Construction Project: $441 Million Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge Replacement

Washington, D.C. has unveiled the design of the city’s largest ever construction project: a $411 million bridge spanning the Anacostia River that will replace the 68-year-old Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. The project will be carried out by the team known as “South Capitol Bridge Builders,” consisting of lead designer AECOM, Archer Western Construction and Granite Construction, after their submission was selected as the winner of a competition for the bridge announced in 2014.

Courtesy of DDOT Courtesy of DDOT Courtesy of DDOT Courtesy of DDOT + 4

The Real Reason For the Resurgence of Streetcars in America (Spoiler: It's Not for Transport)

In this six-minute-long video, Vox makes the argument that the primary reason behind the recent resurgence of streetcar systems—or proposals for streetcars, at least—in the USA is not because of their contributions to urban mobility, but instead because of the fact that they drive and sustain economic development. As it uncovers the causes for the popular failure of the streetcar systems in cities such as Washington DC, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City (low speed and limited connectivity, mostly) it asks why an increasing number of American city governments are pushing for streetcars in spite of their dismal record at improving transit. Is it solely due to their positively modern aesthetic? Are streetcars destined to function as mere “attractions” in a city’s urban landscape? Or is the real objective something more complex?

Revised Design for Washington DC WWI Memorial Unveiled

The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) has reviewed the revised concept for the National Washington WWI Memorial as part of several major commemoration and transport projects taking place in the capital city. Designed by architect Joseph Weishaar and sculptor Sabin Howard, the proposal won the memorial’s competition last year, beating out 4 other finalists with its multilevel design and use of relief sculpture.

Courtesy of National Capital Planning Commission Courtesy of National Capital Planning Commission Courtesy of National Capital Planning Commission Courtesy of National Capital Planning Commission + 10

World's First "Smart Street" in London Turns Footsteps into Energy

Technology company Pavegen has unveiled the world’s first “Smart Street” in London’s West End that utilizes the company’s unique kinetic paving slabs to generate energy from pedestrians’ footsteps. But unlike earlier Pavegen installations deployed in cities like Washington DC and Rio de Janeiro (which uses the panels as the foundation for a soccer field), the London Smart Street comes with its very own app – giving visitors precise information about the power they are generating, and encouraging use by offering up store vouchers in return for steps.

via Pavegen via Pavegen via Pavegen via Pavegen + 5

Studio Gang's "Hive" Opens at the National Building Museum

Hive, Studio Gang’s 2017 Summer Block Party installation, has opened to the public at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Constructed from 2,551 silver-and-magenta wound paper tubes, Hive invites visitors to explore their senses in a series of dome-shaped chambers, each scaled to reflect a unique sound signature.

Utilizing structural paper tubes commonly used in construction as concrete formwork, Hive takes its form from the catenary physics that have inspired some of the world’s great structures such as the the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and Brunelleschi’s Dome at the Florence Cathedral in Italy, and vernacular buildings such as Musgum mud huts in Cameroon.

© Tim Schenck © Tim Schenck © Tim Schenck © Tim Schenck + 9

Foster + Partners-led Apple Store Transformation of DC's Historic Carnegie Library Gets Greenlight

Plans for Apple’s next flagship store, to be located within the historic Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square in Washington, D.C, have been approved by the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).

The project comprises both an interior/exterior restoration and renovation of the 63,000-square-foot Beaux Arts library, which was constructed in 1903 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. The plan will allow the library to be shared by Apple and the building’s existing tenant, The Historical Society of Washington. The 2-story Apple store will be located on the first floor and basement levels of the building, and will be designed by Foster + Partners, continuing their collaboration with the tech giant.

Envisioning a Hip-Hop Urbanism in Washington DC

Collage from Ivy City, a preliminary stage of the Ivy City Redux project. Image © Kyle Simmons
Collage from Ivy City, a preliminary stage of the Ivy City Redux project. Image © Kyle Simmons

The following is a manifesto, in search of a movement... In it, I am proposing a theory of architecture based around a ruffneck, antisocial, hip-hop, rudeboy ethos. [1]
– Kara Walker

In her companion publication to the 2014 group exhibition “Ruffneck Constructivists,” the show’s curator, Kara Walker, lays down a radical manifesto for urban intervention. Just months before Ferguson [2] and a year before Baltimore, [3] Walker proposes her theory through which installation artists (along with architects and designers by extension) can become “defiant shapers of environments.” [4] The invocation and juxtaposition of the terms hip-hop and architecture in the intro to her manifesto is particularly remarkable given the show’s exclusive assembly of visual and installation artists.

Studio Gang to Construct "Hive" for the National Building Museum's Summer Block Party

Previously home to a beach-like ball pit, a giant maze, and sea of icebergs, this summer the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. will host the “Hive,” a 60-foot-tall domed structure made up of more than 2,700 individual paper tubes. Designed by Studio Gang, the installation is part of the museum’s Summer Block Party series, which invites architects to fill the building’s historic Great Hall with a temporary, immersive intervention.

James Corner Field Operations Selected to Transform Historic Canal Park in DC Neighborhood of Georgetown

James Corner Field Operations, the urban design and landscape architecture firm behind the High Line in New York City, has been selected by Georgetown Heritage to complete a similar transformation of a historic canal in the Washington D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown. Working with the National Park Service and the D.C. Office of Planning, the team will design a comprehensive master plan for a one-mile section of the Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park (C&O Canal NHP) to update the site from a historic location into a community asset.

Eleven Practices to Complete $2 Billion Waterfront Development in Washington D.C.

Eleven of the United States’ most prestigious architects have been selected by developers Hoffman-Madison Waterfront (HMW), to commence Phase 2 of The Wharf, a $2 billion neighborhood situated on the southwest waterfront of Washington D.C. The development is adjacent to the National Mall, spanning 24 acres of land and 50 acres of water.

“We have selected a diverse group of locally, nationally, and internationally renowned designers, knowing they will bring their talent and expertise to The Wharf, building a waterfront neighborhood that is an integral part of the city,” said Shawn Seaman, principal and Senior VP of Development at PN Hoffman.

Fly Through Mecanoo's Final Designs for Washington D.C.'s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

The District of Columbia Public Library authority has unveiled a fly-through video tour of the final design for the renovation and intervention of its main downtown branch, the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library. According to the architects, Mecanoo and D.C.-based Martinez+Johnson Architecture, it shows "a modern library that reflects a focus on people, while celebrating the exchange of knowledge, ideas and culture." Slated for reopening in 2020, the designs will add 9,300 square feet of additional space for the public, including a rooftop event space and a landscaped terrace.

Exterior Bird's Eye. Image © Mecanoo Exterior Corner View. Image © Mecanoo Inside the lobby. Image © Mecanoo East Entrance. Image © Mecanoo + 14

How the NMAAHC Became the Greenest Museum in Washington DC

This article, originally titled "DC’s Museum Of African American History Is The City’s Greenest," was originally published on Lance Hosey's Huffington Post blog. It is part of a four-part series about the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Fifteen years ago, when I worked on the design of a high-performance museum, the concept was considered so unusual that the media questioned the very idea. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) had only very recently introduced its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, so much of the public wasn’t familiar with the concept. Over the following decade, it became more and more popular in every building type, including museums. A watershed year was 2008. The Water + Life Museums in Hemet, CA, became the first LEED Platinum museum, quickly followed by the California Academy of Science, which has been called “the world’s greenest museum.” The same year, the Grand Rapids Art Museum became the first LEED-certified art museum. By 2016, International Museum Day could highlight ten LEED-certified museums in the US alone.

Now the Smithsonian has completed its first LEED Gold project, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). (The Silver-rated National Museum of the American Indian [NMAI] was the first Smithsonian project to become a certified green building, although it wasn’t designed to this standard and didn’t achieve it until seven years after opening in 2004.) By many measures, the NMAAHC is easily the greenest museum in Washington.

How the NMAAHC Carves Out a "Space of Resistance" on the National Mall

This article, originally titled "The Space of Resistance," was originally published on Lance Hosey's Huffington Post blog. It is part of a four-part series about the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The city can be a powerful form of political myth, and Washington, DC, is the premier example.

Political myths dramatize historical events for ideological purposes, in order to strengthen the authority of the status quo. For example, America’s Founding Fathers often are portrayed as motivated only by a virtuous desire for universal freedom and equality, a simplistic depiction that ignores the complex socioeconomic forces behind the Revolution. The National Mall, its buildings, and its monuments, are America’s foundation myth writ large in stone and space. Manfredo Tafuri called the image of the District of Columbia “a timeless, indisputable, completely ‘positive’ Olympus” whose creation “presupposed great optimism and was thoroughly opposed to any polemical doubt.”

In this sense, the city as political myth is ripe for protest, and the National Mall has been the site of many of the most important protests in American history. Most often, these events consist only of people gathering for demonstration. Sometimes, however, they involve building.

Foster + Partners to Design Apple Store in Historic Washington D.C. Library

London’s Foster + Partners will likely design a flagship Apple store for the historic Carnegie Library at Mount Vernon Square in Washington, D.C., reports The Architect’s Newspaper. According to Events DC, Apple will lease a portion of the 63,000-square-foot building’s ground floor and basement levels in a ten-year lease, sharing the space with its existing tenant, The Historical Society of Washington.

Designs Unveiled for New Australian Embassy in Washington DC

Australian office Bates Smart has unveiled their design for the new Australian Embassy to the United States to be located in the diplomatic heart of Washington, D.C. Developed in partnership with local firm KCCT, the new building will provide the embassy with a contemporary workspace with views to the White House.

View North of Atrium Hub spaces. Image Courtesy of Bates Smart Morning view West of Eastern Elevation from 16th Street. Image Courtesy of Bates Smart View North East from Entry to Breakout Space. Image Courtesy of Bates Smart View South from Office floor down to entry. Image Courtesy of Bates Smart + 5

MGM National Harbor's Luxury Gaming Resort Will Open in December

The $1.4 billion MGM National Harbor has started taking reservations. Nestled in the woodlands of Prince George's County, Maryland, HKS Hospitality Group's gaming resort is gearing up for its December 8th opening.

The hotel is slated as one of the "20 Most Anticipated Hotel Openings of 2016" ( In addition to suites, the hotel has a casino, two-story conservatory with horticulture and entertainment, and a dining and shopping complex. 

Courtesy of MGM National Harbor Courtesy of MGM National Harbor Courtesy of MGM National Harbor Courtesy of MGM National Harbor + 11