One of America’s largest urban redevelopment projects breaks ground
This week, work began on Foster + Partners’ vast redevelopment of the Old Convention Center in Washington DC, initiating the refreshing transformation of a large single-volume space into a series of smaller buildings connected by pedestrian walkways.
In stark contrast to the surrounding urban fabric, this masterplan looks to move away from the adopted trend for imposing architectural units and introduces a handful of new buildings on the site of the former Convention Center.
Sensitively composed to reflect the distinctive urban identity of the area with a contemporary twist, these smaller blocks aim to ‘bridge new connections between the historic, predominantly residential neighbourhoods to the north and the commercial office developments to the south’.
Alongside four sleek new building units designed by Foster + Partners, the masterplan includes a variety of hotels, offices, apartments, restaurants and retail spaces, linked by pedestrian streets lined with foliage.
Trees along the avenues will be re-planted with local species in keeping with traditional Washington urban design, and classic ‘globe’ lights dotted along the pathways. Many of the original 18th century alleyways will be widened and rejuvenated to their former splendor, encouraging local residents to take pride in their city’s heritage.
“In addition to creating a major new residential and retail hub, CityCenterDC will create a pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood, with park and walkways, and is expected to emerge as a new destination in downtown DC”, says Kathryn Gustafson, Lead Designer and Partner at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN) – landscape architects for the scheme.
Spread over a 10-acre site, the masterplan has been fashioned to be low-carbon, with multiple green roofs to absorb water and plans to recycle 100% of water used onsite.
Open green space also plays a key role, with GGN’s concept for a new public park springing to life with a pair of landmark fountains anchored by generous seating options. Bordering these communal gardens will be stepped buildings, reaching 10 storeys at the highest point.
David Summerfield, Design Director at Foster + Partners, said: “CityCenter DC is one of the most significant urban developments in the United States today and we are honoured to be designing a low carbon masterplan for such a prominent site.
"Our design has evolved through detailed studies of the city’s climate and streets – the new buildings will integrate with their historic context and create a unique place to live and work, as well as a major new civic space and amenities.”