OLIN's Washington Canal Park opens as a pilot project for Sustainable Sites Initiative
OLIN, a landscape architecture, urban design and planning studio with offices in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, has led the design and construction of Canal Park in Washington, D.C. The park opened to the public on 16 November, 2012. One of the first parks built as part of the District's Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, Canal Park has been designed as a vibrant social gathering place and an economic catalyst for the surrounding neighbourhood. The park is also a model of sustainable design, serving as a pilot project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) and a candidate for LEED® Gold certification.
The three-block site was once a part of the historic Washington City Canal that connected the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. The canal was paved over in the 1870s and most recently served as a parking lot for school buses. Inspired by the canal’s heritage, Canal Park’s design evokes the history of the area with a linear rain garden reminiscent of the Washington Canal and three pavilions, designed by STUDIOS Architecture, which recall floating barges that were once common in the canal.
The park features diverse amenities, including a café with outdoor seating, an interactive fountain, an ice skating path, play and performance areas, and sculptures by artist David Hess. Each block is given its own unique identity within a cohesive urban experience. The Canal Park Development Association, in partnership with the Capital Riverfront Business Improvement District, will host numerous events throughout the year, such as movies and concerts, holiday and seasonal festivals, farmers markets, art expositions, educational and environmental programming, storytelling events, and more.
In addition to being a vibrant social destination, Canal Park is being approached as a model for green infrastructure strategies. The former brownfield has been transformed into a landscape that restores vital ecosystem services that were lost when the site served as a parking lot. Contaminated soils were replaced with a healthy growing medium and the native plant habitat was re-introduced.
Canal Park’s stormwater system includes a linear rain garden that spans the length of the park, Low Impact Design tree pits, and two underground cisterns which can collectively hold 80,000 gallons of water. The stormwater system captures, treats and stores almost all of the stormwater run-off generated by the park and neighbouring city blocks, which averages to 1.5 million gallons of reused water each year. The treated water is used to satisfy up to 95 percent of the park’s water needs for fountains, irrigation, toilets and the ice skating path. Underneath the park, 28 geothermal wells provide a highly efficient energy supply for park utilities. The wells are forecasted to reduce Canal Park’s overall energy consumption by 37%.