The National Capital Planning Commission announced last week that Rogers Marvel Architects won the national design competition to improve President’s Park South. According to the NCPC, Rogers Marvel’s design best met the dual goals of beautifying the security components and improving the visitor experience at President’s Park South, located between the White House Grounds and Constitution Avenue, NW.
“It is our distinct privilege to respond to 21st century demands on public space in the nation’s capital. Our design combines the visual space of the White House with the Ellipse, reclaiming an essential place for public participation, both formal and informal. The Ellipse is subtly reinvented to address recreation, public promenading, environmental responsibility, and security. We envision a President's Park South that will physically and conceptually connect the President and the people,” said Robert M. Rogers, FAIA, Principal of Rogers Marvel Architects.
Rogers Marvel Architect’s design defines the edge of the Ellipse by adding a seating wall with integrated pedestrian lighting, while subtly raising the grade of the Ellipse. This establishes a security feature, reinforces the Ellipse as an event space, and minimises the visual appearance of adjacent parking. This bold, elegant move allows for a larger, unobstructed interior public area. The design culminates in a new E Street terrace that joins the enhanced space of the Ellipse with the White House South Lawn. The terrace provides another prominent space for public gathering that symbolically joins the people with their President.
“Our design is fundamentally inspired by a phrase we found in NCPC’s 1997 Extending the Legacy,” comments Jonathan Marvel, AIA, Principal of Rogers Marvel Architects. “The phrase was ‘the Capital is the product of bold plans conceived in optimism and carried out with conviction’. For President’s Park, we tipped up the ellipse to create a bench – providing security and an amphitheater at the same time.”
To accomplish this winning submission, Rogers Marvel Architects teamed with Ducibella Venter & Santore for security, Weidlinger Associates for civil engineering and Quennell Rothschild & Partners for landscape architecture. Additional team members include George Sexton Associates (lighting), WSP Flack & Kurtz (MEP engineering), Pentagram (wayfinding) and Sam Schwartz Engineering (traffic). The competing design firms were Hood Design Studio, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Reed Hilderbrand Associates and SASAKI.