Reader Sends in Awesome Columbia Heights Streetscape/Fountain Photos


“Dear PoP,

Thought folks might be interested in seeing a top-down view of the streetscape/fountain construction going on in Columbia Heights. They definitely re-claimed some of the eastern part of 14th Street for the sidewalk project, especially out in front of the new Chipotle location. The fountain seems close to completion and in the mosaic style you seem to be fond of. Looking forward to seeing a finished product and the community reaction.”



So far I think this is going to look awesome. What do you guys think?

44 Comment

  • I love it. I am glad there will be tons of pedestrian space in front of the fountain as well as the heights/Chipotle, etc… the Fountain looks great. It is also great to see the community vision and hard work paying off.

  • I can’t tell from the picture. Is 14th St going to be only 1 lane there?

  • It might as well be Virginia

  • 14th should still be two lanes each way, there will just be no parking where the sidewalk pops out … which makes sense, there is SO much parking in DCUSA, better to route cars there and offer more pedestrian space.

    I really like the civic plaza other than the fountain itself, which I think looks pretty uninspired and will not age well — seems like something out of the 80’s. I do like the concentric circles however. I think this will look a lot better once some green is in, both trees on 14th (it appears they left room for tree boxes on the sidewalk), trees (I assume) in the smaller circles on the plaza, and grass (I believe) in the seating which is now dirt. Right now it is way too concrete-focused.

  • Yep, gorgeous. But it seems like traffic will be even more of a mess now, and I suspect it will become an all-night magnet for indigents and criminals. Hope I’m wrong on all counts.

  • I remember when the thing was a pit of gravel when I first moved in over a year ago. When they paved it with slabs and trees I was happy as I hated the stupid gravel. Then they tore out the stuff they put in to put in this. I never understood why they did that… why would they do all that work to put in the slabs and then tear it out to put in a fountain less than a year later? To give workers something to do? It looks nice but it seemed like a waste of materials and money to do things the way they did. Who in the city works for the planning of that because they need to get someone else.

    And does anyone know if there was anything there before the gravel monstrosity?

  • Before the gravel that area was one huge construction project. Before the construction I believe it was an abandoned building of sorts that was slowly demolished.

  • by “virginia” you mean europe, right?

    plaza with fountain, bordered by retail and a theater, shopping, nightlife and ample public transportation?

  • Just like Europe…except more people probably get gunned down per year within a 5 block radius of this place than are murdered in an entire European country in one year.

  • Looks wonderful. The fountain is reminiscient of the plaza in Downtown Silver Spring, which is very popular. This should make a great gathering place if they load it up with some moveable seating.

    Obviously some trees will eventually go into the large planters, but is that all? I hope there will be more to really create an oasis there. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but are the smaller circles in the outer rings supposed to be future tree pits? If so, I am concerned that they will never have adequate space to survive, unless the plaza uses structural soil, root paths or vaults, or other tree-growth-supporting constructuion methods.

  • @CoHi-anite, they put in the temporary park so that you and the businesses there would have a park available to you. The alternative would have been to leave it as a mud-pit construction yard, even when the construction no longer needed the space.

    I don’t understand why people complain about the temporary park. They built it so the public could use it. They couldn’t put in the final design until other construction projects were finished, so they installed some temporary finishes to make the space usable in the meantime. It was a nice thing to to for the benefit of the public – we all got a usable park many months earlier than we may have otherwise gotten it. What’s the problem?

  • where in Europe can I find a plaza with a lovely view of Target & Best Buy? ahhh. The PNC Bank building across the street is pretty. I hope that stays.

  • finnaly… a plase i kan take baths! kant wate until it openss!

    do yu have a dollarr?

  • Nice!! Hopefully it won’t be taken over by the winos, fighters and passed out drunks. Some Cuban gentlemen used to play congas in rat park before the bad gospel troupe took over. Hopefully this fountain will bring the music back.

  • It looks very bland, where is the green?

  • I like it. That particular spot gets real hot during the summer, so a fountain will be a great thing.

  • It looks very bland, where is the green?

    I wondered the same, but with the looks of the artificial turf athletic fields put in recently at Bell and Tubman, the city might be moving away from grass maintenance.

  • YAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!one!!one!

  • Just a reminder to everyone that there will be green, as shown in the last pages of the pdf below of the entire streetscape.

    Well, maybe red. Lots of little red trees all over the plaza. Anyone know what types of trees are perennially red/pink as shown in the depiction?

  • @Larchie,
    I think it is better that there was a temporary park than a construction pit, but there were no indications (that I saw) that it was temporary, probably leaving many to believe it was permanent (which considering that there were planted trees was a very reasonable assumption). I thought they decided that the pebbles would cost to much to maintain and decided on a redesign.

    I hope they replace many of the trees they took out, as there are already insufficient trees on the East side of 14th on that block. As it is now, there’s too much concrete.
    I wonder who ‘they’ are anyway (DC government, local businesses?)

  • I’m wondering how they are going to handle the music and public loudspeaker use in the area myself. I live nearby, and could hear a single drummer all afternoon on Sunday from my apartment. The people living right above the fountain and in Kenyon Square could be in for an interesting transition.

  • Marco:
    There are a number of variety of maples of that have red leaves, two of which are purpleleaf Norway and Red Japanese. They’re really common in city/land-scapes up north.

  • Marco, thanks for the link to the plan. I see that construction has departed from the plan in a couple of instances. For example, seems like there’s one less tiered greenspace and just a couple of decorative paving circles (looks like a dozen were in the plan). Anyone know if they still intend to install the funky light/sculpture pieces? Also, do they still plan to install the concentric circles throughout the area?

    I wish there was more greenspace, but I’m thrilled that we’re getting closer to a finished project. I coincidentally came across Silver Spring’s similar mosaic fountain last night and was surprised/impressed at how well it complemented its plaza. I hope we get a similar effect here.

  • I hope there is going to be some sort of ornamental fence or wall between the fountain and 14th st. I worry about all the kids running around the fountain there and the lunatic drivers on that road.

  • Although that stretch of 14th may be designed as two lanes in either direction you can be pretty much guaranteed that it will end up being just one lane most of the time due to folks just stopping at the curb lane to ‘just run in for a second’ – especially if DDOT ends up putting in bike lanes.

  • @Mike, you can see in the photos that there are 2-tiered raised seat walls between the fountain and the streets. It’s a good idea for the very reason you mention, and I think the design addresses that concern.

  • Yeah, the double-parkers make traffic in that part of town a mess all of the time, and there’s ZERO enforcement.

  • It will be interesting to see the effect on icepocalypse on this new area. And by interesting, I mean painful.

  • It looks terrific, will be a lovely place to people watch. I just hope they have installed enough seating. All that space and no benches?

  • They took all the trees

  • Looks like a good place to skateboard

  • I really hope they’re leaving what’s left of the red brick sidewalk down the east side of 14th in front the Heights, Starbucks, D’vine, etc. It looks so much better than the beige tiles they’re installing currently.

  • does anyone know if the fountain will be open for kids to play around in it, like it is in silver spring? i can’t see how they would keep them out, since there’s no wall or anything and it’s level to the ground. i’m assuming they designed it for kids (or anyone) to run around through. it’s a little too close to the street for my liking, but my for my kid, the problem is ever getting him out of the water, not really worrying whether he runs out of it into the street.

  • For all the dog owners out there don’t let your dogs urinate on the new trees unless you want the trees to die. Dog pee does not equal fertilizer.

  • looks like a good spot to skate. anyone?

  • Well, I’m pretty excited. Cant wait to see this plaza transition from a space to a place.
    — CH, i know you have your flaws, but I love you all the same.

  • if the fountain is a water feature where kids can play I think it will be great!

  • Looks great; vast improvement. Sorry, Joni, but those trees were no paradise, just 11 young and unlucky trees lined up in a manner and setting that was essentially unusable (and factually unused) by most residents. This new fountain will become an instant hit for thousands daily.

  • Ms. Mitchell…. They Paved Paradise?? Bwahahahahhahaaa!!

    Obviously, you never saw 14th and Park Roads BEFORE DCUSA was built.

    There waren’t no trees. And unless you consider dodging bullets (far more than you have to today) “paradise”….

    Good grief. Some people just need something to bitch about I guess. This looks wonderful to me and as a near 20-year resident of DC in the immediate area, this is one of the best things the city has ever done.

  • does anyone know:

    is this a smart growth plan or an after thought?

    who will maintain the space and the future plantings?

    what happens here in the winter months? ice skating?

  • Anonymous (the hipster) is a freaking idiot. Go to move to the next “up-and-coming” neighborhood for a cultural adventure if you hate the Columbia Heights smart growth development so much.

  • What’s up with those hideous metallic artificial trees around the fountain? Is perenially metallic the new “green”?

  • I think the plaza will come to life once the water flows. And let’s hope I’m wrongheaded about what I referred to pessimistically as the metallic trees that appear to be going up this week: are these structures actually some type of modern lighting? I’m going to keep an open mind on this one but I do hope some sort of greenery will emerge in thie space….

  • What Jamie said. And not what fake-Joni says. The real Joni Mitchell ain’t that ridiculous.

    For the newbies around here, that whole area was a mix of crumbling buildings, abandoned buildings and – more than anything else – empty lots from when stores burned down in April ’68. This WAS a shopping district until then, and Park Rd was a car sales street in between 14th and 15th. That’s why the facade of that one building was kept and worked into the side of DC USA. It has a lot of history for locals.

    Fountain looks wonderful. I’m so excited to see this part of the city come to life. Hard to believe we’re finally past the years where everyone would huddle in groups to exit the Metro at night and walk as fast as possible past the empty lots. I have no patience for fussy critiques over this detail or that with this amazing turnaround for the area, which was DECADES in the making.

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