Dupont Underground Slowly Rising

Thanks to Paul Ruppert for sharing these photos and letting me know about the Dupont Underground Web site which says:

The Dupont Underground is coming – are you ready?

This visionary and ambitious development will bring to life 100,000 sq feet of galleries, multi-use flexible exhibition spaces, a teaching library, interactive archives, an arts café friendly to urban nomads and cloud-commuters as well as multi-media labs and arts-related retail. Central and accessible by Metro from all points across the city, The Dupont Underground will be a linking institution for the arts, architecture and design communities and establish a stimulating multi-sensory destination that will attract a new audiences to the city.

From the departure of deserted and forgotten infrastructure to the arrival of a stunning hub of creative critical mass, The Dupont Underground will establish the District as a place where innovation is an exciting, active and accessible part of daily urban life.

Through the adaptive reuse of the historic abandoned trolley station that lies directly beneath Dupont Circle, The Dupont Underground aims to establish a new landmark cultural institution to serve as a vital hub for innovative public exhibitions of contemporary art and design (including architecture, graphic design, new media technology, industrial, fashion, etc.). It aims to serve as a transformative incubator and accelerator for creative innovation and provide a physical cutting-edge locus for the diversity of the arts community to intersect. Committed not only to the current generation of artists, but to the city’s future, Dupont Underground will additionally work with the city’s public and charter schools to provide access to art programs along with apprenticeships, career guidance and professional training.

The Dupont Underground is organized by the Arts Coalition for Dupont Underground, a registered not-for-profit organization, comprised of artists, arts administrators, architects and business and community leaders working together towards transforming the Dupont Circle trolley station into a high-impact, world-class cultural destination.

I’ll be posting updates about upcoming events and fundraisers and how you can get involved. In the meantime do you think this will be a good use of the Dupont Underground?

47 Comment

  • I’ve actually been wondering whether the tunnel would feature in the District’s streetcar revival plans. Maybe the metro station makes it obsolete or unusable.

  • This link is the best idea I have ever seen for that space.

    • Sorry, but turning it into a bike parking facility is kind of lame. It’s not like there aren’t enough places to stash my bike above ground in Dupont.

  • Oooh yeah – I would love to commute by cloud. Instead I’m stuck in my transformative incubator and accelerator for creative innovation – (but at least it comes with a physical cutting-edge locus.)

    • No kidding. It looks like an interesting use of the space, but I don’t think they could have crammed more buzzwords into that press release.

  • Nice shots Paul!

    It would be really sweet if the streetcars could go through there AND there was some sort of retail or art space. I’m sure that’s not feasible, but how cool?

  • Hey DC! Let’s take an experiment that failed in the early 90’s and cost the city a small fortune and replicate it 20 years later!

    Yeah! Good money after bad.

    Seriously, the best thing they can do with it is fill it with cement and save ourselves the heartache and embarrassment of this failing again.

    • I hate to agree, but I do.
      I seem to remember the 10 minutes, as you say nearly 20 years ago, that was the revived tunnels.
      Just wasteful.

    • I can tell you firsthand DC was a lot different in the early 90s. A lot of projects that would have failed then have thrived now. Have a little faith.

      • I was here, I know.

        But dupont hasn’t changed for the better since the early 90’s and there is already plenty of available unused above ground retail. You’re going to end up with another Georgetown Park Mall with crappy vendors that no one wants to go see.

        How about giving a grant to the above ground property owners to upgrade their facade’s and giving a facelift to the rusty street infrastructure around the circle.


    • Totally agree…there is more than enough above ground space that can be built out achieving the same goals of creating an urban arts center. Not against the drive for art in the city, but lets clean up the ugly we see all day above ground and spend our money there. The idea of opening up this space when approx. 15 blocks away in Shaw there are abandoned lots and warehouses is ridiculous. Ideas always sound cooler than they really are.

      We (or they) should revisit the idea of revamping these tunnels in 100 years when the rest of the city is at commercial capacity and we need to drill down for space.

      CAPTCHA: numb from

      How appropriate to use in a sentence.

      “I’m numb from the idea of commercializing the tunnels under Dupont Circle.”

    • which is an interesting criticism, considering this isn’t the same thing. unless you mean to use “replicate” to mean ENTIRELY DIFFERENT lol.

  • waaaay too many buzzwords in that press release. wow.

    so this tunnel was designed to facilitate transit, right? how about we use it for, oh, i don’t know, transit. hmm. i think i heard something about some streetcars coming to the city?

  • I like the idea and I want it to succeed, but I think it’s got a very short shelf life. It will go from cool to abandoned (again) in a very short matter of time.

    I’m also concerned that the homeless who take up so many of the benches above ground will see this indoor shopping center as their new mecca.

    • um, where did you read “indoor shopping center” in there? art galleries. they have doors. they aren’t malls.

      • Maybe you missed the retail stores portion. Maybe you didn’t check out the website.

        Even if it weren’t said, you know it has to be that way. Somebody is going to have to pay the bills and art galleries are not going to cut it.

        • oh what’s the profit margin on the Phillips Collection? what’s the ROI on the high line in Manhattan? shouldn’t they be shuttered by now, according to your pronouncement? also an art gallery shop does not Pentagon City make.

  • Can’t tell you how BORED I was reading the “About” at the Dupont Underground website.
    So it is obvious this is not for profit, so it has to be paid for.
    Someone should put an end to this nonsense as soon as possible.

  • Those tunnels would make great bike paths.

  • Anyone who has been to just about anywhere in europe knows that these wonderful ideas about underground retail space, underground walkways, or anything underground become infested with homeless people seeking dryness and warmth. You can’t blame them, they need shelter… but the problem is, its extremely expensive to enforce a no homeless people policy. Soon the tunnels will smell of urine and body odor.

  • wow – that website is BAD. Looks like a high school students last minute assignment

    • i think the website looks good. its clean and simple. what else do u need?

      • It has several basic design flaws. Mix of fonts, Inconsistent capitalization (some parts are not capitalized at all, some are traditional first letter capitalization some are ALL CAPS and some are small caps – meaning that it uses all capital letters but with the first being of a larger size than the rest. It just looks like it was copy-pasted from several sources in a hurry.

  • This would make a great night club / Bar or youth hostel. The 90’s project failed because the shops they had down there were awful and would have failed above ground. It was like a budget version of the food court at Union Station’s basement. You don’t design a place to hang out and eat in a cave when you have a park above.

    • Right, but the kind of shops you want to be down there, don’t want to be down there and can afford to be above ground. The customers that the good shops want, don’t want to shop underground for ‘the experience’. It’s a simple question of foot traffic. If you’re going to pay to be in Dupont Circle, why would you limit yourself to the people who are going out of their way to go ‘underground’.

      I like it for an indoor track for keeping in shape during the winter months. Inside for fast, outside for slow people.

  • the funniest part is that this is a site representing and designed by “Arts Coalition for Dupont Underground”


    it just doesn’t bode well

  • I really hope they somehow keep the transit history of that space. Maybe putting a smooth transparent seal over the tracks so that people in the gallery could walk on a flat surface, but the underlying history could be visibly preserved. It would make for a cool aesthetic.

  • Underground = trolls, gnomes, hookworms and that whole awful Persophene business – Underground is sweet in Cooper Pedy but NO ONE is ever going to want to hang out underground at Dupont Circle. (Except for velodrome and laser tag, maybe parking garage or prison) I too remember the previous drastic failure. How do we stop this now before tax dollars get wasted?

  • Looks like they’re trying to make this into the equivalent of the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria.

    Has the potential to be really cool, and could add to DC’s coolness factor overal, so I’ll wait and see.

    Else, the bar and youth hostel thing sounds like a good idea, too. Actually, I’d prefer a bar be part of *this* project.

  • I know it’s terribly boring, but what about a parking garage? Not that I ever have a hard time parking in Dupont.. nooo. Could make space for bike-parking as well!

  • They should make it into an atom crasher – I think I even saw the word accelerator in the press release! It could be like that underground thing in Switzerland that was going to throw the universe out of alignment and it should be staffed by homeless/jobless people who are in abundance in this area of town. I am so smart – just like the rest of you.

    • Not to burst your bubble but the LHC ( atom crasher ) you speak of is a circle around an area of over 550 square km. To compare , all of D.C. 159 square km.

  • I also like the idea of a giant underground slumber party. If not, then a gay cruising area like in the tunnels along the Seine in Paris. These places are disappearing at an alarming rate.

  • Are there emergency exits?

  • this is fantastic. the list of people involved in the project is stellar. i really hope this happens.

  • oh hellll no. I get claustrophobic just looking at those pictures.

  • Put the streetcars back on Connecticut Avenue, and use this for what it was originally designed: an underground streetcar station.

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