“Events DC Reveals RFK Stadium-Armory Campus Masterplan Concepts” and Renderings

Stitch Design Concept_View from East_Copyright OMA_Rendering by Robota
Stitch Design Concept courtesy OMA

From a press release:

“Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, announced on Monday evening, the details of two conceptual plans for the 190-acre RFK Stadium-Armory Campus site, with design concepts by OMA New York, led by partner Jason Long, in partnership with DC-based program management team, Brailsford & Dunlavey. Located in the Southeast corridor of the District, the transformational vision for the iconic RFK Campus delivers holistic concepts for the site that leverage the District’s waterfront, provide neighborhood serving amenities and connect the current site with increased and sustainable green space, flexible recreational fields and natural access to pedestrian-friendly paths. The conceptual planning effort also envisions phasing the implementation of short-term and long-term program elements for the site.

11_Stitch Design Concept_View from North_Copyright OMA_Rendering by Robota
Stitch Design Concept courtesy OMA

“After extensive planning, outreach, public input and involvement, the entire Events DC board and staff are so proud to present these two conceptual plans for the RFK Stadium-Armory Campus,” said Max Brown, chairman of the Board of Directors for Events DC. “Our vision for the Campus’ future –which is aligned with community wants and needs – is to create a special and amazing place that celebrates the District of Columbia’s beauty and history – while also acting as a shining example of urban living that can attract residents and visitors, while at the same time, maintain the rich and strong local identity that currently is appreciated and valued by all of us.”

09_Stitch Design Concept_View from West_Copyright OMA_Rendering by Robota
Stitch Design Concept courtesy OMA

Events DC, in collaboration with OMA New York and Brailsford and Dunlavey, participated in a series of stakeholder and community engagement sessions that focused on capturing input on a new urban vision for the 190-acre Campus surrounding the historic RFK Stadium, Festival Grounds and the DC Armory. The site benefits from its positioning adjacent to the National Mall axis, prominent neighborhoods and its access to a waterfront gateway along the Anacostia River which has been underutilized for decades.

10_N-S Axis Design Concept_View of Esplanade_Copyright OMA_Rendering by Robota
N-S Axis Design Concept courtesy OMA

“The conceptual plans we have unveiled present a once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine the 190-acre site in a way that delivers an amenity for everyone. It also has the ability to create another vibrant destination within Washington, DC for residents and visitors to enjoy,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive officer of Events DC. “Our conceptual plans aim to provide accessibility across the Campus’ unique topography and access to nearby waterways while creating dynamic open space.”

11_N-S Axis Design Concept_Esplanade_Copyright OMA
N-S Axis Design Concept courtesy OMA

The conceptual plans are represented through two design concepts (a) North-South Axis and (b) Stitch, each illustrating a different configuration or layout of the site. These design concepts offer two alternative approaches to addressing parking, infrastructure and road network, pedestrian connections, site conditions and program placement.

12_N-S Axis Design Concept_Roof_Copyright OMA
N-S Axis Design Concept courtesy OMA

Within both the North-South Axis and Stitch design concepts, there are three anchor tenant scenarios: (a) 20k Seat Arena, (b) NFL Stadium, and (c) No Anchor. All three scenarios reflect a phased approach intended to provide short-term programming elements that will immediately activate the site with uses that will serve the community. Such short-term program uses, which exist in both the North-South Axis and Stitch design concepts, include sport, recreation, culture and park space.

The long-term opportunities for the North-South Axis and Stitch design concepts offer an extension of all of the program elements delivered in the short-term, plus additional long-term program elements, inclusive of an anchor tenant and the related supporting site and infrastructure enhancements.

Jason Long, OMA New York’s partner-in-charge, commented, “Our goal for both design concepts is to reconnect the Campus to existing neighborhoods to the north and south, to bring the District closer to the Anacostia waterfront and to transform the site from a space designed for watching sports, dominated by asphalt, into a new gateway to DC that elevates public health with diverse recreational programming. Both concepts provide a strategy for revitalizing the Campus’ identity from passive space to active place and transform its urban character from pavement to park.”

45 Comment

  • Let’s have a starting point of “absolutely no stadium”, and go from there. I am not against the arena as an anchor, but I would rather that it not be for a sports team unless there is a master plan to redevelop Gallery Place if the Wizards/Caps were to move to Armory. If the arena is to be a non-sports venue and if the existing tenants at Gallery Place are to stay put, would DC be able to attract enough events to keep the new arena busy?

    • Also, the rendering doesn’t seem to show a lot of new housing, which is something that DC desperately needs (especially of the non-high end condo kind).

      • There’s zero housing in any of the proposals. Which means there’s very little chance (I’d wager close to zero) that NCPC allows them to be built as currently presented.

      • The NPS has stipulated the uses for this land and housing is not one of them, therefore is not part of the plan. It is my understanding that if housing were to be desired and city wanted it they would have to renegotiate the lease with the NPS.

        • Is this something that changed since the 2006 report published by the NCPC?

          • I have read that the NCPC did a report that advocated for housing on the land but that is all they can do really, at least in this case. The NCPC can impose a certain level of will of course, but I don’t think they have the power to dictate terms of the lease NPS has with the city. I don’t know enough of the history to know when all the negotiations of when the lease started, but I think the current lease expires in 2036. If the city doesn’t own the land (and then sell it or parts of it) what they want to do with it is controlled/constrained by what the landowner (NPS) wants and the fact that they can’t guarantee what happens to/on the land after the lease is over. DC negotiated to buy/transfer Walter Reed that is why it is being developed as it is – the feds no longer own it so plans can proceed without a time limit.

          • Gotcha. I’d be curious just how much sway NCPC has within the NPS. As whittled down as they are as an agency, I can’t imagine that NPS has sufficient resources to give this matter the attention that it requires. As such, perhaps they’d give greater weight to NCPC’s recommendations?

      • it’s federal land and the District’s current lease with the National Park Service does not allow housing.

        But I would certainly support the mayor and council lobbying Congress and NPS to change the lease. It would have been smart for the District to try that (and maybe try again after the election) before coming up with all of these plans.

    • This land is owned by the NPS, so it’s ultimately up to them to what they allow on the site. The National Capital Planning Commission published a study in 2006 regarding what it’d like to see happen with the land, which includes a significant amount of housing, as well as a significant amount of recreational space. While these renderings sure look nice and pretty, I’d be curious to see if any of that actually gets built. It seems like they’re in the very early stages of this process – defining a rough sketch of what DC might want to ask of NCPC.

  • Can’t wait to catch a quick tan on that nice Anacostia riverfront beach!

  • Am I the only one who sees a giant swastika in the N-S axis design?

  • Bulldozing large swaths of SE? What could possibly go wrong…

  • I have been keeping an eye on this news all week… Don’t even know where to begin with those renderings. Looks cool I guess but none of it seems practical, and it would be a real shame if Ted Leonsis moved the Wiz/Caps after Abe Pollin poured in his own money to transform a formerly horrible part of the city. The Verizon Center is a great venue and the location is perfect. So many businesses in that area rely on the traffic they get from all of the games, concerts, shows, etc.. If anything, pour some money into interior renovations similar to what just happened with MSG… I don’t think we need to worry about that, however, as I just can’t see any way in hell this is approved. I liked one of the original proposals I saw quite a bit. A couple museums, a few mini monuments, green space, affordable housing, etc. Hope that’s what they end up going with.

  • Ugh, bulky and impersonal. It doesn’t have an inviting streetscape that will encourage around-the-clock pedestrian use. It reminds me of an even bigger L’Enfant Plaza-meets-Olympic Village.
    They have a chance to turn this into a real mixed-use neighborhood with businesses, stores, and homes. This is a real waste of prime space, IMHO.

    • Agreed. It all really depends on the city’s lease negotiations with NPS. Hopefully they can work something out.

  • Why are we replacing the Verizon Center? That’s a monument of an incredibly successful arena integrated into a neighborhood it revitalized. Seems like they’re trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist

    And I agree with the above that this feels more like a sterile area designated for events with fancy architecture and all that but no soul, no sense of community. It’s like the museum district in Houston.

    New York works because its event spaces are built into the fabric of the city. This needs to integrate more. There were early designs that set out to build a new neighborhood. Not sure what happened to them.

  • Jerry Grundle

    I’m fine with putting a new basketball/hockey arena on the site, as long as Uncle Ted’s footing the bill. Same with an NFL stadium, as long as Danny “The Devil Incarnate” Snyder is whipping out his checkbook.

  • I am not sure how I feel about these. The seem very out of place? I don’t know how to express it…. Other than it seems out of place for being so close to a residential area as well as this land is so open and barren that ANYTHING the did with it would look jarring….

    I am not a fan of any professional sports stadiums there but for different reasons. I am not sure why basketball/hockey would want to be in an area that even redeveloped would still be not as good or centrally located as where they are now. As for football I just don’ see how Snyder & Co would want a stadium where the football experience is so “urban” for lack of a better word. Of all the 3 sports football is the one that has tailgaiting and festive outside of the venue gathering culture. I am not sure if tailgaiters would feel the same way doing it in a parking garage – if that wold even be allowed – and if that would play into any decisions the Snyder & Co make.

    One thing I don’t know if they have thought as much about – particularly if the football and hockey/basketball arenas plans are the chosen is the traffic flow. Since that is a major way for people to cross the river and to get on/off 295 that is a big, big issue for that area and one that is even bigger if larger sports venues were part of the plan. Getting off 295 there is obnoxious for everyone but more so for people that don’t know where to go and this would be worse with big sports venues being there.

  • No real comment on the design but it’s good that this area is being redeveloped and that the Redskins will return to the DC.

    • The Redskins need to stay where they are because 1. Snyder refuses to change the offensive name 2. He hasn’t expressed a desire nor has offered a penny of his billions to pay for a new stadium and 3. He already has a football stadium!!!

    • I think the chances of the Redskins actually coming back are close to zero.

      (1) $nyder will want taxpayer funds that, politically, have no chance of being approved.
      (2) He won’t change the team name and the Council is on record calling for that to happen.
      (3) The Hill East community, from what I’ve heard, is dead set against having a new NFL stadium there. Can’t say I blame them.

      Also, while maybe this is flexible the stadium option plan presented is only 65K seats (Fedex Field is 82K).

      Taking into account the practical, political, and economic considerations, it’s really hard to see the Redskins ever playing DC again.

      • Snyder might actually be looking for a smaller stadium. As it is, he has sold many of the seats to FedEx advertising, and used other tricks to claim the games are “sold out.” They have been having trouble selling tickets for a while, and not selling out is pretty embarrassing for an NFL team. That said, keep them out of DC.

      • 1. Can you expand on why you think they have no chance of being approved? The city funded both Nats park and the soccer stadium that is being built.

        2. It’s been 20 years since the council balked at a stadium due to the Skins name. In the past Fenty and others have openly said they are wanted them back, and there wasn’t much if any push back.

        3. That area has had a stadium since the 60s. There’s been a sports tenet for most of that time. 8+ games of NFL plus assorted concerts aren’t that big of a deal or a major difference. Most Skins fans want the team back in DC because Landover is a hell hole.

        • “Most Skins fans want the team back in DC because Landover is a hell hole.”
          I’m sure most Skins fans do want the team back in DC. That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for DC to do. As others have pointed out, there are two issues: (1) who pays for the stadium, and (2) is that the best use of the land? If DC is expected to foot the bill, that SHOULD be a non-starter (but it won’t), because FOOTBALL!! But even if Snyder were paying for the whole thing, there are many, many uses of this land that are better that a stadium that will be used, what, 20 times per year? 30? Arenas belong integrated into the fabric of a city, especially where, like Verizon Center, they house both hockey and basketball. Football stadiums belong out where land is cheap, because they aren’t used often enough to bring an appreciable economic impact to the area. That DC events thinks it’s a good idea to above the Wizards/Caps to a LESS dense part of the city than they’re in now, and the Redskins to a MORE dense area that the suburb where they are now is really mindboggling.

          • >who pays for the stadium,

            The answer to this is almost always tourists as was the case with the last two stadiums. Hotel and convention taxes and all.

            >is that the best use of the land

            I can’t say what the best use of the land would be or how you could define it. But it is currently used for pretty much MLS only and the team will be moving to a new stadium. And I mean the no stadium plan they have, what impact will that have? Virtually nothing. It’s just a bunch of park space and a random open building.

            >they aren’t used often enough to bring an appreciable economic impact to the area

            A new Redskins stadium will bring with it more than just football. There are college games, concerts, and any number of events that are currently not giving revenue to the district. Considering the area has been without any major use of that land for a long time, it’s hard to argue it will have no appreciable economic impact given the current use of the site.

            >that DC events thinks it’s a good idea to above the Wizards/Caps to a LESS dense part of the city

            Yes this is totally stupid, especially since the Verizon center is still in great shape and really drove the revitalization of Chinatown.

          • DC has been unable to host College Bowl Games, Large Scale Boxing Events, Large Scale Outdoor Concerts (Beyonce, Taylor Swift, etc) etc… in addition to the hometown Redskins and will continue to lose these attractions with the development of the MGM if they do not build a full scale entertainment facility. No one likes Fed Ex, fans nor players and have been longing to have the team relocate back to the city. the stadium can be built to encompass the community as seen in Baltimore, Denver etc that incorporate retail, hotels etc. It can be done.

          • Every single independent study that has been done finds that stadia built with public funds are losing endeavors for the municipality in question. That it’s better than nothing isn’t really a good reason, when there are a multitude of better uses for this land. And those tourist taxes can be spent elsewhere. That’s just code for publicly funded, which is a nonstarter.
            .
            @stacks, There are plenty of large scale outdoor concerts at Nats Park – my wife and daughter went to Taylor Swift last year, and I’ve been to other events. Bowl games are financial disasters, we definitely don’t want one of them. Boxing outside? Has that been a thing for 20 years? And even if it has, an event every few years pales in comparison the benefits if this development is done right.
            All that is window dressing, though – this really is about the Redskins. And using up this much land for 10 games per year is ridiculous. I get that players and fans want it – it’s more convenient, there’s history, etc. – but that doesn’t mean it’s a smart idea. It isn’t. And before I’m accused of being a football hater, I am a current season ticket holder of another NFL team, even though I don’t live in that city and have no plans to again.

  • I think putting Events DC in charge of this is a huge mistake. This plot of land is an amazing opportunity for the city. Since the lease needs to be renegotiated anyway (it expires before the end of any potential stadium or arena’s useful life), we should be planning to accommodate our growing population, not figuring out how to throw more money at billionaires.

    • If events DC isn’t in charge of this who should be? The current lease with NPS stipulates entertainment and sports (and the attendant parking) so based on that, Events DC is the right agency to lead this process. Now, if you are talking about renegotiating the lease or have the city buy the land like it did with Walter Reed then Events DC wouldn’t be right.

      • You didn’t get to the third sentence of my comment? 🙂 I am talking about renegotiating the lease, because the lease has to be renegotiated. It isn’t long enough to build a stadium. So if you’ve got to renegotiate it, you might as well do it right, and get some housing built. I suppose DMPED ought to lead it, although I think they’re borderline incompetent.

  • Crazy empty boring space on a huge swath of land. What will there be for people to do besides attend a sporting event? Why would anyone go here to hang out, dine, or – really anything? So many more options for everything elsewhere now.

    if No one lives there, no one is going there. There are just too many good destinations in DC these days.

  • “Southeast corridor of the District” ? Hard to have much confidence in a vision that doesn’t know where this site is located.

  • Is there a timetable for this?

  • Stop subsidizing sports teams with new venues every 15 years. the NFL is massively profitable and the Redskins franchise is worth a few billion. If Dan Snider wants a new stadium – he can pay for it.

    Mayor Bowser – stop this. Renegotiate the lease, or deed the land back to the District, and develop it as a sustainable, mixed-use development that creates housing and jobs for District residents not some massive venue that is only used a few weekends a year. Look at the Wharf in SW – that is quickly turning an under utilized section of the city in one of its hottest neighborhoods. Why not replicate that for RFK – but incorporate more varied income housing in the process?

    Whomever wants to run against Bowser should develop a counter proposal to this – and her shady Douglas Development homeless shelter program.

  • Hm… DC General is only a few blocks from there. Hmm… Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    • Its not a coincidence. They have long wanted to shut down and take back DC General and DC Jail to redevelop this area. That’s not a secret nor was it intended to be.

  • What about requiring a metro stop at the Benning Road end of the parking lot? It would connect with the H St-Benning Road trolley. There is nearly 3 miles between the two stops. Building a filler station should be a requirement.

  • Are these sets from the new movie “Ghost of Albert Speer”?

  • This is heinous.

    • I should have clarified: it’s heinous in the same way an Olympic Village is heinous, because this 100% looks like the plans for an Olympic Village.

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