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“Proposed Streetscaping Plans to Activate the Perimeter of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center”

convention center renderings OMA
All renderings courtesy Events DC by by Design Architect OMA

From a press release:

“Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, presented initial concepts for exterior streetscape plans at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to the community on Thursday evening. The concepts will reactivate the exterior perimeter of the 2.3 million square foot Convention Center and better connect the building to the surrounding Shaw neighborhood. The Project Team is led by Design Architect OMA, working together with BBB (Executive Architect), OLIN (Landscape Architect) and Dharam (Cost Consultant).

Ed. Note: Is GCDC (Grilled Cheese) coming to the Convention Center?!?!

The streetscape plans will transform the façade of the Convention Center through lighting, signage, canopies and furniture, as well as activate and enrich the sidewalks and enhance the exterior streetscape along 9th, N and 7th Street. Not only will the proposed plans provide added value to Convention Center clients and their attendees, but the project will create a greater sense of place for the revitalized Shaw community.


“The exterior streetscape plans are part of Events DC’s long-term strategy to create authentic experiences both inside and outside the Convention Center and reinforce our commitment to local businesses in the Shaw community,” said Max Brown, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Events DC. “We want to provide our residents and visitors with a seamless experience, as well as differentiate ourselves from other markets across the globe.”

To provide additional neighborhood-serving amenities and continued value-add for clients, the plans include the installation of nine exterior kiosks located along 9th street, with flexible and customizable retail concepts, and three new retail bays along 7th Street to provide shade and seating for the future tenants. Other improvements include a redesign of the metro entrance with incorporated light fixtures and a canopy to cover additional seating areas, planters and exterior digital signage opportunities. To showcase the District’s creative community, the streetscape plans incorporate proposals for public art, including elements such as murals, vertical plant installations and light displays.


“As Washington, DC continues to grow and attract even more events, visitors and residents to the city, it is Events DC’s goal to help enrich and enhance these experiences for all to benefit and enjoy, as well as stay ahead of innovative industry trends,” said Gregory A. O’Dell, president and chief executive officer of Events DC. “Reactivating the Walter E. Washington Convention Center’s exterior has the power to further invigorate the Shaw neighborhood and act as a prime example of the power of thriving neighborhoods driving the betterment and growth of a city.”

Jason Long, OMA’s Partner-in-Charge, commented, “DC’s Convention Center occupies three city blocks in the heart of the nation’s capital—its sidewalks alone cover nearly three acres. Our plan improves multiple elements of the building’s interface with the city, from paving to lighting to landscape, creating a welcoming arrival experience for the convention center and contributing to the city’s urban fabric at large. Along the building’s perimeter we’ve inserted a series of ‘activated frames’—lush planters with integrated seating at the ground and programmed kiosks and balconies within the buidling’s facade—to provide a new layer of activation around and even on top of the Convention Center.”

In addition to the enhancement of the streetscape along N Street at the ground-floor level, the concept also includes the addition of a 4,000-square foot rooftop terrace facing N Street, immediately above exterior retail tenants. This flexible space can be used by retail and restaurant patrons as an additional location for dining, as well as for additional event programming.

The strategy to reactivate the exterior of the Convention Center demonstrates Events DC’s dedication to the surrounding Shaw neighborhood: new destinations and amenities aim to attract more unique and diverse events and entertainment options for both residents and visitors. Building on the recent expansion of mixed retail tenants on N Street, the streetscape plans will complement the Convention Center offerings, to further brand the revitalized Shaw neighborhood as a convention and entertainment district located in the heart of DC.

“The design is inspired by the rich musical heritage of the nearby Shaw Neighborhood,” said Hallie Boyce, Design Partner at OLIN. “The paving is patterned to evoke soundwaves which give rhythm and a better, more pedestrian scale to the sidewalks and plazas adjacent to the building. Richly colored street furnishings provide flexible seating and places for planting that add vibrancy and seasonal interest.”

As a next step, Events DC will continue to maintain an open dialogue with the community, and will continue to refine the concepts through the next phases of design based on community and stakeholder feedback received. In parallel, the project team will take steps to acquire necessary regulatory approvals in an effort to move forward with the first phase of the streetscape plans. Construction is estimated to start in the spring of 2018 with a phased delivery from 2018 – 2021.

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