Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Canal Park Gets New Architect, Timeline

The Capitol Riverfront BID yesterday announced that OLIN, a Philadelphia-based landscape architectural firm, has been selected to supply designs for the long in-the-works Canal Park – the pedestrian-friendly makeover of what is currently a school bus storage lot spanning three blocks between I and M Streets, SE and one of the proposed touchstones of area's redevelopment.

Unfortunately for green space aficionados, this means the project’s managers at the Canal Park Development Association (CPDA) will be throwing out the park designs previously approved by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) in 2006 and starting back at square one - a process that will involve re-submitting plans anew to that very same body.

"We should be done with the schematic design in about 12 weeks. Then we’ll start interacting with Commission of Fine Arts and NCPC at that point,” said Chris VanArsdale, Director of the CPDA. “We won’t be done with the [final] design for 10 months, 12 months. So when the design is sufficiently complete, we’ll bid it out.”

According the Riverfront BID and VanArsdale, the site will be begin to be cleared in early June with construction planned in early 2010. Newly announced amenities planned for the Southeast redevelopment initiative include “a new pavilion, a cafe and a possible summertime fountain and wintertime ice skating rink.” The CPDA is currently in negotiations with the BID about possible operators for those park components. Funds for the project are being drawn from $13 million in City Council appropriations, as well as private donations.

Though the strip of land set to host the park was initially to be transferred from the District government to the now dissolved Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, the CPDA has reached an agreement with government authorities that will allow them to oversee the park well beyond its projected 2011 completion. “[The land is] still technically under the control of the DC government, but we have a license agreement with the District to develop and maintain the park,” said VanArsdale.

One of the key features of the park that will remain intact, despite the change of design teams, is its goal of accruing “zero net energy.” According to the BID, OLIN will be exploring green features like stormwater management systems and “solar panels on lightpoles and possibly neighboring buildings” to make the project as low impact as possible. Michael Stevens, Executive Director of the Capitol Riverfront BID told DCmud last year that "Canal Park will be a model of environmental sustainability, it will catch storm water runoff from surrounding blocks, capture, filter, recycle, and reuse the water on sight. We are hoping to capture it on the rooftops of other buildings as well. A lot of that was planned before ballpark."


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