Friday, November 16, 2012

Canal Park Opens Today

Washington DC commercial real estate brokerageAfter nearly 2 years of construction, work on Canal Park, the jewel of southeast Washington DC, will wrap up when its supporters celebrate completion of the park today.  The 3-block park features an ice rink, stormwater management, interactive water fountains, a 135 foot fountain that serves as a "rain garden," and interactive sculptures, much of it designed for children.

Canal Park Washington DC - sculptures and engineering for Capitol Hill's best park, Blake Dickson retail real estate
Capitol Hill's best park, Washington National's stadium, in southeast DC, Blake Dickson Real Estate retail leasing
Construction of Canal Park on DC's Capitol Hill makes commercial real estate news headlines, Blake Dickson
But the most iconic feature will be a pavilion with 9,000 s.f. cafe and seating area, topped by a lightbox with translucent acrylic panels that will illuminate the pavilion at night on the southern (M Street) boundary, matched by a smaller, similar lightbox on the northern block.

Operated by the Canal Park Development Association (CPDA), the park is technically owned by the federal government but placed under the jurisdiction of the District government, which put $13.5m into the project and in turn licences the CPDA to run and program the park, with Blake Dickson handling the retail leasing.

Blake Dickson retail leasing
Far from being a strip of grass like parks of old, beneath all that seemingly simple design lies the mechanics that make it happen.  Olin, the Philadelphia based landscape architect, worked with pavilion architect Studios Architecture to create and integrate mechanics for the park and cafe to drain the park's stormwater naturally, as well as that of neighboring developments which now drain into the city's stormwater system.

Development photos of Washington DC, Canal Park debuts its ice skating rink and green featuresBrian Pilot, a principal of Studios Architecture, says the public won't be able to see the complex systems that went into making the park ecologically friendly, visually appealing, and functionally interactive.  "The infrastructure of the park was incredibly complex," said Pilot, noting that 2 40,000-gallon cisterns, buried beneath the park, collect and store the rainwater, calling that feature "one of the primary objectives of the park's design," and will treat and reuse the water throughout the park.  Geothermal wells will heat and cool water for the south pavilion (see diagram below), and other mechanics, "including soil stabilizing rammed aggregate piers, extensive rink, fountain and stormwater piping," will help the park function.
Extreme engineering of Canal Park, Washington DC

Pilot notes that the pavilion, which his firm designed, had to feature the usual mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, but with translucent walls and without the interior space to accommodate equipment.  "There's no back of house to building, every facade has an important relationship to the street, even the roof was actually an important elevation."  Considering the overall park, Pilot says the stormwater rain garden is "one of the major anchoring components of the design," running along the east side of the park, "undulating from north to south."  The "south pavilion grows out of the rain garden, so one can get an elevated view of the skating rink.  The middle pavilion is designed to float above the stormwater rain garden," and that the "two lanterns bookend the site, its one of your first impressions from whichever direction you enter."  The park is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification.  See recent pictures of the park under construction.

Washington D.C. real estate development and retail news


Anonymous said...

"jewel of southeastern DC"?? I'm not so sure of that. I mean, it's ok, but they could have had a bit more greenery and a little less concrete for my liking.

Anonymous said...

Funny to see all the mention of architects but no mention of the people that actually designed and made these elaborate features feasible - the engineers.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first anonymous above--this place is nice enough, but I really would have preferred more green space. It looks awfully busy with all of the concrete, sculptures, metal things, etc.

A nice addition to the neighborhood to be sure, but I don't know that I'd call it a "jewel".

Anonymous said...

I'd call it a jewel. Sjkating was great, restaurant is gonna be kick@ss. It was desinged to be less grass near M St with more grass for the movies near I St. I can see more people using this because its near the residential piece of the area. Better than a giant open field with a few benches that would eventually turn into a dog park (e.g. Marion Park).

Anonymous said...

I remember when the space was 3 blocks of parked school buses, now it is great to see kids ice skating in a park! A wonderful addition to the neighborhood.

Skidrowe said...

One can always say, in 20-20 hindsight, that this aspect or that might be better. Canal Park certainly doesn't seem underdesigned or underprogrammed! But a lot of people deserve a lot of credit here for an impressive public work. Not just the architects and engineers, but the managers who succeeded in wresting control of federal "parkland" away from the feds and into local hands.

The result could perhaps use a little editing, but if you want only grass and a few benches, take solace in the scores of frozen-in-time, resolutely unprogrammed federal "reservations" where the Park Service won't allow ANY changes whatsoever. (Not even the most minimal, functional, basic, and desperately-needed, such as a modest sidewalk widening at the triangle north of the Q Street entrance to the Dupont Metro station where buses disgorge.) That's our bigger problem, and I hope that the Canal Park management model spreads to other federally-owned park parcels.

Capitalplastics on Jul 29, 2013, 7:30:00 PM said...

It was great to be part of this project! It turned out wonderful.

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