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Public Weighs In on RFK’s FutureTwo Potential Design Concepts on the Table

Events D.C. hosted a city-wide community meeting to help shape the future of the RFK campus once it’s demolished in the coming years.

People from all over the District were able to voice their opinions on two proposed concepts for the 190-acre waterfront property on Monday, April 4, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime effort to reimagine this site,” Max Brown, chairman, board of directors for Events D.C., said. “This will be a space for residents and the potential 20 million tourist who visit Washington, DC each year.”

“This will be a job driver,” Brown said. “We’re focusing on the short term of the next two to five years. We want to focus on the things we can do now.”

Brown said that there are lots of mitigating factors to figure out for the long term, but for now the focus should be guided principal activity that fits into the structure, family-oriented programs and short-term options.

There were three concepts presented by Jason Long of the architecture firm OMA leading the project.

The first concept “North-South Axis Design” and second “Stitch” would have anchors that could possibly include a 20,000-seat arena or a 65,000-seat NFL stadium, and the third option would include no anchor.

None of the concepts put forth included any cost information.

Breakdown of Design 1

Breakdown of Design 1

In the first concept, roads would be reconfigured, simplified and integrated in to the existing grid of Washington, D.C. The site work and infrastructure cost are anticipated to be higher than competing concepts.

Parking would be concentrated in to a one- to two-level plinth that could significantly reduce the amount of surface parking freeing up space for a park.

“Parking takes up 41 percent of the site today,” Long said. “That is a lot of property that could be put to good use.”

As far as the buildings, the anchor would be in the center, and recreation, food-related programs and other amenities would be at both ends of the axis adjacent to the neighborhoods.

“A key issue is that the area is a historic marshland, which is subject to flooding and sometimes does flood,” Long said.

For flood mitigation, the first design would support a parking plinth with two levels, with the lower level in the flood plain. The plinth would therefore act as a flood wall and raise the buildings above a freeboard level.

Breakdown of Design 2

Breakdown of Design 2

The second design concept would use pre-existing major arterial roads (C Street Northeast and Independence Avenue Southeast) theoretically reducing site work and infrastructure costs.

Parking for all of the programs elements would be met though both surface lots and parking structures.

The building program would be distributed along the site and organized into bands: culture, sport recreation and park.

For flood mitigation, all anchor and major programs are located outside of the floodplain. The programs that are in the floodplain are either flexible open space or have separate flood protection measures.

Following the presentation, attendees were able to discuss among themselves as groups with what ideas they liked, didn’t understand and suggestions to the project leaders.

Classmates, friends and future business partners Sean Sullivan and Kilante McMillan attended the meeting as a part of their public issues in architecture class at Howard University.

“As future developers we wanted to come here to further our knowledge,” Sullivan said. “It also gives us the opportunity to see how developers think.”

Sullivan said they were leaning more towards the linear concept (North-South Axis Design) because it would be easier for people to get around.

Transportation and Metro accessibility rose as one of the major concerns when community members voiced their opinions.

Anwar Saleem, The H Street Main Street executive director, wanted to know more about how these concepts would affect his corridor.

“Benning Road is at the back of RFK, so it’s going to have an impact on our community,” Saleem said. “This could also potentially effect the streetcar.”

Saleem claimed that H Street Northeast has had the largest reform for small businesses, with an estimated $2 billion in economic growth. He said that happened with inclusion and persistency.

“You have to involve everyone, every stakeholder, everyone is important and beneficial,” he said.

Saleem believes that same concept can help the future of RFK’s campus.

“D.C. is a tale of many neighborhoods, and we have to find a way to connect the city,” he said.

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