September 22, 2023
For Immediate Release
Contact: Braulio Agnese, firstname.lastname@example.org
Expanded spaces around Chinatown Park and on 7th Street NW will remain for 18 months
Washington, D.C. — Today the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) announces that it has installed two temporary enhancements for pedestrians in the Gallery Place–Chinatown area, which will remain in place for 18 months. One expands public space along the 600 block of 7th Street NW, next to the Smithsonian American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery and the Capital One Arena. The second, more extensive installation (shown above) is around Chinatown Park at 6th and I streets NW and expands public space to varying degrees on all four sides of the park as well as around the intersections of 5th and I streets and 6th and I streets. Both installations include planters for beautification and will have immersive street art that will be added in the coming weeks.
These enhancements to the DowntownDC public realm are the result of the BID’s Pedestrian Safety and Experience Study, launched in fall 2022 in collaboration with planning consultancy Toole Design Group with the goal of assessing and improving the overall safety and experience conditions for pedestrians in downtown and creating temporary interventions to demonstrate how a safe and vibrant pedestrian space beyond the sidewalk can be designed and supported.
“The DowntownDC BID is a leader in considering the public realm in our area, and in finding ways to improve it for the benefit of everyone who traverses downtown on foot,” says Ella Faulkner, the BID’s Vice President of Planning and Economic Development. “We see these pilot pedestrian improvements as first steps toward more, and more permanent, solutions throughout the BID. It’s going to be an exciting 18 months as we study the impact of these two expansions of public space and our events team finds ways to activate them.”
In the first phase of the pedestrian study, the BID collected qualitative data through a public survey that received more than 600 responses as well as two public meetings with the DowntownDC community. With this data, the BID selected two sites that could benefit from key design interventions:
- 7th Street between F and G streets, to increase vibrancy, calm traffic, and contribute to recommendations in the BID’s Gallery Place–Chinatown Corridor Study, released in March 2023.
- The streets around Chinatown Park, noted as a place of frequent vehicular accidents, to help calm traffic, celebrate the neighborhood’s cultural significance, and offer residentially oriented programming opportunities.
The interventions will include multiple curbside extensions and immersive art within them to increase the visibility and safety of pedestrians by slowing down vehicle traffic. These design solutions were achieved through the District Department of Transportation’s Arts in the Right-of-Way (AROW) program.
Once the sites were selected, the BID hosted six public meetings to solicit feedback on preliminary designs, as well as a public art charrette to receive ideas and feedback for the art installations. The street art at both sites was developed over the course of several months in collaboration with art collective Chalk Riot and active neighborhood stakeholders:
- The 1882 Foundation, which is focused on the history and culture of the Chinese and Asian Americans in D.C. and across the nation.
- The historic Sixth & I Synagogue.
- The Wah Luck House, an affordable residential building on 6th Street for the Chinese community.
- The Chinatown Steering Committee.
- The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery.
The installation of the street art will be managed by Chalk Riot and Pipkin Creative on these dates: September 25–29 for the Chinatown Park site, and October 9–13 for the 7th Street site.
This project was greatly enhanced by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative, which helps cities use art and community engagement to improve street safety and revitalize public space. This funding — received through the DowntownDC Foundation, the BID’s 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organization — enabled the significant expansion and improvement of both project sites, creating a more vibrant public realm.
About the DowntownDC BID
The DowntownDC Business Improvement District was founded in 1997 and is a private nonprofit organization that provides capital improvements, resources, and research that keep the BID area clean, safe, economically and environmentally strong, and accessible. The DowntownDC BID is a catalyst, facilitator, and thought leader in diversifying the economy, promoting public-private partnerships, and enhancing the downtown experience for all. DowntownDC encompasses a 138-block area of approximately 520 properties, from Massachusetts Avenue on the north, including the convention center at Mount Vernon Square, to Constitution Avenue on the south, and from Louisiana Avenue on the east to 16th Street on the west.