In order for DowntownDC to become a world-class destination and adequately support the DowntownDC community, investment in public spaces is essential. The DowntownDC BID has begun work on several projects to enhance public space. The DowntownDC Foundation will solicit funding to support these and additional projects.
Metrorail Station Enhancements
The McPherson Square Metrorail station is the gateway to DowntownDC for thousands of workers, visitors and residents every day, including the many tourists who use this station to visit the White House. But conditions made this station a bleak and unpleasant experience for these visitors.
The DowntownDC BID in 2019 successfully commissioned and installed a mural honoring veterans at the Vermont Avenue entrance of the McPherson Square Metrorail station, brightening the station entrance with colorful, meaningful artwork. The mural, “In Service,” was produced by Lead Artist Addison Karl through local non-profit Words Beats & Life. It is located under the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) building and was installed through the support of the VA, the US General Services Administration and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).
The BID has proposed additional placemaking plans at this station, for which the DowntownDC Foundation will solicit funds. This includes a new, creative lightbox that would brighten the station and replace the bars and fencing that currently exist there. The BID looks forward to working with WMATA on this station and other station enhancements throughout DowntownDC.
New York Avenue Arts Allee
In 2010, the New York Avenue Arts Allee was initiated as a partnership between the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) and the BID, with the support of city government agencies. The project sought to redefine New York Avenue as a pedestrian-friendly, arts and culture corridor utilizing the medians as a platform for art installations.
A plan was created and approved by the local and federal government to be implemented in phases. The plan spanned New York Avenue from Herald Square at 13th and H Streets to Mount Vernon Square at 9th Street.
The first phase and only implemented phase of the plan, the New York Avenue Sculpture Project, was first established in 2010 in the 1200 block of New York Avenue and has featured sculpture installations by contemporary women artists, complemented by landscaping, lighting, and interpretive signage.
The BID, through the DowntownDC Foundation, seeks to complete the transformation of this entire corridor into a true Arts Allee, featuring artistic works from local and national artists. To do this, the BID needs funding for the New York Avenue median infrastructure: irrigation, lighting, platform construction and landscaping. Working with downtown arts and cultural institutions, partnerships for art installations will be expanded to ensure continuous exhibitions.
The BID has successfully worked with partners on past efforts to bring public art to DowntownDC. These initiatives have included the 2017 Fancy Animal Carnival, featuring larger-than-life sculptures by Taiwanese artist Hung Yi, the BID’s ongoing role in the New York Avenue Sculpture Project, which currently features four sculptures by artist Betsabee Romero, and the current effort to artistically refurbish nine historic call boxes, adding art profiling women in DC and US history by local artist Charles Bergen.
Contributions to the DowntownDC Foundation would allow the BID to expand upon efforts to add temporary and permanent art to public space in DowntownDC and create a greater impact on the DowntownDC community.
Indiana Plaza is located at the intersection of 7th Street, Indiana Avenue, and Pennsylvania Avenue and was constructed as part of the 1970’s Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation’s (PADC’s) redesign of that corridor. With the demise of PADC in 2000, all the open spaces in the downtown Pennsylvania Avenue corridor were transferred to National Park Service (NPS). Due to underfunding, NPS has been unable to maintain the plaza on its own, and it has deteriorated with time and has attracted illegal parking.
Understanding the potential of this plaza, the BID and the Indiana Society recently partnered to raise funds to invigorate this downtown gateway for the thousands of tourists, residents and workers who experience it every day. Concept plans for new seating, landscaping and regular programming have been developed with the intention of creating an inviting place of respite and recreation at the crossroads of downtown and the monumental core of the city.
Thomas Circle is located at a major city hub where 14th Street, Vermont Avenue, M Street and Massachusetts Avenue converge. It is often thought of as the connector between downtown and the popular Logan Circle, Shaw, and 14th Street Corridor neighborhoods.
In the early 2000’s, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) planned a massive reconfiguration of the roadways surrounding Thomas Circle and decided, in cooperation with and via support of NPS, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), to restore the circle back to the original L’Enfant vision. The restoration created a large and more functional area for potential landscaping, pedestrian access with crosswalks and new sidewalks to the center of the circle. Large, concrete, triangular spaces define the outer edge of the circle.
The DowntownDC Foundation is working to complete the additional step of revitalizing this historic landmark in an innovative manner.