Washington, DC’s sports and entertainment district is about to get a makeover. OMA, working with the management company EventsDC, recently revealed two conceptual masterplans for RFK Stadium’s 190-acre campus, which also includes the storied DC Armory. The new proposals would add usable green space along the Anacostia riverfront, an area that is currently obstructed by a “blockade” of parking lots, in the words of OMA partner Jason Long. In addition to the waterfront restoration, the proposals include provisions for band shells, esplanades and sports and recreation complexes for public use.
The two proposals are labeled “North-South Axis” and “Stitch.” Both schemes are similar in terms of the amenities included, but differ in terms of arrangement.
The “North-South Axis” plan includes a series of recreation and sports buildings constructed on a plinth overlooking the waterfront. As the name suggests, the arrangement follows a north-south axis, running parallel with the river. Pedestrian footpaths lead down to a scenic riverfront park in an area that is currently occupied by parking lots. Parking would be moved out of view, to spaces constructed underneath the sports buildings. The most dramatic change in this scenario would be the total redesign of the streets leading up to the complex. The current network of roads leading to the Whitney Young Memorial Bridge would be replaced with a single connection that cuts straight through the park.
The second plan, “Stitch,” preserves more of the original layout of the streets in the neighborhood. The recreational and sports buildings would thus be more spread out, interwoven with the neighborhood. Like the buildings, parking would also be less concentrated in this scenario, with smaller lots and garages constructed near the new amenities. Many of the proposed buildings are also on a smaller scale in order to fit in with the existing infrastructure.
“Our goal for both design concepts is to reconnect the campus to existing neighborhoods to the north and south, to bring the district closer to the Anacostia waterfront and to transform the site from a space designed for watching sports, dominated by asphalt, into a new gateway to DC that elevates public health with diverse recreational programming,” explained Jason Long. “Both concepts provide a strategy for revitalizing the campus’ identity from passive space to active place and transform its urban character from pavement to park.”
While the city has long-term intentions to replace RFK Stadium — an aging structure that is now only used a few times a year — the overhaul of the campus will go ahead much sooner, within the next five years. Still, OMA is thinking ahead. The firm produced three versions of both masterplan schemes, each one including a different alternative for RFK Stadium. One version has the stadium replaced with a new NFL stadium, one with a new 20,000-seat mixed-use arena, and one with no new arena, the space being used for additional cultural or recreational attractions. Both masterplans, then, are able to accomadate multiple possibilities for the space currently occupied by the stadium.
All images courtesy of OMA