The design for Washington, DC’s new Southwest Waterfront introduces a remarkable mile-long neighborhood to the city at the water’s edge. The new waterfront site, named The Wharf, is centrally situated on the Potomac River along the historic Washington Channel, spanning 24 water acres and 27 land acres less than one mile from the District’s national monuments, The White House, The Capitol and Smithsonian Museums. This premier location complements an extraordinary vision for a new waterfront neighborhood, presenting a once-in-a-generation opportunity to target the final quadrant of L’Enfant’s master plan for Washington, DC by extending the city’s grid to the water’s edge.
The Wharf is unique in that, like the city, it is dense, mixed use, open, and walkable, providing access to the public realm at all times of day. The design recognizes the role of history in the formation of the community’s identity, using significant cultural anchors such as the Municipal Fish Market to activate the city’s waterfront. Furthermore, the design is distinct in its approach to restoring the connection between the city and its waterfront by integrating land and water functions. The water plan was conceived first, guiding the development of the land plan and creating a host of public places enlivened by the combination of their diverse characteristics. The water plan generates a variety of maritime activity that serves many users, establishing the site as a regional harbor destination.
As a gateway for boats traveling from across the globe to visit the nation’s capitol, The Wharf provides access that enables an array of programming. In addition to a central pier that hosts tall ships, maritime exhibitions, internationally recognized celebrations and regional festivals, The Wharf’s water taxis, ferry services, two marinas and a commercial pier for entertainment cruises create a vibrant maritime program. A mile-long waterside promenade connects to the site’s actively programmed piers, circulating pedestrians across the shoreline and uniting land and water uses. Within this lively, 24-hour urban setting, 3.2 million square feet of residential, office, hotel, retail and cultural space, underground parking, piers, marinas, parks and open spaces connect to the central promenade, creating a variety of places that expand the city experience and establish The Wharf as a redefining cultural destination in Washington, DC.
The Wharf’s dramatic piers, scenic marinas, tree-lined streets, pedestrian mews and waterfront walkways complement beautiful outdoor spaces, a stunning village green, and maximized water use, transforming the site into a beacon for relaxation and recreation. The design of the site’s structures focuses on the pedestrian’s perspective, creating a family of buildings, each with its own identity, yielding a captivating street-level environment. The preservation of major view corridors extending from the city to the waterfront maintains the site’s permeability and striking waterfront and city views. In addition, a pioneering sustainability program creates a model for environmentally-conscious practice at an urban and architectural scale. The Wharf’s innovative design and extensive program of uses redefines District culture, recreation, business, entertainment and living, recapturing the waterfront and reuniting it with its city.