reVISION::Thinking Big

ReVisionThinkingBig_promo_websiteSeptember 23 – December 18, 2015

The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. is pleased to present “reVISION::Thinking Big, New Projects in Washington DC,” an exhibition that focuses on five mixed-use projects currently in design, in the final stages of development review, or under construction: The Yards, The Wharf, Burnham Place at Union Station, Capitol Crossing, and the McMillan Sand Filtration site. The exhibition examines the theories and context behind each project’s design as well as the complexity inherent in projects of such vision and scope.

The themes addressed include:

  • Reconnecting to the water
  • Building above barriers, and
  • Re-purposing public works

Organized by AIA|DC, the exhibit was supplemented by material from the Historical Society’s collections to tell the stories of the past while looking towards the city’s future.

Relics of mid-twentieth century urban renewal, highways, rail yards and industrial sites pose physical barriers in Washington, D.C. These uses have disrupted the city’s historic street/block pattern conceived by Pierre L’Enfant severing public access to the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. Inserted into the city fabric they cut through city neighborhoods.

Economic resurgence, population growth and planning efforts since the beginning of the 21st Century have generated new ideas to repair the disconnections. The potential and opportunity to reconnect the city’s fabric has sparked development interest in—and a new vision for—urban sites overlooked or once considered too difficult.

Each of the five projects are large in scale, consistent with Washington as a city of grand visions. The L’Enfant Plan of 1791, with its broad diagonal avenues, its grid of streets, a core of civic buildings and a central green set the stage. The McMillan Plan of 1901 reinforced the central elements of the L’Enfant Plan creating the National Mall we know today. Less successful for the city was the urban renewal program of the mid-twentieth century that had good intentions to revitalize the city but in the process sacrificed a the existing fabric of the Southwest neighborhood.

Each project is  ambitious. Together they envision reconnection as they propose redevelopment of sites characterized by obsolete or inappropriate uses. Several of the projects repair the historic fabric of the L’Enfant Plan frayed by earlier development. Others look beyond the historic core. These projects anticipate transformation of these sites into economically vibrant destinations for living, working, shopping, and recreation.

reVISION_Project-Images-1-2Above Left: The Yards, Photo by David Galen / Above Right: The Wharf, Courtesy of Perkins Eastman DC

Above Left: Burnham Place at Union Station, Courtesy of Akridge / Shalom Baranes Associates / Above Right: Capitol Crossing, Courtesy of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates LLC

Above: McMillan, Courtesy of Perkins Eastman / Interface Multimedia

Originally developed by the AIA|DC District Architecture Center, the exhibition features graphic panels illustrated to show historic conditions, existing problems, and future solutions through historic and contemporary photographs, maps, analytical diagrams, architectural drawings, and concept renderings. Architectural scale-models will also show the planned developments, and videos will highlight each neighborhood’s history, as well as precedents and design theories that inspired each project. The exhibition at the Historic Society of Washington, D.C. includes additional historic context from its rich collection of Washingtoniana, presented as reVIEW.


Join the Library & Collections Director for a weekday workshop and tap into the Historical Society’s holdings of maps, photographs, manuscripts and other archival material relating to the history of the five areas highlighted in reVISION: THINKING BIG and reVIEW: Looking Back.

reVISION / reVIEW Exhibit Workshops are free and open to the public. Workshops take place in the Kiplinger Research Library on the 2nd floor of the Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square. Pre-registration is required; please visit to register.

UNION STATION (Tuesday September 29, 12pm-1pm)

I-395’S CENTER LEG “THIRD STREET TUNNEL” (Tuesday October 20, 12pm-1pm)

NAVY YARD (Tuesday November 3, 12pm-1pm)


MCMILLAN SAND FILTRATION SITE (Tuesday December 8, 12pm-1pm)

reVISION Credits

Organized by AIA|DC

Mary Konsoulis, AICP, Consulting for Creative Community

Travelling Coordinator
Scott Clowney, AIA|DC/District Architecture Center

Graphic Designer
Jennifer Byrne, Live.Create.Play.LLC

Location Maps
Taylor Stout, Graduate Student in Architecture and Real Estate Development, University of Maryland

History/Analysis PowerPoint Videos
Graduate Architecture Seminar in Urban Design, University of Maryland
Prof. Matthew Bell, FAIA, Instructor
Christopher Allen, Lubna Chaudhry, Golnar Ershad, Elizabeth Hampton, Kara Johnston, David Leestma, Luke Petrocelli, Shira Rosenthal, Siobhan Steen, Arica Thornton, Nader Wallerich, Richard Watt

Original Sponsors
AECOM, Akridge, Beyer Blinder Belle, Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS, Cunningham | Quill Architects, Hoffman Madison, Jair Lynch Development Partners, Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, LLC, Kohn Peterson Fox, LAB Inc., Lee & Associates, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Ltd., MV+A Architects, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Perkins Eastman, Property Group Partners, Shalom Baranes Associates Architects, Silman, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP