The relationship between Washington, DC and the water’s edge has been one of the city’s great challenges. As the commercial uses of its waterfront have lain dormant since the urban renewal efforts of the 1950s-‘60s, the District, like many other cities around the world, has sought to create a sustainable vision for its rebirth. District Wharf began with the creation of a Water Plan, which frames the vision and was one of the keys to understanding the potential for land-side development—the entire channel was considered the site, not just water’s edge. By making the Water Plan a priority, people participate in a waterfront “theater” where boats, public piers, pedestrians, cyclists, retail patrons, and cultural programs come together in one vibrant location. On land, District Wharf embodies the ideals of great placemaking, with direct public access lined by cafés and restaurants where people meet, congregate, and enjoy urban life and where a sense of spontaneity prevails. Active public spaces are enlivened by public art serving as destinations where outdoor activities and festivities take place. The plan is purposely porous with open space and view corridors to the city and the water throughout.


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