27. November 2012 /

Model for Sustainable Design: Canal Park in Washington, D.C.

Canal Park in Washington, D.C., recently opened to the public, is one of the first parks built as part of the District's Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. Canal Park is a model of sustainable design, serving as a pilot project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) and a candidate for LEED® Gold certification. The park has been designed as a social gathering place and an economic catalyst for the surrounding neighborhood.



The three-block site was once a part of the historic Washington City Canal that connected the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. The canal was paved over in the 1870s and most recently served as a parking lot for school buses. Inspired by the canal’s heritage, Canal Park’s design evokes the history of the area with a linear rain garden reminiscent of the Washington Canal and three pavilions, which recall floating barges that were once common in the canal. The park will feature diverse amenities, including a café with outdoor seating, an interactive fountain, an ice skating path, play and performance areas, and sculptures by artist David Hess.


In addition to being a vibrant social destination, Canal Park is a model for green infrastructure strategies. The former brownfield has been transformed into a landscape that restores vital ecosystem services that were lost when the site served as a parking lot, as explained in the video below.

Washington Canal Park from theOLINstudio on Vimeo.

The landscape architecture, urban design and planning studio OLIN directed a team of fourteen consultants on the project, including architects STUDIOS Architecture; stormwater engineers Nitsch Engineering; civil engineers VIKA Capitol, Inc.; lighting designer and sustainability energy consultants Atelier Ten; MEP engineers Joseph R. Loring & Associates; structural engineers SK&A Structural Engineers; irrigation designers Lynch & Associates; ice path designers & fountain engineers Stantec Bonestroo; geotechnical consultants Soil Consultants; sculptor David Hess; signage designers The Design Theorem; audio visual consultants Shen Milsom & Wilke; dry utility consultants Richter & Associates; and cost estimator Davis Langdon, an AECOM Company.

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