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Dense Re-Vision for D.C.'s Neglected Waterfront Extends onto the Water

A 52-acre development planned for Washington, D.C.'s isolated Southwest Quadrant hopes to create a 21st century waterfront by embracing the elements that have contributed to creating lively urban waterfronts for centuries, reports Kriston Capps.
August 31, 2012, 9am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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Ambitious new development plans for D.C.'s neglected Southwest Quadrant waterfront are going old-school, by relying on the qualities - dense mixed-use development and active uses on the water - that have made for lively urban waterfronts for centuries. Yet, this will be "a waterfront for the 21st century," say its developers, Hoffman-Madison Marquette, and designers at EE&K, a Perkins Eastman Company, the firm behind the master plan for "The Wharf."

Although America's active waterfronts developed as commercial and mercantile spaces, the changing demands of maritime shipping and euclidean zoning led to their disuse. D.C.'s plans hope to bring the city back to the city's edge, with commercial activity extending all the way up to water's edge, and even into the water, with the redevelopment of the area's piers and marinas. The eventual hope is to not only attract local Washingtonians, but also become a center for tourism.

"Looming water-level questions notwithstanding, the question for the 21st-century waterfront is economic: How do planners restore the once-industrial character of the waterfront?" questions Capps. "Washington's Southwest waterfront poses one answer: take the zone out of the question altogether, and make it another neighborhood like you'd find anywhere."

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Published on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in The Atlantic Cities
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