Connecting its surrounding hubs, L’Enfant Plaza is like the spoke of a wheel. In between the National Mall and the Smithsonian Museum, the Waterfront and DC’s central business district, it serves as a center point, and even contains a Metro station so individuals can travel along its circumference.
Considering its location and access to transportation, one would think that L’Enfant would represent the quintessential transit-oriented development — a lively plaza with shops, cafes, and residents in towering apartments gazing out their windows onto the scene. But the plaza was designed in the early 1970s and hadn’t aged gracefully or in accordance with how the rest of the city and its residents had evolved.
Our team was brought in to complete a master plan that would reinvigorate and reposition the plaza, making recommendations for new retail, restaurants, office space, and apartment buildings.
The plan was rooted in density. New retail spaces were important, however, our team knew the positive impact that density would have on such an urban focal point. The first phase of the plan was devoted to renovating the promenade retail, with density at the forefront of the design, with infrastructure accommodating high-rise buildings. Not only were we building for the current retail shops, but we were building for future buildings that would be addressed in later phases.
L’Enfant Plaza is on its way toward becoming a destination, once again. With new retail, office, and residential buildings reorganized around the plaza, the Metro — previously hidden — will be pronounced and prominent, and the spoke of one of DC’s largest wheels will finally be properly oiled.