Ecodistrict Plan Will Transform DC’s Southwest Quadrant

by Shilpi Paul

Rendering of the Southwest Ecodistrict

On Thursday night, the National Capitol Planning Commission (NCPC) held an open discussion about their plan to transform 100 less-than-hospitable acres in southwest DC into the Southwest Ecodistrict, a green, walkable and sustainable area.

Under the new plan, the concrete-heavy area between the National Mall and the Southwest Waterfront (which is being redeveloped into The Wharf) bounded by Independence Avenue to the north, Maine Avenue to the south, 12th Street to the west and 4th Street to the east, will be transformed.

Plans call for adding 2.8 million square feet of office space, 1.8 million square feet of residential and hotel space and significant park space; reconnecting the quadrant to the National Mall by opening up avenues that are currently blocked off or inhospitable, like Virginia Avenue and 10th Street; and decking Maryland Avenue to connect the area. Plans also include rehabilitating enormous buildings like the DOE headquarters into smaller buildings that allow pedestrians to comfortably walk on nearby streets, and revitalizing Banneker Park and Reservation 113. The initiative involves many agencies, including DC’s Office of Planning, and is a long-term strategy that may take 25 years to implement with the participation of both public and private entities.

10th Street SW now. Courtesy of Google Maps.
The new vision for 10th Street SW. Courtesy of NCPC.

The largest changes increase the connectivity by breaking up current structures and extending streets, and address sustainability by creating renewable energy sources and managing stormwater. The new cultural and sustainable spine of the area will be 10th Street SW, according to the NCPC.

Also included in the plans are a number of forward-thinking green initiatives, including solar panel installation, plans to connect new and rehabbed buildings to a central utility, microgrids that generate and distribute renewable energy, and plans to make use of ground source heat technology and sewer-mining.

The full plan is available here. The NCPC will be reaching out to the community over the next few months, and the Commission will review the final report in early 2013.

This article originally published at

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