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Could this Acclaimed DC Sculpture at National Geographic be Relocated to Canal Park?

by Nena Perry-Brown

Rendering of proposed plaza and pavilion. Click to enlarge.

The National Geographic Society (NGS) has a suggestion for where it could relocate the noteworthy sculpture in front of its 16th Street headquarters campus.

Last year, National Geographic's proposed renovation of its 16th Street headquarters was derailed amid concerns about the planned removal of the noteworthy Marabar sculpture in front of the building at 1600 M Street NW (map). Now, the institution is returning to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) in hopes of getting its concept approval re-affirmed — and it is suggesting the sculpture's pool and granite stones be moved to Canal Park in Navy Yard.

Marabar. Click to enlarge.

As designed by Hickok Cole Architects, the existing plaza would be replaced with a new plaza and a 10,600 square-foot Pavilion building that would serve as exhibition, education and event space.

In a letter to HPRB, the National Geographic Society states that a memorandum of understanding is being finalized with Canal Park Inc., the nonprofit that operates and manages Canal Park, to place the sculpture on the park's northernmost block (map). NGS would finance the relocation and is in talks with the artist, Elyn Zimmerman, to consult about its relocation. 

Proposed sculpture site at Canal Park. Click to enlarge.

HPRB unanimously approved the initial renovation concept in 2019, but intervention by nonprofit The Cultural Landscape Foundation and other concerned groups and individuals led HPRB to request more information last year about whether Marabar could be retained. NGS states that further study confirmed that relocation within the current plaza footprint, or in the lobby of the Pavilion, would compromise the size of or circulation inside the new structure. Other locations on the site would either impinge upon public space, require trees be cut down, or otherwise impede intended future uses.

Rendering of new proposed plaza. Click to enlarge.

HPRB is scheduled to reconsider the concept later this month.

All renderings courtesy of Hickok Cole Architects.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/could-this-acclaimed-sculpture-be-relocated-to-canal-park/17838

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