The 11th street bridge, which connects Washington D.C.’s historic Capitol Hill and Anacostia neighborhoods, is being rebuilt, opening up a new opportunity to create a 900-foot-long elevated park. A new design competition launched by Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC and the D.C. Office of Planning aims to transform this old freeway bridge into a new venue for “healthy recreation, environmental education, and the arts” for the nearly 80,000 people who live near the bridge as well as the greater district.

This new park will become the High Line of the district, but with even better views: it will span the Anacostia River and provide vistas of the nearby Navy Yard and Diamond Teague parks.

According to the design organizers, the 11th Street Bridge Park will accomplish four goals: “connect two diverse communities, re-engage residents with the Anacostia River, improve public health, and become an anchor for economic development.”

The organizers have already started on an in-depth public design process, conducted through over 200 meetings with church leaders, business owners, and residents on both sides of the Anacostia river. Landscape architects and architects will need to incorporate these ideas into their design proposals. The community wants the park to provide an environmental education center, a performance area, urban agriculture, an “accessible and multi-generational playscape,” a cafe, and kayak and canoe launches for the river below.

Tendani Mplubusi-El, Ward 8 artist and resident said: “I think the bridge is going to bring a lot of people together who normally don’t cross paths.” Deborah Ratner Salzberg, president of Forest City Washington, the developer of the Navy Yard, added that: “The creation of vibrant public spaces is so critical to effective urban revitalization. The adaptive reuse 11th Street Bridge Park project will result in yet another very valuable asset for connecting the community in this area of the District.”

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11th Street Park rendering by Ed Estes / D.C. Office of Planning

An esteemed jury that includes Dr. Howard Frumkin, a leading public health scholar at the University of Washington, and Carol Mayer Reed, FASLA, head of landscape architecture at Mayer / Reed, will be advised by an additional “design oversight committee.”

Submit qualifications for stage one by April 22. Teams must be lead by a landscape architect and architect. The jury will then interview the top 6-8 finalists. By stage two, each team will be given $25,000 to create full design renderings, which will be evaluated for cost and constructability. These final proposals will be publicly displayed at the District Architecture Center and online. The organizers expect the project to cost somewhere in the range of $25 million. About $500,000 has been raised so far.