Wednesday, May 31, 2006

And they say we should
not have used this site instead?

Illustration: RFK Stadium
Eminent Domain Not Required
Plenty of Parking
Plenty of place to que vehicular traffic
Plenty of space to re-develop area via parking lot air rights
Plenty of space to enlarge stadium with an outer ring to allow uninterrupted use
A Monumental Stadium Location on the East Capitol Street axis
Baseball in a monumental setting, and not in something blocking a monumental setting!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ken Wyban's Restored Victorian:
the Alfred Richards House;
Now it has no future

As of early morning May 30, 2006 I have not found any report, news account, or other indication yet of the status of Ken Wyban's restored Victorian house on the south side of N Street SE -- inside the Nationals Stadium complex footprint -- except for that from my return visit to Jacqueline Dupree's web site, where I found the middle of the three photos below replaced with the third photo

Photos by Jacqueline Dupree

Ken Wyban's house, demolished. This occurred apparantly sometime after Monday, May 15, the given demolition date for the houses to the right, or Wednesday, May 24, when the house is given as still being there, and before Sunday, May 28, 2006, when it is given as demolished.

From Jacqueline Dupree at

News Items Posted For This Project

Stadium Construction Update (5/28/06 09:00 AM)
The one structure on the stadium site that maybe should have been saved--the Victorian rowhouse at Van and N--was demolished late this week, leaving now just the buildings on the east side of Half Street between N and O as the only ones left to take down. I added a couple of new shots to the stadium construction gallery, although not a full complement (I'm being lazy this holiday weekend). I'll also note that the WashTimes ran its own piece on Saturday on the looming battle between the city and the Lerners over the parking garages....

Stadium Construction Update (5/24/06 11:30 AM)
Pile driving has begun at the ballpark site, at a spot just northwest of Ist and (formerly) O streets. And the red-brick car repair building on the west side of Half Street has now been demolished, leaving only the industrial buildings on the east side of Half and south side of N, plus Ken Wyban's house on N Street.

Another Day, Another Stadium Demolition Update (5/15/06 02:35 PM)
The four red-brick rowhouses on N Street between Van and South Capitol bit the dust today; my stadium construction gallery has before-and-after photos, as well as some updated shots of the demolition of the trash transfer garage at 1st and N. (Note that Ken Wyban's restored Victorian townhouse is still standing, at least as of today. Maybe they'll hang onto it for a while, and think about including it in any of the non-stadium entertainment development they might be planning for that spot?)

The houses shown demolished were on the south side of N Street SE. The area appears to be a part of the actual stadium in the earlier renderings. However, later renderings, such as that below, appear to shift the stadium slightly south, making room for an additional above ground structure (the likely western parking garage).

Nothing yet about this demolition in a Google new search.

It was built in the 1840's for its first owner, Washington, D.C. brick manufacturer Alfred Richards.

A link to a photo gallery by Elvert Xavier Barnes Photography about this Alfred Richards House that was demolished late May, 2006 for the Washington Nationals Stadium complex; the Alfred Richards House was located at
21 N Street SE,
Washington, D.C.:
From that site:

If current owner Ken Wyban, had his way the house at 21 N Street, in SE, WDC which was built in the 1840's by WDC brick manufacturer Alfred Richards would've been placed on the National Historic Preservation List, and, instead of being demolished to make way for the Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium it would be raised and relocated to a more suitable site, for operation as a bed and breakfast.
From NBC news at
At American University, students have made a documentary about the relocation of these people and businesses.The class that produced the film -- which is called "In the Shadow: Stories From Southeast" -- is a mixture of journalism and film students working for social change.The students initially selected the topic of gentrification, but they narrowed it down to the impact of the stadium on a 28-acre area of southeast D.C.

Ken Wyban appears in the documentary. In April he received a letter from the city telling him he has until Dec. 31 to be out of his home. The city is taking his property, five other homes and 24 businesses through eminent domain."I'm going to try to deal with the city in good faith, but I know the city -- based on what I'm seeing -- has no intentions of dealing with us in good faith," he said.
I am not aware of any discussion or consideration about having Major League Baseball pay for the relocation, to avoid an Alfred Richards House demolition, as it would have been the only such structure within the Nationals Stadium complex footprint.

Nor have I found anything about whether such groups as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, had intervened.

Likewise, has anyone seen any discussions of alternatives for this stadium's design that would have instead incorporated the Alfred Richards House? From the diagram below, the Alfred Richards House was located by the group of 4 trees.

Illustration found at web site of Jacqueline Dupree

Perhaps when Nationals Stadium is demolished as a 20-30 year old eyesore -- much as the cir. 1980-2005 D.C. Convention Center was -- a replica of the Alfred Richards House may be constructed to face the eastern side of the South Capitol Street/Frederick Douglass Mall.

UPDATE: Displaced Man Regrets Ignorance of Eminent Domain

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Side Idea:
What About the future of RFK Stadium?

1997: NCPC’s Extending The Legacy replaces RFK Stadium with a “memorial, and an environmental center and housing and commercial development.”

Illustration: 1997 "Extending the Legacy"
RFK replacement

The illustration features this memorial, with symmetrical waterfallways placed upon the East Capitol axis, surrounded by contiguous parkland created by covering the approach roads to a new signature Bridge.

Illustration: 1997 "Extending the Legacy"
East Capitol Gateway

2001: During the selection process for the city to host the 2012 Olympics, there was a look at recycling the RFK site.

Illustration: Existing RFK Stadium

This effort envisioned an Olympic Village with a new array of sports complexes to replace RFK Stadium with a larger stadium that would still be located on the East Capitol axis.

Illustration: Replacement RFK Stadium/Olympic Village

These images were created by Meticulous Design Group, a full service firm focusing on film and visual effects, web design and application development, traditional print work, architectural design and visualization, CD and DVD packaging, promotional materials and much more; website at

2002: The stadium report that produced the site along the east side of South Capitol Street chosen for the new Nationals Stadium -- "Major League Baseball Park Site Evaluation Project Report" by Brailsford & Dunlavey, Project Management, Sports Facility Planning, Project Finance; Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn, Urban Design; Heinlein Schrock Stearns, Sports Architecture; Jair Lynch Companies, Real Estate Consulting; Gorove / Slade Associates, Transportation Planning, dated November 6, 2002 -- included this "RFK" option below.

The 2002 stadium study estimates the construction costs at $273.3 million with estimated "soft costs" of about $69 million, with a total cost of $342.3 million. By placing the new stadium to the north of RFK stadium, this option hereby abandons the symetricity of the existing RFK stadium site (and of L’Enfant/McMillan Commision style planning), apparantly for the sake of building luxury skyboxes during the off-season period.

2005: The Washington Nationals baseball team played its first game of its first season in 2005 that April 14 in an RFK Stadium just renovated at a cost of $14 million (Wilkpedia), (loosing 8-4 to the Philadelphia Phillies). The Nationals plan on using RFK Stadium only through its 2006 and 2007 seasons, before transferring to the team’s new stadium ($610+ million) against the east side of South Capitol Street in 2008.

2006: The Washington National's new owner, Theodore Lerner, would announce a host of improvements to be made for RFK Stadium. As reported by Ballpark Digest
From the time the Nationals began playing at RFK Stadium in April 2005, fans have complained about long lines, poor service, limited food choices, dusty hallways and a garbled sound system. Stan Kasten, who will take over as team president once the sale is finalized in late June or early July, said the new ownership group will seek to make modest improvements (i.e., spend the money MLB refused to spend) and unveil them when the Chicago Cubs come to Washington for a three-game series after the all-star break.
As noted in the blog "Capitol Punishment"
"RFK renovations were initially supposed to cost $13 million, but that’s already shot up to $18.5 million because of ‘overtime’ costs. $5.5 million in overtime?"... 42% over budget and we’re barely two months into the process. Great.
A Side Idea:
Relocating the Supreme Court to the South Capitol

NCPC’s 1997 "Extending the Legacy" included a new building for the U.S. Supreme Court upon the South Capitol axis, that would sit at the foot of the new South Capitol Mall.

This idea for relocating the Supreme Court was presented as one possibility for the circular space on the South Capitol axis that would be created near or at the foot of the Mall for South Capitol Street.

As such this circular space would be akin to that of RFK Stadium’s on the East Capitol axis, and the Lincoln Memorial on the West Capitol axis.

Furthermore, it would symbolize the independence of the Judicial Branch of the U.S. Government, from the Executive (White House), the Legislative (Capitol Building).

Illustration: Washington, D.C. with Lincoln Memorial and RFK Stadium respectively at extreme upper left and upper right

Image produced by National Capital Planning Commission for the Washington Geographic Information System. Distributed by VARGIS LLC of Herndon, VA.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Core Idea:
emphasizing the main axis while minimizing public land expansion

NCPC's 1997 "Extending the Legacy" builds upon the L’Enfant plan’s main axis of North, East and South Capitol Streets vi building new open public spaces, It does so with a fraction of the residential displacement of unfulfilled 1920s-40s proposals for an East Capitol Street Mall (1000s) or 1955 through the 1970s proposals for an I-95 North Leg East (600+ 1971 design).

North Capitol Street

It primarily rejects widening any of the public right of ways along North Capitol Street; it limits private property acquisitions to dwellings just west of its intersection with New York Avenue for a traffic circle.

It primarily rejects widening any of the public right of ways along North Capitol Street; it limits private property acquisitions to dwellings just west of its intersection with New York Avenue for a traffic circle.

East Capitol Street

Similarly, it rejects widening any of the public right of ways along or parallel to East Capitol Street, avoiding any residential neighborhoods west of the Anacostia River. It limits private property acquisitions to that for a new traffic circle near the Anacostia Freeway.

South Capitol Street

It adopts the alternative of widening the public right of way continuously from a new traffic at the site of today’s SW/SE Freeway viaduct, south to the Anacostia River, widening this 130’ right of way to as wide as 500’ – between Half Streets SW and SE – and tapering (narrowing) to the north.

It would remove every building along existing South Capitol Street, or these, most are industrial/commercial of little architectural virtue, with residences only along its west side, between N and O Streets SW. It would be lined be new buildings that would displace those now between 1st Streets SW and SE, if not the entire area between Delaware Avenue SW and New Jersey Avenue SE.

This would displace 20+ dwellings along the west side of South Capitol Street, plus 200+ further west along Carrollsburg Place and Half Streets SW south of M Street, with 0 dwellings on the east side of South Capitol Street, and a handful further east. The overwhelming number of these dwellings which are to the west, were originally built to house sanitary workers. The handful to the east include one which is better architecturally; located on N Street, it is owned by Ken Wyban. Stadium renderings show it removed. The photograph below was taken in spring 2006 and shows demolition for the stadium. (Jacqueline Dupree)

(This is also true withOUT the linear park “Mall” for South Capitol Street, as the space is shown occupied by new buildings, such as Nationals Stadium.)

Within this entire footprint, the single most architecturally significant structure is St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church, which opened to the public in April 1904, located at the northeast corner of South Capitol Street and M Street. (Jacqueline Dupree)

The illustrations in NCPC’s Extending the Legacy show this church removed, either relocated elsewhere or demolished.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Moumental Core Framework

In 1992-1993, NCPC invited a team of prominent architects, urban designers, economists and transportation planners to review the staff's initial studies. Think about the whole city, the consultants urged, not just he federal enclave. While preserving Washington's ceremonial heart was commendable, the opportunity to address some of the city's other urgent needs -- jobs, housing, transit -- was unprecedented. What began as a federal facilities study gradually evolved into a vision for an expanded Monumental Core. A problem had been transformed into an opportunity.

NCPC conducted workshops and community meetings to hear the public's views about re-planning the Monumental Core. The sessions took place in schools, libraries and community centers, at night and on weekends.

Once again, consultants reviewed and commented on the staff's work and made several important suggestions. The most critical was a simple axial diagram showing the Capitol as the center of Washington, with bold lines radiating north, south, east and west. This single move redefined the plan, pushing it east and south toward the Anacostia River and enlarging the traditional boundaries of the Monumental Core. Unlike earlier plans, Extending the Legacy goes beyond the Mall and the ceremonial enclaves and expands the definition to "federal interest" to include adjacent neighborhoods, waterfronts, parks and gateways.

Like the earlier McMillan Commission, the consultants not only supplied design ideas, but also gave a fledging plan visibility, credibility and political clout. Their participation showed that Extending The Legacy was not just another busywork document written for the archives, but a unique collaboration among government agencies, community groups and some of America's most talented urban designers.

Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century, at page 9

South Capitol (top and bottom left),
East Capitol Street (top right),
North Capitol Street (bottom right)

Five themes from Extending the Legacy

1 Building on the historic L'Enfant and McMillan plans, which are the foundation of modern Washington;

2 Unifying the city and the Monumental Core, with the Capitol at the center;

3 Use new memorials, museums and other public buildings to stimulate economic development;

4 Integrating the Potomac and Anacostia rivers into the city's public life and protecting the Mall and he adjacent historic landscape from future buildings; and

5 Developing a comprehensive, flexible and convenient transportation system that eliminates barriers and improves movement within the city.

The new plan for Washington expresses neither an imperial dream, nor only the wishes of Washington's political establishment. It derives instead from years of collaboration among federal agencies, local governments and community groups. NCPC returned to the community many times to review and refine the plan so that it would reflect the popular will. Extending the Legacy made its national debut in March 1996 at Washington's Union Station, complete with model, videos and dramatic graphics. The event was followed in June by a major exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

Over 2 million people visited the museum during the seven-month run. NCPC also received thousands of responses to its visitor questionnaires, many filled front and back with suggestions for improving the plan. Whatever their political views, Americans are unequivocally proud of their capital -- its beauty, its history and its power to symbolize their best aspirations. The plan has been widely reviewed by the popular and professional press and been the subject of several television programs. In both overall conception and specific details, Extending the Legacy can truthfully be called a "national plan" for the heart of our nation's capital.

Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century, at page 10

At the same time, L'Enfant recognized that grandeur is never enough. So where his sweeping boulevards intersected the grid of local streets, he created circles and squares and proposed for them monuments and statues to symbolize the joining of federal and state interests. These public spaces were to be the focal points of neighborhoods to encourage the mixing of big and little, grand and ordinary.

Extending the Legacy enlarges L'Enfant's vision by protecting Washington’s open spaces and by distributing federal investment to all quadrants of the city. It increases public access to the waterfront, a key feature if L'Enfant's plan, by creating a new network of parks, playing fields, marinas and other attractions that enrich urban life. By removing the Southeast/Southwest Freeway near the Mall and relocating the railroad tracks from Maryland and Virginia Avenues, the plan allows the restoration of major L'Enfant thoroughfares, including Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware avenues and South Capitol Street.

The L'Enfant Plan laid the foundation for modern Washington. Yet in the decades that followed its adaptation, many of its bold ideas were ignored or subverted. The new Treasury Building cut off view of the White House from Capitol Hill. Railroad tracks sliced across the Mall near the present National Gallery of Art. The Mall itself became a hodgepodge of informal gardens, pastures and walkways that blocked the path from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.

The McMillan Plan of 1901 restored the Mall's historic sweep and framed it with impressive museums and monuments that celebrate our nation's achievements. It created Memorial Bridge to unite Washington and Virginia, symbolizing the reuniting of the North and the South at the end of the Civil War. By reclaiming the Anacostia River and reconnecting it to the heart of the city, Extending the Legacy builds on the McMillan Plan's precedents.

Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century, at page 14

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Un-Built: East Capitol Mall

Illustration: 1941 NCPC Plan downtown Washington, D.C. with East Capitol Mall

1920s-40s: East Capitol Street Mall: essentially extending the National Mall on existing land between Constitution Avenue NE and Independence Avenue SE, east to today's RFK Stadium, with new government buildings.

Would have been the site of numerous new buildings suitable for government use; the proposal above does not feature a grand promenade, and does not appear to widen East Capitol Street itself. Instead it would have widened Constitution and Independence Avenues.

Alternatively, it could have been named the "East Capitol Campus".
There were different versions of this basic proposal, with a later version including a depressed north-south roadway crossing beneath Lincoln Park just east of 11th Street NE/SE. (The 1955 Inner Loop Freeway study would here route the I-295 East Leg, via a right of way alongside and not in tunnel beneath 11th Street NE/SE).

The East Capitol "Mall" would have displaced hundreds of late 1800s era townhouse dwellings (generally of the more architecturally desirable types), and for that reason was stopped. Today, virtually all of these dwellings remain extant, viable and vibrant, truly justifying the cancellation.

East Capitol Street (David Eyerman)

The 2005 annual conference of the D.C. Historical Society included a presentation on this general proposal.

An amazing link:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Extending the Legacy; Truncating the Legacy:
The failure of NCPC's "Extending the Legacy" to accommodate regional transportation

Whereas the earlier plans accommodated the main modes of transportation, with the L'Enfant Plan including canals, the McMillan Commission with RRs, and with more recent planning including today's D.C. National Airport, "Extending the Legacy" marks a retreat, itself marked by an ideological decision to respond to a particular need with substitutes that assumes that such substitutes would simply suffice.

To its credit it persues the McMillan plan idea of humanizing existinng RRs and
freeways in stating:

The basic strategy is to replace obsolete structures with improvements that benefit large areas of the District, coordinating these efforts whenever possible to coincide with the District's plans for rebuilding neighborhoods or reclaiming the waterfront.
For the RR, this means furthering its undergrounding via a new replacement tunnel at a deeper elevation permitting a due south alignment from 2nd Street NE/SE that passes south of the Anacostia River before turning west into Virgina just south of Reagan National Airport.

For I-66 by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this means covering this West Leg Freeway, along with portions of the Anacostia Freeway.

For today's I-395/ 14th Street Bridge [s] this means a new singular and prettier span.

But it falls flat on its face by failing to fails to provide for the SW/SE Freeway, leaving the I-395 Center Leg (3rd Street Tunnel) stranded from the Interstate highway system. Under this plan, the new 14th Street Bridge would connect to the I-395 Shirley Highway in Virginia, much as the existing spans do. But at the D.C. side, this bridge would connect to an at grade (traffic light) intersection at 14th Street NW and a new F Street SW. Traffic heading to or from the existing north-south I-395 Center Leg (3rd Street Tunnel) would take F Street SW to a set of ramps between 1st and 2nd Streets SW. Some of the traffic from Virginia would be diverted to a new 4 lane cross Potomac Tunnel from I-395 in Virginia to a portal onto M Street, but without a land tunnel continuation.

Likewise, the north end of the 11th Street Bridge[s] would connect to 11th Street but no SE Freeway.

The Barney Circle Connector project, which was declared politically dead by D.C. non-voting U.S. Represenative Eleanor Holms Norton in March 1996, is not shown.

Nor does it show anything regarding the two unsightly large RR corridors that tri-sect NE.

Nor does it say anything about the future of the Whitehurst Freeway or the K Street corridor

Monday, May 01, 2006

"Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century"
“Washington, America’s Capital, is a world capital – A city of remarkable strengths. Its proud face reflects many if our nation’s greatest memories, achievements and aspirations. On the eve of a new millennia, it is appropriate for us to renew our commitment to making our Capitol City the finest place to learn to work and to live.”

U.S. President William J. Clinton (1993-2001)

Extending the Legacy is a framework for change. We use the term, framework literally, to mean outline or armature. Legacy is not a comprehensive master plan, as that term is used by planners and lawyers. It does not impose land use and development controls. Rather it is a basic guide for long term growth.

The vision presented here protects the capital for those who follow us, yet also embraces the future with confidence and optimism. As a preeminent world city and the seat of a great democracy, Washington demands a vision of beauty, nobility and power. Extending the Legacy is such a vision.

Harvey B. Gantt, FAIA Chairman NCPC ( -1999)
Biographical info:

Extending the Legacy is a dramatic departure from past federal plans tha directed facilities and investments to the Mall and adjacent ceremonial corridors. Legacy recenters monumental Washington on the Capital, creating opportunities for new museums, memorials and offices in all quadrants of the city. It expands the reach of public transit and eliminates obsolete freeways, bridges and railroad tracks that fragment the city. It reclaims the capital’s historic waterfront and reverses decades of environmental neglect. Using federal resources to generate local investment, Legacy will spur community revitalization and infrastructure rebuilding well into the next century.

Reginald W. Griffith, AICP, AIA, Executive Director NCPC (1979-2001)

Biographical info:

EXTENDING THE LEGACY represents the third act in a continuous planning drama that began over 200 years ago, when President George Washington commissioned Pierre L’Enfant to lay out the new Capital. Like the L’Enfant and McMillan plans it looks ahead 50 to 100 years. And like them, it offers a framework for future development.

Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century, at page 5