Graduate Student Work
Master of City and Regional Planning
Architecture 709: Planning Studio
Submission to the Green Community Competition
GREEN COMMUNITY Competition will encourage students to consider environmental sustainability dependant upon collective, community-scale efforts. The competition will also examine ways of reducing the impact of our built environments on the Earth. The competition will explore sustainable planning strategies such as brownfield/greyfield redevelopment, transit-oriented communities, natural resource management, and land conservation.
Sustaining in Place: A Plan for a Greener NoMa
Green and sustainable communities require more than the implementation of eco-friendly architectural features. The importance of renewable energy production to the long-term viability of the planet and strategic independence of the country is largely accepted. What is discounted in the discussion, however, is the social aspect of sustainability and the importance of increasing opportunities for residents to thrive. Fundamental to social sustainability is access to and quality of jobs, homes, and health options, as well as the overall vitality that residents achieve. After all, people are essential components of our communities and should be integral to strategies that have lasting value.
The site for these efforts is known as the North of Massachusetts Avenue Business Improvement District or NoMa BID. Comprised of roughly 300 acres in northeast Washington, D.C., it was recognized as an important nexus for revitalization a decade ago. This area is less than a mile from the U.S. Capitol and is adjacent to a major gateway into the city. This proximity maximizes transportation options and provides an open slate for applying sustainable development principles in NoMa.
Divided by the massive rail infrastructure, this brownfield site and historically industrial area coupled with recent development activity provided a unique canvas for “sustaining in place”, that is, capitalizing on the best qualities of a neighborhood and incorporating strategies that enable people to realize their full potential because it meets their needs over as many stages in the life cycle as possible. This also applies to the physical characteristics of the neighborhood—the bricks and mortar—as development decisions respect existing buildings and infrastructure patterns to create long-term vibrancy while imposing few changes. This proposed plan does just that—it respects the legacy of the L’Enfant Plan for Washington, D.C. and the history of this area as an industrial precinct while it infuses the necessary mix of activities to enliven the street and fabric of the broader ground plane.
This plan also builds upon the Healthy by Design initiative which strives to improve health outcomes, quality of life, and well-being for Washington, D.C. residents. This plan goes further by ensuring that a viable mix of uses enables people as well as the buildings they occupy to evolve over time. The new NoMa is a community that increases access to healthy living amenities. People are able to walk to amenities within the area or use a myriad of transit modes to reach areas beyond. Food, air, and water quality notwithstanding, this community also nurtures healthy relationships as people are able to interact with their neighbors and colleagues in a variety of settings.
A green NoMa is one that sustains in place—naturally, physically, economically and most important, socially. It allows its stakeholders to enrich their lives through the healthy choices it provides. It respects its past while ensuring that today’s decisions do not place undue burden on future generations.
North of Massachusetts Avenue Business Improvement District, Washington, DC