Washington, D.C. (2002–2005)
The MVVA redesign of Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House defines a new secure and accessible public environment that is welcoming and dignified in its day-to-day use while also supporting periodic large scale events like the presidential inaugural parade. Although the once highly-trafficked Pennsylvania Avenue is now extremely restricted with respect to vehicular use, the scheme preserves the historical axis and existing street right of way of the L'Enfant Plan, while also mediating between the naturalism of Andrew Jackson Downing's Lafayette Park and the informality of the White House grounds. It is a scheme that values continuity with its surrounding context, using familiar materials to honor the extraordinary importance of the public place.
Pennsylvania Avenue intersects 15th and 17th Streets with threshold bosques adjacent to the landscapes in front of the Treasury Building and the Old Executive Office Building. The spaces provide locations for necessary security checkpoints, while also framing the Pennsylvania Avenue roadway in front of the White House and providing shaded seating areas. A long line of disease-resistant elms line Pennsylvania Avenue, joining Lafayette Park and the White House grounds and reinforcing the idea that the White House should be the centerpiece of a Presidential Park. A simple order of historic Washington light fixtures, stone benches, and discreet bollards subtly reinforce the long history of Pennsylvania Avenue as a public place. The design maintains the center as an open space, allowing unimpeded views to the White House and preserving the long tradition of this site as a democratic space, a focus of inaugural events, and a daily use roadway for Washington, D.C.
MVVA worked with numerous federal and municipal agencies throughout the duration of this project. In addition to the complex client structure, the project was executed on an accelerated schedule in order for construction to be completed in time for the inaugural parade in January 2005.