Canal Park is opening on Friday, November 16th and contractors are putting the finishing touches on this slender three-block long Park built on the site of the historic 19th century C&O Canal and former bus depot. Situated in the Southeast District of Washington, D.C., Canal Park is an extraordinary example of design and technology synthesized into a socially-purposeful, environmentally-sensitive public park – one that will be an economic driver for the District and a regional and national icon in the grand tradition of the best landscape architecture.
Canal Park is designed to be a flexible and adaptable social space for a neighborhood whose residents are yet to be completely defined – a Park that will offer amenities to residents of market-rate and worker housing equally, that will allow people a place of their own, whether a single urban dweller or a family of many members – a place to celebrate life together. Canal Park is the leader in urban environmental strategies: stormwater management at a scale that works with the neighborhood, not just the Park itself, energy efficiency in its programming and structures, including electric car re-charge stations, soil remediation for this former brownfield, and an urban and urbane plant palette that recognizes both ecological sensitivity and that this park will be used 365-days a year.
The design of Canal Park was led by David Rubin while Partner at Olin in collaboration with consultants including STUDIOS Architecture, whose pavilions are inspired by the barges that used to float through the canal, and the creative stormwater management concepts of Nitsch Engineering. Together, the team and their additional consultants have created a park that is forward-thinking in energy efficiency and resource management, design, and social purpose.
In addition to its design, the beauty of Canal Park is in the conceptualized infrastructure of the Park itself. The visionary approach to stormwater management demonstrates a unique partnership between public and private entities to implement green infrastructure at a neighborhood scale. Rainwater is collected from Park pavilions and the site in underground cisterns for reuse within the park as irrigation, toilet flushing and the replenishment of the ice skating rink and the Park fountains. Because the water demands of the park will exceed the amount of rainwater that can be collected on-site, the system is extended to the as-yet un-built parcels adjacent to the Park to create a neighborhood-scale stormwater management system – a model for future development.
By capturing, cleansing, and reusing stormwater within the site, the project aims to not only reduce the amount of water that is withdrawn from City water infrastructure, but also reduce the amount of stormwater discharged to the City’s drainage system. Nitsch Engineering estimates that once the adjacent building roof drains have been tied into the Canal Park collection system, the design could save approximately 1.5 million gallons of potable water on average each year and minimize the region’s development impact on combined sewer overflows polluting the Anacostia River during large storm events.