Public Reviews Franklin Park Redesign Proposals

Friday, February 21, 2014

By Rachel Rose Hartman

An interactive fountain, a children's play area, restrooms and a café were among the design elements discussed at Wednesday night's public meeting for a redesigned and reimagined Franklin Park, which is located between K and I Streets NW and 13th to 14th Streets NW in DowntownDC.

About 50 downtown workers, residents, and property owners met at the Hilton Garden Inn (815 14th Street NW) to discuss design concepts for the park, which is undergoing a major restoration and transformation with support from the National Park Service (NPS), the D.C. Office of Planning (OP), the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the DowntownDC BID

Following a welcome from NPS Superintendent Bob Vogel, Hallie Boyce of OLIN Studio (the agency hired to create a conceptual design for the park) presented the project background and OLIN's three design schemes for the park.

OLIN's first concept, "The Center" design, maintains the five-acre park's current path framework and adds seasonal plantings to frame the existing center plaza. The concept includes a terrace on the north side of the park with an optional structure housing a café, restrooms, and park management space.

OLIN's second proposal, "The Edge," proposes a linear plaza along the park's southern edge with a café, restrooms, and park management space. The existing path system is also adjusted to increase accessibility to the park center, which would become home to a new, interactive fountain.

The third concept, "The Diagonal," proposes a diagonal path across the park as well as a linear pedestrian mall along the southern edge. In this scheme the structure for the café, restrooms, and park management is placed along 14th Street and the central fountain would be designed to double as event space.

Attendees on Wednesday night broke into six groups to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each scheme, as well as any additional elements or programs to be added to the park design. 

This spring, the preferred design will be selected. It is possible the selection will combine elements from several sources. The selection will be presented at the next public meeting, to be scheduled this summer.

The DowntownDC BID is proud to participate and support the park redesign process and has also worked to enliven Franklin Park with dynamic programming including Workout Wednesdays and Picnics in the Park, park initiatives launched in 2013. 

Public comment has been requested and highly encouraged throughout the planning stage for the park redesign.

To learn details about each design and find out how to comment, visit the NPS website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=427&projectID=48509&documentID=57538. Make your voice heard before the comment period closes March 14.

This story was updated Feb. 24 to reflect the confirmed number of attendees: 50.