Washington Post: Art Installations Bring Light and Beauty Where Urban Areas Need It Most

Metropolitan Washington’s persistent urban challenges are frequently in the news. The concerns include ensuring public safety; providing quality public education; increasing the availability of affordable housing; promoting accessibility and quality of transportation; enhancing infrastructure reliability and durability; and caretaking of public parks and open space. Sustaining fiscal and economic health — especially jobs — also is high on the list.

Another urban challenge that tends to be overlooked is the need for beautification of visually unappealing and unsafe public places.

Examples of such places in the District are the dark, poorly lighted, ominous railway underpasses along K, L and M streets NE, and Florida Avenue NE, in the NoMa (North of Massachusetts Avenue) neighborhood. READ MORE

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NoMa Parks Foundation to Illuminate Lightweave Installation in L Street NE Underpass on April 9

Six suspended lattices of steel and polycarbonate LED tubing will glow 24 hours a day, shifting colors in response to nearby ambient sounds.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the evening of Tuesday, April 9, the NoMa Parks Foundation will turn on the power for Lightweave, a dynamic and compelling light installation in the L Street NE railway underpass. Comprising six spiraling lattices of stainless steel and bent LED tubing suspended above the underpass sidewalks — three above each passageway, hung from freestanding armatures — the artwork will light up the space 24 hours a day, with LED colors changing and moving in response to sound waves from the sidewalk spaces and vibrations from trains passing overhead. Lightweave is the second of the NoMa Parks Foundation’s planned underpass “art parks” to open and was designed by interdisciplinary San Francisco art and design firm FUTUREFORMS. The first art park — Rain, in the M Street NE underpass — opened in October 2018. (more…)

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NoMa Parks Foundation Opens Rain Installation in M Street NE Underpass

4,000 LED-powered light rods that evoke the sensation of falling rain will glow 24 hours a day and pulse in response to traffic flow beneath the elevated railway.

OCTOBER 25, 2018 / WASHINGTON, D.C.  — The NoMa Parks Foundation turned on the power today for Rain, a dynamic light installation in the M Street NE railway underpass. Comprising 4,000 LED-powered polycarbonate rods suspended above the underpass sidewalks, the artwork will illuminate the space 24 hours a day and pulse like gentle waves of rainfall in response to the flow of vehicular traffic beneath the elevated tracks. Rain is the first of the NoMa Parks Foundation’s four planned underpass “art parks” to open and was designed by Thurlow Small Architecture of Oakland, California, working in conjunction with Dutch firm NIO architecten in response to an international competition held by the Foundation. (more…)

Since mid-2015, there have been plans to install interactive light installations in two underpasses in Washington, D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood. Finally, it looks like progress will come at last with construction expected to start later this month. Read more.

The NoMa Parks Foundation is working on acquisitions and hopes to be able to share some important news very soon. Acquiring land for parks to meet community needs is our highest priority at this time. These community needs are are outlined in the NoMa Public Realm Design Plan. We are also aware of a recent petition for a dog park in the neighborhood and we continue to work to find a suitable site or sites. Stay tuned!


In addition to acquisitions, we continue our work on planning for the L Street Plaza, the NoMa Meander and other public spaces in the neighborhood. We are pleased to report that it appears the NoMa Meander may ultimately be comprised of 4 blocks as originally hoped. The Meander will be a retail pedestrian promenade running from Pierce Street to New York Avenue. Construction of the first section will begin this year when JBG breaks ground on its next phase of the N Street NoMa development.

In addition to planning initiatives undertaken by the Foundation, the NoMa BID led a recently completed study on ways to improve the user experience on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The study, undertaken in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department, District Department of Transportation, Union Market developers and a wide range of other stakeholders will, once fully implemented, have a big impact on NoMa. Certain safety improvements recommended in the study have already been implemented. Additionally, developers and the District Office of Planning are using this study to help guide proffers provided by developers in connection with re-zonings for new projects in the area.

Speedy progress on the M and L Street Underpass Art Parks projects continues. Both the M Street installation, “Rain” and the installation planned for the L Street underpass, “Lightweave” recently went before the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts for review. Both projects were warmly received and approved by the Commission. This fall, we look forward to inviting everyone to see and interact with the prototype of the M Street underpass design. The prototype will be a full-size mock-up of one section of the full installation.

The international design competition for these projects was one of the Parks Foundation’s first efforts aided by the fact that we did not need to acquire land or coordinate with other developments to advance these projects.

Public Engagement
The Parks Foundation will host the second Community Conversation on Thursday, November 19 (location to be announced soon!).