L Street Underpass Art Park Finalist Announced

The NoMa Parks Foundation has selected the design concept for L Street, the second underpass to be transformed with light and art in the NoMa neighborhood. Future Cities Lab will create an undulating light structure, “Lightweave,” that will appear to float from the ceiling of the underpass. The installation will “peek out” onto L Street outside the underpass and beckon visitors to explore and enjoy the beautiful, transformed space. M.C. Dean will serve as contractor, with construction expected to begin in early 2016.


The NoMa Parks Foundation is committed to improving the lighting and overall user experience in all of NoMa’s underpasses. To that end, the Foundation has engaged Michael Vergason Landscape Architects to provide designs for “street furniture” and other ground-plane improvements.

“We very much look forward to your participation and input on this important public project,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, President of the NoMa Parks Foundation. “The NoMa Parks Foundation is extremely grateful for the high level of community participation in all of the parks projects advancing at this time. We thank the hundreds of people who have attended community meetings and submitted survey responses over the last several months.”

Community members are invited to meet the designers and construction team, learn more about the conceptual design and share their thoughts at the community meeting on Monday, July 13, from 6:30 to 8 PM in the Lobby Project, 1200 First Street, NE. This event is free and open to the public; RSVP here. For more information on the design and construction team, please click here.

The Foundation started the underpass project in April 2014, with an international design competition that received 248 responses. The goal of the project is to fill NoMa’s four rail underpasses, at L, M, K Streets and Florida Avenue with light and art, making them enjoyable east-west connections for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

WASHINGTON, DC, November 21, 2014 — The NoMa Underpass Design Competition continues apace, now with thoughtful feedback from more than 350 people who took a survey launched in October.

“The NoMa Parks Foundation is thrilled at the amount of interest from the neighbors and other stakeholders,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, President of the NoMa Parks Foundation. “We are embarking on a number of transformational projects in NoMa using the same public/private partnership approach that has been the bedrock for the success of NoMa. As we work to create wonderful public spaces to delight residents and visitors, we will continue to look to the community for creative input and practical advice,” said Jasper. “We are excited at how engaged the neighborhood has already been in this process.”

The idea for the underpass improvements grew out of two community planning efforts sponsored by the NoMa BID, in 2011 and 2012. The objective of the underpass improvements is to fill the four connectors at Florida Avenue, L, M and K Streets, NE, with light and art, making them into beautiful and enjoyable spaces for passing through or lingering. The competition for designs for the underpasses launched in April 2014, garnered significant press and drew international attention. 248 designers from 14 countries submitted entries. The 248 original responses were narrowed to 13 qualified applicants and their concept designs.

The NoMa Parks Foundation sought feedback from the community and encouraged engagement through several outlets:

  • The Foundation created a web site (NoMaUnderpasses.org), where images of all 13 finalist concepts are still available for viewing. The site has received more than 11,800 unique page views since the competition launched in April.
  • The Foundation launched a 27-question survey in mid-October asking for input on the 13 underpass finalists; the survey received 337 responses.
  • A public community meeting held on October 16 was well attended.
  • A public exhibit of the submissions was displayed in the lobby of 1200 First Street, NE.

“We’d like to underscore that all 13 designs presented to the community were conceptual schemes, not construction plans. As we have been working continuously with city agencies, Amtrak and Metro on safety and other operating matters, we were particularly interested in the community’s input on aesthetics. There is much more work to be done, and the selected artists will incorporate agency and community feedback into their final designs,” Jasper said.

The Foundation hopes to select a finalist for at least one underpass by the end of the year, and start construction in 2015.

About The NoMa Parks Foundation

The NoMa Underpass Design Competition is led by the NoMa Parks Foundation, and is one of several projects that are proceeding concurrently to acquire land, improve existing sites, and execute the long-term vision set forth in the NoMa Public Realm Design Plan. The NoMa Parks Foundation was formed in 2012 and the following year received a $50 million commitment from the District government to acquire land, build parks and enhance public space in NoMa.

In the rapidly redeveloping NoMa neighborhood, one critical ingredient is missing: parks. More than 18,000 people live in greater NoMa, and the population is projected to double in the next 10 years; but currently NoMa contains no publicly accessible parks, playgrounds, or plazas. While the District of Columbia averages 12.9 acres of open space per 1,000 residents, none of these spaces exist in the NoMa neighborhood. They are urgently needed to serve the residents and more than 40,000 daytime employees and visitors to the neighborhood. Undeveloped land is becoming more scarce each year as development occurs on the remaining empty lots. The creation of refreshing, inviting parks and public spaces – before it is too late – will improve the lives of people in NoMa today and for generations to come. More about the NoMa Parks Foundation can be found at www.nomabid.org/parks.

About NoMa

NoMa is a vibrant, growing neighborhood nestled among Union Station, the U.S. Capitol, Shaw, and the H Street, NE corridor in Washington, D.C. Over the last several years, private developers have invested more than $5 billion in the 35-block area within the NoMa BID boundaries, and have plans to develop more than 16 million square feet of additional office, residential, hotel, and retail space. NoMa is home to more than 3,800 new apartments, and more than 40,000 people work in NoMa each day. With unparalleled transportation access via Amtrak, VRE, MARC, two Red Line Metro stops, and vehicular access to Interstate 395, visitors, workers and residents can easily travel throughout the region as well as to New York or anywhere on the East Coast. For more information about NoMa, visit www.nomabid.org and sign up for our bimonthly newsletter.



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Rachel Davis
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