Landscape architecture is playing the central role in the repositioning of an entire city by transforming its public realm. Over the next several years, National Landing will emerge as one of the premier live-work neighborhoods in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) region, and Hoerr Schaudt’s comprehensive vision will provide the necessary guidance in how the programming and design of the park spaces and streetscape can coalesce holistically.
Situated across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., National Landing is a newly defined district encompassing the existing neighborhoods of Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard. The development comes at a time of enormous growth for the region, driven in large part by its selection as Amazon’s new HQ2 which will add 25,000 jobs and 6 million square feet of office space, and thousands of new urban residential units to the district by 2035. This growing tech and young professional community in the area presents a unique placemaking opportunity for the development.
A relic of late mind-century, brutalist planning practices, Crystal City had become an unwelcoming and unfriendly place to be. Office buildings were old and tired, and vacancy rates were high due in large part to the Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) process – a massive decentralization of military staff and contractors that eviscerated the community. This was an auto-dominated environment devoid of any noticeable street life. Here, one would not come into Crystal City to stroll its streets and shop; one would drive in, park their car underground, migrate through a labyrinthine underground shopping mall, and then move into their respective office buildings.
As the development continues to take shape in anticipation of redevelopment, Hoerr Schaudt has provided guidance through the crafting of a comprehensive master plan for four miles of streetscape and fourteen park spaces within the area. The primary goal of these studies is to help drive the transformation of the community through improvements to the public realm, breathing new life into the district by providing a refreshed vision for its streets, plazas, and parks. By harnessing the power of horticulture to provide scale and working with community stakeholders to develop a menu and distribution plan for key program elements, we hope to humanize the public streetscape, turning National Landing into a pedestrian-friendly zone, restoring and rejuvenating the urban tree canopy, improving circulation, and ultimately creating a lush and verdant environment for everyone to enjoy.
In 2006, a consultant team was commissioned by Arlington County to develop the Crystal City Sector Plan, a document that provides a comprehensive planning vision for the community. Considering new circumstances driven by the selection of National Landing by Amazon for its new HQ2, the National Landing Open Space Framework Plan is intended to augment the Crystal City Sector Plan. In 2019, JBG Smith engaged Hoerr Schaudt to develop a master plan for the parks and open spaces in National Landing, with the goal of positioning and defining the development, establishing a series of community-oriented aspirations to guide future park programming and design, and serving as an updated reference point and guide for future planning processes.
The plan addresses programming and design recommendations for fourteen existing and proposed parks across National Landing. The process included a series of interactive public meetings allowing community stakeholder to actively engage in the decision-making process for the program and character of park spaces across the district. Hoerr Schaudt led the discussion of how program activities would be distributed according to demand and proximity of surrounding land uses. The deign team developed a series of four major park typologies that would help inform placement of program inherent to each park type.
The resulting document is a comprehensive inventory of existing park spaces and their uses, and a thorough plan for the redistribution of activities based on the massive shift in land use and density across the development.