Davis Brody Bond: Located at the center of the District of Columbia’s historic neighborhoods in Ward 8, Saint Elizabeth’s East is on its way to becoming a viable mixed-use, mixed-income community. Once the site of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital which provided mental health care to the US military dating back to the Civil War, the campus has been decommissioned and transferred from the federal government to the District of Columbia. Today the 180-acre site provides a setting for public, private, and institutional investment. With the planned consolidation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and location of over 14,000 employees on the West Campus, the redevelopment of St Elizabeth’s East has become a critical project in realizing the District’s goals of cultivating an innovation-based economy.
The new G8WAY DC, formerly known as Saint Elizabeth’s East Gateway Pavilion, is a multi-purpose structure providing a venue for casual dining, a farmers’ market and other community, cultural and arts events. The pavilion, spread over a two-acre plot of the campus, creates an instantly iconic, visible and welcoming view into the site, particularly from the vantage points that reflect the existing and anticipated movements of people from different areas of the neighborhood. Forming a dramatic backdrop to the plaza, the main area of the pavilion is a 24-foot high space filled with modular booths convenient to where food trucks access the site.
Selected in a highly publicized design competition, the pavilion focuses on the seamless integration of the structure and the land. This “of the land” approach takes its cues from the architectural program which is centered on the provision of fresh produce, locally made crafts and a variety of food truck vendors to serve the local population. Sustainability is integral to the project, informing the design from the outset. The pavilion employs rainwater harvesting (i.e. an on-site cistern captures runoff and supplies the entire site’s irrigation demand); the landscape design provides for drought resistant plantings; the roof plantings reduce the heat island effect which reduce demand on mechanical systems in the enclosed portion; and, the mechanical systems rely heavily on natural ventilation.
The concept incorporates the desired functionality while at the same time providing for flexibility and spontaneity. The dual-level design allows for movement and activities throughout the site at different levels. The ground level encourages easy connections from the most prominent edges of the site, creating three distinct zones, and connecting the urban face of the project to the more pastoral campus setting. The roof level access allows pedestrians to gain a new perspective on the neighborhood by moving seamlessly up and across the site along the universally accessible roof level. This elevated landscape includes an intensive green roof where multiple activities can occur, including afternoon concerts and community events.
All Images © Eric Taylor
via Davis Brody Bond