Washington, DC

Completed 2011

25,000 sf

VIKA (civil engineer)

DC Department of Parks & Recreation

2016 ASLA Potomac Merit Award for Design

Located in the 16th Street Heights neighborhood of Washington D.C., Upshur Park is an important hub of outdoor activity for a community that has undergone significant transition in recent years. Landscape Architecture Bureau engaged the community and local neighborhood organizations throughout the design process in order to develop a distinctive, dynamic, and functional new park.

At the center of the project are several rectilinear play areas associated with an existing community recreation center and organized by a series of parallel stone walls. The play areas are defined by a rubberized surface which is articulated as a series of colorful bands and punctuated with play equipment, a large sandbox, and a picnic pavilion shaded by a green roof. Play equipment selections were made in part based on their sculptural and aesthetic qualities in order to achieve a harmonious palette of materials and elements throughout the park.

The interplay between the undulating ground surface and more orderly stone walls animates the space and creates opportunities for informal, improvised play. Clad in local Carderock fieldstone, the walls also act as understated seating elements, providing locations for parents and care-givers to sit and socialize while children play nearby. Rows of maples further define and articulate the linear composition and provide much-needed shade during the summer months. In the fall, the distinctive color of the trees’ foliage acts as a vertical complement to the colorful composition of the ground plane and draws attention from passersby to this important community space.

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Photographs: Prakash Patel