An HPP #TBT: St. Elizabeths East
April 2, 2015
By Amy Kennedy
Today, we’re doing a throwback to one of our East Coast Human Powered Places projects – the historic St. Elizabeths East in Southeast Washington, D.C.
St. Elizabeths East is one-half of the original campus for St. Elizabeths Hospital and was named a national historic landmark in 1990. With the federal government owning and developing the west campus and the District of Columbia government owning the east campus, the latter kicked off community outreach for developing St. Elizabeths East in 2011.
From the outset, several of the project’s objectives reflected the potential for a human-powered place because the plan prioritizes features that focus on the human experience – specifically, Ward 8’s residents and commuters:
- Services and amenities that improve choices for both local residents and an new workforce;
- Revitalization of the historic campus by adaptively reusing buildings within a mixed use environment
- Enhancement of mobility, replacement of obsolete infrastructure, and an example of best practices in sustainability.
In developing these modern elements for a historical site, our team acted as facilitators to learn the community’s vision for these new spaces.
Working with two agencies (D.C. Department of Transportation and D.C. Office of Planning), our challenge was to engage the community at heightened levels and build trust while providing opportunities for meaningful public input.
Our success came from a grassroots public involvement program that we created. We enlisted a Community Action Team, which was made up of local residents. We collaborated with this team to engage their community in public workshops, design project collateral materials, present at public meetings, and invite school children to submit their vision for St. Elizabeths in a community art contest.
To date, several community focused-areas and transportation options have developed on and are planned for the campus:
- An innovation hub designed to house and encourage D.C.’s tech sector
- A Digital Inclusion Center to encourage the community to participate in the District’s developing technology moment
- A state-of-the art park and pavilion (with an occupiable green roof) that hosts community wellness events and farmers markets
- A new bus route for the D.C. Circulator
- A replacement of the 11th Bridge with new interstate connections and commuting improvements that helped to separate local and interstate traffic
- Increased local support for the regional metro authority
To learn more about Amy and her work at PRR, contact her at [email protected] or 202.684.9258.