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Washington Canal Park

Block Party: An urban park adds a bustling social center to a newly redeveloped Washington, D.C., neighborhood.

Architectural Record, August 2013

On a hot June day in Washington Canal Park, swimsuited kids kicked a ball as they splashed around a shallow fountain. Close by, a mother hung a piñata from one of the park’s looping metal sculptures by artist David Hess. If you looked north, you could see a solitary woman doing yoga on the grass. To the south, people in Washington Nationals caps drank iced tea and Bloody Marys at an outdoor café.

That might seem like a lot of activity for a 3-acre park, especially in a newly redeveloped neighborhood. But it’s exactly what the designers had in mind. “It’s jam-packed,” says Steve Benz, the partner in charge of the project at the landscape architecture firm Olin. “The intention was to provide a diversity of activities and places that would appeal to a wide range of people.”

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Photograph by Bruce Damonte