by Theresa Cameron
Executive Director, Van Ness Main Street
Van Ness Main Street sees a public art as an important component in transforming Van Ness and distinguishing it from other commercial districts in upper Northwest DC. Over the past year, it has worked to find the right artists with the right design, model and plan for setting Van Ness apart.
The team chosen from three finalists are the principals of After Architecture of Blacksburg, Virginia. Katie MacDonald and Kyle Schumann presented their model and rendering at a special ANC and community meeting on Saturday, April 21st.
The plan includes three public art installations at three locations to be determined between Van Ness and Albemarle Streets. Van Ness Main Street will have to raise significant funds to make this project happen. Each piece will cost approximately $70,000, including installation and maintenance. We will be working throughout the rest of this year and into 2019 to raise funds for the first piece.
At the May 15th ANC 3F meeting, Van Ness Main Street will present a grant request of $35,000 as the first step in fundraising for this art installation. The ANC is expected to make its decision at its June 19th meeting.
After Architecture’s imaginative and thoughtful design captivated the Van Ness Main Street Design Committee and the Board of Directors. The symbolic elements of their sculpture, as described by the artists, illuminates the potential of Van Ness:
- The canopy celebrates the legacy of Van Ness as a leisure destination, rich in natural wonder, trails, and the peace that such an environment affords.
- A forest of folded brass pillars populates the sidewalks of Connecticut Avenue, laying an infrastructure for a bustling street life that brings together the area’s various populations: Families admire holiday lights strung overhead, commuters hail the bus from the bench beneath, nature enthusiasts prune the structures’ climbing vines, market vendors hang banners from the cables, students grab a bite, and diplomats lounge alongside.
- The trunks double as historic markers, with inscriptions that call out points of interest. Clusters of columns form seating areas, while individual columns serve as wayfinding signage.
Matt Dreher, a Van Ness Main Street board member and the chair of the VNMS Design Committee, said the After Architecture team “provided a creative and powerful design that we are proud to have here in Van Ness.”
“Wayfinding and establishing an identity (branding) are critical in comprehending the richness of our neighborhood. We combine home, work, school, play, leisure, and dining on a site that balances the forests of Soapstone with the Monumental Axis of Connecticut Avenue,” Dreher said.