National Capital Urban Design and Security Plan (NCUDSP)
National Capital Planning Commission
Washington, D.C. is admired for the beauty and dignity of the Federal buildings, the monuments and memorials, its civic and public spaces, and its historic avenues and streets. In recent years that beauty has been marred by the proliferation of ad hoc security measures (pre-cast concrete highway barriers, guardhouses, endless rows of planters and sewer pipes acting as vehicular barriers, etc.). These measures are unattractive, not always effective, communicate fear, and undermine the spirit of our open and democratic society.
The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) undertook early in 2001 a comprehensive National Capital Urban Design and Security Plan (NCUDSP) that proposes solutions that would integrate building perimeter security into the urban fabric of Washington, D.C. While enhancing security, the NCUDSP proposes a more welcoming and beautiful public realm with improved function and amenities, and demonstrates that security and good urban design need not be mutually exclusive. Solutions include the use of garden walls or building “plinths” that provide vertical vehicular barriers but do not appear as security measures; “hardened” streetscape furniture, such as benches, capable of withstanding the force of moving vehicles; and urban design and streetscape elements that not only provide security but bring new beauty and unity to the district.
Wolff Landscape Architecture, Inc. was the prime contractor for the project to the NCPC. Our co-consultant was Chan Krieger & Associates, architects and urban designers, of Cambridge. Sub-consultants were Peter Walker Partners, responsible for the Southwest Federal Center; EDAW, Inc., responsible for the Federal Triangle and downtown; and Olin Partnership, responsible for the National Mall and the West End. The local firm of Devrouax & Purnell was the consulting architect.