Urban explorers are set to have the opportunity to check out a decommissioned streetcar station below Dupont Circle with the help of guides next month.
The Dupont Underground is scheduled to open again to the public on most Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in January, beginning Friday, Jan. 6, according to an online event post. The space, accessed through a stairwell near 11 Dupont Circle NW, hasn’t had tours since its inaugural “Raise/Raze” art exhibit wrapped up earlier this year.
“Since the success of Raise/Raze creative minds have been inspired by the potential of this 75,000 sq/ft space,” the event post says. “These tours will explore the living history and conceptual reinvention of a DC hidden gem. Each tour will consist of a guided hour long experience through the tunnels under Dupont Circle, that once served as the neighborhood trolley system over fifty years ago.”
Tours are limited to 30 people at a time. Tickets are $15 online.
Photo via Twitter/Dupont Underground
It finally happened.
After years of planning and plenty of fundraising, Dupont Underground officially opened its inaugural exhibit “Raise/Raze” to a small crowd of journalists, artists and local leaders earlier this morning.
Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans, Councilmember At-Large David Grosso, ANC 2B’s Daniel Warwick and members of the Dupont Underground board were among those that attended the event.
The organization has put out the call for volunteers to help construct its very first exhibit, Raze/Raise. The exhibit, described by CityLab writer Kriston Capps as a “kind of live-action ‘Minecraft‘ installation” is composed of cubes made from plastic balls harvested from National Building Museum’s “The BEACH.”
“We need to build about 18 thousand cubes composed of 27 balls each,” reads an Eventbrite page the organization put up earlier this week. “It’s pretty simple really, we will be making an assembly line to transform balls into bricks as efficiently as possible. Our goal is to make about 1000 blocks in a day.”
Dupont Underground seeks to raise $100,000 to help fund the launch of its “Re-Ball” art and design exhibition. Patrons who contribute more than $25 will be admitted into the exhibition early when it opens in April. (more…)
It’s dark. It’s glowing. It looks like it belongs in a sci-fi movie. But it’s not a set piece from “Blade Runner,” it’s “iGlow,” Dupont Underground’s very first art installation.
iGlow, which first debuted in the Georgetown Glow last December, is a 36-foot long glowing lavender tunnel that has been described as looking like a “streetcar of the dystopian future.” The walls of the illuminated tunnel are perforated, and to outside observers, people walking through it appear to be “warped into pixels.” (more…)
Homeowners in Dupont Circle will open their doors and welcome all who stop by on Sunday as part of the 48th annual Dupont Circle House Tour.
The event is an annual fundraiser for the Dupont Circle Citizens Association during which Dupont residents show off their homes and neighborhood. The main focus of the tour is preservation and how homeowners have managed to build modern homes without destroying the historic houses.
“The tour is 48 years old and it really grew out of a desire to show that preservation is worthwhile,” Dupont Circle Citizens Association President Robin Diener said. “The tour is intended to show that these are beautiful buildings and to promote the neighborhood.”
Homeowners volunteer to show their houses as part of the tour. According to Diener, many owners choose to join the tour after a large renovation or to show off new designs in their house.
This year, in addition to several houses, historic mansions and condos, the tour will also include a sneak peak at the Dupont Underground, the art space being built in the former trolley tunnels that run under the neighborhood.
Included in the ticket price is the self-guided tour of all the houses and entrance to an afternoon tea party at the Heurich House Museum. The citizen’s association is also coordinating to have pedi-cabs available for those who may get tired on the tour. Tickets for the tour are available online for $40.
Photo via Dupont Circle Citizens Association
Scores of volunteers gathered yesterday to help transport hundreds of thousands of plastic balls from the National Building Museum to Dupont Underground’s subterranean art space.
As helpers scooped the exhibit’s balls into buckets, they began finding loose items underneath the plastic sea. This, as reported by the Washington Post, was anticipated. What wasn’t necessarily anticipated was the condition in which some of the items were found.
From wads of dirty cash to pacifiers tangled in strands of hair, here’s what volunteers found beneath “The Beach.”
Photos courtesy of Philippa Hughes
Dupont residents will soon have the chance to learn more about what’s going on with Dupont Underground.
Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe (1517 Connecticut Ave NW) will host Dupont Underground‘s board of directors for an informational community meeting tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.
During the meeting, the underground art exhibit’s board of directors will share progress updates, general information and history related to the subterranean space.
The event will coincide with a talk from Nora Pouillon, who founded Dupont eatery Restaurant Nora and wrote the memoir, “My Organic Life.”
“It pairs together two Dupont-related discussions into one community event,” says Braulio Agnese, managing director at Dupont Underground.
Photo by David Wissman
— Dupont Underground (@DupontUndergrnd) June 26, 2015
Good news: It just got a little easier to spot the Dupont Underground entrance.
Bad news: The underground art gallery’s opening date has been delayed.
Earlier this week, a bright red coat of paint was applied to the entrance doors and a nearby lamppost just north of Dupont Circle.
The sign was designed by D.C. branding agency Ripe, and the Sherwin Williams store at 2511 14th Street NW donated the red paint, says Dupont Underground Managing Director Braulio.
But Dupont residents might have to wait a little longer for that bright red entrance to swing open.
Though the Washington Post reported in May that the underground art space was aiming for a July opening, Agnese says the opening has been further delayed due to a snag in the permissions process.
“The timeline has been pushed back,” says Agnese. “Hiccups are an inevitable part of the development process, no matter how hard you try to avoid them.”
The possibility of having a 75,000 square foot space for art and other cultural exhibits is close to becoming a reality.
The Dupont Underground is a vision/project spearheaded by a group called the Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground. Since the group originally submitted a proposal in response to an RFP from the D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development in 2010, it’s worked with the city and with area residents to push the proposal to the next steps.
A recent article in Urban Turf detailed that the Dupont Underground might even include an urban winery.
The article says that ACDU founder and chairman Julian Hunt spoke at the District Architecture Center about the potential winery and other creative venues that could be a part of the space.
Plans Not Final
However, board member Braulio Agnese explains to Borderstan that programming plans for the space are still taking shape.
“The notion of an ‘urban winery’ seems to have sparked quite a bit of interest in the DC blogosphere and beyond,” Agnese says. “However, I suspect this is a result of the city’s red-hot restaurant/bar scene more than an interest in the Dupont Underground, itself.”
Angese says if the project does consider something as unique as an underground winery, the endeavor must line-up with the overall idea of the Dupont Underground.
“Although we do consider the idea of such a commercial venture as one that might be a good fit for the peculiarities of the space and also in line with our overall long-term goals, and although we have, over time, talked with businesses and people intrigued by the possibility, no such venture is currently being planned. Which is not to say that it couldn’t happen, just that there’s nothing imminent, and we continue to explore many options.”
As for a date on when the project will get started, Angese says he can’t say anything yet, but the group is “very close” to getting the ball rolling.
“The Dupont Underground is working with the city and other entities on several fronts, and while progress has been excellent, unfortunately there’s nothing official I can share right now,” he says. “However, we hope to have good news to announce sometime later this year.”
From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]borderstan.com.
One of DC’s best-known local initiatives, Dupont Underground, is drawing inspiration from abroad. Provisions Library, a project of George Mason University, sent four of its research fellows to Berlin from June 20 through July 20 to study the re-use of public spaces in the city and find connections between sites in the German capital and the reclaimed area under Dupont Circle. The fellows’ findings and ideas comprise the new exhibit “Parks & Passages: Inspiration from Berlin for Washington’s Dupont Underground,” on view from now until November 2 at the Goethe-Institut Washington.
Goethe-Institut hosted a panel discussion on September 13 to mark the exhibit’s opening. “Natural Adaptation, Urban Re-Use: Berlin and Washington DC” featured key players in recent urban re-use projects in DC, as well as Martin Pallgen, the project developer for the site of former Templeh of Airport in Berlin. Pallgen joined Steve Coleman, Director of Washington Parks and People; Lionel Lynch, principal at HR&A Advisors; and Patricia Zingsheim, Associate Director of the Revitalization and Design Division in the D.C. Office of Planning.
Moderated by Provisions Fellow Paul Farber, the panel touched on several universal issues in so-called “adaptive re-use” projects, as well as issues specific to DC and Berlin. The panelists’ varied experience with urban re-use projects informed their discussion. From Zingsheim’s involvement with the 11th Street Bridge plan to Lynch’s advisory role for New York’s The High Line Park and board membership with Dupont Underground, from Coleman’s reclamation of Meridian Hill/Malcolm X and Marvin Gaye Parks to Pallgen’s experience with Templeh of Airport.
The insightful conversation covered the challenges of attracting private investment, the importance of engaging local communities, and the necessity of acknowledging a site’s specific history to successfully adapt its space for a beneficial, purposeful use. The exhibit itself is best considered as the product of the exchange between the people and two countries rather than as a stand-alone aesthetic experience. Along with maps and and artistic representations of sites and their envisioned usages, the exhibit includes a comprehensive timeline of the abandoned streetcar tunnel space reclaimed by Dupont Underground.
The exchange of ideas between D.C. and Berlin and the experience of encountering specific spaces are both integral to the exhibit and its purpose. A range of programming, including events in Dupont Circle, will accompany the exhibit throughout September and October.
812 7th Street NW
Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 5 pm; Friday, 9am to 3 pm.
On Friday, September 7, the Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground (ACDU) will throw a party at Eastern Market’s north hall… aboveground.
The duly noted “Aboveground” party, which starts at 8 pm, is intended to generate buzz (and dough) for ACDU, an artist, designer and community-led nonprofit working to transform the unused Dupont Circle trolley station into a culturally-enhanced space for the community.
Throughout the evening, there will be musical performances from Alex Minoff, Margot MacDonald and the Justin Jones Band, as well as the world premiere of Robin Bell’s music videos for these artists (shot in the Underground). Guests can also look forward to a silent auction (with goodies from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Pink Line Project, Our City Film Festival and KIND Snacks), signature cocktails and information on upcoming plans for the organization and its mission.
From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.
On Wednesday evening the National Trust for Historic Preservation hosted its “Saving Places” event to announce its 2012 list of America’s Most Endangered Places. The event, which took place at the superbly cool Fathom Creative on 14th Street NW, celebrated 25 years of the list and highlighted local leaders and innovators in the fields of urban development and historic restoration.
The core of the event were the “micro talks” given by professionals who are creatively “saving” old and interesting places across DC. Representatives from the Dupont Underground and LivingSocial spoke about honoring the history of a building in its renovation, while Dan Miller, president of web upstart Popularise talked about the importance of grassroots participation to the future of urban planning. Speakers from ARCH Development, Capital Pixel, the Rainbow History Project, and PGN Architects also made short presentations.
Social media was a common thread between the different projects and professionals featured at Saving Places. Event organizers kept busy live–tweeting remarks by president Stephanie Meeks and posting Instagram shots of guests enjoying wine and conversation. The Trust even turned Fathom’s expansive roof deck into a “Twitter Garden,” where attendees responded to featured questions and interacted with Saving Places (#savingplaces, #hashtag, #) speakers.
Event organizers, speakers, and attendees, most of whom had gained prominence (or at least an invitation) through a blog or Twitter presence, underscored the role social media has in historic preservation and urban planning. Each speaker made clear that our newfound voice gives us a responsibility to help protect the places that make up our collective history. As Nikki Peele of LUMEN8 Anacostia put it, “these historic buildings are the bookmarks of our story.”
In case you were wondering, that was the most tweeted line of the night.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is hosting an event on June 6 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the its annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. In addition to announcing its 2012 list of endangered places, the event will include an interactive video and photo exhibit exploring a quarter-century of inspiring preservation stories.
Perhaps of most interest to Borderstan readers, the event will feature “micro talks” by preservationists from across DC, including reps from Dupont Underground, Rainbow History Project, Popularise, CAS Riegler Development Company and Capital Pixel, all of whom will discuss how they’re getting people to see underappreciated places in a new light.
“Preserving Nation,” which will take place at Fathom Creative on 14th Street, is sold out, but keep an eye out the following week for a write-up of the event.