The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has embarked on a $4 million plan to renovate its headquarters building and create a Center for Landscape Architecture. ASLA aims to raise $1 million in private donations for the Center this year.
The Society purchased its 12,000-square-foot building, which is located at 636 Eye Street, NW, in 1997 for $2.4 million, just as D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood was being revitalized. After 17 years of occupancy, any building would be in need of renovation. But ASLA leaders saw the opportunity to do much more.
Mark A. Focht, FASLA, immediate past president of the ASLA, in presenting the renovation plan to the Society’s Board of Trustees for approval in late November 2014, said: “This is an opportunity to create a facility to reflect the image and ethic of our profession—a world-class Center for Landscape Architecture that will inspire and engage our staff, our membership, allied professionals, public officials and the general public.”
The ASLA Board of Trustees approved the $4 million plan with nearly unanimous support. “ASLA paid off the original mortgage last summer, so the Society is in an excellent financial position to take out a $3 million mortgage and raise the balance of what we need through fundraising and product donations,” said Nancy C. Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president/CEO of the Society.
Focht made a personal pledge to contribute $15,000 to the project and challenged the other Board members to join him in launching the fundraising efforts.
James Burnett, FASLA, founder of award-winning landscape architecture firm The Office of James Burnett, donated $25,000 to the project and volunteered to chair a fundraising task force to raise the remaining funds needed. “Since the Board approved the project on November 20, we’ve received more than $340,000 in payments and pledges—that’s over 34 percent of our goal,” said Burnett. “We’ll also seek in-kind product donations lighting, furniture, green walls, kitchen appliances, surfacing and other items. We’re committed to creating a space for ASLA’s national headquarters that reflects the complexity and vitality of our profession, and the more successful our fundraising is, the more successful the project will be.”
Global architecture firm Gensler was selected through a request for proposal process to lead the design team, which includes landscape architecture firm Oehme, van Sweden, to ensure the profession’s values will be well-represented. The building will be designed to LEED Platinum and WELL™ building standards. Gensler has developed a number of exciting design concepts to modify the building:
The façade will be slightly altered at the ground level to provide more of a street presence (see image above).
The street level will be reconfigured to become the public face of the Center for Landscape Architecture and will feature flexible meeting/event space, exhibit space, a catering kitchen and restrooms to provide for increased industry and public engagement.
The current closed, double staircase will be opened up to create a three-story, day-lighted atrium, engaging the floors vertically and providing an opportunity to display elements of landscape architecture.
Office space will be reconfigured and furnished to meet current staff needs and provide for future growth. Staff will also have access to a wellness room, focus rooms, small conference rooms, and upgraded kitchen, break, administrative, and restrooms.
Currently, construction is planned to begin in fall of 2015.