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Pavillon de L'eau

HKS Architects

Project Name

Pavillon de L'eau


701 Pennsylvania Ave NW



5,000 sq. feet



  • Daniel Inocente
  • Kevin Vandeman


  • Structural Engineer: Simpson Gumpertz & Heger
  • Technology Integrator: Zahner
  • Building Enclosure/Artwork: Vector Foiltec

Room or Space


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Project Description

This design exploration for a canopy is situated at the site of the United States Navy Memorial, adjacent to the National Archives in the heart of Washington, DC, Pavillon de L’eau cantilevers over the metro entrance as its form is animated by the flow of travelers and the environment. The sites memorial was first proposed during the planning of the District by the French-born American architect Pierre L’Enfant which honors all past and present personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. At its center, the memorial plaza is flanked by a series of cascading pools and fountains, creating a unique microenvironment. This design seeks to en¬capsulate the spirit of the memorial while providing shelter and a prominent gateway to and from the site. The form draws inspiration from marine technology and the legacy of marine engineering, our design attempts to establish an interplay between fluid form, structure, and a transparent membrane. The complex geometry of the canopy is constructed out of primary and secondary steel tube sections with steel supports coordinated along each primary section which hosts the membrane support profiles. Each steel support lifts the membrane up from the primary and secondary structure, amplifying the depth of each layer and making visible the complex arrangement of each system. The transparent membrane is formed of sections which wrap over the structure and are inflated, creating a shifting reflection as the sky is refracted by the convex pillows and light filters through. The design of the canopy is to be a reflection of its surroundings, the navy memorial and make visible the complexity of the city in motion.

The constructability strategy behind this design uses an advanced parametric methodology which maps design information continuously with parametric control through each system level. The parametric design approach applies Dassault Systemes 3D Experience which synthesizes design, geometric, analytical and fabrication data into a single integrated model. This provided the ability to isolate and develop model elements at a high level of detail, establishing and maintaining parametric relationships across the entire design. Model elements, EKL scripts, and geometries are stored, classified and processed in the cloud, making retrieval of information a search operation, removing the sorting procedure entirely from our design process. The design geometry was developed through input elements, contextual relationships, and discrete parametric values. This unique methodology required the design process to be analyzed from a distance and that we develop a strategy for binding the canopy design holistically as a parametric and automated system.
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