Project Detail


Canal Park

Washington, DC United States

Olin, Studios Architecture


Project Description

This morning in Washington, D.C., local luminaries including Mayor Vincent Gray and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) turned out to officially open Canal Park, a new 3-block-long urban green space on the site of what was once the Washington Canal, a long-since paved-over waterway that connected the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. More recently, the site served as a parking lot for school buses. Of the opening of Canal Park in the emerging Capitol Riverfront District in Southeast D.C. after more than 10 years of planning, Del. Norton said that “this is the city, and the federal government, and the private sector coming together today with a big bang for the community.”

Designed by Philadelphia-based Olin, the three-acre park features a skating loop, interactive fountains, seating areas, and open spaces that will be programmed with public events such as movie screenings and farmers markets. A linear rain garden along the edge of the park is the most visible indication of a site-wide rainwater collection system that collects water runoff, held in cisterns under the site, which is then treated and used for the fountains, rink ice, and irrigation. The park’s utilities are powered, in part, by 28 separate 330-foot deep geothermal wells, which are expected to reduce overall energy consumption by nearly 40 percent.

Olin partnered with the Washington, D.C., office of Studios Architecture, which designed the permanent structures onsite, including a pavilion with a stage in the center of the park, a storage pavilion to the north, and a 9,000-square-foot structure next to the ice rink at the southern end that houses a restaurant, skate rental, and culminates in an acrylic-panel-clad lantern volume that can be used to show movies, or be lit with preprogrammed LED light shows.

The park is pursuing LEED Gold certification and served as a pilot project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative.

To see a video highlighting the park’s design features, visit


Project Details

Canal Park
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