Dancing About Architecture: Choreographing the Anacostia Waterfront

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Virginia Tech


My thesis is about transforming the Anacostia waterfront with a rhythmic approach to seamlessly integrate it into the overall fabric of Washington, D.C. My design involves establishing seasonal celebrations throughout the year, including a redbud festival, and zooming in, to craft a space that celebrates the rich dance culture of Anacostia. My thesis goal is to foster a celebratory atmosphere through an interconnected design that harmonizes with its environment. My research involves exploring the relationship between dance, architecture, and trees to create an experience that would be enjoyed by the community and to bring people to Anacostia, which has historically been a neglected part of the city. The Anacostia Redbud Festival will be the waterfront's own version of the Cherry Blossom Festival, it'll be an opportunity for a celebration of this Native tree and to increase the city's tree canopy. It's a transformative approach for the Anacostia Waterfront as a whole, and I'll be proposing an overall, rhythmic site plan to enhance the recreational experience there. Zooming in, I chose a particular portion from my overall site proposal to intervene and place my dance structure. My design approach has been to explore vertical elements along with trees to create structural movement to mimic dance.

Jazz dance will be the foundation that my design will be based upon. I chose Jazz instead of Classic Ballet, which is universally known as the foundation of dance, to teach people that idea is euro-centric and neglects the history of other dance types. Jazz dance was invented by African slaves who shared it when they were brought to the U.S., they never codified it so white people took the chance to claim it for themselves. My design will be a celebration of Black culture and teach people who the true pioneers of Jazz dance are and how that's the true foundation of all dance.

Approaching the design of my structure, the idea of having an inhabitable roof took precedence because it allows for the structure to seamlessly intertwine with the existing park. The inhabitable roofs are made from long ramps that bring you from the ground to a rooftop experience that reaches into the surrounding tree canopy. The rooftop also has different pockets where one can find platforms to perform on or to just relax on. This whole ramp structure sits on top a dance pavilion that houses a casual theater, dance studios, gallery spaces and a café, allowing people to also enjoy dance inside and outside, blurring the lines between architecture and landscape. Furthermore, the building is surrounded by small vertical poles that act as structural elements, as well as an important façade element for shading. The small poles are placed in a loose order to imitate a forest of trees. The ramps and orientation of the building give emphasis to the new 11th street bridge structure that will be coming to Anacostia and overall creating a vibrant park that encourages movement and celebrates true D.C. culture.



Dance, Trees, Jazz, Anacostia, Washington, D.C., Southeast, Performance, Movement, Nature, Canopy, Ramps, Celebration, Cherry Blossoms, Pavilion, Dance Studio, Theater