Urban Rhythms of Washington DC

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Virginia Tech


How can architecture serve as a catalyst to strengthen a transitioning neighborhood without displacing or replacing the local community?

Cities bear the weight of continual change. Across the United States, urban communities wrestle the boundary between the desires of gentrification and concerns for maintaining cultural identity. These ethos are expressed in both the social and physical fabric of the neighborhood. What buildings do we save? What goes away? Can something new introduce value yet inherently belong to the neighborhood? While these questions hold relevance in any city, each city holds a unique DNA. Why does Washington DC feel different than Chicago, New York, or Philadelphia? How does the architecture manifest this genetic code?

I began to seek an architectural program where I could explore these questions. As a trained jazz drummer, I desired to create a place that could become a laboratory for jazz music and performance, while simultaneously serving the artist, student, patron and neighborhood. The streets of DC have a rhythm, a genetic code. How can this code be studied and interpreted through the lens of jazz music? Architecture is rhythmic. Users become improvisational dialogue within the form of architecture. My thesis developed these questions and concepts to create a physical home for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. (currently headquartered in Washington DC). The chosen site is located in the city's transitioning Greater U Street neighborhood.



Architecture, Jazz, Rhythm, Syncopation, Performance, Education, Adaptive Re-use