Dupont Re-Circled

Studio Mayd PLLC, 2021

If Tschumi’s work indeed describes an architecture of the event, it is not only in that it constructs places in which something would happen or to make the construction itself be, as we say, an event. This is not what is essential. The dimension of the event is subsumed in the very structure of the architectural apparatus: sequence, open series, narrative, the cinematic, dramaturgy, choreography.

 - Jacques Derrida

Dupont Circle is a prime example of D.C.'s preservation of a formal, Baroque-style urban design strategy instituted at a landscape scale. Pervasive park features, such as constricted circulation paths & spatial and physical barriers create an everlasting park experience marked by the feeling of always being outside, looking in. As the nature of public life transforms, public space must also metamorphose to support rich, animated urban life. 

The macro component of this proposal re-conceptualizes and reorganizes the social life of Dupont Circle by densifying public activity around a new, conceptually superimposed circle adjacent to the existing Dupont Circle. Within redefined parameters projected onto the circle, the pedestrian streetscape is greeted by a new plaza and sunken amphitheater animating and providing generous space of events, informal gatherings, and performance. This macro-scale intervention to the site in question commits to rededicating space to the pedestrian realm, and in doing so, introduces a new formal system of hierarchy and balance in the function of the park. 

The micro design component - The Dupont Underground Entrance - presents itself as both a monument in celebration of the arts space below and an armature for the diversity of public life at the street level. The directional thrust of the material formally points to the Northern entrance in the structure, and the red perforated metal acts as line, plane and volume, to create a formal ambiguity and cast the structure as a-programmatic; the resulting forms merely suggest potential uses without prescribing specific activities. The micro-intervention also proposes a new material language - a bold red, perforated, metal screen - to satisfy the desire for a landmark and wayfinding system for the Dupont Underground Art space, as well as becoming a flexible motif that integrates with existing fixtures while supporting the park's original legibility. 

The historic landscape of Dupont Circle and the Dupont Underground Entrance is celebrated through a bold contemporary intervention, contributing to the life of the city as a whole. By conceptualizing the future potentials of Dupont Circle at both a micro- and a macro-scale, Dupont Re-Circled animates, accommodates, and attracts a new public life for the site at all scales.

Text & Image Collaboration with Lindsey May