Reconnecting to the Waterfront: A Maritime Aquarium for Southwest, Washington, DC
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This thesis re-links Washingtonians to the Potomac River waterfront, once an essential amenity for the city. Citizens of the original working-class community of Southwest, Washington, DC were drawn by the availability of maritime jobs due to its close proximity to the Washington Channel. In the 1950's, a campaign of Urban Renewal was enacted, which ultimately resulted in the gentrification of the indigenous community, altered street patterns and the removal of historic building fabric. One of the major fallacies of the development was the irresponsible development along the waterfront, which severed and limited the connection between the neighborhood and the Washington Channel.
This thesis encourages the exploration of and interaction with Washington's historic maritime culture and the exclusive ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The tools for working this connection are the Washington D.C. Maritime Aquarium and a new waterfront promenade. The Maritime Aquarium which adds a major public educational venue to the city's downtown area will feature aquatic exhibits on the Chesapeake Bay watershed and interpretive exhibits on the history of Washington's maritime culture. Reclaiming and activating the lethargic waterfront, the new promenade allows visitors the opportunity to engage the water and participate in a variety of recreational activities. Ultimately this thesis educates and increases our awareness of our relationship with the natural world, while simultaneously improving the aesthetics of the existing waterfront and city.