Washington Harbour Proposes Ice Rink; Arthur Cotton Moore Protests New Designs

Washington Harbour's water fountain and pool would become an ice skating rink between November and March.
Washington Harbour's water fountain and pool would become an ice skating rink between November and March.

An ice skating rink has been talked about at Washington Harbour almost since its creation in 1987. Sounds like a great idea, even to Washington Harbour's original architect, Arthur Cotton Moore, who also created Canal Square on M Street and 31st Street and renovated the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, the Old Post Office building and the Phillips Collection, among others.

At the Aug. 29 Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 2e) meeting, the current owners of Washington Harbour, MRP Realty, displayed plans for the lower plaza, which includes the water fountain, pool and tower – and an outdoor ice skating rink. Plans for the office-condo complex with its prime spot on the Potomac, seek to "reduce seasonality," said Charles McGrath of MRP Realty, and make it "more family-friendly" along with minor design changes in the structure itself. Adding white noise to the retail parabola, the fountain would be re-done with programs for water shows as well as become – between November and March – a skating rink (with the Zamboni machine stored in the re-designed base of the tower). Designers of the 11,000-square-foot rink look to ideas from those at the Sculpture Garden, Reston Town Center and Rockefeller Center; it would be the largest ice sheet in D.C. Dockside restaurants will get new cantilever awnings for outdoor bars. Increased foot traffic was a concern, to which McGrath quipped: "Beers are going to have to be more expensive to offset the costs."

However, while favoring an ice rink at Washington Harbour, architect Moore brought his own artwork and argued, "Everything can be done without demolition." In some re-designs, he cited "terrible proportions" and the "uglification of the tower." Some architectural features of the complex would be removed.

Generally, condo owners and businesses at the complex welcomed the ice rink and other plans -- happy that an owner would be willing to revive and reinvest in the landmark destination. The over-all renovation is estimated at $30 million. Restarantuer Greg Casten was supportive, while condo owner Marty Sullivan disagreed, saying it is "out of scale and out of character" for the place.

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Sun, 28 May 2017 20:06:50 -0400

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