Saturday, April 20, 2013

Review of "The Mountaintop"

The Mountaintop, written by Katori Hall and directed by Robert O’Hara, reimagines the last night of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life before his assassination at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. While preparing for a speech he was to give the next day, Dr. King receives a visit from a maid that turns into a life-changing experience. Both actors gave powerful performances – Bowman Wright as Dr. King and Joaquina Kalukango as Camae, the maid. There were moments of levity interspersed with raw emotion, such as when King tries to negotiate with God to extend his time on Earth. The performance was more poignant given I saw the show on April 4, which was the 45th anniversary of King’s assassination. 

Growing up I had a certain view of Martin Luther King, Jr. and for the most part, that was not the image of King I saw portrayed on stage, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. In The Mountaintop, King was portrayed as a human being – flaws and all, not as the saintly civil rights leader that he has become over the years. It was a bit jarring at first to see King in this way and took offense at some of his actions, but his humanity made the show that much more interesting and thought-provoking about how we see our American heroes.

The Mountaintop runs from March 29 to May 12 in the Kreeger Theater at Arena Stage. Ticket prices are $40 - $85.

Photo taken by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Arena Stage

Friday, April 19, 2013

Got Plantable Space?

The following post was written by Casey Trees, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, established in 2002, committed to restoring, enhancing and protecting the tree canopy of the nation’s capital.

The District has made some strides lately towards becoming a greener, healthier place to live. The Mayor’s recently released Sustainable DC Plan has set some goals, but we know how difficult it will be to attain these – without your help. 

We’ve done our homework and we know that space is limited in Southwest, but we’re not satisfied – the average canopy percentage across Ward 6 is a paltry 17% (and the fact that Southwest comprises only a section of Ward 6 has the potential to make that number lower). That’s nowhere near the 40% we’ve been aiming for and the Mayor’s plan has set as a goal, but we also know the amount of plantable space here is large - an additional 17%. That means there’s a chance to double the amount of tree canopy in Southwest, and we have two ways you can help:
  • Plant on your own. Our Tree Rebate program offers rebates up to $100, which has helped a large amount of DC residents add the right tree to the right yard.
  • Identify plantable space in Southwest. We can pour over maps and dissect LIDAR data, but no one knows your neighborhood like you, and we appreciate that. The next time you’re going for a run or heading home from work, consider one question: “Got Plantable Space?” If the answer is yes, then Casey Trees’ Community Tree Planting program is the next step.
We provide the trees, tools, and technical assistance for hundreds of plantings around the District in the fall and spring every year – all you have to do is submit an application. Reach out to us and bring any questions you may have – we simply want to make it easy to make a difference!
No one knows your neighborhood like you. Help us give it a greener future.

Thinking Green Thoughts –
Casey Trees

Photo collage courtesy of Casey Trees

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Renderings of Proposed Randall Public Space

KIPP DC has released some renderings of "Randall Square," a public area near the proposed recreation center they would build as a part of their push to build a charter high school on the site of Randall Recreation Center at the corner of South Capitol and I streets. Their unsolicited proposal to lease land owned by the District to build a school and replacement recreation center has been controversial

Land Collective has designed the public space, the same team that designed Canal Park over in Near SE. Randall Square would be along I Street roughly where the current forlorn plaza is located. A stage would be built to allow performances that will be visible from the street as well as the square.

The wood ribbon benches proposed near the entrance to the recreation center are similar to the ones that have been installed at Canal Park. A tree-lined path will lead from I Street to the ball fields.

On the east end of the square, public seating would be available that faces the stage. The platform upon which the seating would be located is set among a grove of trees. There will also be a pathway on this side of the square from I Street to the ball fields.

Renderings courtesy of Land Collective

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Running of the Chihuahuas is Back!

The Running of the Chihuahuas will make its way to the Southwest Waterfront for a second time on cinco de mayo weekend. On Saturday, May 4, the event will be held at 7th Street Landing (located at 7th and Water streets) to help PAWS of Southwest raise funds for a dog park at Lansburgh Park. Check-in for the dogs begins at 11am and the first race begins at noon. Each dog will run in one qualifying heat and the winners of the individual heats will advance to the championship round. The grand champion will take home a trophy and $150 cash. Second place is $100 and third place is $50. Registration is $20 - last year was sold out, so it's better to register early. The races will be for chihuahuas only, but there will be other events that are open to all other dog breeds, such as "Best Dressed" and "Best Trick." Registration for those contests can be done the day of the event. There will be a post-race party at Cantina Marina where dogs are also welcomed.  Rain date for the event is May 11.

Barkley (pictured above) moved from Southwest to New Mexico...que lástima!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Camden South Capitol Ribbon-Cutting


This afternoon was the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Camden South Capitol, the first new apartment community built in Southwest in decades. Camden South Capitol is located at 1345 South Capitol Street, across the street from Nationals Park. Representatives from Camden Property Trust and the other firms involved with the project were on hand for the ceremony. The property has a total of 276 units and was designed by WDG Architecture. Donohoe Construction was the contractor. Unit sizes range from a 491 square-foot studio to an 1,197 square-foot 2BR unit. Check here for a list of amenities and features from the sneak peek I got a few weeks ago. One new thing I learned today is the building adjacent to the property that housed a plumbing company has been purchased by Camden and will be demolished. A dog park will be created for tenants in that space. The leasing office will be open starting tomorrow for tours and move-ins begin May 1st on the lower floors. The full building will be completed by mid-May. Below are a few more photos from today:

A view of the dining area and kitchen in the model 1BR unit.

Bedroom in the model unit.

Part of the outdoor courtyard.

The Camden mascot seemed appropriate, given the building's location across from Nationals Park.

Update: Below is a photo taken last evening of Camden South Capitol from Nationals Park.  Before photos can be found over at JDLand, who used to track this project before the "demilitarized zone" of South Capitol Street's median was established as the dividing line between her blog's coverage and mine.

Camden South Capitol at dusk.

Butler, "RED" Win Helen Hayes Awards


Arena Stage took home two awards last night at the 29th Annual Helen Hayes Awards at the Warner Theatre.  According to The Washington Post, E. Faye Butler won Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Play for her portrayal of Sister Juba in Pullman Porter Blues. The other award went to Todd Rosenthal for Outstanding Set Design, Resident Production. Rosenthal won the award for his work in RED.

Photos courtesy of Arena Stage

A Couple Quick Items: Business Opportunity Fair, KIPP Info Session


- Clark Construction is now looking for Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs) to be a part of Phase I of The Wharf. There will be a business opportunity fair on Monday, April 15 from 1 - 3pm at Arena Stage. At the event, participants will have the opportunity to hear about current plans for Phase I of The Wharf; learn about how a CBE can be a part of subcontracting opportunities; meet and network with representatives from the Clark team; and explore how a DC-based business can become certified. RSVP is required.

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman Madison Waterfront

- There will be an information session this evening about KIPP DC's proposal to build a new charter high school on the site of Randall Recreation Center at South Capitol and I streets. Check out the South by West article that appears in this month's Hill Rag about the proposal. Tonight's information session will be held at Jenny's Asian Fusion (1000 Water Street) at 6pm. Dinner will be provided by KIPP DC. 

Rendering courtesy of Studios Architecture

Monday, April 8, 2013

Part Two of SW Lecture Series

The DC Preservation League in cooperation with the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly will present part two of a three-part lecture series on Southwest on Monday, April 22 from 6:30 to 8:30pm called Shaping Southwest: Understanding the Past and Envisioning the Future.  Recent years have brought significant changes to the neighborhood of Southwest Washington, and more change is on the horizon. Speakers from the Historic Preservation Office will emphasize the role of preservation and adaptive re-use while those from the architectural community and the Office of Planning will propose new visions for the neighborhood. Discussion of the planning process and the mechanisms that manage this change will also be highlighted. A panel discussion will follow to evaluate the evening’s presentations.

The event will take place at Arena Stage (1101 6th Street). The cost $10 for DC Preservation League members & Southwest residents and $20 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased at the event or online.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hingis Joins Kastles, Team Looks to Extend Unbeaten Record

Former World #1 and reigning WTT Female MVP Martina Hingis will be joining Venus Williams and the rest of the Washington Kastles this season at the team defends its second consecutive WTT championship in July. Hingis played for the New York Sportimes last season. The other Kastles players returning this season besides Williams include Leander Paes, Bobby Reynolds, and Anastasia Rodionova. Serena Williams won’t be joining the team this season due to schedule conflicts. Arina Rodionova will not be returning as well.

Also at stake this season is the team’s winning streak, which at 32 is the second longest consecutive winning streak in professional sports. With just two more wins, the Kastles will surpass the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers’ long-standing record. The first two matches of the season will be home games, so there will be a chance to see the record being tied and beaten at Kastles Stadium. Below is the home match schedule for the 2013 season:
  • Monday, July 8 vs. New York Sportimes
  • Tuesday, July 9 vs. Boston Lobsters (w/ Venus Williams)
  • Thursday, July 11 vs. Springfield Lasers (vs. Andy Roddick)
  • Wednesday, July 17 vs. Springfield Lasers
  • Saturday, July 20 vs. New York Sportimes (USTA Family Night)
  • Monday, July 22 vs. Philadelphia Freedoms
  • Wednesday, July 24 vs. Boston Lobsters

All matches at Kastles Stadium begin at 7pm.  This season, the playoff and championship matches will be played in the home court of the higher-seeded team, so there is a chance that as much as two post-season matches could be played at Kastles Stadium. Season tickets are available now.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review of "Mary T. & Lizzy K."

Mary T. & Lizzy K., written by Tazewell Thompson, tells the story of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress Elizabeth Keckly, a freed slave, as the Civil War came to an end and later in life when Mary was in a mental institution.  Both main characters are portrayed as strong-willed women, although Keckly’s spirit seems surprising given her start in life. Mary Todd Lincoln is played by Naomi Jacobson, Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris plays Elizabeth Keckly, President Abraham Lincoln is portrayed by Thomas Adrian Simpson, and Joy Jones plays Elizabeth’s assistant Ivy. There were solid performances all around, although Luqmaan-Harris’ portrayal of Keckly seemed a bit forced. Also, I was straining my ears to try and understand what was being said by Jones at times due to her character’s Jamaican accent. Seeing the banter between Mary and Lizzy was amusing as well as President Lincoln’s constant story-telling.

Mary T. & Lizzy K. is the first production of Arena Stage’s American President’s Project, an initiative investigating the lives and legacies of the nation’s Presidents and their families. The production runs from March 15 – April 28 in the Kogod Cradle at Arena Stage. Ticket prices range from $40 - $85; however, Southwest Night has already passed for this production.

Photo taken by Scott Suchman and courtesy of Arena Stage

The Roots to Perform at Kastles Stadium

At the 9th Annual DC Jazz Festival this June, there will be a concert on Saturday, June 15th headlined by Grammy Award-winning hip hop band The Roots at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf. Gates will open at 6pm and the opening performance will be done by Snarky Puppy. Tickets will go on sale Monday, April 8th at 10am on Ticketmaster. Prices will range from $30 - $60, excluding fees.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

L'Enfant Plaza Construction


Some changes have occurred inside and outside L’Enfant Plaza over the past few weeks. First off, Sandella’s Flatbread Cafe has opened in the food court area. Meanwhile, the area where the pyramid skylight is located has been sealed off as a part of phase two of the renovation project. Construction has begun on the new glass atrium that will be built on the plaza, which by 2014 will be the new entryway to the retail area of L’Enfant Plaza facing 10th Street. SmithGroup has designed the new atrium and retail center. More shops and restaurants are slated to open next year. Back in 2011, JBG was hoping to bring a fitness center and child care facility to the second phase, and talks with grocers to open a small store were not successful. Some sit-down restaurants are envisioned for the second food court and they hope to "push the envelope" with having some of the stores stay open later and on weekends. No word yet on when the Homewood Suites extended-stay hotel will begin construction at 9th & D streets.
The new glass atrium will be complete next year.

 Rendering courtesy of SmithGroup JJR

Monday, April 1, 2013

Greenleaf Gardens Recipient of Hope VI Grant (APRIL FOOLS POST)

At a press conference this morning, the Mayor announced that Greenleaf Gardens will be the latest recipient of a Hope VI Revitalization Grant from HUD to redevelop the public housing complex into a mixed-use community. There are currently 278 units at the DCHA-run Greenleaf Gardens, covering 15 acres of land. The site is bounded by I Street to the north, 3rd Street to the west, M Street to the south, and Delaware Avenue to the east as outlined in the above image in red.
“As our city continues to grow, we need to look at ways that we can better leverage the assets we have in our public housing communities, “said the Mayor during the press conference. “With this grant from HUD, we will be able to maintain modern, clean, affordable housing for our residents, while at the same time provide additional residential density one block away from Metro.”
There is a lot of development activity in the vicinity of Greenleaf Gardens. To the west, The Bernstein Companies is planning three new residential buildings at Town Center. The Southwest Library will be completely renovated over the next four years. In addition, the SW Library park will soon become a new playground. Lansburgh Park is located just to the east, which will get a dog park and community garden this summer. To the south, a new St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and 200-unit apartment building are supposed to break ground before the end of the year.  

As proposed, the Hope VI project will have approximately 1,600 units in a mix of building types. The 278 units of affordable housing will be replaced one for one and will be scattered throughout the project while the remaining units will be market-rate. There will be 150 townhomes in the northernmost block between I Street and K Street, 650 units in four mid-rise buildings in the middle block between K Street and L Street, and 800 units in two high-rise towers in the southernmost block from L Street to M Street. There will be ground-floor retail space available on the M Street buildings. The buildings will primarily be rental apartments, but there will be a for-sale component, depending on market conditions. It will take several years for this project to be built, maybe never, since this post is just an April Fools’ Day joke.