How can a city as large as Washington have miles of shoreline and shoreline parks yet so few places, at or near the water’s edge, to sit and socialize while sipping a drink, snacking or dining?
The recently completed, handsomely landscaped Georgetown waterfront park, situated between the Potomac River’s edge and the Whitehurst Freeway, is more than a quarter of a mile long. Stretching westward from Washington Harbour and ending close to Key Bridge, it offers ample, well-deployed riverside promenades and pathways. But often there are no more than a few dozen people in the park. Why doesn’t the park include an eatery or two in attractively designed pavilions with commodious decks or terraces overlooking the river?
Such pavilions, appropriately sized, designed and located, also could be built along riverfronts in East and West Potomac Parks, and in parks along the Anacostia River. Pavilions not only could provide great views and assorted refreshments, but they also could offer additional amenities — most notably public restrooms — so lacking in Washington’s hundreds of acres of waterfront parkland.
A constellation of periodically spaced riverside destinations within parks makes more sense today than ever before. Great numbers of people who work or live in downtown D.C. would appreciate and regularly patronize waterfront eateries, as would tourists visiting D.C. in the spring, summer and fall.
Today thousands of Washingtonians and tourists willingly walk, bike or use transit, eliminating the need for on-site parking to serve eateries situated in waterfront parks. In fact, pavilions can be located within reasonable walking distance of nearby Metro stations, bus stops or vehicular drop-off points.
Using state-of-the-art architectural strategies and technologies, pavilions in parks can be designed to be exceptionally green and have a near-zero carbon footprint. Pavilions can lightly touch the land, minimally disturbing their sites. Sunlight can be readily harvested to produce electric energy and solar heating. Generously glazed exteriors enhance views while illuminating interior spaces using daylight rather than electric lighting, further conserving energy. Captured and retained rainwater, plus recycled wastewater, can satisfy most of a pavilion’s non-potable water needs.
Sustainability can be further enhanced by using recycled and renewable construction materials. And the construction process can be low-impact, creating limited parkland disturbance, through use of prefabricated, pre-assembled components transported to the site and quickly erected.