Update and Upcoming

The project team has been busy meeting with stakeholders and continuing to gather data. These initial conversations with local partners enrich the project and will provide valuable information moving forward.

In the meantime, ASLA staff are happy to participate in the 6th annual OWL Summit. This gathering brings together water leaders, sustainability directors, transportation, parks and recreation officials, as well as business leaders, non-profit organizations, and U.S. EPA regulators to rethink and repair our communities for water sustainability.


Planning to participate in the summit? Make sure you attend the session that will highlight ASLA’s Green Street Project: Not Paving the Right of Way in DC’s Chinatown

Thursday, August 27
1:00 pm

In the nation’s capital, small-scale green infrastructure projects are popping up across the city – helping to reduce combine sewer overflows, and improve water quality outputs in the Anacostia and Potomac rivers watersheds. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is working to implement a green street demonstration project in the DC’s Chinatown neighborhood. This panel will preview ASLA’s Chinatown Green Streets demonstration project and the impact of these kinds of projects in addressing water management issues.

Don Winsett, Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition

Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, American Society of Landscape Architects
Mami Hara, ASLA, Philadelphia Water Department
Kevin Robert Perry, ASLA, Urban Rain/Design, Portland, Oregon

For more information about the Summit, visit the One Water Leadership Summit webpage.

NBM Presentation


Project presentation at the National Building Museum. Images: ASLA

As part of National Landscape Architecture Month, the National Building Museum (NBM) invited the Chinatown Green Street Demonstration Project to present during a lunchtime presentation, as a part of their Smart Growth lecture series. Deborah Steinberg, ASLA, representing the client, and Steven Spears, ASLA, representing the design team, explained to the audience how the Green Street project aims to become a world-class model for green, complete, and smart streets. The presentation was given to a full room and a lively session of question and answer followed the 40-minute presentation.


Presentation Q & A session. Image: ASLA

Important Investigations

Draft examples of discovery infographics. Images: Design Workshop.

Draft examples of discovery infographics. Images: Design Workshop.

For the past few months the design team has been working hard on the discovery phase of the project. This phase is to investigate, inventory, and analyze relevant systems that will directly influence the planning process and outcome. Also, possibly the most important phase of the design process. How can a project meet its goals or create a baseline if there is no understanding of the current and existing conditions?

To the client, this is the behind the scenes work. We aren’t involved in the hard work that goes into analysis and inventory, but are amazed when the results are presented. In this case, these results are in the shape of infographics that tell us so much about the neighborhood in which we spend so much time.

This information will provide the foundation to create feasible concepts, and will grow into designs during future community and stakeholder meetings.

Exploring Chinatown

DW Site Images Chinatown

Photos of Chinatown from site tour. Images: Design Workshop

The Design Workshop team spent last weekend exploring the streets of the Chinatown neighborhood collecting inventory of the existing patterns of movement, infrastructure conditions, and utilization of the study area. The team was out in full force with clip boards, temperature gauges, tape measures, and light meters! Here is a list of some of the data they collected:

  • Vegetation and tree conditions
  • Pavement conditions
  • Drainage patterns
  • Sidewalk use and pedestrian circulation
  • Bicycle and vehicular circulation
  • Parking and loading use
  • Social nodes
  • Light meter foot-candle readings
  • Places of art and cultural expression

This week the team returned to the studio to analyze the data and will report back to ASLA with maps and diagrams to paint a picture of the site conditions. Stay Tuned!

DW Site Images surrounding area

Photos of project area. Images: Design Workshop

site tour

“A kick off meeting establishes consensus among the internal team, which can save time and energy in later phases of the project.” – Design Workshop

Site Tour

On site discussion of project area. Image: ASLA

Following the kickoff meeting, the project team conducted a site tour to explore and document the conditions of the neighborhood. The group walked through the majority of the thirteen blocks included in the project area. Discussions focused on existing conditions such as drainage, infrastructure, tree health, historic/cultural development, views, mobility, land use, shade and human comfort, and signage. ASLA staff added their personal experiences working and walking through the Chinatown neighborhood.

The heat of the day allowed participants to truly understand a pedestrian’s experience walking these mostly shade-less streets, but also provided the opportunity to take a few preliminary baseline measurement. A temperature gun, part of Design Workshop’s tool kit, was used to compare temperatures in the sun and shade – often with a 20 degree difference!

The design team recorded observations and group comments on printed maps. These circles, “x”es, and notes will be translated into key observations and provided as a summary document after the meeting.

Site Tour Map

Project area and route for the site tour. Image: Design Workshop 

Project kickoff meeting

ASLA hosted project leads, Steven Spears and Philip Koske of Design Workshop (DW), and their key consultants from Ohm Van Sweden, Vika Capital, Walter Moore, and Agnew at ASLA headquarters for a kickoff meeting for the Chinatown Green Streets Project.

Kickoff Meeting

Meeting participants reviewing materials. Image: ASLA

Gathered together amongst maps and images, ASLA staff and design team members discussed the vision, thesis, and proposed success factors for the project. The ideas gathered together from previous documents and writings about the project allowed DW to succinctly capture ASLA’s intention for the project and very few comments were necessary to improve upon what was proposed.

Next, Design Workshop outlined a few foreseen risks for the project, such as stakeholder complexity and maintenance. This got the crowd talking and an in-depth conversation was had. The team added a few more possible issues and the red pens of Steven and Philip were flying as they took notes.

The meeting moved on to project metrics. The initial proposed goals were all in line with ASLA’s expectations for the project and are currently being revised by the project team. A brief mind mapping session followed and allowed everyone to share their fears and expectations for the project. The flipchart quickly filled up with words ranging from “colorful” to “biohabitat”. It was good to hear each person’s ideas for the project and get them all onto one piece of paper. This activity was enlightening and exciting and the entire business meeting was a great start to an important project.

ASLA selects Design Workshop


Bagby Street reconstruction, Houston, Texas. Image: Design Workshop


The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) announces that a contract has been signed with landscape architecture firm Design Workshop to serve as lead consultant for a project greening the streets surrounding ASLA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown. The firm has a long history of designing landscapes that combine environmental sensitivity, economic benefits, artistic vision, and community input.

The Chinatown Green Street Demonstration project involves the design and installation of an interconnected series of vegetated systems and innovative technologies to manage stormwater runoff and beautify the public right-of-way in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. ASLA intends this project to be a world-class model and education tool for developers, designers, city officials, and the public.

Design Workshop will oversee the project from design and installation to long-term maintenance planning and educational outreach. It will collaborate with the ASLA Site Sustainability Task Force throughout all phases of the project.

“This project is an investment in our city’s future. We want to show that landscape architecture can heal the environment as well as provide a safer street design that will benefit everyone,” said Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. “By implementing a more natural way to manage stormwater, it will help the District of Columbia in its goal of becoming one of the greenest cities in the United States while also providing a model for cities around the world. It will also make our neighborhood more walkable and accessible for residents and visitors.”

“Design Workshop is deeply honored to be working with ASLA on such a profound and substantial effort,” said Steven Spears, ASLA, principal and partner with Design Workshop. “In one’s career, there is truly only a handful of opportunities to make a transformative impact toward holistic sustainability. The Chinatown Green Street Demonstration project, located between the White House and the Capitol Building, will become the opportunity to showcase that street rights of way can be enjoyed and used by all forms of mobility while offering significant environmental, economic, community and artistic impacts.”

Design Workshop is a firm born in the pursuit of ideas. Founders Joe Porter and Don Ensign, while professors at North Carolina State, set a course to engage clients, staff and colleagues in a collaborative process they labeled “design workshop.” For four decades Design Workshop has provided landscape architecture, urban design and strategic services to clients in North America and throughout the world. They are committed to creating special places that meet today’s needs and that are sustainable environments for all time. They have developed a methodology called DW Legacy Design®. This proprietary process seeks to imbue every project with a balance between environmental sensitivity, community connection, artistic beauty and economic viability that demonstrates measureable results.