Design Line
Wednesday, March 14 2018

reBIRTH :: Washington, DC 50 Years After 1968

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EXHIBITION: April 2 – June 1, 2018 | OPENING RECEPTION: April 3

1968 was a year of upheaval across the country. Washington, DC was not immune to the economic and social repercussions affecting American cities in the wake of post-World War II suburbanization. In the city’s black community in particular, the pain and anger felt by many would erupt into violence following the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Three neighborhoods were particularly hard hit: 14th & U Streets, NW; H Street, NE; and Shaw. Beginning on April 2nd, 2018, the 50-year anniversary of the uprising, the District Architecture Center will exhibit reBIRTH of DC: Fifty Years After 1968 examining the decline and resurgence of these three neighborhoods, and focusing on the important role architecture has played in the rebirth. Organized geographically by neighborhood, the exhibition presents significant projects in each area that have served as catalysts for change.


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History & Context

What are the urban, social, and economic influences that preceded the riots?

What were the programs that revitalized the city following the riots, and how did they change?

The interplay of architecture, urban design, and urban evolution (social context/fabric) and changing tools of revitalization.

Architecture as an Agent & Catalyst for Change

What are the catalysts within each affected neighborhood?

How did architecture, urban design, and urban evolution come together?

Then & Now Case Studies

How are these projects responding to contect, changed rules, etc.?

What is the nature of place being created?


Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS has completed more than 50 projects in these unique neighborhoods – 9 of these projects are proudly featured in the exhibit.


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Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS has and continues to play a major role in the redevelopment of these re-emerging neighborhoods of the city. Two of the firm’s early projects in this area featured in the exhibit, the Studio Theatre expansion and Citta 50, served as catalysts for neighborhood revival. David Haresign, FAIA, co-chair of the reBIRTH exhibit, witnessed the disturbances and the aftermath of the riots as a teenager living just outside of Washington, DC. Bill Bonstra, FAIA, LEED AP moved to Logan Circle over 30 years ago, and still resides in a renovated 1907 townhouse in the Logan Circle Historic District. Bill founded the firm at 14th and Q Streets, NW above Etto restaurant, and designed transformative projects in the area over the next 17 years. The firm returned to the historic district at 1728 14th Street, NW just over three years ago.


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We encourage our friends and colleagues to join us in celebrating our beloved city’s reBIRTH at the District Architecture Center next month (Architecture Month) where we will follow the half-century journey to recovery following the devastation. The exhibition is free and open to the public beginning on Monday, April 2nd. To register for the Opening Reception on April 3rd, click here.