River Park - DC

RiverPark_feature_CharlesBirnbaum_2005.jpg
Washington, DC
United States
River Park - DC

Landscape Information

The 11-acre housing cooperative located on Delaware Avenue in Southwest Washington, D.C., was designed by mid-century modernist architect Charles Goodman and landscape architect Eric Paepcke. The complex contains two-high rises (totaling 388 units) and 130 attached townhomes organized in a grid geometry. The complex, completed in 1962, was the first project in the designated Southwest urban renewal area. The residential enclave was one of the city’s first racially integrated apartment complexes.

The townhomes are sited on a relatively flat site each with generous outdoor areas edged by small trees for privacy. Most units face or have access to internal walkways dedicated for pedestrian use only. Parking areas are placed throughout the complex, but much of the parking is located underground. There is a central plaza, and smaller green spaces throughout often linked by tree lined walkways. Recent renovations to the underground heating system required a major rehabilitation of the original landscape design and plantings, although a good number of larger canopy deciduous oaks can still be found along the site’s perimeter. 

The townhouses have distinctive barrel-shaped roofs made of aluminum; a material not used at that time for residential architecture. Aluminum trim was used for all the buildings. Reynolds Metals sponsored the project, hoping it would result in aluminum becoming a preferred option for roofing material.