Historians and other scientists have recovered the profound social, intellectual, and scientific history of women over the past 50 years. How empowering to discover that women originated or were major contributors in so many fields-from agriculture, medicine, and mathematics to religion, philosophy, and art. There are untold numbers of women who have made significant contributions to the world.

Our mission was to design the first ever National Museum in Washington, D.C., dedicated exclusively to women’s history. Its central location is near the world’s most prestigious museums and monuments in our Nation’s Capital.

The SW Ecodistrict Initiative is a 20 to 25-year plan that lays the groundwork for the area’s redevelopment into a highly sustainable mixed-use community. The plan includes a Revitalization Scenario and recommends a series of strategies to address land use, public space, transportation, and a variety of environmental issues confronting the federal government and the area’s stakeholders. The plan specifically examines these needs:

›› Reduce carbon emissions, conserve resources, and reduce operating costs

›› Establish new cultural destinations beyond the National Mall to help relieve development pressure and overuse

›› Establish a diverse mix of uses, cultural, housing, retail, and open space

›› Remove visual and physical barriers between the N. Mall and the waterfront

›› Expand transit capacity, improve walkability, and streets and public spaces

›› Use limited financial resources effectively to improve buildings & infrastructure

Washington embraces many roles as the nation’s capital and a home town. Its strength lies with its cultural venues, architecture and open spaces, transit system, and diverse and unique neighborhoods. The capital city’s precedent plans—NCPC’s Legacy Plan and Monumental Core Framework Plan and the District of Columbia’s Center City Action Agenda—envision a capital city and thriving downtown centered on the National Mall. These plans call for preserving the civic and ceremonial heart of the nation’s capital while promoting diverse, walkable neighborhoods and work centers that blur the boundaries between the federal and local city and are well-connected to the region.

The site necessitates flexibility a “dance” between our history and the new Eco District Plan. The context imposes multiple demands on the design. Absorbing the distant view of the national mall and pinpointing museums, monuments, and green spaces surrounding our site to help create the choreography between the exterior and interior of the museum. Layering is key in creating this rhythmic form and the idea of the women’s museum can’t be contained simply by one full motion.

Using various forms of ribbon geometry a new urban space can be built that drifts from the urban plaza and through the building at the same point. The relationship of the ribbon diagrams helped us study the interplay of how these loops could unfold onto themselves. A ribbon traveling itself will become more than a simple timeline which begins and ends, the possibilities that are being uncovered represent this entirely.

The choreography and performance of each movement is developing the facade while creating a DANCE between the interior and exterior spaces. The ribbon will create and pull between the context of the city and its important monuments and museums working toward the NWHM site.

The exterior shell encompasses the history of men and there accomplishments in Washington, D.C. The NWHM form will highlight and lend itself beyond its existing site and a dance along the ribbon and women’s ideals.