Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tree Plaza Progress Reported by TheDCLine

      TheDCLine, an important local news service, reported on RMA's project for a new community space off Dupont Circle. Deborah Shapley, President of RMA was quoted on how the bare sidewalk by the bike stands can be transformed. With rows of trees and greenspace, it would highlight the site's historic and community importance and add beauty.

      Talk about busy! On weekdays 20,000 people use the Dupont Circle Metro station. Nine bus lines intersect within a few blocks. 25,000 vehicles pass, giving off pollution and noise. The Capital Bikeshare stand is one of the busiest in the city. Our Tree Plaza plan would keep the present number of  bike docks and add more of them a little bit away. 

Photo: Naomi Harris, TheDCLine

       “It is quite a crossing point for newcomers and visitors to DC — but nobody pays attention to it," Shapley explained in an interview with DCLine's Naomi Harris. "We are expecting and hoping that, through this project, the regular users and visitors in the community will discover it can be a real place." 

      The article reported that RMA had won a $30,000 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to design the plaza as a retrofit for stormwater.  RMA let a  contract for design to DesignGreen LLC, a woman-owned engineering firm. Rebecca Stack, the firm's principal, was quoted saying the new engineered design should be ready by May 15.

          Chris Huska of Huska Consulting will work with DC agencies to make a plan that meets stormwater and other environmental goals and city standards for walkways, bikes, etc. Huska Consulting is one of five firms on the Designgreen Plaza team.

    "Green infrastructure can soak up stormwater and decrease runoff that would otherwise enter the sewage system," the article said.  Designgreen did one such retrofit creating attractive green space at Duke Ellington Park, southwest of Dupont Circle.
        “The purpose of our whole project is to let DC residents and workers experience the calm and shade of the elegant old streetscapes,” Shapley said. “There is a very special atmosphere about being under rows of healthy, large trees, when you are in an urban setting.”

     The grant to RMA came from the “Green Streets, Green jobs, Green Towns” or G3 program. Students from School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens, which is nearby at 2425 N St. NW, will be involved, the article said.   It quoted the school’s principal, Richard Trogisch, saying the project “could be considered a junior ‘green jobs’ program, raising our students’ interest in green design careers.”

     “Nobody wants these projects that are dropped down from up high, and just stuck in a neighborhood or community,” Shapley said. “They are not going to be lasting and be maintained if the local community and the next generation is not involved or committed.”
      The DCLine was recently founded by publisher Chris Kain. Its mission is to "offer a first stop to residents to find the information they need to be active participants in hometown DC." 

       Reporter Harris' article appears in a section called  Built Environment

      The article's title was apt:  "Roots of Collaboration."

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Soil is tested at Tree Plaza site

The project for an engineered design of our Dupont Tree Plaza got under way Nov 30. Here you see John, of Soils, Inc, making two holes in the ground at the west end of the plaza location.

Why test the soil here? Below this site we plan a "reservoir" filled with soil to grow trees. The reservoir will run under most of Plaza, and be shaped to direct water to the city's combined system (CSS) of drains. Any remaining water under there must be absorbed by native soil. So how does it behave?
John at west end of site by Colonial Parking,
John measured the water going in the hole, and the time.

How fast does this soil absorb water?  This determines key aspects of the project and details of the design.So John bored  7 feet down, pulling up sections of the core  bit by bit. He laid them out on the ground. He kept and labeled samples for lab analysis.  
                                                                              Here John shows how the deeper  soil is  different; it has more clay, as you can see by the color.
He capped the bore tubes so rain water (or trash) could not get in there. He returned later, to measure how much water in the hole was absorbed in the interval. This will give us the INFILTRATION RATE of this particular soil. 
John of Soils Inc and Rebecca Stack of Designgreen LLC cheer the kickoff.

    For more on the draft site plan and the design contract award see our post of October 26.

   We thank the Chesapeake Bay Trust for funding to make an Engineered Design of the Dupont Tree Plaza.  For this project's background and scope please visit our Plaza project page.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Tree Plaza Design Award: The Winner Is ...

DesignGreen was voted to receive the contract for an Engineered Design of RMA's Dupont Tree Plaza by the Restore Mass Ave Board of Directors Oct 23nd, following a three-way bake-off.

The three valid proposals were read and scored by two outside professional Reviewers.  RMA Board members compared each proposal against the requirements in our RFP released September 25th.

It was close! One Reviewer said all three showed "depth of experience" with designing and getting the myriad permits required to install "storm water retrofits" in District public space.  Five of the seven firms who had attended RMA's onsite briefing Oct 10th then bid on the project  as leaders or team members.

"The high participation rate shows a lot of enthusiasm in the DC storm water/urban design industry for our plaza project," says the President of RMA Deborah Shapley. The RMA Board and Reviewers want the runners-up to know how much we appreciate their input,  RMA hopes to work with them in other ways. The runners-up were Greening Urban / Moody Graham and Sudio39 / Bohler.

Wooden drew the future tree rows from the site plan below.
The DesignGreen proposal was specific as to how each task in the RFP would be done, by whom and when. This meant a higher score on Method and Comprehensiveness because the two others did not spell this out so clearly. The Board found that DG's partner Huska Engineering, which will take the lead from the 65% plan on, also appropriate for this project.

The DG proposal focused more than the others on the innovative aspect of planting and growing large-type trees  The team includes a specialist in this, Melissa Gildea of Lotus.

The proposed investigation of soils was important  The site's soils are unknown yet the roots large-species trees will need the right soil.

The DG proposal warned that boring in the Discovery phase could turn up constraints. Our Reviewers echoed that unexpected hurdles appear in such projects. David Wooden Studio submitted graphics showing the site.
Winning team logos

Runners-up had great recent projects;  both are qualified to do storm water retrofits in DC.  Each lost points for not spelling out clearly the steps requested in our RFP. We also looked for team leaders who are running complex,small projects.

Though DG already knew about the Tree Plaza due to prior contract work for us, DG separated itself when the award competition began.  RMA went to lengths to make the RFP so detailed, and gave so much information on the web site and Onsite Meeting, that anyone in this field could make a successful proposal
. The outside Reviewers knew all three proposers and many of the team partners.

Special thanks to our Reviewers
  • David Suls, Senior Director of Planning & Policy, Golden Triangle BID 
  • Lesley Conroy PLA Associate, GGN Ltd.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone who considered this project, especially those who submitted.  The Board want sall who submitted to get friendly feedback from us. We may be able to engage some who didn't get this award on other projects in future.

Finally we thank again the Chesapeake Bay Trust G3 (Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Town)  fund for making it possible for RMA to commission a permit-ready Engineered Design for the Dupont Tree Plaza.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tree Plaza proposals due Wed Oct 17 by 4 pm.

      Restore Mass Ave seeks bids from qualified firms to make an Engineered Design for a Stormwater Retrofit in the bare sidewalk by PNC Bank at Dupont Circle. 

      The RFP and more detail is at   Instructions for filing are in the RFP.

      The Dupont Tree Plaza would add 11 trees to the city sidewalk, for 14 trees in all. It will collect stormwater runoff, clean the air and calm traffic. It would help birds and other wildlife move from  the tall, leafy trees of Dupont Circle to the shade trees RMA is growing in rows, marching west from 20th Street along Embassy Row. The Plaza will be a new community space: pleasant to pass through, nicely lit, and having an info kiosk for locals and visitors to learn about this unique neighborhood.

     The Chesapeake Bay Trust has honored RMA with a Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) grant funded by the EPA, to have this permit-ready Engineered Design created.

     We are excited to receive your submissions by 4 pm Wednesday!
       Restore Mass Ave -  "Friends working together to re-green Embassy Row"

Monday, October 15, 2018

Dupont Tree Plaza - Q & A on CAD

           Regarding our Request For Proposals to make an Engineered Design of the stormwater retrofit 'Dupont Tree Plaza' next to Dupont Circle, we got one question:

           Is there a CAD file of the site?  RMA's RFP  shows a measured plan made pro bono by Leo A Daly architects. It shows how the trees, bikes, etc could fit on the site. So, is there a CAD file too?

          Our Daly contact said they have no CAD file to share.
    "The Bidders should only be using Leo A Daly’s concept drawing for design intent purposes. Our drawing is not an engineered survey and does not include critical underground elements. It was developed for concept level only."
          Reminder: Bids are due by 4 pm on Wednesday Oct 17th. See RFP for instructions.

          Thank you, everyone!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Tree Plaza: Bidder questions due 6 pm Oct 11

Anyone interested in bidding on the Engineered Design for our Tree Plaza, who has questions, should submit them by 6 pm Thursday Oct 11 to Please say "Dupont Tree Plaza Design" in the subject line.

If there are any Addenda to our Sept 25 Request For Proposals, we will post by midnight, Friday Oct 12, on the Dupont Tree Plaza page. Links to this page are our Home Page and this Blog.

Note: The Site Plan pop-up on the Tree Plaza page has dimensions.

Seven firms attended today's Site Meeting to learn more the project and site detail.
Attendance at this meeting was recommended not mandatory.  See the RFP for full schedule and instructions.

Above is RMA President Deborah Shapley with attendees at the site today. The place was bare and hot as usual. So the group moved to finish the meeting a few steps west in the cool shade of  Quercus rubra red oak trees which RMA planted in 2008.  (There and along 20th Street, canopy grew by 73% in 10 years. The story is on our Canopy Growth page.)

We'll keep working so that, soon, the hot sidewalk above will be shady and cool, based on a wonderful new design.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Meeting for Bidders at Plaza Site noon-1 Wed Oct 10

Bidding is under way for an engineered design of Dupont Tree Plaza! We invite interested bidders to come to the site for a pre-proposal meeting Wed. Oct. 10 from noon - 1 pm.  Meet us on the sidewalk in front of PNC Bank, shown below and on our Tree Plaza page.

Site of future Tree Plaza. Address: 1913 Massachusetts Ave NW.

We'll show the site detail and issues with this space. We'll explain what city agencies and private groups who support the plan - such as Farmer's Market and PNC Bank - have said.

Deadlines for questions, etc, are in the RFP you may download here. No addenda will be issued after Friday Oct 12.  The Proposal Deadline is 4 pm on Wed Oct 17.

Bidders will propose how they'd make a permit-ready design that transforms this prominent but neglected city sidewalk into a shady community space. The design should accommodate the bike stands, pleasant pedestrian walking and eleven new trees.  Below ground, the retrofit will collect stormwater from Connecticut and Massachusetts Avenues.  The Plaza can have other cool features such as a neighborhood kiosk.

This RMA Award will be funded through Chesapeake Bay Trust's Green Cities, Green Jobs, Green Towns program. Since 2011, this regional effort has awarded $8.5 million to 145 projects. Restore Mass Ave is proud to be one of just two stormwater projects in downtown DC earning G3 awards.

The Awardee will be part of CBT's network of groups cleaning the watershed. The G3 program aims to promote community liveability and future green jobs. The Awardee will be expected to share their work with local public school students, so youngsters learn how to make old downtowns "green."