One of the current trends in urban development is the integration of institutions with the neighborhoods surrounding them. Especially with large institutions, such as universities and hospitals, this type of integration includes coordination with the local jurisdiction and multifamily residential developers to ensure that all projects are well designed, are capable of spurring local business investment, enhance the street environment for students and residents, and improve the neighborhood as a whole.
In September 2011, the ULI Advisory Services Program conducted an advisory panel for Gallaudet University, located in Washington, D.C. The panel’s overall recommendations were aimed at helping Gallaudet University with its master plan, with a specific focus on how the institution might better interact with its neighbors.
The side issues were many, not the least of which involved understanding the rich culture of the deaf community, understanding the concept of Deaf Gain, and incorporating Deaf Space (deaf architecture) into the university’s physical development.
Founded in 1864 and charted by President Abraham Lincoln, Gallaudet is the only full research deaf university in the country. To foster research, Gallaudet wanted to create adjacent properties that are similar to those at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. These private properties would double as entrepreneurial space for professors and students to work. This type of university-adjacent development usually examines what activities on campus can be connected to their development, which can take the form of retail or lab space.
The panel’s recommendations all touched upon the issue of integration. Like many other universities, Gallaudet has traditionally been an isolated institution. Historically, universities have been deficient in adjacent multifamily residential properties. To solve this dilemma, the panel recommended more public/private partnerships to better coordinate for-rent student housing and business.
The major point of interest for this panel was the adjacent Capital City Market, located just west of the Gallaudet campus. Sometimes called the Florida Avenue Market or the Union Market, it is a real food market providing meat, fruit, and vegetables to the District’s ethnic restaurants and the larger international communities in the city.
The Capital City Market is perhaps the only place in the District of Columbia where one can find a full side of beef or specialty shops that butcher whole goats. When one is walking through the market, it is not unusual to run into shops that sell meat products such as cow skin, chorizo, and head cheese. In addition, residents can purchase Asian noodles sold by the palate or saffron sold by the pound. One local treasure is an Italian grocery store with more than 100 types of olives and olive oils. The market is, in fact, an authentic “foodie” paradise that can supply those who really know how to cook—something not available anywhere else in the city.
|The Capital City Market, Washington, DC|
This is a longtime industrial food market catering to the region’s growing population of Asians, Africans, and Latinos. And while many of the market’s spaces have been taken over by dry goods and chackas (for cart vendors on the Mall), a substantial portion of the area is still dedicated to an industrial food function.
After talking with people in the surrounding neighborhood, Gallaudet realized that there was a huge portion of the population who wanted to preserve this trendy market. During the Gallaudet interviews, fears were expressed that the entire industrial food function could disappear because of the retail and residential pressures. The encroaching urban redevelopment from NOMA (North of Massachusetts Avenue), the near-northeast neighborhood, the H Street corridor, and changes to the university itself are likely to change the market further. This was such a concern that the District government undertook a small-area planning exercise to establish future uses.
At present, there are no food service programs at Gallaudet and no link between the activities of the market and those of the university. Questions arose as to how new development could somehow partner with Gallaudet.
The panel strongly felt that urban economic competitiveness and the rise and fall of neighborhoods will be decided not only on issues of adequate safety and good schools, but also on what authentic urban activities are available to residents.