The Vision


View of Northwest Corner
The ‘Half Street Market’ is a re-use concept for an existing GSA property in southeast Washington D.C. that will provide the neighborhood and city with a public venue for a food market, restaurant, and flexible community space. The concept is being developed and advocated for by local citizens who want to see a public amenity brought to the Half Street area of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.

View of Southwest Corner
Through providing educational and economic opportunities to low-income citizens, start-up artisans, and emerging culinary professionals, the advocates seek to have the District or a non-profit organization acquire the federal property conveyance or other means at up to 100% discount of market value.


The existing structure is a 30,000 square foot, 1934 brick warehouse positioned at L and Half streets SE. It is across the street from the Navy Yard-Ball Park metro station, along several bus lines & a prospective streetcar line, as well as being located along Half Street; a street that leads directly to the main entrance of National’s Park. The site is a prime location for public access by transit, bicycling and walking.

Existing View of NE Corner

The envisioned concept includes the following spaces on the ground floor within the footprint of the original structure; a large main hall market, permanent stalls with dedicated loading, partition-able workshops, two independent small retail shops, several small incubator-support kitchens, a main entrance, restroom facilities, storage and building services. The project could also provide a new pedestrian plaza through the closure of half-street to vehicles and providing specialized pavement with trees and pedestrian amenities.
Ground Floor Floorplan (draft)
1. Market: The nature of the structure lends to the architectural concept of its main space; the main hall. This space would primarily serve the market as large, open floor space that allows for hundreds of set-up/break down stalls for food artisans and vendors to sell their products. Along the east side of the hall, permanent stalls will be provided for larger-scale vendors.
Besides providing an economic opportunity for start-up business and low-income artisans, the space would also provide educational opportunities. In the main hall, vendors would be enrolled in a specialized 'incubator' type educational program accredited and managed by an existing educational institution.
The main hall could also function as a community space that could host festivals, speeches, movies, physical activity events or even could be rented out for private events. The key to this would be flexibility – the vendor stations would have to be portable so that they could break down and be stored away. This would allow multiple types of events to take place, perhaps even in one day’s time.
2. Workshops: A portion of the western low-roof area of the warehouse can also be used for flexible market operations, but in a more permeable and versatile way. This side of the building engages half street, so it has the opportunity to open up to it and filter crowds through it into the main market space through a series of fold-up style garage doors that could be left open in nice weather. These doors could also be a means to allowing food trucks and vending carts easily into the building.
This space can be design to provide optimum flexibility for multiple event and activity needs through the use of folding partitions and closeable garage doors. This ability to partition in different configurations also serves an educational purpose by providing spaces for community workshops, such as public cooking and food prep classes. These space(s) also could also be rented out or host community activities while separate activities occur in the main hall.
3. Permanent Retail: The corners of the Half Street side of the building provide opportunities for small retail tenants to locate. These could be used for small food services such as coffee or sandwich shops and would possibly provide an off-hour retailer to give the building an extended hour presence, and needed after-work retail options for local residents.
Aerial View of SW Corner
4. Half Street plaza: The additional concept of repaving Half Street as a pedestrian plaza should be explored as not only a better way of connecting market users to the adjacent streetscape, but also as a way to provide a much needed public space to this rapidly urbanizing portion of the neighborhood. The closure of this street as a pedestrian only zone would also aid in mitigating heavy crowds that would coincide with National’s stadium events.


While the market hall and associated retail program provided on the ground level utilize the original building’s interior volume, expanding the building vertically brings more opportunities for revenue generation, education opportunities, green space and an opportunity for an iconic architectural element.

This concept envisions a 12,000 square foot restaurant lofted above the market with a culinary education classroom, and a rooftop garden.
Second Floor Floorplan (draft)
Aerial View of NW Corner
1. Restaurant: The restaurant is a key element to the Half Street Market concept because it provides both career and educational activities, as well as provides another layer of activity and amenity to the Half Street streetscape. By lofting an activity generator such as this on the building, it provides another opportunity for late-hour site activity as well as an architectural opportunity to create visual interest visible to the street level.This restaurant will be like none other in the city by functioning as an educational kitchen in addition to the one servicing the restaurant. The core principle of this concept is to provide an opportunity for high school, college and vocational students studying in the culinary fields to have a hands-on training facility that also serves as a traditional restaurant. This ‘kitchen-classroom’ could also be visible to restaurant patrons to give an experience much like that on the TV shows “Top Chef” and “Hell’s Kitchen”. The classroom could even live-stream lessons to other schools and universities as a web-based learning tool.The restaurant itself would also provide a new destination to further enliven the area both through its architecture as well as providing outdoor seating facing Half Street. Through both a compelling design and an educational program component, this restaurant could become a unique culinary destination that further propels DC into the international culinary community.
2. Rooftop Garden: A rooftop garden could provide green space as well as a place for the restaurant to grow some herbs and vegetables. This garden would be on the northernmost roof section and would be both visible and accessible to the restaurant, kitchen and kitchen classroom. This could also be an educational opportunity by providing the ability for students to learn how to grow and cultivate produce correctly. This ability to produce fresh grown ingredients would greatly compliment the market’s specialty selections downstairs. This is a concept that is becoming popular in large cities such as NYC, LA and London.

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