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Open Call to Artists Request for Qualifications (RFQ) - 2013 St. Elizabeths East Temporary Public Art Interventions

Description of the Opportunity: Through a partnership between the DC Creates! Public Art Program within the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), DCCAH seeks to invite artists or artist teams to design, fabricate, and install works of temporary art amidst the active redevelopment of the 183-acre St. Elizabeths East Campus in SE, Washington, DC.

As one of the first redevelopment projects planned for the St. Elizabeths East Campus (Campus), the Gateway Pavilion will be unveiled in September of 2013 as the cornerstone of innovative architectural design and environmental sustainability.  Envisioned as the interim heart of St. Elizabeths East (currently planned at 5-8 years; although this timeline may be adjusted), the Gateway Pavilion will provide venues for casual dining, a farmers market, and other weekend and after-hours, community, cultural and arts events.

Individual Artists and Artistic Teams are invited to respond to this Call to Artists with professional qualifications in addition to a proposal of site-specific artistic capital improvements for one or more sites identified for activation (see the attached site map). It is of special interest to have artistic activation that delineates a number of clear and safe routes to the Gateway Pavilion along specific pathways leading onto the Campus or on the Campus leading to the Gateway Pavilion (see site map). 

About DC Creates! Public Art: DCCAH is responsible for providing grants, programs and educational activities that encourage diverse artistic expressions and learning opportunities, so that all District of Columbia residents and visitors can experience the rich culture of our city. One tool with which the agency accomplishes this goal is our DC Creates! Public Art Program. This program is responsible for purchasing, commissioning and installing public art works throughout the District to cultivate dynamic, vibrant and nurturing communities through the use of art and design. DC Creates! provides opportunities for individuals to encounter art in parks, libraries, community centers, government offices, bridges and other public venues.

About the East Campus: As a revitalized historic campus, St. Elizabeths East holds the promise for advancing new and global innovation on an expansive scale by being redeveloped into an Innovation Hub.  The concept of the St. Elizabeths East “Innovation Hub” generally refers to the co-location of community, universities, technology businesses and technology-focused amenities (such as business accelerators, an innovation market place, proof of concept centers and other related innovation and business development components) that are focused on cultivating globally significant economic opportunities.  The development of the St. Elizabeths East Innovation Hub is a key component of Mayor Gray’s Five Year Economic Development Strategy, which identifies the creation of a shared campus for academic institutions and technology firms as a key initiative for his administration. The District of Columbia’s objectives in developing an Innovation Hub at St. Elizabeths East are to spur the creation of new technology-related businesses and jobs, to create economic opportunity at all skill levels for residents of both Ward 8 and the city as a whole, and to accelerate the diversification of Washington D.C.’s economy, reducing reliance on the federal government.

At the center of the District’s historic Ward 8 neighborhoods of Anacostia and Congress Heights, St. Elizabeths East provides an opportunity for the City and the private development community to create a landmark for the 21st century together:  a well-planned, mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable, livable community.  The Gateway Pavilion will be an innovative, flexible, and aesthetically unique structure serving a range of interim uses and letting visitors experience the site as the redevelopment goes underway.  

In addition to the construction of the Gateway Pavilion, Phase I of the St. Elizabeths East redevelopment will incorporate:

  • First Stage Public Infrastructure Improvements: the District will be investing capital dollars into the construction of new roadways, water, gas, electric, telecommunications, streetscapes and street lighting.  Construction of the first stage infrastructure improvements will commence in 2013 and will include the replacement and realignment of the current street network.  Additional details on the new road network can be found on pages 38-41 of the St. Elizabeths East Master Plan and Design Guidelines dated June 4, 2012 (the “Master Plan”) ( 
  • Innovation Hub and Academic Anchor:  500,000 gross square feet dedicated to an academic anchor (approximately 250,000 square feet), private sector programmatic anchors, innovation marketplace and business incubator, and additional educational and non-commercial activity centers. 
  • Town Center:  approximately 400,000 square feet of medium- to high-density mixed use (either multi-family residential or commercial), which includes approximately 50,000 square feet of retail, all planned as a transit-oriented development.
  • Office:  the initial phase will include the development of office space that is primarily comprised of the adaptive reuse of approximately 100,000 square feet of the existing historic structures into trophy office space for the initial anchor technology tenants.  Additional office space will likely be developed as part of the initial phase.
  • Civic space:  the development of an innovation and entrepreneurial center that serves local residents, as well as other civic focused programs will be created as part of the initial phase in order to ensure that there is a clear link between the surrounding Ward 8 community and the Innovation Hub.

At full build, it is envisioned that St. Elizabeths East will include:

  • Office:  1.8 million gross square feet, including some office, incubation and accelerator space accommodated as part of the Innovation Hub
  • Academic:  an estimated 250,000 square feet within the Innovation Hub
  • Residential:  1,300 units, in a mixture of for-sale, for-rent and workforce housing
  • Retail:  206,000 gross square feet of leasable area, supported largely by meeting existing pent-up demand.
  • Hospitality: 330,000 gross square feet of two hospitality spaces providing first a limited service, business-class format and second an upscale conferencing hotel with significant ballroom and non-room revenue.

Project Intent:  The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ DC Creates! Public Art Program intends to commission multiple artists to develop a series of artistic improvements in public space on the East Campus of St. Elizabeths. These improvements shall function collectively as a wayfinding system that illuminates multiple, walkable pathways directing people to the campus in addition to camouflaging unsightly construction areas with creative fencing alternatives.  Such improvements can include, but are not limited to: sculptural installations, lighting designs, digital projections, artistic signage or any viable combination of these forms.

These improvements should:

  • Be an original, temporary, site-specific treatment to public space that either (1) creates a sense of place in the proposed outdoor location(s), (2) attracts and directs visitors to the Gateway Pavilion from the surrounding community, or (3) camouflage/conceals an active construction site during the 5-10 year redevelopment period of St. Elizabeths East
  • Be engaging, educational, and enjoyable to individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and native languages
  • Be fabricated from durable, low maintenance material that can withstand the elements and requires minimal maintenance
  • Incorporate input from the Ward 8 community, with a sensitivity to the history, traditions, and iconography that uplift the prideful aspects of this community
  • Adhere to all requisite ADA and safety regulations

Respondents are encouraged to propose wayfinding systems on the East Campus, although systems installed in the surrounding commercial corridors along Martin Luther King Jr., Ave. will be considered.  Any wayfinding systems installed on the Campus must be installed and coordinated with the first stage infrastructure improvements (new road network) being installed on the campus starting late 2013.  In addition, such wayfinding system should be designed in a manner that can be re-installed and re-used at alternative sites on the East Campus throughout the redevelopment process.

Prospective Sites:  See the attached PDF.

RFQ Selection Process: DCCAH will release this open call nationally for candidates to respond with professional qualifications, examples of past work (particularly works in public space), and initial proposed concepts for the Campus.

Three to five semi-finalists will be selected to then develop site-specific, modular proposals for temporary public art installations at specific sites on St. Elizabeths East Campus. DCCAH defines modular proposals as those outlining several individual, interchangeable projects that can be presented in conjunction with one another or stand alone without losing individual impact or meaning.

Each artist will be given the opportunity to tour the East Campus with DCCAH staff and will be granted a modest honorarium to develop extensive proposals, complete with 2D schematic drawings and/or 3D models that illustrate the treatment of the artist’s chosen site(s).  The semi-finalist will also be required to present their concepts at a public meeting to be held in Ward 8.  From these proposals, a Selection Committee will make recommendations on which proposed projects that DCCAH shall fund.  The Selection Committee, representing diverse interests and expertise, will include Ward 8 community members and stakeholders, project partners, and Public Art Commissioners. Their recommendations must then be approved by the DCCAH Board of Commissioners and the federal Commission on Fine Arts before any project can commence.

Eligibility: This opportunity is open nationally to all artists, with special preference given to artists living in Washington, DC’s Ward 8 community.

Selection Criteria:  The Selection Committee will use the following criteria in making its decision. Candidates should demonstrate the following, in examples of past work and in their Project Narrative:

  • Excellence and innovation as evidenced by past work.
  • Experience working within a public landscape without permanently changing it.
  • Creativity in enriching the public realm, streetscape or other public environments and the ability to animate public space.
  • Manner in which the comments from the community have been incorporated (see the attached notes from the community working group) and ability to connect with and engage the local community as well as the visiting public.
  • Ability to work in a public environment with multiple partners on a condensed and aggressive timeframe.
  • Ability of the project to promote the redevelopment of the Innovation Hub on the St. Elizabeths East Campus.

Budget: $125,000

DCCAH intends to fund multiple projects with an overall budget of $100,000.  Select project(s) from an artist’s modular proposal can receive grant funding even if an artist’s proposal is not accepted in its entirety.  Applicants should know that any funding granted to each artist’s approved project(s) must undergo an extensive approval process through the District Government financial system that may take 6-8 weeks after the artist signs and submits their grant agreement.  Please take this approval process into consideration when estimating timelines.

Submission Deadline:  Proposals must be received by extended deadline of Monday July 29th, 2013 at 11:59PM.  This is not a postmark deadline. To apply, please visit:

Required Submission Materials:

  • APPLICATION FORM (see attached form)
  • Current CV or RESUME highlighting experience with site-specific work and public art commissions.
  • Up to 10 DIGITAL IMAGES or VIDEO of previous artwork. Digital images and video should be submitted as JPGS or MOV files. Submit only “High” quality jpgs on CD (do not use gifs, tiffs or other formats). Each file must be labeled with a number indicating the viewing order, followed by the artist’s last name. The numbers must correspond to the accompanying Image List.  Example: 01_Jones; 02_Jones. If using Mac OS 8 or 9 include a “.jpg” extension at the end of each image. Example: 01_Jones.jpg. All images will be viewed on PCs, not Macs. Please do not embed images into PowerPoint documents.
  • A corresponding IMAGE LIST including image number, title, medium, dimensions, and date of work
  • Written PROJECT NARRATIVE describing how you would approach the site(s) of your choice. This descriptive document should not exceed two pages per site.
  • Comprehensive PROJECT TIMELINE including fabrication, installation, and activities/events associated with all proposed projects. Please provide estimated timeframes for the completion of each aforementioned stages of development.
  • ITEMIZED BUDGET outlining estimated costs associated with each individual project concept.




Call/RFQ Released:

Tuesday July 9th, 2013

Submission Deadline for RFQ:

Monday July 18th; extended to Monday July 29th 2013

Semi-Finalists Notified and Announced:

September 2013

Site Visit Tour and Community Meeting with Semi-Finalists:

October 2013

Site-Specific Proposals Due:

Novemeber 2013

Finalist Announced:

December 2013

Presentation to U.S. Commission of Fine Arts:

December 2013

Project Fabrication and Installation Begins:

January 2014