In April 2015, the NoMa Parks Foundation announced that Thurlow Small and NIO architecten were selected to create the design for the M Street NE underpass.
Thurlow Small, an architecture and urban design firm, is based in Oakland, California, and has worked around the U.S. and internationally on the planning and development of parks, downtown placemaking, and public infrastructure. NIO architecten hails from the Netherlands and has completed more than 10 underpass projects and is well versed in their unique technical challenges, as well as their remarkable aesthetic possibilities. The two firms have worked together over the past two decades on infrastructure and public realm projects. The construction partner, M.C. Dean, is the nation’s premiere electrical design-build and systems integration firm for complex, mission-critical organizations.
Rain opened on October 25, 2018. The artwork features cascading LED lights hung inside 4,000 polycarbonate tubes that bathe the space in a soft blue-white light and pulse in response to vehicular traffic in the underpass, giving the effect of a gentle rain shower. “Our tunnel proposal for NoMa does what all good urban parks do,” wrote the design team when the project was announced by the NPF. “It offers a moment of openness, a space to breathe, and a place where thoughts can drift away.”
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