NoMa Parks Foundation to Illuminate Lightweave Installation in L Street NE Underpass on April 9

For Immediate Release
Download a PDF Version

NoMa Parks Foundation to Illuminate Lightweave Installation in L Street NE Underpass on April 9

Six suspended lattices of steel and polycarbonate LED tubing will glow 24 hours a day, shifting colors in response to nearby ambient sounds.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the evening of Tuesday, April 9, the NoMa Parks Foundation will turn on the power for Lightweave, a dynamic and compelling light installation in the L Street NE railway underpass. Comprising six spiraling lattices of stainless steel and bent LED tubing suspended above the underpass sidewalks — three above each passageway, hung from freestanding armatures — the artwork will light up the space 24 hours a day, with LED colors changing and moving in response to sound waves from the sidewalk spaces and vibrations from trains passing overhead. Lightweave is the second of the NoMa Parks Foundation’s planned underpass “art parks” to open and was designed by interdisciplinary San Francisco art and design firm FUTUREFORMS. The first art park — Rain, in the M Street NE underpass — opened in October 2018. (more…)

For Immediate Release
Download a PDF Version

NoMa Parks Foundation Opens Rain Installation in M Street NE Underpass

4,000 LED-powered light rods that evoke the sensation of falling rain will glow 24 hours a day and pulse in response to traffic flow beneath the elevated railway.

OCTOBER 25, 2018 / WASHINGTON, D.C.  — The NoMa Parks Foundation turned on the power today for Rain, a dynamic light installation in the M Street NE railway underpass. Comprising 4,000 LED-powered polycarbonate rods suspended above the underpass sidewalks, the artwork will illuminate the space 24 hours a day and pulse like gentle waves of rainfall in response to the flow of vehicular traffic beneath the elevated tracks. Rain is the first of the NoMa Parks Foundation’s four planned underpass “art parks” to open and was designed by Thurlow Small Architecture of Oakland, California, working in conjunction with Dutch firm NIO architecten in response to an international competition held by the Foundation. (more…)

M Street is getting a new look—well, at least, their underpass is! Crews are steadily working to create four separate underpass parks in the NoMa area. Read more.

The NoMa Parks Foundation is working on acquisitions and hopes to be able to share some important news very soon. Acquiring land for parks to meet community needs is our highest priority at this time. These community needs are are outlined in the NoMa Public Realm Design Plan. We are also aware of a recent petition for a dog park in the neighborhood and we continue to work to find a suitable site or sites. Stay tuned!


In addition to acquisitions, we continue our work on planning for the L Street Plaza, the NoMa Meander and other public spaces in the neighborhood. We are pleased to report that it appears the NoMa Meander may ultimately be comprised of 4 blocks as originally hoped. The Meander will be a retail pedestrian promenade running from Pierce Street to New York Avenue. Construction of the first section will begin this year when JBG breaks ground on its next phase of the N Street NoMa development.

In addition to planning initiatives undertaken by the Foundation, the NoMa BID led a recently completed study on ways to improve the user experience on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The study, undertaken in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department, District Department of Transportation, Union Market developers and a wide range of other stakeholders will, once fully implemented, have a big impact on NoMa. Certain safety improvements recommended in the study have already been implemented. Additionally, developers and the District Office of Planning are using this study to help guide proffers provided by developers in connection with re-zonings for new projects in the area.

Speedy progress on the M and L Street Underpass Art Parks projects continues. Both the M Street installation, “Rain” and the installation planned for the L Street underpass, “Lightweave” recently went before the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts for review. Both projects were warmly received and approved by the Commission. This fall, we look forward to inviting everyone to see and interact with the prototype of the M Street underpass design. The prototype will be a full-size mock-up of one section of the full installation.

The international design competition for these projects was one of the Parks Foundation’s first efforts aided by the fact that we did not need to acquire land or coordinate with other developments to advance these projects.

Public Engagement
The Parks Foundation will host the second Community Conversation on Thursday, November 19 (location to be announced soon!).


The NoMa Parks Foundation has selected the design concept for L Street, the second underpass to be transformed with light and art in the NoMa neighborhood. Future Cities Lab will create an undulating light structure, “Lightweave,” that will appear to float from the ceiling of the underpass. The installation will “peek out” onto L Street outside the underpass and beckon visitors to explore and enjoy the beautiful, transformed space. M.C. Dean will serve as contractor, with construction expected to begin in early 2016.


The NoMa Parks Foundation is committed to improving the lighting and overall user experience in all of NoMa’s underpasses. To that end, the Foundation has engaged Michael Vergason Landscape Architects to provide designs for “street furniture” and other ground-plane improvements.

“We very much look forward to your participation and input on this important public project,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, President of the NoMa Parks Foundation. “The NoMa Parks Foundation is extremely grateful for the high level of community participation in all of the parks projects advancing at this time. We thank the hundreds of people who have attended community meetings and submitted survey responses over the last several months.”

Community members are invited to meet the designers and construction team, learn more about the conceptual design and share their thoughts at the community meeting on Monday, July 13, from 6:30 to 8 PM in the Lobby Project, 1200 First Street, NE. This event is free and open to the public; RSVP here. For more information on the design and construction team, please click here.

The Foundation started the underpass project in April 2014, with an international design competition that received 248 responses. The goal of the project is to fill NoMa’s four rail underpasses, at L, M, K Streets and Florida Avenue with light and art, making them enjoyable east-west connections for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.