Della Valle Bernheimer won the commission to design Federal Plaza following an international competition to address issues of wind, light, occupancy, and the “poetics of security.” Working at an urban scale (the site is 125 feet wide by 400 feet long), it was imperative to reduce a large-scale architectural action into an intimate setting. DB employed a single line to create an enormous tilted plane that slopes from the low end of the site to the center of the plaza. This tilt continues to the opposite end of the site, rising to 10 feet above grade. The slope increases so gradually that landings and handrails are unnecessary. The intervention eliminates the stigma of a separate disabled entry - all pedestrian traffic uses the same path and achieves democratization of access. The single line becomes a generating tool for reducing the scale of an immense site; additional intermittent folds and tilts are used as locations for light fixtures, seating areas, and planters, grasses, and trees. The plaza is constructed of sandblasted concrete and virtually all the furniture and lighting—constructed from stainless steel, frosted glass, and sustainable wood.
(in collaboration with Jared Della Valle)
Photography by Richard Barnes