United States Institute of Peace
Washington, DC, USA
CLIENT United States Institute of Peace / STATUS Completed 2011 / SIZE 114,300 SF / DESIGN TEAM Balmori Associates, Moshe Safdie and Associates
The Peace Institute’s landscape is designed as a garden; a garden that surrounds a circular foyer for groups to gather at the front of the Peace and Education Center. This foyer is contained, first of all, by semicircular benches which curve inwards around a long table with individual stools; contained beyond by “living walls” which separate the space from the two busy streets which intersect at its corner. The living walls are undulating walls of concrete which flow through the gardens and paths at various angles and heights. These inclined walls are draped with plants or contain pockets of planting. In several places they allow water to run down them and are lighted. These living walls serve several functions. They serve, first, as a line of security around the building’s perimeter. Second, they hide the constant movement of traffic around the two main streets by the site. Third, because they are planted they give the sense of a broader, thicker surface increasing the sensed distance from the traffic.
Flowering trees and perennials add their color and texture to the enclosure in white and purple. White as a symbol of peace and as a reassertion of the white color of the wing-like roof of Moshe Safdie’s building. Purple used with restraint sets up the white more dramatically. The plants have been also chosen for scent, so that visitors are enveloped in perfume, color, and water once they enter the precinct. Beyond the circular foyer, the public passes by the edge of the terrace which fronts the building, but which you can enter only from the inside. The edge of the terrace allows for a view at the exhibition space below. The terrace itself is an extension of the Great Hall within. At this point , the visitor has dramatic views of the atrium and its translucent hovering roof above. As the public ascends toward the entrance there are also long views toward the Institute’s gardens to the west.