Arts Desk

Washington Project for the Arts Moves to Capitol Skyline Hotel

The Washington Project for the Arts is leaving its offices in Dupont Circle and taking up temporary digs at the artist-friendly Capitol Skyline Hotel in Southwest beginning Feb. 1.

The nonprofit arts booster can't take a breath for all the changes it's gone through in the last few years. At the end of 2007, WPA broke with the Corcoran Gallery of Art, ending a partnership that lasted more than a decade. (There were no hard feelings about it.) With that move, the organization shed the title "Washington Project for the Arts\Corcoran"—a name that haunted arts copy editors—and returned to the moniker it had when it launched in 1975. It was former director Kim Ward, with board chair Jennifer Motruk Loy, who shepherded the group through the break.

In 2008, the organization moved into new digs at 2023 Massachusetts Ave. NW, giving the group an administrative home and permanent exhibition space. Now, the five-year lease on that space is up, and the Washington Project for the Arts is moving out of Dupont Circle.

"After listening to our artists and getting a sense of what's needed, I decided I wanted to have dedicated exhibition space as well as office space, and we couldn't find a property that fit the bill before our lease came due," writes WPA Executive Director Lisa Gold. "So we are taking the CapSky suite as an interim space."

She's referring to the Capitol Skyline Hotel, the Morris Lapidus–designed hotel in Southwest owned by world-class art collectors Don and Mera Rubell. In recent years, the Skyline has emerged as an arts destination in D.C.; among other things, it serves as a venue for the annual (e)merge Art Fair. (The hotel is also home to Brightest Young Things' favorite swimming pool.) The Rubells plan to open a new hotel and art museum in Washington, to be designed by Vancouverist architect Bing Thom, whose Washington office is located at the Skyline.

Lisa Gold and Mera Rubell have come together before—in 2009, Gold brought Rubell on for a goofy 36-hour studio crawl in advance of a WPA exhibit that Rubell co-curated—but does that mean that Rubell has enlisted Gold in her mission to turn Southwest into an arts destination? Maybe. Gold isn't saying where the WPA is going after the stint at Skyline. But the organization does not plan to leave D.C.'s borders.

"We are definitely staying in the District," Gold says. "We have an active space committee engaged in the search and we continue to talk to developers, real estate agents and property managers, and city agencies."

Photo by Ally Schweitzer

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