Chuck Brown Park Loses Its Amphitheater
First, the plans for Chuck Brown Park included a music pavilion with an amphitheater to seat more than 900 people. Then, amid complaints for neighbors, they got scaled back, with a 200-seat amphitheater.
Now, in the latest iteration of the plans, the amphitheater's gone altogether.
The Godfather of Go-Go died last year, and Mayor Vince Gray quickly announced plans to memorialize him. The park, in the Langdon neighborhood off of Rhode Island Avenue NE, has already been renamed Chuck Brown Park, and it has long contained a small amphitheater. But the amphitheater—sparsely used as it was—was unpopular among some neighbors who disliked the noise it attracted. And so the two design concepts by architect Marshall Moya Design, between which the city will choose, both contain no amphitheater at all.
The existing pavilion will be leveled, confirms Department of General Services spokesman Kenneth Diggs. In its place will be a public plaza with a statue of Brown and a commemorative wall, as first reported by ElevationDC. Unlike the earlier proposals' amphitheater, these facilities are not explicitly designed for music.
"There were a lot of concerns among the neighbors about having a performance venue there," says local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Nolan Treadway. "This was one of the suggestions the community had, to convert it into a public plaza. I’m pretty pleased with how it came out. I think a lot of the neighbors are, too."Diggs says the city hasn't yet decided on one of the two latest designs. Treadway says he expects a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 22, Brown's birthday, but Diggs says that date is not yet confirmed, and that DGS has to coordinate with the community and the mayor, who wants to be involved.
The two concepts under consideration are both more traditional and pastoral than the earlier design. Treadway looks forward to having the park "turned into something that’s a little more attractive." And it may be the right park for the neighborhood.
But this will be the city's Chuck Brown memorial. And it's debatable whether such a simple park, without a performance component, properly serves the legacy of D.C.'s most iconic musician.
Treadway disagrees. "I think it’s a fine way to honor him," he says. "Kids that grew up in the neighborhood, they’ll be able to see the statue of him. The music, who Chuck Brown is, will not just live on in this park, but in venues throughout the city."Renderings by Marshall Moya, via DGS