The Art of Worksites

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2016

Often, construction sites are accompanied by signs noting that they’re a temporary eyesore necessary to bring about a permanent improvement. But what if the construction site is the improvement?

In Washington, D.C., one major real estate developer has been working to make that idea a reality.

The JBG Companies, a corporation with more than 30 million square feet of property in its portfolio, has been undertaking a public art initiative that places murals and other works of art at its worksites.

D.C. radio station WTOP reported on its website Thursday (June 23) on the project, which has brought color everywhere from L’Enfant Plaza to Nationals Park, the home of Washington’s Major League Baseball team.

Local Talent

The initiative has been ongoing for two years, the station reports, and has brought to life 25 murals total. Art is a hallmark for JBG, according to the corporation’s website: “We seek to not only support organizations that promote and create art but also to integrate a diverse range of public art into our projects and existing developments. We believe this will help not only educate and inspire, but also provide a showcase for local talent—all while broadening the appeal of our placemaking across the portfolio.”

L'Enfant Plaza mural

L’Enfant Plaza, a commercial building complex designed by I.M. Pei, is owned by JBG, and hosts numerous murals.

Some pieces are simply painted onto the sides of buildings; some, like the mural in L’Enfant, are on external concrete. (L’Enfant, a commercial building complex designed by I.M. Pei, is owned by JBG.) The piece adjacent to the baseball park is a huge lighted moon hanging from a construction crane, changing colors via remote control.

Parking Garage Painting

Not every piece is temporary—some, like the paintings at some JBG parking garages, are there for the long haul. But many are fleeting, designed only to stick around as long as the construction project lasts.

Parking garage mural

Some pieces, like this painting at the Falls Church Corporate Center parking garage, are there for the long haul.

“Given the nature of construction, it’s not uncommon for a project to take two to three years … and usually there’s a big chain-link fence put up and people are told to stay away,” JBG’s Brian Coulter told WTOP. “And we thought that’s not a very welcoming thing to do in whatever neighborhood we’re in, so maybe there are some things we can do to really sort of beautify what’s going on during the construction time period.”


Tagged categories: Artists; Asia Pacific; Color + Design; Commercial Construction; Developers; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; Murals; North America; Public spaces

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