In the summer of 2013, the Gallaudet University Foundation released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Sixth Street properties to developers. The RFQ presented a multilayered and ambitious vision for the Sixth Street properties, drawing upon three sources: the DC Office of Planning's Florida Avenue Market Small Area Plan, an Urban Land Institute Advisory Services Panel, and the 2022 Campus Master Plan. The RFQ envisions multiple uses and characteristics for the Sixth Street Corridor, ultimately creating a unique destination in the heart of northeast DC.
One way to describe the vision for the Sixth Street Corridor is a 'mixed-use development with an urban feel.' But the many unique elements and resources within the area makes it destined for a greater purpose. The new gateway on the corner of Sixth Street and Florida Avenue will transform the corridor into a town-gown neighborhood that promotes positive campus synergy. With the addition of the Innovation Lab, the infusion of the Gallaudet community, and DeafSpace design concepts, the Sixth Street Corridor would instantly become a creative and cultural district. The development vision is also modeled after other districts that have transformed from industrial areas into vibrant mixed-use neighborhoods with unique identities. A few examples are the art galleries and thriving businesses at the Pearl District of Portland, Oregon, the trendy and hip fashion stores in Manhattan's Meatpacking District and the gritty charm of Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, Spain. The Sixth Street Corridor will take the best elements from these celebrated neighborhoods and weave them into a seamless tapestry intertwining the University with the rest of Washington, DC.
Creative and Cultural District
The Sixth Street Development derives inspiration from the 2022 Campus Master Plan motto: "From Isolation to Innovation." Gallaudet is a world renowned university and a bustling community of 2,000+ individuals who see the world through a distinct lens and interact in a unique language, located in a community that is experiencing a significant revitalization. The Sixth Street Development will bridge the university's wealth of resources, ideas, and skills with the vibrant local economy of northeast DC. The transformation of the Appleby site on the corner of Florida Avenue and Sixth Street is key to boosting university-wide innovation. A new gateway will open up the university campus to the surrounding neighborhood. The spacious Appleby barrel vault garage will be repurposed into a brand new cutting-edge Innovation Lab with programs designed to integrate the unique knowledge of the Gallaudet student body with the city of Washington, DC.
One goal of the Sixth Street Development is to create a pedestrian-friendly public realm. The aim is to achieve this by narrowing the curb-to-curb distance of Sixth Street, adding secure pedestrian crossings, and encouraging bike use. Environmentally friendly stormwater management systems will mesh with attractive landscapes. DeafSpace principles will be incorporated in designing soft gathering spaces.
The Sixth Street Development will create a myriad of opportunities for Gallaudet students, staff, and faculty: employment, internships, training, and collaborations. The development principles on the Sixth Street Corridor Request for Qualifications (RFQ) list the following goals:
- Enrich the University campus environment and its connectivity, student life experience, recruitment and retention.
- Leverage University aspirations - socially, academically, environmentally - to create value.
- Stimulate collaborative partnerships - campus, district, citizens, research, commerce
The goal of the Sixth Street Development is not merely to erect physical buildings, but to construct a place of unique experience and opportunity.