Canal Park Fact Sheet

A Community Gathering Place and Model of Environmental Sustainability

in the heart of DC’s Capitol Riverfront Neighborhood


Canal Park provides residents of the District and the region with an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy a unique three-block urban park with seasonal ice skating, interactive water fountains, art sculptures by David Hess, a full-service restaurant with outdoor seating, electric car charging stations, an iconic light cube, and more. Canal Park has been designed as a model of sustainability and a vibrant community gathering place for the surrounding Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.  Canal Park is located between Capitol Hill and the Nationals Ballpark at M St SE and 2nd St SE (one block from the Navy Yard Metro Station).


Size and Sites


  • Three linear blocks (about three acres)
  • A 10,000 square foot linear ice skating path, at 250 feet the longest in the region
  • 65 seat Park Tavern, a full service restaurant and bar by Xavier Cervera
  • An iconic light cube with 20 X 20 feet projection panels


Unique Features


  • Canal Park’s designevokes the history of the area with a linear rain garden reminiscent of the Washington Canaland three pavilions which recallfloating barges that were once common in the canal.
  • Landmark iconic light cube that can projects art images, light shows, and a live camera feed of ice skaters at night.
  • Storm water management includes two underground cisterns that hold up to 80,000 gallons of water collected from the park and neighboring city blocks.  It is anticipated that the storm water system will generate 1.5 million gallons of reused water annually. 
  • Canal Park’s treated water is used to satisfy up to 95 percent of the park’s water needs for fountains, irrigation, toilets and the ice skating path.
  • The park’s utilities are powered in part by 28 geothermal wells that are forecasted to reduce energy consumption by 40 percent.
  • More than 150 trees and hundreds of shrubs and flowers
  • Three sculptures by artist David Hess, built with 4” stainless steel metallic tubing, creating large curving lines recalling the old canal and the continuous motion of water. The sculptures were built to also serve as interactive play structures.
  • Canal Park serves as a pilot project for the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) and is a candidate for LEED® Gold certification.





  • Owner:  Canal Park is owned by the District of Columbia
  • Developer: Canal Park Development Association
  • Park designers: Olin and Studios Architecture
  • Park management/programming: Canal Park Development Association and the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District




  • Canal Park was funded by the District and Federal Governments; the DC Housing Authority;  JBG, WC Smith and other developers and stakeholders in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood




  • In 1815, the historic Washington City Canal opened and operated on what is now Canal Park, connecting Anacostia River and the Potomac  via the National Mall.
  • In the early 1900’s, the Washington Canal is paved over to create Canal Street
  • In 1947, Canal Street is transferred to the District of Columbia
  • In the 1990’s the future site of Canal Park is used for DC public school bus parking
  • In 2000, DC developer WC Smith formed the nonprofit organization, Canal Park Development Association, to secure the site and oversee development of the park
  • 2004 Design competition for Canal Park
  • 2010 School buses relocated to new facility
  • 2010 Ground breaking for park
  • Canal Park opens November 2012

Park Features

Learn about all that the park has to offer

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Design Team

OLIN led a multidisciplinary team on consultants in the creation of this catalytic urban park.

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Developer/Funding Partners

Government of the District of Columbia, Vincent Gray, Mayor

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Park Map

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