Chinatown’s Fortune Cookie [Washington DC, USA]

Location: Two courtyards on either side of Techworld Plaza, Washington, District of Columbia, USA [MAP]
Designer: Unknown
Project Type: Courtyard, Public Square, Urban
Completion Date: Mid 1980’s
Visited: 24.06.2014
Access: By foot from I Street to the south or K Street to the north via the pedestrianised Techworld Plaza which connects to these two hidden courtyards.

Hidden deep within the recesses of DC’s Chinatown is a landscape you would expect from its location. However its exact position leaves more questions than it answers. The neighborhood is devoid of most features a “typical Chinatown” would display since the streets are mainly lined with older brick buildings and sleek, modern goliaths. Yet it’s one of these goliaths that possesses a secret piece of China.

ChineseGardenDC6

You could easily pass through the Techworld Plaza with little more than a glance toward the towering overpass that connects the faceless, glass buildings on either end of the plaza, but a casual glance to the side will reveal a large, shaded passage that leads into the heart of one of the buildings’ courtyards. At the end of this pass is a stunning, yet modest garden dappled in a combination of direct and reflected light that creates a dazzling, almost ethereal first impression.

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The garden is styled in a traditional Chinese fashion; and in testament to this style, its composition is delicate yet commanding as the whimsical form of the Japanese maples elegantly weave from the harsh, porous rocks common in older Chinese gardens.

ChineseGardenDC10 ChineseGardenDC9 ChineseGardenDC8 ChineseGardenDC13 ChineseGardenDC11

While many of the employees from the surrounding buildings treat the space as a smoking area, a few who pass through give thought to its almost comical placement- an actual diamond in the rough. Yet it’s not alone, as the opposite end of the Techworld Plaza leads to a similar courtyard.

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Both are gorgeous and unique in design, allowing for a place to set the mind at ease whilst also providing some much needed green space in a sea of concrete and glass.

 

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