Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation
Following the 1961 Inaugural Parade, in which he established the tradition of walking along side of the presidential limo, President Kennedy noted that Pennsylvania Avenue had deteriorated into a state of ‘diminished elegance.’ That walk, from the Capitol to his new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, laid the groundwork for the redevelopment of this historically significant corridor. Revitalization plans eventually evolved into the congressionally-created Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC). The mission was to ensure the passageway linking the Capitol and White House “be developed, maintained, and used in a manner suitable to its ceremonial, physical, and historic relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the federal government and to the governmental buildings, monuments, memorials, and parks in or adjacent to the area.”
OvS began work with the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation in the late 1980’s, playing a pivotal role in the effort to revitalize Pennsylvania Avenue to the standards the President and many other Washingtonians envisioned.
The firm’s redesign all of the plantings from the U.S. Treasury to the National Gallery, including Freedom Plaza, Pershing Park, and the Meade Memorial, eliminated the typical austere hedges and annuals for which Washington, DC was known. OvS focused the planting plan on American native perennials, predominantly in the form of robust borders, trees, and grasses. The firm choreographed seasonal plantings along twelve blocks of America’s Main Street, providing exuberant displays of bulbs, annuals, perennials, and non-hardy grasses.
By 1996, the redevelopment plan for Pennsylvania Avenue had been largely implemented, and Congress disbanded the PADC. Today, with no custodian of its care, the thoroughfare points toward diminished elegance.