The District is looking for creative minds to build a temporary attraction at the old St. Elizabeths Hospital campus before federal workers move there next year.
The city issued a request for proposal last week seeking someone to design and build an "innovative" building that would provide space for a range of events and activities as well as retail space.
That building would open within a year and is intended to help people who live and work nearby get used to using the former psychiatric hospital site -- long closed to the public -- before a more expansive redevelopment of the site is complete.
Although city planners are calling the structure the Gateway Pavilion, the look is entirely up to the designers, said Ethan Warsh, project manager at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
"Because it's serving so many uses, we want it to be innovative, flexible, sustainable," he said. "So who knows what it's going to look like? We don't just want a steel building -- we want something that's going to communicate to everyone that this site is an icon."
The city envisions the "pavilion" as a destination for casual dining, a venue for hosting a farmers market, weekend and after-hour activities, and community, cultural and art events. It would be open for two to four years, while the first phase of the reconstruction is done, and torn down before the second construction phase begins.
Officials hope to have the "pavilion" completed by next spring or summer, when 4,400 Coast Guard employees are scheduled to arrive at their new headquarters there.
The Department of Homeland Security also was slated to move to the former hospital campus, but funding was pulled last year, delaying its relocation. Money for the move was put in next year's federal budget but still needs congressional approval.
The District is redeveloping the 183-acre east campus to attract retail, residential and business uses. It's scheduled to break ground next year. Located in Ward 8 across the Anacostia River, the development is intended to bring new life to a community long ignored by developers.
The city plans to select three to five teams by June 20 to work on the temporary pavilion. Those teams will be asked to submit designs by Aug. 27.
Newer design firms and even architecture students who meet the qualifications are encouraged to apply.