The first phase of development, with the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center as anchor tenants, established the brand identity and provided the infrastructure to make future phases possible. Since its completion in 2008, LandDesign has engaged in subsequent phases and updates, leading the design and implementation of Potomac Overlook, The Haven, and, most recently, the repositioning of American Way. National Harbor continues to embody its long-term goal of creating a mixed use community that effectively and efficiently meets the region’s commercial, residential, retail, and entertainment needs while openly embracing and carefully preserving its historic, natural setting.
Despite National Harbor’s prime location, prior plans to develop the site failed. In 2008, the site’s development potential was unlocked with the re-construction of the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, which carries the Capital Beltway over the Potomac River. A new, exclusive vehicular exit off the Beltway to the property, and direct trail connection from the bridge, water taxi, and bike share provide visitors multiple ways to access National Harbor through a natural, park-like procession.
Sensitive to the Land
Rising 150 feet above the Potomac River shoreline, the design vision for National Harbor embraced its natural setting, with the goal of improving stormwater runoff quality and restoring wildlife habitat
Protecting the Potomac Watershed
In its original form, the land had contributed to excess stormwater runoff into the Potomac River from adjacent properties, including agricultural and gravel mining uses. The master plan incorporates techniques and practices–such as two stormwater management ponds, Panorama and Betty Blume, flanking the site’s entrance–that minimize and treat the site and an additional 100 acres of the surrounding land’s stormwater runoff, reducing the levels of pollutants entering the Potomac River.
A Stable and Productive Shoreline
Abiding by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental requirements, the design successfully stabilized the shoreline with stone revetment and beaches. To benefit aquatic life, the foot of the stone revetment was planted with submerged aquatic vegetation to create an undulating intertidal habitat, while a tidal wetland marsh was established at the southern end of the property, providing habitats for crab, fish, waterfowl, and other key species in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Placemaking Components Lend Vitality and an Iconic Identity to National Harbor
A commitment to public art and programming reinforces the development’s brand identity, enhances the guest experience, and generates community pride. National Harbor’s public spaces act as a backdrop for the development’s magnificent art collection, comprised of over 45 public artworks. Additionally, paving patterns, furnishings, and light fixtures were selected for their nautical style.