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Anacostia Park Pavilion

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1975–1977, Keyes Condon Florance. Anacostia River Park.

Anacostia’s River Park is one of Washington’s largest recreation areas, spanning over 1,200 acres and including ballfields, basketball and tennis courts, and picnic areas. Perhaps most distinctive is the 3,300-square-foot Anacostia Park Pavilion that offers a space for roller skating. The park was originally developed as part of the 1901 McMillan Commission, but implementation took time since the creation of the park required constructing a seawall on the banks of the Anacostia River. In 1933, the National Park Service took over the park's management. The site is significant because it reflects the types of recreational activities that were available to African American residents in a segregated city.

The impressively monumental open pavilion, originally planned as a skating rink, was erected by the National Park Service as a shelter, public toilets, snack bar, and storage facility. From the adjacent freeway the pavilion is experienced as a massive floating rectangular slab, alternately solid and void. Its flat reinforced-concrete truss roof, engineered by James Madison Cutts, constitutes more than a third of the structure's height. The roof is lightly carried by two ranges of thin columnar supports and shelters a series of blank-walled, curvilinear forms with an open axis between them. The pavilion is a particularly powerful joint exercise of both architectural formalism and the honest expression of structural engineering. The roof truss patterns—king posts at the ends, a cross in the center, and diagonals facing inward to join them—form a geometry of triangles at once simple and complex. The pavilion's structure is particularly appropriate given its location, as many of Washington's numerous early bridges that spanned both the Potomac and Anacostia rivers were trusses carried by posts.


Goldchain, Michelle. “Anacostia Park.” In DC by Metro: A History and Guide, 298. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2019.

Writing Credits

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee
Updated By: 
Vyta Baselice (2020)



  • 1975


What's Nearby


Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Anacostia Park Pavilion", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 276-276.

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