Stead Park Recreation Center

Located near Dupont Circle, Stead Park Recreation Center is a modernization and addition to the existing community center – a carriage house constructed in 1888 – to foster community and recreational programming in this vibrant and diverse urban neighborhood. The park has been renovated various times, beginning with a 1950s conversion of the historic 1888 carriage house into a recreation center. It was one of the first integrated parks in DC, and is currently the only fully public community building in Dupont Circle. VMDO is re-purposing Stead Park – providing accessible, integrated spaces for exercise, play, and community recreation with a net zero energy design that will make this project DC's first net zero community center.

While Stead Park has changed throughout its lifetime, its mission to serve the children of DC has remained steady. When it was dedicated in honor of Mary Force Stead in 1953, the park was “established and maintained in her honor for the perpetual use of the children of Washington.” The design of the net zero energy recreation center, renovated playground, and welcoming landscape will serve to continue that legacy, inviting children to learn, play, and engage with this historic open space, while enlarging the opportunities for community programs for people of all ages.



Located near Dupont Circle, Stead Park Recreation Center is a modernization and addition to the existing community center – a carriage house constructed in 1888 – to foster community and recreational programming in this vibrant and diverse urban neighborhood. The park has been renovated various times, beginning with a 1950s conversion of the historic 1888 carriage house into a recreation center. It was one of the first integrated parks in DC, and is currently the only fully public community building in Dupont Circle. VMDO is re-purposing Stead Park – providing accessible, integrated spaces for exercise, play, and community recreation with a net zero energy design that will make this project DC's first net zero community center.

While Stead Park has changed throughout its lifetime, its mission to serve the children of DC has remained steady. When it was dedicated in honor of Mary Force Stead in 1953, the park was “established and maintained in her honor for the perpetual use of the children of Washington.” The design of the net zero energy recreation center, renovated playground, and welcoming landscape will serve to continue that legacy, inviting children to learn, play, and engage with this historic open space, while enlarging the opportunities for community programs for people of all ages.



Stead Park Recreation Center
Stead Park Recreation Center

Sensitive to its layered history and to the importance of the park’s open space amidst this urban setting, the design emphasizes the open qualities of the park and visibility to the historic structure, while providing accessible, integrated spaces for exercise, play, and community recreation to support a sense of belonging for everyone.The new facility features the existing historic carriage house as the primary building entry, welcoming visitors to engage the new community through direct access to the historic structure.

With a variety of multipurpose spaces, the design includes flexible spaces for community gathering, for group classes, arts, education, fitness activities, and a demonstration kitchen. All these spaces surround two courtyards that allow for indoor and outdoor uses, as well as a large solar canopy that provides energy as well as shade, a sensory garden, updated play equipment, and large outdoor plazas and gathering spaces. As the first net zero community center in Washington, DC, this facility highlights the District’s commitment to the future with sustainable practices.

Sensitive to its layered history and to the importance of the park’s open space amidst this urban setting, the design emphasizes the open qualities of the park and visibility to the historic structure, while providing accessible, integrated spaces for exercise, play, and community recreation to support a sense of belonging for everyone.The new facility features the existing historic carriage house as the primary building entry, welcoming visitors to engage the new community through direct access to the historic structure.

With a variety of multipurpose spaces, the design includes flexible spaces for community gathering, for group classes, arts, education, fitness activities, and a demonstration kitchen. All these spaces surround two courtyards that allow for indoor and outdoor uses, as well as a large solar canopy that provides energy as well as shade, a sensory garden, updated play equipment, and large outdoor plazas and gathering spaces. As the first net zero community center in Washington, DC, this facility highlights the District’s commitment to the future with sustainable practices.

Stead Park Recreation Center
Stead Park Recreation Center

VMDO’s attention to detail and ability to thoughtfully explain design decisions has been remarkable. VMDO particularly shines with their ability to listen to the client’s needs and clearly articulate a vision that captures the goals of all stakeholders. At a recent meeting with DC's Commission of Fine Arts, VDMO received glowing reviews with regard to the Stead designs. In all of my years with DC Department of Parks and Recreation, I don’t recall a more positive design response from the CFA – it was truly remarkable.

– Brent Sisco Planning and Design Officer, DC Department of Parks and Recreation
Stead Park Recreation Center
Stead Park Recreation Center
Stead Park Recreation Center

Client: Department of General Services

Location: Washington, DC

Discipline: Community Spaces

Completion: August 2021

Size: 15,000 SF New Construction 1,750 SF Renovation

Filed in:

, Athletics + Community, Community Spaces