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Entertainment & Sports Arena

MMD is Associate Architect, in collaboration with Detroit-based ROSSETTI, for the District’s new Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA).  A historically significant site for architectural innovation and economic vitality for communities east of the Anacostia River, the St. Elizabeth’s East Campus is part of a group of neighborhoods that are particularly meaningful to the District of Columbia. The plan for St. Elizabeth’s East is to create a wealth of new employment and investment opportunities east of the river and to become a hub for new housing, workforce development, high tech innovation, and educational and cultural activity.  The intent is to contribute to a vibrant and sustainable neighborhood, with space for office, retail, education and entertainment.

The ESA is an innovative venue, that is a state-of-the-art, new hybrid of NBA training facility coupled with a performance hall. The 4,200 seat arena serves as the home court for the Washington Mystics and practice facility for the Washington Wizards. This facility has already proven to provide a much-needed boost to on-going redevelopment in Ward 8, spur greater opportunities for residents, and help create more “pathways to the middle class” as part of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s series of initiatives to create economic opportunity for District communities.

The main exterior cladding material of large-scale brick toned metal panels communicates a strong connection to the existing St. Elizabeths historic red brick structures in a unique and visually compelling way. The design also brings many community-friendly elements; the cafe space, for example, is accessible to the public realm — from both sidewalk and concourse axis points — so that the community may enjoy retail options even when the Arena is not hosting events.

The project has achieved LEED Gold certification.  Features include green roof areas, onsite stormwater retention systems, and energy-efficient systems.  Additionally, the project has a powerful community outreach and engagement story. Events DC developed a CBA in partnership with neighboring residents that supports educational resources for youth, creates local business opportunities, and provides community enrichment activities. Touted by D.C. officials as “bigger than basketball” the project was estimated to generate 300 permanent and 600 construction jobs, and is part of an ongoing redevelopment that will transform the 180-acre St. Elizabeths campus into a thriving mixed-use community.  Additional features that contributed to the certification include access to public transportation, a dedicated area for collection and storage of recyclable materials, use of materials with recycled content, and use of regional materials.  Points for innovation in design, community outreach, and involvement were also instrumental in the award.

The project has achieved numerous accolades to date, including selection as The DC Building Industry Association’s 2019 Community Impact Award, Washington Business Journal’s 2018 Game Changer Award, and one of Washington Business Journal’s Best Real Estate Deals of 2018.


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Washington, DC
Events DC
91,600 sq ft
“An innovative venue, that is a state-of-the-art, new hybrid of an NBA training facility, WNBA home court, entertainment venue and community amenity.”