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Design unveiled for Washington Wizards’ new Arena

Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, has unveiled the design concepts for the new Entertainment and Sports Arena in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. 

The design renderings for the Arena project were led by a joint venture of international design firm, ROSSETTI, and Washington, DC-based Marshall Moya Design.

Operated by Events DC, the 4,200-seat arena will act as a professional basketball arena and training facility for the Washington Wizards.

It will also be a multi-functional, flexible space that combines sports, entertainment and community programming with neighbourhood-serving resources.

The Arena design incorporates community-centric elements from the ground up.

A unique public-private partnership with a professional sports franchise, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, increased the need for a design to be highly functional for a variety of activities.

Located on the St. Elizabeth’s East Campus, the Arena will serve as the first WNBA-dedicated facility in the league.

The Washington Wizards training facility will be situated in a distinct space within the greater arena and designed with amenities inclusive of sports training to meet NBA standards and drive future recruitment opportunities. Basketball programming will include two practice courts, a kitchen, hydrotherapy and domesticated environments such as lounges to encourage pre- and post-training camaraderie, respite and recovery.

According to ROSSETTI Design Lead, Tony Reiner, innovative programming ideas were used to achieve a multi-functional balance through a split-bowl design that enables a very intimate viewing experience for non-basketball programming, such as entertainment and concerts, with seats that are closer in proximity to the stage.


In addition to basketball, the Arena can also be used for boxing, e-sports and concerts. The concourse and lobby areas, located along the perimeter of the building, are designed for special events and community programming, such as art, local food production and gallery space.

Additional elements include exterior facing retail tenant bays that will deliver community-serving resources and create the ability for tenants to remain open when the Arena is not operational.

Reiner said:

The most exciting aspects of this project are also the most challenging for the design team.

We had to be very strategic in order to design welcoming spaces for the community while integrating the private spaces that professional basketball players require. We were also careful to reflect the context of the building’s environment and imagine how the building will evolve under Events DC’s operation for future uses.

The building programme is unified under an undulating roof articulation that also functions to break down the volume of the building into a more human scale.

ROSSETTI said the design also relates to the adjacent Gateway DC pavilion with its impactful roof. The materiality of the historic buildings will be used for the building’s common spaces to create a united thread to its environment on the greater St. Elizabeth’s Campus.

The sloping topography of the site allowed the bowl to sink into the earth and rest on grade, reducing costs and the scale of the building within its environment.

Images courtesy ROSSETTI