I had the chance yesterday to attend the Washington National’s baseball game versus Cincinatti (the Nat’s lost, 8-5). Before the game, my friend and I usually enjoyed a cheaper beer at the nearby Bullpen, an informal enclosed area where beers were usually a few dollars cheaper than the stadium prices.
But to our shock, we couldn’t believe the Bullpen was gone! Instead of the entrance, there was a lot half-full of shipping containers. I couldn’t believe that someone would not take advantage of the location and cheaply serve people, so my friend and I walked up Half Street to see if anyone else had some business savvy.
And boy, did they. We walked into day four of the new Fairgrounds, one of the most innovative uses of temporary architecture in Washington since FDR erected all those temporary buildings around the Mall in the 1940s. But instead of cheaply-built office structures, the Fairgrounds is a entertaiment complex built of 90 rugged shipping containers.
Here’s a 19 February WaPo article about the Fairground’s background and ownership.
I was very impressed with this very interesting entertainment complex. After my friend and I bought a $6 Boddington’s in a can, I walked around and talked to two of the vendors. One of them turned out to be the man hired to handle the Fairground’s vendor, so I was able to tell him how impressed I was with the complex, its design, and its concept. He told me that it was partially modeled upon a similar complex in Brooklyn, N.Y. I told him that it was Washington’s first entry into a mode of hasty building construction found in the Third World, and as well the unique free trade zone Seven KM Market in the Ukraine comprised of 1500 similar containers being used as shops. “It felt like I was in a Third World bazaar…but cleaner,” I joked with my friend as we walked around.
Some of my observations:
A large food truck area. Why put in kitchen facilities when you can arrange for food trucks selling a large assortment of unique foods? There were three trucks there selling to the crowd, which at times seemed to number about 2,000. My guess is that more food trucks will start to appear, especially since the owners will be using the venue for their monthly Truckeroo event which features 20+ food trucks.
Interesting uses of shipping containers. The place was arranged around 40′ and 20′ sized containers. Some containers were the backdrop and stage, others served as the property’s walls, and some were in used for small vendors such as T-shirt and jewelry shops. All in all, it was a very unique and very non-Washington use of these ubiquitous trade containers that are now everywhere in the world.
A fine concept, and I look forward to going back to the Fairground very soon. I think it will be a very interesting addition to the Washington entertainment scene, and especially in an area that sorely needs some kind of cultural attraction or draw.