Spanish Steps Site Improvements

Project Photos

Location: Washington, DC
Client: District Department of Transportation (DDOT)

Volkert was tasked to resolve erosion problems using low impact development techniques for the Spanish Steps in Washington DC. The Spanish Steps, a small replica of the world famous Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy, plays an important part for the surrounding community as it is frequently visited throughout the day by tourists and passers-by. Years of neglect had allowed invasive species to take over the landscape and choke out ornamental shrubs and perennials. Compacted soil conditions caused detrimental stress to the trees and shrubs and exacerbated erosion problems throughout the site.

The solutions included removal of invasive plants and installation of drought tolerant shade loving plantings, placement of boulders to replicate retaining walls in areas where steep grades had to be overcome, and the addition of a series of bioretention cells along the edge of the Spanish Steps themselves. The solutions had to be functional while maintaining the character of this romantic landscape which is surrounded by embassies and chancelleries.

In addition, Volkert was tasked to restore the fountain at the top of the Spanish Steps. This fountain is a small focal point towards the top of the steps, yet is not visible from the top level.

Scope of Work: Civil Engineering, Stormwater Management, Utility Relocation, Landscape Architecture