A designer’s inspiration behind ‘Scoreboard Walk’ within Nats Park

The World Series gets underway on Tuesday, with the Nationals and Astros shuttling back and forth between Houston and Washington D.C.

The last time D.C. had a World Series team was in the 1930s, and as the District prepares to “root, root, root for the home team” as they take on the Houston Astros, here’s a nugget of recent history: The story behind a garden area that’s nestled within Nats Park — right behind the Scoreboard in an outdoor area known as Scoreboard Walk.

It wasn’t much at first.

“There was really nothing there but a couple of hot dog stands,” says Lara Morabito a partner with Lara Morabito Gardens, the company that designed the Scoreboard Walk’s outdoor spaces.

Morabito was invited to look at the space after designing a residence garden project for former Nats Executive Andy Feffer. She had also designed other outdoor living spaces, both residential and commercial.

The goal was to take an industrial-looking space and soften it up and make it a welcoming, destination space within the park.

“This vast, open concourse was just a concrete slab — really exposed sunlight. In that area of the ballpark you pick up really high winds,” Morabito said.

She worked with the restaurant group that brought in Shake Shack and other eateries to create a gathering space along Scoreboard Walk.

Now there’s plush seating and greenery, and an area where children can play.

The stretch also features a music venue for small bands and mini concerts, Morabito said.

She told WTOP about some key ideas behind the concept:

Sails are stretched overhead along the walk to help shade folks from D.C.’s hot summer sun, and “little Tivoli lights that light up at night,” she said. Those sails are visible right by the scoreboard. Morabito designed the sails and got inspiration from the Navy Yard, which is next to Nats Park.

She wanted the area to have “that Navy Yard feeling. [With] the sails, you feel like you’re in a destination on the ocean somewhere.”

The sails were also a way to pay homage to Navy Yard.

“[There’s] a lot of history behind the Navy Yard and our involvement in World War II, and I thought it was just a nice nod to the people who served and to the Navy Yard and its history that it plays for our country.”

Recreating a feeling of neighborhood intimacy was also part of the concept.

“We just wanted to make it intimate. Baseball, to me, is a backyard sport, or a neighborhood sport where you pick up a game in your backyard. So I made it really green. Brought in lots of trees, native plants, planters, turf; A really, really large turf area where kids can actually play like they’re in the grass, even though it’s artificial turf, it has the feeling of being in a neighborhood.”

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