Built in 1967, the overlook was designed as the termination point for the Tenth Street Mall, a wide pedestrian route that connects from the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall through L’Enfant Plaza towards the waterfront. The urban setting was already well defined when the Office of Dan Kiley was awarded the project, with the site surrounded by large block buildings (many under construction during the time) and the adjacent Interstate 395.
The overlook is a simple ellipse, 200 feet wide, which provides elevated views of the nearby Potomac River. The centerpiece of the plaza is a large conical fountain that projects water more than 30 feet in the air and catches it in a circular basin made from honed green granite. The shape of the fountain and basin in the center of the site is reiterated in the circular row of benches, double rows of London plane trees, and low concrete walls at the plaza’s edge. The plaza is paved with granite squares, a continuation of the Tenth Street Mall’s materials. The ground plane itself is concave and, with the trees and fountain, helps define the spatial volume of the plaza.