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DGS Installs Storyboard Mural ’28 Blocks’ at Penn Center in NOMA

Monday, November 13, 2017

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Beginning August 7th and continuing through the end of this month, the Energy and Sustainability division of the Department of General Services (DGS), working with artist Garin Baker, is installing a mural on the façade of Penn Center in NOMA, located at 1709 3rd Street, NE that depicts the story behind the creation and carving of the Lincoln Memorial statue which now sits on the National Mall. The mural is titled ‘28 Blocks.’

’28 Blocks’ tells the story of the immigrants and freed slaves who toiled to move each block of the 19’ high, 150-ton marble sculpture of the Lincoln Memorial into place. The 60’ by 160’ mural was hand painted on 156 individual sections of parachute cloth in the studio of artist Garin Baker, using Acrylic Nova Colors which were chosen for quality and longevity. Special polymer glue adheres the mural to the building façade and a final coating and varnish add UV and graffiti protection, enabling minimal maintenance for many years.

Positioned adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Train in NOMA, the project commitment creates a piece of art that expands on the sense of history and community as well as represent the city’s sustainable commitment. DGS Director Greer Johnson Gillis said, “This mural serves as a celebration of unsung American heroes, trails, history, urban landscape, community, and as a beacon for the way that murals connect people, buildings, and the environment.”

’28 Blocks’ creates a unique and artful space that encourages healthy lifestyles and enables all residents to thrive and take part in a collective, equitable and sustainable future.

Some of the sustainable elements near the ’28 Blocks’ mural include:

Penn Center is a registered LEED Commercial interior (2016 DCPL)

Adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail

DGS bike Fix-It Station location

Capital Bike Share nearby

Revitalizes and beautifies a frequently tagged, high visibility, high maintenance façade

Standing at 19’ high, the Lincoln Memorial is a 150-ton marble sculpture that was carved from the finest white marble found in the U.S. Marble was cut and hauled from the mountains in Northwest Georgia by the sons of African slaves. These free-working men drilled hundreds of horizontal holes and broke the block away from the quarry floor by forcing wedges into gadder holes. The blocks were then lifted from the quarry using massive booms then carefully lowered onto flatcars.

Twenty-eight blocks of marble were sent to the Mott Haven Section of the Bronx, New York (commonly known as the South Bronx of NY), where six sons of Giuseppi Piccarilli, an immigrant from Massa Carrara, Italy trained in Florence and Rome, set about carving methodically and precisely from a smaller version of the Lincoln Memorial by American sculptor Danial Chester French. The Piccarilli brothers carved the statue one block at a time with an adherence to time-honored classical traditions. The first time the carved 28 blocks were pieced together was after reaching their permanent destination on the National Mall. The fit was flawless.

“We want our public buildings to engage residents, visitors and elevate our communities. ‘28 Blocks’ is an epic and beautiful public work of art that explores history, social justice and the relationship between our built environment, nature, and people. We hope it inspires and connects people,” said Zach Dobelbower, DGS Director of Sustainability and Energy.

Pristine white marble in the U.S. derived mostly from the state of Georgia. Marble companies, such as the Georgia Marble Company, depended on the labor of freed slaves, and, given the lack of employment opportunities during the early 1900s, many African American workers found employment in marble and rock quarries.

’28 Blocks’ pays homage to the people responsible for cutting out, hauling, carving and erecting the iconic Lincoln Memorial and also serves as a sustainable gateway to downtown Washington, DC.


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The Department of General Services’ (DGS) mission is to elevate the quality of life for the District with superior construction, first-rate maintenance, and expert real estate management. By building and maintaining safe and green state-of-the-art facilities which foster economic growth and elevate educational environments, our trusted and skillful employees create modern and vibrant communities across all of the District of Columbia.