WMATA Trio - CODAworx


Client: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Location: Washington, DC, United States

Completion date: 2022

Project Team

Artist Team

Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa




Ignition Arts


Studios Architecture


Located within the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s new Headquarters, this sculptural triptych was inspired by the immediate site as well as the broader context of Washington, D.C. Pierre L’Enfant’s visionary urban plan for the district echoes throughout each sculpture, as do the architectural features of Harry Weese’s iconic D.C. metro stations, and Studios Architecture’s WMATA HQ design. In the same manner the HQ and streetscape echo the geometric qualities of the nearby L’Enfant Plaza station, Hou de Sousa maintained this dialogue by deploying a vocabulary of intersecting diagonal lines, rounded corners, and coffered spaces within each sculpture. The triptych consists of the suspended lobby piece, “Aura” as well as the exterior sculptures, “Hooray” and “Pebble”. The project opened to the public in 2022 and is located at 300 7th Street SW, Washington, D.C.


“Hooray” is composed of steel fins radially arranged to reflect D.C.’s urban grid. It is situated within a pocket of public space notched away from the perimeter of the HQ building. This idea of creating shared space to enhance the community became a key driver when designing the sculpture. The heart of the sculpture is carved away, creating an aperture and public throne that encourages direct engagement and use. The sculpture serves as a landmark observable from a great distance, while its richly textured fins, inspired by the color of cherry blossoms and DC metro lines, invite visual exploration from all angles. “Aura” consists of 34 coffered frames interwoven with blue, yellow, and green polyester cord in reference to DC’s metro lines. This site-specific piece was shaped by the curvaceous architectural context of the WMATA Headquarters, while simultaneously drawing inspiration from the geometries and spaces of D.C.s iconic vaulted stations. “Pebble” is a yellow, latticed sculptural bench made of hand-forged painted steel rods that encircles a cherry tree. “Pebble” negotiates between the boundary of its site and the tree within it, ultimately providing a unique bench and a horizontal counterpoint to “Hooray's” vertical presence.