Some breaking news — good and bad — regarding the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2011 Solar Decathlon:

The bad news first: despite cries of “oh no they didn’t” from many of the 20 collegiate teams participating in the solar home building competition and even some action in the Senate, the 2011 Solar Decathlon will not be held in its original home on the National Mall come September. January’s somewhat sudden announcement that the Solar Decathlon was getting the boot so that the 684-acre National Mall could receive an extensive makeover from the National Park Service to undo years of wear and tear (much of it the result of human traffic from past Solar Decathlons) outraged many especially since numerous homes being built for the competition were designed site-specific. Over the past month, the event has been without a home as organizers have scrambled to find a new location.

And now the good news: the new location for the Solar Decathlon isn’t too far away at all (as many had feared) from its original site. It will take place in adjacent West Potomac Park, home to the National Cherry Blossom Festival, between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. As a release issued by the DOE explains, the event will be held on a peninsula just south of the new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial.

Although the decision to kick the Solar Decathlon off of the Mall proper was a cruddy and disruptive one, I suppose this is a best case scenario given that relocating the event to RFK Stadium, the Montgomery County Fairground, and locations outside of the D.C. area like Los Angeles, New York, and St. Louis was not out of the question.

Says Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in today’s announcement:

We look forward to holding another world-class Solar Decathlon in a world-class location – the National Mall’s West Potomac Park. Keeping the competition on the National Mall property allows the students to proceed with their existing home designs, specifically tailored for Washington’s latitude, temperature, and humidity conditions.  The West Potomac site is in close proximity to a number of attractions and will provide an ideal stage to highlight clean energy solutions for thousands of public visitors.

Any thoughts? Are you pleased with the DOE’s decision to keep the Solar Decathlon in D.C. and technically in the Mall park complex? Or are you bummed about the venue change even though it’s not too drastic? 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

2011 Solar Decathlon to stay on National Mall ... kind of
The Department of Energy announces a new site for the displaced Solar Decathlon as Washington, D.C.'s National Mall undergoes extensive restoration work: The ad