Sunday, July 20, 2008

Modern Update : Existing Office Buildings

The general trend with updating old and dated office buildings within the District has been to clad everything in glass. We covered this issue in a previous post and you can read how we think this can be both a positive and a negative thing to do. One building in particular along the 1100 block of 16th Street, NW took a different approach with it's modernizations. The original building was a semi-interesting mid-century modern structure. The majority of the facade was placed in a frame containing ribbon windows and a metal cladding banding horizontally between the windows. Instead of ripping the facade to shreds and facing it entirely with a monotonous glass system, the horizontal bands were maintained, but the metal spandrels were re-clad. The were panelized with a very simple, yet elegant oversized weaving system of panels. Each metal panel is slightly etched with another interlocking design to continue the theme. The theme is strong yet not overplayed. The woven facade gives a more delicate association to the heavy material. A new canopy entrance also brings the building up to date. The brilliant red geometric sliver gestures to the street, pulling the passerby in towards the building. It is pierced overhead by a roof system of steel structure and glass. These two elements play off of each other in a juxtaposition of vertical and horizontal massings. The red wall slopes into the glass elevation of the lobby and continues inside following the lobby wall. This is a nice connection between the exterior and the interior architectures. The lobby is a simple space where the walls seem to pierce the ceiling plane and are lit at this connection. The round columns are clad in an energetic mosaic tile in black with pink specs. This building has successfully been reborn. It's original features were not obliterated, but rethought and celebrated. Texture, color, patterning and materiality are what make this one stand out on the streetscape.


  1. It definitely stands out, I notice it every time I drive by (this is on 16th near K, right?)