58 Comment

  • Thank god. That building is currently lifeless at street level and built back in the days when ground floor retail was a bad word.

  • Lotsa birds will be smashing into lotsa windows.

  • Sad, but not surprising, that they are taking ALL the character out of the building.

    • I think it would be funny if they retained the decorative dome and put it back on.

      • Really? I think the dome looks ridiculous, like it was thrown on there as an afterthought.

        Nothing says ‘1980s eclecticism’ like a Brutalist building with a neoclassical cupola on top.

        • that’s not brutalist. brutalism is unfinished concrete (from the french beton brut) in a blocky design with minimal details. Look at the HUD building, or FBI building, for example.

    • I agree. While it might not be the prettiest design it has character! Why do these glass boxes just keep getting approved!

      • Because they’re attractive?

        • The glass boxes get built and approved because developers and architects don’t want the idiots from the HPRB to have wet dreams over their buildings, and landmark them or declare them brutalist shrines or whatever it is they do.

          • That’s right -blame it on the HPRB (let’s see- what areas of the city are the most desirable to live in with the highest property values? – that’s right regulated historic districts) – at the commercial level it’s really all about BOMA and rentable space. It has nothing to do with the HPRB – it takes more than 30 year for something to even remotely become significant. By that time the architect and developer have long moved on…

  • The current building is bad design. The replacement is bland design. I’m not sure which is worse.

      • +1 indeed!

        The current structure is the architectural equivalent of a green leisure suit.

        • Isn’t there something reassuringly nostalgic about that leisure suit larry hanging out down on M Street? After all, this place isn’t that far from Excalibur, right?

          I’m not saying the current building is any kind of masterpiece. But the replacement is definitely worse. And the amount of energy that will go into the re-skinning will surely be more than whatever is saved through a “LEED-certified,” won’t it? Moving all of that heavy stone to the dump will eat up a lot of fuel.

        • Sorry, just realized that the proposed replacement is entirely new construction.

          I guess it’s good the new construction will be more energy-efficient. But I seriously doubt the environmental impact from tearing down and re-building will be offset by the marginally more efficient operations of the new building. Concrete manufacturing alone is an extremely dirty business, both in terms of greenhouse gas production and water pollution.

          Thanks to Anon 709 below who found this:


  • There are two or three—maybe more—buildings within a few blocks of this one that look almost EXACTLY like it. Sure, the facade that it’s replacing looks dated, but so will this one in 30 years.

  • The old design is ugly, dark, and a mishmash of styles. It looks like a parking garage.

    The new design is bright and modern. Employees working in the new building will have much better access to natural light, which means better productivity and a happier workforce.

    Europeans figured this out a long time ago, and it’s the reason why German, Danish, Dutch, and Norwegian laws require every work space to have natural lighting.

    • So places where the sun rarely shines mandate natural lighting? That’s funny. Anyway, I walk by this building every day and think it looks like hell. Anything will be an improvement.

      • As far as the sun ‘rarely’ shining, most of Scandanavia receives 19 hours or more of daylight during the summer months. I was in Amsterdam on the summer solstice a few years ago and it was daylight at 11PM.

        Of course, Europeans take 5 weeks of vacation per year so they are usually in Spain or Greece during the brightest months.

    • Europeans vary their designs. They don’t just keep putting up the same curtain wall box building everywhere. What the hell is going on in DC! Is this what design by DC committee gets us…. generic boriness!

    • Hmm…Anon5… are you the architect here?

  • Maybe I’m alone but I kind of enjoy the current style, it’s weird but not an eyesore. Additionally all the new glass box buildings seem to me to be much less permanent. Maybe this makes future redevelopment in 50 years easier? By then there will probably be glass box apologists trying to turn them into historic landmarks to preserve them.

    • The current building was almost certainly built in the 1980s, because I remember when this kind of ‘style’ was all the rage.

      P.S. I just checked and it was built in 1986.

    • Your’re not alone. I like the current building too. Certainly a lot more than the blandness proposed to replace it.

  • What a huge waste. Unless there is a major structural problem with the existing building there is no good reason to tear it down and put up another office building in its place. If they don’t like how the exterior of this building looks or they are looking to add ground floor retail they could accomplish either of those with a renovation that left the main structure intact.
    And on the design, are glass boxes the only thing we can come up with now?

    • “And on the design, are glass boxes the only thing we can come up with now?”

      Who is ‘we’? What designs have you originated?

  • Who’s the architect?

    • According to Wash Biz Journal article from June 2011, the new architect is Lehman Smith McLeish.

      • Incidentally, Lehman Smith McLeish is headquartered in the District. They also designed the interior space of the Wilmer Hale law office building, which is freaking impressive, and hands-down the most awe-inspiring interior of any law firm building that I’ve seen (and I’ve seen quite a few). The interior is open and spacious, with well-lit offices and conference rooms, and water features in the lobby.

        • LOL…. you totally work for them.
          A bit of advice… don’t oversell design so patiently if you want people to not know who you are. I’m pretty sure everybody else in the city doesn’t have wet dreams about your building.

  • Here are the details that most people don’t bother to look up:

    Old building: 229,000 square feet, 25,000 square feet per floor, 9 floors, no low-energy certification. Interior column spacing: 22 feet. Designed by Smith Segretti Tepper, finished in 1987. Built to 1984 National Code energy standards.

    New building: 284,000 square feet, 32,000 square feet per floor, 10 floors, interior column spacing: 44 feet. Meets LEED GOLD ‘Green Building’ certification. This means the new building will be MUCH more energy efficient than the old one, resulting in lower rents and lower carbon emissions.

    • there is no chance that the end result of this redevelopment is “lower rents” due to LEED certification.

      • Of course it will. Lower heating and cooling costs – on the order of tens of thousands of dollars per month for the whole building – means tenants will have to pay less.

        If cooling/heating are included in rent, and everything else stays the same, rents should drop as energy consumption drops.

        If cooling/heating are paid by the tenants themselves, those tenants will see substantial real-world savings from day one.

        It costs a fortune to heat and cool massive office buildings, especially heat traps like the old granite building above. I bet that thing was an energy sinkhole.

        • again, there is absolutely zero chance that the owners of this building are spending money to renovate it so they can charge less rent. zero chance.

          it may be the case that someone saves on utilities, but tenants will certainly pay more to lease new Class A office space than space in a building built 25 years ago.

          Also: LEED is b.s.

          • Read more carefully. I never said that the motivation for renovation was to lower rents. What I did say is that lower energy costs for an entire building generally result in lower costs for tenants, whether or not HVAC are included in rent.

            “Also: LEED is b.s.”

            I’m not going to bother.

          • LEED certification is pretty much a scam. You don’t need it to have a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient building. LEED is the same as those “Who’s Who” books.

    • Aesthetics aside, the greenest building is an existing building.

      • That makes sense, and it works the same for cars. After all, a car built in 1985 is much more green that one built in 2012.

        Oh, wait.

        • Old buildings can be retrofitted with new systems to make them more energy efficient. Tearing down an existing building (no matter how ugly) to build a new building is extremely wasteful and has a huge environmental impact.

  • Oh boy! another uninspired, boring glass box! DC architecture is so exciting, you guys!

  • So no more Freshii?

    • I know! I’m more concerned about losing Freshii and the best Post Office in DC. That Post Office has the nicest staff and is SO much better than the one at 18th and M.

  • it has the purity of a virgin. love it

  • i’m no glass box fan, but the existing building has been a fugly blight on downtown for 20 years; be gone!

  • This is in no way a Brutalist building and it has nothing to do with Brutalism. I think 99 percent of the people on here who like to call a building brutalist have no idea what the term even means. This building is post-Modernism at its worst.

  • The downtown office district does NOT need another glass box.

  • Oh Noes! We can’t ruin some hipster urban pioneer’s aesthetic wet dream to consider the people who WORK there. You know, the people who actually SPEND TIME there instead of just strolling by on the way to an organic farmers market. I’d rather have more natural light.

  • austindc

    That is a lovely fish tank!

  • Since it looks like a stack of lucite containers from the Container Store anyway, why doesn’t someone just start making modular office buildings of individual glass pods that can be manufactured in a factory & stacked on site in any configuration? Like glass legos?

  • brookland_rez

    I may be in the minority, but I think the old building looks better than a glass box.

Comments are closed.