Dear PoPville – Former Italian Embassy property Finally Getting Renovated, Any Details?

2700 16th Street, NW

“Dear PoPville,

Do we know what’s going on with this building, on 16th St just south of Harvard? It’s been vacant for a while and just this past week I’ve started seeing some activity and trash removal from indoors.”


From the Historic Preservation Office
Landmarks, Italian Embassy, 2700 16th Street, NW:

“The project includes conversion of the mansion to apartments, construction of a three- story addition in the north side yard, and construction of an eight-story apartment building at the rear of the site.

You can read the full report here:

Italian Embassy Plans (PDF)

From Trout Design (renderings here too):

“IL PALAZZO, Washington, DC

The former Embassy of Italy is the crown of historic “Embassy Row” in the nations capitol, located 20 blocks north of the White House, at the precipice of Meridian Hill in the heart of Washington’s hottest renaissance neighborhood of Adams Morgan-Columbia Heights. The site is 4 blocks west of the new Columbia Heights Metro and directly on the main north-south bus and automobile transportation route in and out of the city, 16th Street, N.W.

The project we designed will fully restore the exterior of the historic landmark building and the main interior monumental rooms, we converted the remainder of the mansion into luxury apartments and created a new 8 storey , L shaped condominium tower in the northwest corner of the site with a 5 storey condominium element at the south west corner. This low tower creates a harmonious contextual relationship with the existing apartment buildings at the adjacent corners to the south and south west while complementing the existing historic landmark in scale, style and detail. A new low, 3 storey north wing was designed as a spare contemporary element with a custom glass and steel curtain wall framed by stucco and masonry massing that tie this element to the landmark across a new “streetscape” along the north side of the property via a new “glass bridge”.

While we are maintaining and restoring the monumental historic entrance and ceremonial driveway along 16th Street to the east and the decorative chancery entrance on Fuller, we are also created a prominent new Fuller Street entrance in the south elevation of the new 5 storey addition and we created a new 3 storey monumental entrance to the tower on Mozart Street which together, liven this long abandoned and derelict corner of the neighborhood.

The new building will stylistically complement the existing historic resource, however it will employ finish materials that are more rich in scale, texture and finish. While the existing historic resource is finished with stucco, limestone and a clay tile roof, our new buildings feature a heavily rusticated stone base, walls clad in richly patterned roman brick, heavily fenestrated metal windows and doors capped with clay tile roofs that simultaneously create an important connection to the landmark resource, animate the towers roofline against the sky and screen the rooftop mechanical equipment.

With around 110 luxury condominium apartments and generous below grade parking, the building will become a new landmark along this historically significant boulevard. The site is one of the physically highest ridges in Washington D.C. which is visible from nearly every point in the city. With as many as 30% of the apartments have direct connection to private outdoor space, most apartments on the site offer commanding views of downtown Washington and the Potomac river basin, the Washington National Cathedral and the landmark spires to the north. The unique and luxurious character of the apartments, ranging from efficiency to 3 bedroom units, surpasses anything the market has seen in many years. Custom millwork, wood and stone flooring, high ceilings and oversized operable windows all combine to make this one of the most desirable addresses in the new city core.

The Zoning commission expressed their support of the project design as exhibiting “all of the characteristics of exemplary urban design and architecture. The project will invigorate a vacant site along a major District corridor. The superior architecture of the addition complements the landmark and highlights the historic resource rather than overpowering it.”

Construction is schedule to begin in Q-1, 2012 with delivery of units beginning in Q-3, 2013.”

Ed. Note: Obviously the timing has gotten pushed back a bit.

10 Comment

  • About time. Thanks for the project details.

  • This is great. More residential density to this area spells a better future for AdMo businesses, which can hopefully migrate away from booze to a more mature mix of retail.

  • you can tell how old this plan is because they refer to the “new Columbia Heights Metro.” That development sign has been up since around 2005 or 2006.

  • Just curious – how does that work? The country cedes the property to the District? Or was it privately owned and rented by Italy? I always thought Embassies were sovereign ground or something like that.

    • Although embassies are, or can be, sovreign territory while owned/used by the foreign nation, they are just real estate, and are bought and sold like any other piece of property. However, of course when sold to a private owner, as in this case, the sovreign territory status ends

      The District is only involved as far as reviewing the developement plans just like it would with any project; this one happens to be historic so the is also that type of reivew.

      • It’s a commonly held myth that Embassies and Consulates are sovereign territory of foreign countries. They are not. The properties are inviolable per the Vienna Convention, but they remain the territory of the country they are in. This is why people who are born in a US Embassy abroad to foreign national parents are not automatically US citizens.

  • This sounds/looks awesome! I want to move in! Wish they would update the timetable on their website.

  • Looks like the new construction will be in the classical style of the original building, which pleases me – hopefully the materials and details will do proper homage to the orginal building. The “modern” glass, steel (with or without the “eco wood” upgrade) facades are looking pretty tired and dated to me.

  • That sign went up in 2006 or 2007, and thats the same description from back then. Don’t think anything is happening anytime soon.

  • There was activity about two weeks ago — a dumpster out front that was subsequently removed — and then nothing. The property gate has been wide open and there are at least two easy means of ingress in the back that I saw.

    This is not the sign of a responsible, community-minded developer. It will be like a magnet for all kinds of illicit activity inside the building, if it isn’t already…

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