Giant Food at City Market at O wins Coveted Grocery Store Equivalent of an Oscar for Best Overall Design

7th and O Street, NW

From a press release:

“Roadside Development, LLC (Roadside) is pleased to announce that the Giant Food at City Market at O won the Award for Best Overall Design for a grocery store from Progressive Grocer. The Award is part of Progressive Grocer’s annual design competition that recognizes store design, construction and store impact. Shalom Baranes Associates (SBA) was the architect for the overall project and JCA Architects was the project architect for the Giant interior. Progressive Grocer is a national publication centered on the grocery store and grocery distribution industry.

The state-of-the-art 78,000 square foot Giant Food Store, is located in the historic O Street Market at 7th and O streets, the cornerstone of this 1 million square foot development project. “It is rewarding to work with a talented team that produces such quality places,” said Richard Lake, founding Partner, Roadside Development, LLC, developer of City Market at O. “Our design team incorporated this new modern store with a National Historic Landmark building. Combining the charm of a 19th century marketplace with 21st century efficiency and innovation to create a very comfortable and compelling retail environment.” More than a quarter of the new store, including the produce section, resides under the historic O Street Market structure.

The Giant is part of a 1 million square foot, two-block redevelopment that includes 4 residential buildings, a Cambria Suites Hotel, the Giant Store, and another 10,000 sf of retail. “This is a neighborhood friendly mixed use design. By placing the service areas for all uses below grade, including the giant grocery loading, we were able to minimize loading docks and service areas at street level,” said Robert M. Sponseller, Design Principal, Shalom Baranes Architects. “We wanted the street facades to be neighborhood scaled and friendly. We also proposed that the restored historic market building be renovated and used as part of their store. It has a wonderful character and quality and connects to the neighborhood historically and culturally. Giant deserves credit for being receptive to both of these innovative concepts.”

“It was critical for us to pay attention to the historic elements of the market in the redesign of the store,” said John Cooney, president, JCA Architects. “The history helped set the tone for the store’s overall interior, and we were able to incorporate historic elements, including the dramatic pitch of the roof, into a design that is crisp, clean and current.”

It is not just the design that is unique. The Giant Food store is the largest traditional grocer in the city and it boasts a beer and wine bar, so customers can sip while they shop. It also has an expanded produce section, an up graded wine selection, a strong mix of international products, and a deli with a full and take out section.

“Our vision for City Market at O is that it will become an integral part of the Shaw community, even the center point of this historic neighborhood,” said Lake. City Market at O reveals how the successful intersection of old and new can create a place that truly appeals to long-term residents as well as new ones. The Giant has become a gathering place for the neighborhood, even for a few dates. “The mix of housing combined with new and old architecture in the project creates a truly authentic environment that readily integrates with the neighborhood and has proven to be a catalyst to development in Shaw,” said Lake.”

34 Comment

  • It’s an excellent addition to the neighborhood. I’m really surprised the gelato place hasn’t opened yet. They missed out on the summer rush! REALLY looking forward to Mintwood 2.

  • justinbc

    Is there a parking garage for this Giant? I’ve been really curious to check it out since it opened but I’m not going to fight Shaw parking headaches just to see a grocery store.

    • TBH, parking around here isn’t too brutal so long as you don’t go on Sundays when all the churches are in session. Saturdays have been dead in this grocery store. It’s sort of weird.

    • I drive to the dry-cleaners, and I have never had a problem getting parking right on 7th, but there is a free garage across the street from the Giant on 8th between O and P. That said, other than the “market” section with high ceilings, it is pretty much just a normal Giant.

    • Yes and there is also an electric car charging station in the garage.

  • I thought the layout of this giant was pretty bad actually…..very hard to navigate

    • I agree. I’ve been going since the grand opening, and it’s tough to navigate. Also which that the ceilings were higher in the “modern” section of the store.

    • Yeah it is. I love this grocery store but it definitely took me a handful of visits to figure out where stuff was. There’s a weird “L” bend in the middle that makes it difficult to get from one side to the other, so if you don’t get your groceries in the right order you end up making some extra laps around aisles.

    • Agree. Can’t tell whether the award is more for the thought of how they executed the old market with the new store than for actually designing a functional, great-looking interior. If the former – ok, I get it (though wished it was more obvious once inside that you were in the old market), If the latter – I think the newer Safeway’s look much nicer and are easier to navigate once inside.

  • it’s ok on the inside. Not very easy to get around…but grocery stores don’t really want you to zip in and out quickly–they prefer if you linger and pass buy/purchase more stuff.

    But the fact that it’s completely inaccessible from 7th street and the whole development provides mostly blank walls for 2 blocks of 7th and 9th street (the two main streets in Shaw) is insane and a major design flaw. I can’t believe the ANC, Shaw Main Streets, Office of Planning, etc. let them get away with that.

  • Haven’t been inside, but the outside is classy. I’m sure incorporating the historic elements added costs, but they were worth it. I wish other commercial and residential developers could elevate their designs to this level.

    The Safeway at 6th and K and of course the new Petworth Safeway are also leaps and bounds ahead of previously existing options. Are we in a new Golden Age of Grocery Stores?

  • You have got to be kidding — the outside may be nice but the inside is absurdly awful. It is impossible to navigate and the staff never know where anything is. If you are searching for a single thing, say peanuts you have to look in several different aisles (ethnic foods, produce, snacks, baking, random other places). They seem to have organized the store based on what they think shoppers of different ethnic backgrounds want, and it seems to have eluded them that beans, are beans, are beans and perhaps they should put all like items together…

  • Arrrgh have these people ever actually tried to use the Giant? In terms of the urban fabric, it’s a disaster. By having no entrances on 7th, O, or P Streets, it disconnects that entire block from the rest of the neighborhood and forces it to be an insular, inward-looking development separate from the city at large. P Street is marred by blank facades, 7th is brick and unusable doors, and 9th is nothing but a wall with an entrance to the parking garages.

    I’m glad they were able to reuse the original 7th Street facade, but why would you incorporate that and then render it useless? A real disappointment and a missed opportunity. And in no way deserving of this award.

  • I can walk to the Columbia Heights Giant from my house, but much prefer this Giant. The parking garage across the street is convenient, the store is beautiful and easy to navigate (not sure what other people are finding difficult, but I find the layout to be quite intuitive), great selection and not overly crowded. Of course, if this place were to be as densely crowded with customers as the Co Heights Giant gets, all bets could be off. But, so far so good!

  • I don’t usually have strong feelings about grocery stores, but I love this Giant. It’s huge, lovely, has an amazing selection of just about everything, good prices and really nice staffers.

    • Yeah agreed, the staff is really nice and the selection is spot on. I love it!!

      But anyone who doesn’t already shop there, STAY AWAY, it’s terrible, you would hate it.

    • diploj

      Absolutely agree. Staff is helpful, lines are short, food selection (especially gluten free for my wife) is good, and prices are what you’d expect from Giant. Sure – they may only have one entrance (which conveniently faces the parking garage), but I think they did a very good job of incorporating — and really saving — the O St Market facade.

      • My dad who has celiac visited recently and we found the gluten-free isle to be disappointing. Unless I missed a huge aisle, the selection was small and hard to find among the “organic” foods.

  • They really need to turn the door on the corner of 7th and O into a real entrance. And while we’re talking about that general neck of the woods, P St between 7th and 9th really needs to be repaved immediately. The bumps were understandable when the building was under construction, but now that it’s done… Oh, and they really need a bikeshare station right there.

  • I live just a few blocks away and go to this store a few times a month, but don’t love it. I tend to shop at Whole Foods and find that the prices at Giant for the products I like at Whole Foods tend to be markedly higher. (Which means that they are really, really expensive.) And the organic produce selection is pretty terrible. The store has an enormous selection, but surprisingly few of their options are things I actually want to buy.

  • I’m in the pro-Giant camp here. This is a great Giant. The idea that there must be an entrance on P/O/7th street is the Urban Design equivalent of “sentences must not end with prepositions.” This is good rule-of-thumb in many cases, but thinking every block needs entrances is an urban design principle up with which I shall not put.

    • I see your point but 7th Street is THE MAIN COMMERCIAL CORRIDOR. It’s where the foot traffic is, the Metro stops, the other stores, everything else. But it’s now just a black hole in that otherwise continuous stretch of liveliness.

  • If you have not seen the 1400 block of 9th Street, NW — the backside, or ASS, of the City Market at O Street Project — then you may not draw the visceral conclusions that I have drawn.

    Roadside’s City Market at O development has destroyed an entire block of 9th Street frontage. This destroyed block look like the perimeter of a federal prison. And better yet, if faces an block of historic row-houses. I can’t imagine anybody this close to Roadside’s big “F-U” would feel any differently than I do.

    Roadside has lost their integrity to building in this neighborhood after destroying the entire 1400 block of 9th Street.

    • Indeed. Roadside is now in the running to develop the city owned lot at the corner of O St and 8th and I’m sure they’re chomping at the bit to buy Scripture Cathedral (corner 9th and O). If they get both of those they may well ignore (at best) 9th again. Here’s hoping two different developers get their hands on those two lots so 9th has a better chance of being developed.

  • Couple of things…
    1) While yes, it would be nice if you could get inside from 7th, it would cause them to have to reorient the interior and/or add cash registers at those doors, which I highly doubt they could do at this point… is it really that big of a deal to walk around? I doubt anyone is choosing not to go to the store because they have to walk around.
    2) yeah the 9th St side is bare, but not only is it supposed to get developed further, but do you remember what it was like before?? Wasn’t it just the back of a VERY ugly Giant (aka, a blank wall)?

  • Wow–I try to avoid these snippy snarkfests, but I can’t let this go. I’ve lived a block from this Giant for almost 20 years, and this store is a gazillion-percent improvement over anything we’ve ever had or imagined. It’s pleasant, attractive, clean, safe. Selection is quite good, and staff is quite helpful. Could it be more fabulous, in terms of urban planning? Does it take a few visits before you figure out the layout (Isn’t this true of all grocer stores)? Yes. Still, though, come on, man!

  • A. The new Giant was designed to be inaccessible to the neighborhood. It’s mostly for the “luxury” apartment dwellers. Probably along the same line of thought as the rooftop dog park which allows to live in Shaw but not to actually have to interact with anyone that lives in the buildings around you. (Think Penny’s Mom from Hairspray…the original version…)

    B. Go to Safeway. They got them gas points and that Just for U app. Which is bananas!

    • Most apartment buildings have amenities that are private. How is this news?
      How is the Giant “inaccessible to the neighborhood”? That is just nuts. As far as I can see, the 5th & L Safeway is indistinguishable from the new Giant except that it’s claustrophobic and the lines are long.
      (Giant has gas points, too, btw.)

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