As Washington DC’s most recent major urban retail, residential, and commercial hub grows out of its newness, detractors like The Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott may or may not overcome fears of minimalism that border on paranoia to see City Center DC for what it is: one of Washington’s most well considered, designed, and executed developments. Yes I’m a little biased having been part of the architectural team that Kennicott only credits lightly. It appears that mention of the local team would not have fit his narrative that this development is a super posh overly jet set oriented place.
Contrary to all of this grumpy anti commercialism however, one suspects time will demonstrate that the urban design ideas at work here; breaking down the grid into more manageable pedestrian oriented streets, for example, are in fact successful and that the result will be a vibrant urban enclave. While it does cater to those with means, City Center DC will hold up as a good public place in marked contrast to the overly car oriented urban design and otherwise historicist pastiche that has characterized other recent DC area projects. Which remains to be seen.
Now that people are moving in to the residences at City Center, and the neighborhood is starting to come together, the feeling is that it was truly gratifying to be part of the project. From the urban design that focussed on heightened pedestrian connectivity, achieving LEED ND pre-certification partly by re opening Tenth Street to the apartments themselves where elegance and simplicity rule, this is a truly unique project in North America.
After a long wait, people are moving into the apartments and condos at City Center DC and a few stores are even now open, beginning to show what a LEED ND Gold neighborhood is like. This and a recent announcement about the next building, a Conrad hotel are generating buzz that Georgetown is now receiving some competition as DC’s main pedestrian oriented retail nexus.
One of the main urban design coups of the project and one that makes me most proud of my involvement as a project team architect is that 10th St is now re-opened, it having been closed for 30 some years.
Washington DC’s City Center DC project is nearing completion and the project’s architect of record and designer of two of the six buildings on the site, Shalom Baranes is urging changes to the city’s height restrictions that would enable more of this type of project.