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.
With the purchase of the Washington Post by Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos making global headlines, the paper is simultaneously looking for a new headquarters building.
Designs being considered are tied to various locations in the city and architects of the new designs are different for each potential site. Gensler, HOK, EE&K (a former employer), and SK&I are included in this roster; notably all of these firms either are based in DC or have a significant local presence.
The timing of the paper’s purchase is interesting given that significant work has already been done on these designs. Also of interest is paper’s apparent acceptance of fairly unremarkable and staid architecture for its new offices. Perhaps in its search for a new building the company ought to reconsider and look for a new building design that better reflects both the Post’s stature and that of its new owner.