Office Building Architecture

We learned last week that the preparation for the construction of the AAMC Headquarters on the 600 Block of K Street NW is pushing along aggessively. However renderings are yet to be unveiled. The renderings we saw for the I-395 Air-rights project in April left us uninspired. The all glass office buildings don’t seem to be favorites among residents. The question begs – which new construction D.C. office building actually feature architecture that is beloved?

For the purpose of the discussion let’s say the criteria is an office building constructed in D.C. since 1990 that is entirely new construction – no integration of historic buildings that were previously on the site. If you really have a great example from another city to share feel free to do so as long at it fits within the scale of the D.C. height limit. I don’t think nominating the Trump Tower Chicago adds anything useful to this conversation.

AARP HQ at 601 E Street NW

I’ll nominate the AARP Headquarters at 601 E Street NW that was built in 1991. I like that the architecture has a mixture of masonary materials and a variety of architectural features at different height levels. I feel that level of detail adds a great deal of visual interest.

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  1. 1

    washingtonydc says

    I think the AARP building has interesting elements but it just seems to be a blackhole of vibrancy. Having lived near it for years, I walk past it a lot. It’s always eerily quiet–it stands more like a fortress with its gated arches than anything inviting.

    While a lot of people don’t care for it, I’m much more impressed with the new construction at 10th and G NW than I thought I’d be. I really like how the exterior of the first two floors speaks to the church contained inside and echos St Patrick’s across the street.

  2. 2

    FourthandEye says

    AARP would be better if it had ground floor retail for sure. I think we know ground floor retail is an element we value. But there seems to be less discussion and consensus on which new office buildings have appealing facades. Typically I just read comments of ‘boring’ or ‘blech’ that don’t shed light on what the person actually would like instead.

    Facade wise AARP is one of the best I can come up with off the top of my head. Your suggestion is pretty good one as well. I like the dark grey brick. It’s something different and has the look of a high quality material unlike stonework on some recently constructed buildings…

  3. 3

    Donna says

    The World Bank Building has long been a favorite of mine. It has a lot of energy and movement and reminds me of a ship about to sail. Yes I am a fan of the steel and glass (when done right) I believe strongly in historic preservation which is why I like buildings that reflect the era that they were built in.

  4. 4

    M Street says

    I really like the new building that went up at 1050 K St. a few years ago. It’s a very modern glass and steel design, but it has a lot of unique details – asymmetrical roof and front; nice landscaping and a water feature outside; and steel-wrapped columns on the 11th street side that give a nod to more traditional Washington architecture. Most importantly, it has great retail space on the ground floor (currently occupied by a Potbelly and the Tesla showroom). It’s not at all fortress-like (which I see as a drawback of both the AARP and World Bank buildings). As seen from the street, it is welcoming and transparent.

    I’d love to see something like this go in at 600 K.

  5. 6

    P V Beddoe says

    I am a big fan of the National Association of Realtors office building on the triangle at 500 New Jersey Ave NW. It’s glass and steel, unembarrassed to be modern but is graceful and interesting both from a distance and up close. The pedestrian approach is attractive has public art and water features and preserves a big ol’ tree in the corner. The Billy Goat seems to be quite popular with Law Students and local office types, too.

  6. 7

    JEHarms says

    500 8th Street which will soon house The Riot Act is one of my favorites. It has a classic concrete facade on 9th and E streets which will surely stand the test of time. On 8th street, it has integrated the street-scape and the office building to add to the neighborhood feel. This building was developed by Boston Properties, which has also done great work at 901 NY (Acadiana buildng), Square 54 on Washington Circle, and will be redeveloping the old NPR site.