Akridge will announce shortly that it has chosen DC-based Shalom Baranes as the architect for Burnham Place at Union Station, the behemoth development extending behind the station and over the railroad tracks. Back in November of 2006, Akridge Real Estate Services secured the purchase of 15 acres of air rights above the railyard north of Union Station (pictured), from the General Services Administration for a hefty $10 million, setting precedent as the first sale of air rights by the federal government. At an estimated worth of $1 billion, Akridge's Burnham Place will extend north of Union station, past the Hopscotch Bridge on H Street, and house a 400-room hotel, residential towers and first-class office and retail space in a gargantuan 3 million-s.f. development. While the project has been on the radar of many a real estate habitué, few details and even fewer updates have been provided.
“Burnham Place is an exciting and important project. We interviewed candidates around the world to find a world-class architect with a demonstrated sensitivity to the local context of this site,” says Matthew J. Klein, President of Akridge. “Shalom’s skills and capabilities aligned perfectly. We are eager to move forward with the design phase of this project.”
For those wondering how a rail station can smoothly function with construction taking place above, consider Akridge's plan: support columns measuring twenty feet from the ground will be placed throughout the rail yard, upon which developers will place a concrete platform to serve as the foundation for the new floating city. Only after four years of technical negotiations with Amtrak was a conceptual construction plan decided upon.
After entering into an extensive international search for a design firm, Akridge chosen Shalom Baranes, the masterminds behind the American Red Cross HQ and the Ritz Carlton Georgetown. "For a project of this magnitude in such an important location, we felt it was beneficial to have a local firm who knows the city and the city's needs." said Mary Margaret Plumridge, Director of Marketing at Akridge. Now, the project, named after the illustrious Union Station architect, is beginning to materialize on paper. Developers are just beginning to work on a master plan and PUD which will be submitted this year, although construction on the concrete footings won't begin until 2011.
The plans involve a partnership with the federal government and the District Department Of Transportation to upgrade the transit facility, including: a second passenger concourse, an access road from Columbus Circle and an arcade that will connect Union Station to H street.
Thanks to good planning, Akridge has the support of the folks at the Smart Growth Alliance and the Urban Land Institute (ULI); both have been effusive about the project since day one. "Burnham Place will contribute to a more cohesive Washington community with connections across the city both in the east/west and north/south directions, via the removal of the current rail yard barrier" added Plumridge.