Thursday, September 27, 2012

Two Megabuildings Downtown in Pipeline for Gould


On the edge of Mount Vernon Square, where some of the last vacant lots in the downtown core still exist, plans for more office buildings are heating up.  One developer with a stake in the zone is Gould Property Company.  Gould has plans to build two oversized office buildings - a 380,000 s.f. office building at 600 Massachusetts Avenue and a 620,000 s.f. office building at 900 New York Avenue.  While both await tenants before construction will begin, sources say designs are done and waiting on the right tenant.

Gould Property's 600 Mass Ave. - Rendering courtesy CORE
Gould's "Z"-shaped parcel - nearly half the block at the corner of 6th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, was designed by Core Architecture + Design, also architect on the completed Gould project Market Square North.  The building's plan calls for 10 floors with ground floor retail.  In 2006, the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) first gave approval to the developer's concept to move two row houses it owns, 621 and 623 Eye Street, built in 1852, next to a cluster of other row houses on the southeast corner of the lot.  It also approved Gould's plans to demolish a row house at 627 Eye St. to make way for the building, and demolition has already taken place.  After the HPRB put its stamp on the demolition, a Mayor's Agent gave a final necessary nod to the plan in 2007.

Gould Property's 600 Mass Ave. - Rendering courtesy CORE
The design has also passed the Chinatown design review process necessary for buildings in the neighborhood.  "It is a very unique building because it is unlike most of Washington, DC where you basically feel like it is a box," Ron Ngiam, senior project designer with CORE, told DCMud.  With the site shaped like a "Z", architects also worked to meet the challenge of designing a building to fit a unique site.  The zoning of the site prevented a boxy, full, 10-floor building, so architects created a series of terraces.  "We were able to carve quite a bit of light and air into the building and produced a whole series of green roofs," Ngiam said.

"Instead of filling in the property with a box, we were able to do something architecturally interesting." Ngiam also said the building's setback on Eye St. respects the scale of that streetscape.  "We are quite excited about the project," he told DCMud.

600 Mass Ave. - Eye St. Frontage - Rendering courtesy CORE
The 600 Mass Ave project is not the only building in the pipeline for Gould.  The developer is also behind plans to develop a portion of the old Convention Center Site at 900 New York Ave.  The building is part of an $850 million dollar mixed-use CityCenterDC which started construction last yearHines and Archstone are developing most of the CityCenterDC master plan, which calls for condos, office buildings, apartments, and retail, replacing the 10 acres that were left empty after demolition of the old convention center in 2004.

For CityCenterDC, Gould is planning a 12-story building designed by Pickard Chilton Architects.  The design includes a center atrium that reaches the full height of the building's 12 floors.  The atrium is covered with a "unique free standing" glass roof supported by v-shaped columns.  Renderings also call for lushly planted rooftop terraces, nine-foot ceilings, and ground floor retail.

900 New York Ave. - Rendering Pickard Chilton website
Gould, run by real estate scion Kingdon Gould, obtained the site from the city in exchange for a parcel it owned 9th Street NW, which the city needed to make room for a 1,175 room Marriott Marquis through a 99-year lease agreement.

Gould is also behind plans with Vornado Realty for a massive redevelopment of Rosslyn Plaza that would replace six buildings with four new ones to include hundreds of new residential units, as well as hotel space. 

900 New York Ave. - Rendering Pickard Chilton website





At both 900 New York Avenue and 600 Massachusetts Avenue, the developer has the approvals needed to start, according to the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID).  Now all the projects need are good tenants.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

More banal crap for DC's streets. The silver lining is these buildings can be re-skinned once the glass looks as dated as the 1960's glass.

Guest said...

More banal comments from the armchair architects.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Guest. Not only is it very difficult to get anything that isn't straight down the fairway passed by the myriad architectural review boards in this city, but architects are designing not only for the people on the street, but also those using the offices. And very often what the users want are large windows and lots of light. Glass curtain wall is a great way to provide that.

dave lindahl on Sep 28, 2012, 10:27:00 AM said...

Nice post.it will be very useful and informative to us.
dave lindahl

Skidrowe said...

I too am tiring of the glass box takeover of downtown DC. Even moreso than with other types of exterior design, for glass buildings the devil is in the details--details which don't show in renderings.

CORE and Gould take note: These designs depend heavily on the quality and precise character of the curtain wall. Do your research thoroughly, don't cheap out, and remain vigilant through the shop drawing process. Above all, remember that it's not just a question of blowing up a 1/4" drawing to life size. You must include small elements--caps, reveals, etc.--which don't show up at typical elevation scales. That's what gives character and life to glass boxes.

Anonymous said...

The 600 Mass building has the advantage of being nestled within non-glass buildings, something like 455 Mass down the avenue. Glass buildings always look better in a contrasting situation. This plus the zoning-required setbacks and the historic-induced unusual floor plan provide optimism for the success of 600 Mass as shown. I wish I could be as optimistic about 900 NY Ave, but from the drawings shown it looks much less promising, much more of the developer's box with a couple little design gymnastics to provide interest.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the 600 Mass Ave project, I think the Mass Ave side is actually pretty promising -- looks like it will offer a sense of depth and layering that is so often missing from glass boxes. Unfortunately, the other side, next to the historic rowhouses, looks like the usual bland, it's-not-really-old-but-we-will-make-it-so-boring-you-won't-notice school of thought.

Not sure what to make of the City Center project. Looks like it's trying to be different, but I am not convinced.

I absolutely agree with Skidrowe regarding the importance of details. Outstanding details can make a glass box an engaging work of art. Unfortunately, outstanding details are usually expensive details, and most developers are too cheap to pay for them.

Anonymous said...

If you're tired of the glass box meme, take a nap, cause people hate those buildings. But I will agree whole heartedly with the person who said "Glass buildings always look better in a contrasting situation", just like when Mies drew the first pure glass cube rising from the 19th century grey fabric of Berlin. Unfortunatley, K street and much of downtown dosen't suffer from a Paris like urban fabric.

As for Skidrow's observation that "caps, reveals, etc.--which don't show up at typical elevation scales. That's what gives character and life to glass boxes."
That's awsome, casue nothing says character like a tight 1/4" reveal. Infact, have you seen the Vatican's reveals? Wow, forget all that beautiful art work, just sketch the caps!

Skidrowe said...

That a speculative office building in downtown DC would be compared with the Vatican shows how stunningly out of touch with reality the last commenter is.

The Vatican is perhaps the ultimate example of a building that sucked vast amounts of money from elsewhere and used it for(ostensibly) pious works of integrated art and architecture-as-art. The results are stunning, particularly when one considers that most Renaissance and Baroque era artists and construction workers lived in miserable conditions. Nowadays the Vatican sucks vast money to maintain these treasures.

Perfectly fine, but that money comes from buildings that support the MAKING of money. Such buildings, in 2012, are not historicist fantasies of carved marble and filigree, because they aren't, for most people, conducive to productive money-making. Oh, and because they cost way way way way way too much to construct.

Even nice curtain walls are too costly, much of the time. Since the architects and client for these projects have chosen curtain walls, I encourage them to do it right. It's not impossible, just requires dedication.

Anonymous said...

Skidrow,
What comparison would you like? How about the old 9:30 building on F street? That was an office building. Try almost any office building pre-WWII that gives the passerby more to contemplate than a reveal in a grid.

The vatican wasn't the point, rather the fact that somehow getting a reveal just right would suddenly make these brain dead buildings somehow beautiful. Wishful thinking.



The point is these glass grids provide nothing for the eye to enjoy.

 

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