Showing posts with label Devrouax and Purnell Architects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Devrouax and Purnell Architects. Show all posts

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Today in Pictures - Progression Place

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Progression Place may be only one of numerous projects underway in Shaw, but it will be one of the first large development to be completed.  Developers began work in 2010 on with 100,000 s.f. of office space, a 205-unit residential apartment building, and 20,000 square feet of street-level retail. The project was designed by architects Eric Colbert & Associates and Devrouax + Purnell, and built by Davis Construction.
Ellis Development, The Jarvis Company, and Four Points combined forces to build the project above the Shaw Metro station. 

Washington, D.C real estate development news

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Former Metro Ice Warehouse To Be Replaced By Residential

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The former Metro Ice warehouse at 50 Florida Avenue, NE is set to begin a long-rumored conversion to a residential building, according to a PUD application filed recently by B&B Realty Investments. "The building we expect will have somewhere in the range of 185 to 200 units," said David Bralove, Principal at B&B. "Along with 15,000 square feet of ground floor retail. As to whether it will be condos or rentals, we don't know yet. Right now we're hoping to get on the board's July schedule - they don't have hearings in August - which would put us on track for final PUD approval in early 2013."

Drawings from architect Devrouax + Purnell depict a nine-story, v-shaped building, with a twelve-foot-high granite base and limestone veneer, its facade dominated by glass panels and juliet balconies. Inside, there will be three unit types; efficiencies, one bedrooms, and two bedrooms, ranging from 450 to 945 square feet. Plans also include 72 below-grade parking spaces and a large green roof.

B&B purchased the 62,000-square-foot ice warehouse in early 2011 for a rumored price of a little less than $10 million. The lot, which is just under an acre, is presently zoned for commercial use only, but developers have applied to have the zoning amended to C-3-B, over protests from some locals.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fenty Gives DOES Staff Early Christmas/Goodbye Present

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This morning Mayor Fenty and the Department of Employment Services (DOES) celebrate their brand new headquarters at 4058 Minnesota Ave NE with an official unveiling. Likely the government staff to have worked the hardest over this past year, it's fair to say they deserve some fancy new digs.

The five-story, Devrouax & Purnell-designed mixed-use building neighbors the Minnesota-Benning Metro Station, encouraging District employees to use mass transit, and offers over 200,000 s.f. of top-notch workspace, as well as 7,000 s.f. of ground-floor retail space and a four-story parking garage. The new headquarters is one of many efforts by the District and partnering developers towards revitalizing Ward 7; it is hoped the headquarters is eventually joined by the Linda Joy and Kenneth Jay Pollin Memorial Community Development and City's Interests' 15-acre Parkside Residential.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Red Sox - 0; Nationals - 1

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by Beth Herman

It would appear baseball’s loss is architecture’s gain. Right around the time most high school students are clomping through chemistry and considering calculus, Marshall Purnell of Devrouax & Purnell Architects and Planners was also considering Fenway, weighing an offer from the Boston Red Sox.


“I said no,” Purnell recalled of his junior year in Michigan. “It was the ‘60s, not yesterday, and there was no money in sports at the time: $10,000 a year with a $5,000 signing bonus. It was more money than my dad was making, but I just knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to college.” Four decades later, Purnell, the former high school baseball and basketball star, would stand beside the new 41,888-seat, $611 million Nationals Park in SE D.C. as one of its architects, the first ballpark in the country to achieve LEED certification.

Matters of State


Plying his trade since 1978, the former federal agency liaison for AIA (“the greatest job in the world for a young architect”) had met his partner, Paul Devrouax, at a NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects) conference three years earlier. Devrouax, who died of a heart attack on March 22 at age 67, had offered his prospective partner something none of the other firms around the country with which Purnell met when he left AIA had offered: a career instead of a job. “Paul basically understood where I wanted to go, and he wanted to go to the same place,” Purnell said. Reflecting on the beginning of their partnership, with contacts that included the Assistant Secretary of State in charge of foreign buildings, who was first an AIA boss, Purnell said he brought in two jobs the first day and spent subsequent weeks as a State Department knight errant in 15 degree-below temperatures in Moscow, Belgrade and T’bilisi. “We ended up doing cabinet drawings for the State Department for the next three years,” Purnell said, which he explained meant taking all the floor plans, elevations and the like for ambassadorial residences around the world and making sure they’re correct, putting them into English and standardizing metric numbers, for 87 nations. “It wasn’t glamorous, but it helped pay the rent,” the architect said.

State Department blessings withstanding, when Devrouax - who would become godfather to one of Purnell’s four children - and Purnell first fused professionally, they’d set up shop in an English basement near DuPont Circle. “I had just come from the AIA where I had a third floor office overlooking the courtyard, right over the president’s office,” Purnell said. “I left because I didn’t want to get too fat and happy without ever practicing architecture, but when the first snow came that winter and we had to look up over it, I told Paul we had to get out of there.”

A move two months later to 1215 Connecticut Avenue was undertaken with the two partners, an intern and a secretary (no real division of offices: just open space). Nine months later, the firm had grown to 16 people precipitating an eventual move to 717 D Street NW, where Devrouax & Purnell, with as many as 50 on staff at one time but currently settling for a navigable 18, has remained for 25 years. “Nobody in their right mind would move into this neighborhood for office space when we did,” the prescient Purnell said, reflecting on the tenuous downtown overtones of the 1980s. “But we saw what was coming. We saw the changes that were being planned for this area.”

Matters of the Heart

Claiming never to have argued in 32 years, Purnell said he and Devrouax could sometimes disagree on something but no one would know they were disagreeing. “We used to say we worked different sides of the street,” Purnell said. “Paul (who’d been a solo practitioner for five years prior to the partnership) had his base here in Washington and was an incredible supporter of D.C., and I brought in a federal and national element, but over the years they began to meld.” Responsible for some of the region’s most significant structures in addition to Nationals Park, including Pepco Headquarters, Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex, the Walter E. Washington Convention center, MCI Arena, the Verizon Center, the expansion of Gallery Place and the garage at National Airport, and cited as the first African-American architecture firm to design a headquarters for a Fortune 500 company: the 190,000 s.f. addition to the Freddie Mac campus in McLean, Purnell acknowledged some early obstacles in their path. His take on race, however, is more Que Sera, Sera than The Sky is Falling. “We are who we are in this world. Race plays a role. Your gender plays a role in whatever you do, but you don’t build your life around it; you don’t build your practice around it and your talents are not based upon it.”

In a more profound example of the scars of race that Purnell recalls, however, when it came time to break ground for the 16,000 s.f. state-of-the-art King Greenleaf Recreational Center in SW, a Devrouax & Purnell project built in a public housing complex, hostility and organized protest quickly ensued from the surrounding community. Purnell noted residents were “up in arms because they thought it was the beginning of the end” – that gentrification like this may portend the end of public housing. Sitting in the stands at the ribbon-cutting, the architect said he was shaken by a woman who stood up and admitted that the reason she’d panicked when the building was going up – when she saw the design – was because she knew “no one in the city would build something this nice for us.” That’s what she said, Purnell frowned. “I was sad that she, in her life, had come to feel like that about anything – that they didn’t deserve it.”

What Matters Most

Designed in conjunction with the Kansas City-based former HOK Sport (architects), now Populous, and opening in 2008, Purnell said research for Nationals Park involved visiting a host of stadiums around the country including venues in San Diego, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Baltimore and Atlanta. “We saw a lot of good,” Purnell affirmed of his stadium safari with HOK’s Joe Spear, specifically about Baltimore’s Camden Yards. “I saw things that make that ballpark special, but I didn’t see a whole lot of things that I thought should be at Nationals Park. As an architect, and as a person, I’ve learned to look at what shouldn’t be done.”

For example, at Camden Yards, when on the concourse for food and other necessities, people have to look up at monitors to see the game. “I couldn’t stay connected to the field,” Purnell said. “A ballgame is a long process: You want to be able to get up and walk around sometimes” without losing that personal connection to the action. “The way we designed Nationals Park, if you get out of your seat for the restroom or a hot dog, or walk over to the third baseline or the first, you’re still very close to the field. You can still see the game.”

Where the locker room was concerned, Purnell recalled a visit to Giant stadium where Barry Bonds was playing at the time. Bonds had cordoned off a corner of the locker room, with his own Barcalounger and monitor, and all the other players knew it, Purnell had observed. “He was the greatest player, he was there on the team, but I didn’t like the idea of him setting himself apart like that.” Accordingly, in the seat of the nation, a few miles from the White House and in a nod to equality and shared values, the architects first created a round design for the Nationals’ locker room, which quickly evolved into a famous oval – for obvious reasons.


Reflecting on his high school baseball years in Michigan, Purnell said he believes it helps if you’ve played the game. Understanding distances to left field, right field, center field and what plays are exciting, as well as building either a pitcher’s park where the fences are a little further back, or a hitter’s park where they’re closer, are all integral to stadium science. At one point, Purnell said, they designed the Nationals Park fence at 14 feet all the way around, but by doing that it detracted from the excitement of the outfielder going up to catch the ball. “If you put in an 8-foot fence, he can jump high into the fence and prevent a home run. Let’s don’t take away one of the most exciting plays in baseball!” Purnell declared.

Speaking to his three-plus decades in practice, Purnell said that architecture is so much a part of his soul, he “doesn’t feel like (he’s) worked in 32 years.” With the loss of his valued partner and friend, he relies perhaps more heavily upon senior designer Anthony Brown who has been with the firm for 27 years.

“With Paul, I miss his voice, I miss his presence, and like in many marriages, we finished each other’s sentences,” Purnell said. “But with Anthony,” he said, brightening slightly, “we’ve been known to finish each other’s drawings.”

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Martin Luther King Memorial Taking Shape

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Its not easy building a monument on the National Mall. And yet despite the intentionally time-consuming, necessarily frictional process, construction of a 4-acre monument to Martin Luther King Jr. is now, finally underway on the Mall's Tidal Basin.

After decades of preparation, and a groundbreaking back in 2006, the achievement may seem at once inevitable (3 ex-Presidents have lent their support, and corporate sponsors read like a Forbes 500 list), yet so long in conception that DC residents could be forgiven for having not noticed. Hidden from Independence Avenue by a nondescript beige wall, what began 3 or 4 decades ago, depending on who you ask, is at last technically under construction, as contractors begin to place 300 concrete pilings - Venice style - into the silty marsh of the Mall. The pilings will ready the site - a river, after all, until the late 19th century - to accept what will effectively be a large landscape project supporting oblong granite memorials to the civil rights leader.

Once completed - possibly by next summer - the park-like memorial will wrap around the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin, opposite and viewable from the Jefferson Memorial.

Visitors will enter from the northwest edge, near Independence Avenue, by way of a new walkway past the World War I Memorial to better connect the King Memorial to the Mall - a necessity for an area that serves as DC's main attractant but fails to provide for those who show up by car. No designated parking will be added.

Visually, visitors will be greeted by one of the monument's principal symbols - the "mountains of despair," a literal embodiment to a reference in King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The twin granite slabs will frame the entry, two 30-foot sentinels 12 feet apart, appearing to have been sliced and parted, bearing inscriptions from the 1963 speech with themes of justice and hope. Again emulating the civil rights struggle, despair will lead to a path beyond, and having passed through it emerges the view of a single stone, the "stone of hope," appearing as if cleaved from - but beyond - the struggle. Harry Johnson, President and CEO of the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation, takes up the vision of the entrance: "It will look like a mountain that's been split in two. Outside is rough, simulating the roughness of the civil rights movement. You still have not seen Dr. King until you get closer to the Jefferson. It will appear as though the stone of hope will have been cut from the mountain of despair. [King] will be carved on that stone." In fact the granite, quarried in China, is too big to ship in tact, and will be cut into sections and reassembled on site. Lei Yixin, a Chinese sculptor, designed the statue.

Having crossed the memorial to the 28-foot sculpture of King carved into the granite, who stares back at the entrance, arms folded, the visitor will be surrounded by 700 feet of arcing inscription wall that peaks at the entrance at 12 feet in height, decrescendoing down to two feet at the ends, which bow toward the Tidal Basin. Selected quotes will be etched into the surface, which in its first design was intended to flow with water during the summer months, a feature removed when the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) determined it would interfere with visitors' ability to read the quotes.

Set just behind the arcing wall are 24 large, raised semicircular niches, each designed to "commemorate the contribution of the many individuals that gave their lives in different ways to the civil rights movement." Each will allow a private, reflective space dedicated to individuals that died in the civil rights struggle; some will be left blank "in deference to the unfinished nature of the movement."

Hundreds of trees will be "randomly massed" throughout the exhibit, with evergreen Magnolias along the perimeter, Oaks tracing the arc of the stone exhibit, and Cherry trees weaving into the Cherries that now dominate the circumference of the basin. According to Johnson, the Foundation, which has been responsible for the design and construction of the memorial, will add another 200 cherry trees along the tidal basin. Despite the addition to the canopy Johnson says it "will be very visible from the Jefferson Memorial, you will be able to see Dr. King and the memorial." None of the current Cherries will be removed.

The project to build the memorial has been a separate struggle worthy of its own narrative. The official website dates its inception at 1984 (Wikipedia brings it back to 1968), when Alpha Phi Alpha, a fraternity to which King belonged, first proposed a memorial on the National Mall. After much lobbying and rallying, President Clinton signed legislation authorizing the memorial in 1996. The Foundation was formally organized in 1998, and fundraising began in earnest. Unprecedented corporate support (General Motors eventually gave $10m, Tommy Hilfiger gave $5m, and thousands of other corporations have made contributions), gave the tribute momentum, and the development process its acme. In 1998 the National Capitol Planning Commission (NCPC) approved a site at Constitution Gardens.

But in 1999, the CFA, which has authority to approve every element of any memorial, voted against the eastern end of Constitution Gardens as a site, contradicting NCPC's approval, and later that year the two commissions approved the Foundation's request to move the site to the Tidal Basin. In 2000, the Foundation reviewed more than 900 submissions for the design of the memorial, and later that year selected ROMA, a San Francisco-based design firm for its concept of the memorial park. In 2004, Devrouax and Purnell, a DC-based architecture firm, was picked to carry out the task. Devrouax had worked for the city on almost every high-visibility project - projects like Nationals Stadium, Ronald Reagan Airport, the new Convention Center, and the African American Civil War Memorial. According to Marshall Purnell, a principal at Devrouax, he suggested that his firm and ROMA for a joint venture to keep ROMA actively in the process of implementing its design.

While work got underway, the relationship between the Foundation and the Devrouax did not survive the project . "We continued to submit designs, but at some point we fell out of favor with the Foundation" said Purnell. "We were pretty deep into the process by that point, about 65-70% finished with the construction designs and documents." No one involved wants to discuss why the Foundation chose to remove them, and Purnell will not cast aspersions, saying only that "it got sort of ugly. The contract was terminated."

Up until that point the memorial's construction seemed imminent. Congress had just donated $10,000,000 in matching funds, and a groundbreaking had been scheduled for 2006, but other problems beset the project. Fundraising efforts were complicated by King's family, which demanded royalties from money raised using King's name and image in marketing for the memorial. Some supporters protested that a black sculptor had not been chosen, and others decried the choice of Chinese granite, noting that the use of Chinese workers, who are poorly paid and treated, was not respectful of their own civil rights struggle.

With funding lagging, a new design team did not begin until the summer of 2007, when the Foundation selected McKissack and McKissack, Turner Construction, Beltsville-based Gilford Corporation, and Tompkins Builders (now owned by Turner). According to Lisa Anders, Senior Project Manager at McKissack, the engineering firm was chosen because they have "done work on the Mall, and worked on Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, and we are a minority CM and architecture group, so we bring that to the project."

In 2008 the Commission of Fine Arts asked for a reduction in the size of King's statue and the stone of hope, stating that "the statue design is difficult to evaluate because such colossal human sculptures are rarely created in modern times...the recent imagery of such sculptures includes television broadcasts of these statues being pulled down in other countries, a comparison that would be harmful to the success of this memorial." Commissioners commented that only statues meant to be viewed from a distance were now built so big (both Lincoln and Jefferson nearby likenesses are smaller), and created the suggestion "of a colossal statue rather than a depiction of an actual man." The Commission also disagreed with the heavy use of bollards, and the resulting shift in perimeter security to a more natural barrier slowed the project by up to a year.

Despite the complications, work now appears to be in its last phase. With $107m of the projected $120m project already raised, the National Park Service issued construction permits last October, and on December 28th of 2009 initial site prep began on the site, which should wrap up in a little more than a year. Says Purnell of the original design-build team "I would just like to see the Memorial built." It now seems certain he will get his wish.

Washington DC real estate development news

Friday, December 04, 2009

DC's Janney School Releases New School Renderings

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Janney Elementary School in Tenleytown has released renderings of the addition that will nearly double the size of the existing school. The new plans represent the nearly final design for the 4-story addition to flank the school's western side, taking the place of the current playground.

Washington DC-based Devrouax and Purnell Architects have designed a modern structure of brick and glass to accompany the historic school, which was landmarked on November 19th by the DC Historic Preservation Board. Construction is expected to commence in March of 2010, after which the old school will be renovated.

The new plans come after several years of acrimony, a result of the original plans to build a library and apartment building next door, with the developer therefore restoring the aged school. The school will hold a public meeting on December 15th to procure feedback on the plans. Meanwhile, several months after the official ground-breaking, work actually began last week on the adjacent public library.

Washington DC real estate development news

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Getting Serious at Howard Town Center

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After years of vying for the opportunity and negotiating the development, Castlerock Partners LLC finally has plans to break ground on the 2.2 acre Howard Town Center come Fall 2010. Along with development partners AVCO Interests LLC, Hardie Industries Inc and, of course, Howard University, Castlerock secured the site a year ago. The team is still working through the design phases with architects Devrouax and Purnell. Opting not to pursue a PUD, the team added Tompkins Builders as the general contractor in November, a sign the time for waffling is through.

Tim Kissler, CEO of Castlerock, told DCMud that the design phase moves forward as the team shops around for retail tenants. "First priority is a grocery store. Once that is set, we move on to other spaces and prospects," said Kissler. The grocery store was a prerequisite of the RFP and upwards of 45,000 s.f. has been tossed around as the size. Kissler added "leasing interest is strong, despite the slow economy." The rest of the retail space could total 78,000 s.f. with the University looking to support small local businesses in some of the space.

The developer has yet to commit to firm figures on the actual breakdown of residential units, but most recently has suggested there would be 420 units with the required minimum of 8% set aside as affordable, much to the disappointment of the surrounding community.

DC real estate and development news.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Designs Unveiled for New Smithsonian Museum

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The Smithsonian has revealed (via WashingtonPost.com) the first prospective designs for the Mall’s next museum: the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. And from the looks of things, it’s going to be the grandest one yet; proposals for the 350,000 square foot museum within earshot of the Washington Monument range from glass-encased and “table-shaped” to almost pre-historic with natural materials “rising as of out of bedrock and muck.”

Last week’s presentations at the Smithsonian included new renderings and scale models by the development teams previously identified by DCmud: Diller Scofidio and Renfro (now teamed with KlingStubbins); Devrouax and Purnell Architects/Pei Cobb Freed and Partners; Moshe Safdie and Associates (now teamed with Sulton Campbell Britt & Associates), The Freelon Group (now teamed with Adjaye Associates and Davis Brody Bond), Foster and Partners (now teamed with URS) and Moody Nolan Inc (now teamed with Antoine Predock Architect).

Among the new revelations unveiled along with the designs were that the project’s budget, formerly reported at $300 million, which has now almost doubled to $500 million – half of which will be funded through a Congressional appropriation. The Smithsonian is also now projecting a 2015 opening for the museum, following the previously projected 2012 construction start date.

Once completed, the Museum will stand on a five-acre parcel at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW – one of the very last prime plots abutting the National Mall. A final selection on the Smithsonian’s choice of architect will be announced by a Smithsonian-chosen 11-member panel next month, to be seconded (or not) by a final approval by the Smithsonian Board of Regents. The final design will then enter into lengthy submission processes with both the Commission on Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission.

Both interior and exterior renderings of the proposed designs are available here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Designing the Mall's Next Museum

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DCmud has obtained a list of architects now vying to design the newest addition to the Mall, and to the Smithsonian's downtown repertoire - the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC), a 350,000 square foot edifice slated for construction at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. According to Museum Director Lonnie Bunch, Washington DC's newest museum will "help all Americans see just how central African American history is for all of us."

At present, there is no shortage of architects willing to take a shot at designing for what is, essentially, one the last "vacant" parcels abutting the National Mall - and also one of the closest to the Washington Monument. Current bidders on the $300 million project include Diller Scofidio and Renfro, Devrouax and Purnell Architects, Moshe Safdie and Associates, The Freelon Group, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners, Foster and Partners and Moody Nolan Inc. There is no word on when a final selection will be made, but construction is currently slated to begin in February (which also happens to be Black History Month) 2012.

Those interested in scoping out the NMAAHC’s exhibits in 2009, however, will have to hit the road; the museum’s inaugural exhibition, Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits, will travel the country until work on its permanent exhibition space is complete. The collection is currently on display in Detroit, with future bookings planned for San Francisco, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chicago and Cincinnati all the way through 2011.

The museum was made possible by legislation signed into law by President George W. Bush in December 2003. The same act charted the museum under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution, and it was that body’s Board of Regents that selected the 5-acre site bounded by Constitution Avenue, Madison Drive and 14th and 15th Streets, NW to be home of the first national museum “devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life.” Having already completed a preliminary Environmental Impact analysis, the Smithsonian is currently undertaking what it labels as the “architectural programming phase” of development, during which the space and system requirements integral to a fully functioning public institution, such as the NMAAHC, will be established, and then relayed to the prospective architects for inclusion in their designs.

Washington DC real estate development news

Thursday, November 06, 2008

First Project Underway at Minnesota-Benning

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Mayor Fenty and officials from the Office of Property Management were on hand today to break ground on the new Department of Employee Services (DOES) headquarters - soon to be erected at 4058 Minnesota Avenue NE. This is the second such project in the immediate area, as just last month, Donatelli Development announced they would be developing a $108 million mixed-use project on an adjoining parcel.

The new 229,000 square foot DOES building will include a "one-stop employment and business center," a community meeting room, a local retail incubator and, of course, enough office space for roughly 500 employees. A green roof is also in the works.

Designed by DC-based architects Devrouax & Purnell, construction of the $48 million facility is being overseen by EEC of DC, Inc. and Forrester Construction (one of the few local development companies that say they are actually hiring at the moment). The new headquarters is expected to be completed in early 2011.

Fenty and company used the occasion to kill two birds with one microphone, as he also used the opportunity to announce the appointment of Joseph Walsh as the new Director of DOES. Walsh was poached by the District from his last post as Director of Policy and Planning in the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development under Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Here’s to hoping Mr. Walsh likes this job more than his old forty-syllable job title once the paint dries on that new HQ.

Monday, February 11, 2008

SE to See New Charter School

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Last week, the Board of Zoning Adjust- ment approved plans for KIPP DC to build the second phase of their charter school development at 4801 Benning Road, SE. Phase one, which started construction last March, is set to finish this April, allowing phase two to begin shortly thereafter. Both phases were designed by a joint venture architectural team: Studio 27 and Devrouax and Purnell.

KIPP stands for Knowledge Is Power Programs, and is self described as being "a network of free open-enrollment college preparatory public schools in under-resourced communities throughout the United States." KIPP DC is part of the larger national network; the charter school currently operates on four campuses in the District: AIM, LEAP, KEY and WILL academies. The charter school is aiming to reach more kids on their own turf. Real Estate Director Alex Shawe explains: "The simplest answer is that KIPP DC is one of the highest performing public schools in the entire District, and it's important to have a campus that's located near where the majority of our students actually live. And it's also important for those students to have a facility that matches our high expectations of academic performance."

The total plan will create two schools for KIPP, a 56,000 s.f. elementary school which can hold up to 600 students, and the recently approved 29,000 s.f. middle school, which can hold up to 320 studious youngsters. The school's new home is a 51,000 s.f. site which used to house the old Benning supermarket, now demolished. Construction of the new schools is so far privately funded, though it is anticipated that tax exempt bonds will be issued in the Spring to help finance the project. Forrester Construction is building the facilities; KIPP plans to be finished with the entire development by February of 2009.

But don't think that this new school will give your kids a better shot at getting in; KIPP is already at capacity this year. The new campus is going to allow KEY and LEAP academies to move out of their leased space and into a permanent home. KEY, for fifth through eighth graders, currently enrolls 320 students, LEAP will eventually house pre-kindergarten to fourth graders. KIPP claims that in a 2005 Stanford verbal and math test, KIPP students scored in the 92nd and 71st percentiles, respectively; local neighborhood school students scored an worrying 22% and 21%. In that same year, incoming fifth graders scored an average of 31% on a math test; in the Spring those test scores rocketed to 94%.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

DOES Does New Things in Ward 7

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The Office of Property Management (OPM) is seeking a general contractor to build a new Department of Employment Services (D.O.E.S.) headquarters at the northwest corner of Minnesota Avenue and Benning Rd., NE, adjacent to the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station. About 28 contractors and developers attended a bidders conference yesterday and have been asked to submit questions regarding the project by January 22nd. OPM released its solicitation for the project on January 4th - bids will close the day after Valentine's day.

DOES's new HQ is part of a much larger project, the Minnesota Benning Government Center (4 words that just sound great together) that will consume an entire 9.2 acre site that currently holds 326 metro parking spaces and 9 low-rise commercial buildings - all of which are doomed for demolition. OPM is now finishing phase one of Government Center; a parking garage which broke ground in 2006.

Phase two is DOES's new pad: A 5-story, 225,000-s.f. building adjacent to the new garage, with ground floor retail and underground parking. DC-based architects Devrouax & Purnell, and program manager Parsons Transportation Group, just completed the building design and OPM has scheduled construction to begin by the end of the first quarter of 2008 - the project is expected to take roughly two years to finish.

The third phase, which is currently on hold, was supposed to create a 360,000-s.f. office building, ground floor retail and an additional 5-story D.O.E.S. building on the southwestern portion of the site, however inside sources claim that OPM is currently accepting new development ideas for that space.

Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority orginally owned a majority of the site, less a smattering of 11 privately-owned parcels, but WMATA was quick to relinquish the land to the District in exchange for a brand new garage (you know...the one that is just being finished). After acquiring the independently-owned slices of remaining land, OPM used proceeds from the sale of DOES' old digs back in 2001 (about $100 million) to finance the design phase of the new building and its inevitable construction. The total cost to construct the new DOES HQ is roughly $55 million; the city will use excess funds to extend the scope of the project to alleviate traffic problems in proximity to the metro station.

And just when you thought this story could not possibly get more interesting, DCmud has also purloined the details of the new traffic plan from Delon Hampton, DC's traffic consultant for the project. The plan is to widen Minnesota avenue between Benning Road and the metro station by adding a center turn lane and a new curbside parking lane. In addition, a traffic signal will be posted at the entrance of the Government Center, along with some signal-timing adjustments which will hopefully improve rush-hour service (or make it worse if not done properly) all thanks to the city-wide Great Streets Initiative, the same folks that time the lights on Massachusetts Ave near Dupont Circle.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Broadcast Center One Gets the Signal from DC

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The DC Zoning Commission approved the application this Monday for Broadcast Center One, a 300,000 s. f. mixed-use development on 7th and S Streets NW, a long-sought ruling that is expected to add impetus to the regeneration of the Shaw neighborhood.

In tandem with the Planned Unit Development zoning application, developers Four Points LLC and Ellis Enterprises also submitted a Land Disposition Agreement to the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development last Friday for review by the DC City Council. A hearing is anticipated by mid-November.

"We are happy to report that we have concluded land transfer and subsidy negotiations," said Steven Cassell, project manager at Four Points LLC. "Radio One has both accepted a subsidy offer from the city and signed a letter of intent," Cassell added, referring to Radio One, the country's seventh largest radio broadcasting company which will be moving back to DC and into the new digs once the Broadcast Center project is completed. The $128 million development has been in the pipeline for over two years, but if all goes well at the hearing next month construction would begin soon. "Our objective is to be in the ground and digging by February," declared Roy Ellis, CEO of Ellis Enterprises.

The Broadcast Center One complex, with over 21,000 s. f. of retail space, 180 residential units for rent and 103,000 s.f. of office space, will be a blessing to many including the Shaw district at large. "Whenever you bring a company into a neighborhood, you've got real economic opportunity. It's the best thing since sliced bread," added Ellis who, amongst others, sees this development as having a drastic revitalization effect on the local Shaw community.

None will be happier about the deal's approval than Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One. "Radio One was built with the good will and support of the citizens of DC. I cried for six months when we had to leave," said Hughes. The old Radio One headquarters, located on Nebraska Avenue, had lived out its lease almost ten years ago. Since then, Ms Hughes has awaited the day her company could return to its roots in the District.

Construction of Broadcast Center One will require a convergence of the minds for project managers from five separate companies: joint developers Four Points LLC and Ellis Enterprises, Jarvis Company who is acting as an equity investor in the project, Devrouax & Purnell who will be designing the office building and Eric Colbert & Associates, the architect behind the Broadcast Center residences. The targeted completion date for the project is in the second quarter of 2010.
 

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