If good city planning is about creating spaces where people can live, work, and play within a walkable neighborhood, Washington, DC’s new mixed-use development nails the ideal. When plans for CityCenterDC were first initiated in 2002, the city envisioned a pedestrian-friendly scheme with retail, office space, and residential units for the vacant property that formerly contained the District’s approximately 30-year-old convention center.

Throughout development, executive architecture firm Shalom Baranes Associates (SBA) worked with Foster + Partners, which was responsible for the master plan, and international real estate developer Hines to determine ways of creating a place where livability and a sense of community were encouraged through design.

P8 - Retail Alley at Rentals_fast

The CityCenterDC team partnered with local small businesses such as Docsav Industries, which provided industrial equipment, supplies, and building products on the project and which participated in the first Strategic Partnership Program with Clark Construction Group. Photo: Shalom Baranes Associates

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The view though CityCenterDC’s gateway arch portal shows the multimedia wall and ceiling of the portal itself and a water feature in the foreground. Photo: Shalom Baranes Associates

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A detail shot of the office building. Photo: Shalom Baranes Associates

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Each building features landscaped roof areas and terraces. The architects implemented a water-conservation system that captures rainwater for use as irrigation and as make-up water for the air-conditioning systems. Rendering: Neoscape

Location Washington, DC
Program Mixed-use development with office, retail, and residential
Size 2.5 million ft2
Completion 2013 (Phase 1)
Certification LEED-ND Gold, LEED-CS Gold (office buildings); LEED-NC Silver (residential buildings)
Cost $850 million

Owner/Developer Hines
Master Plan Architect Foster + Partners
Executive Architect Shalom Baranes Associates
Landscape Architect Gustafson Guthrie Nichols
Associate Landscape Architect Lee and Associates
General Contractor Clark Construction Group / Smoot Construction
Civil Engineer Delon Hampton Associates
Structural Engineer SK&A/Thornton Tomasetti
MEP Engineer Dewberry
Sustainable Design William McDonough + Partners

Architectural Lighting Claude Engle Lighting, Coventry Lighting
Side and Street Lighting M.C. Dean
Stone Bratti & Rugo
Roofing /Waterproofing Simpson Gumpertz Heger
Acoustical Systems Polysonics Corp.
Exterior Curtain Wall Harmon
Exterior Metal Panels TSI Architectural Metals
Ornamental Metals Staging Concepts

The resulting $850 million, mixed-use development is one of the largest urban infill projects ever undertaken in the nation’s capital. CityCenterDC is both a destination and a nearly 10-acre city within a city. Its first phase includes hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space, retail, rental apartment units, condominiums, an urban park, and a public plaza.

A second phase, which will begin construction in 2015, will consist of a 370-room hotel and an additional 110,000 square feet of retail space. To encourage a sense of livability, at the heart of the development are two mirror-image apartment buildings designed by SBA and two adjacent mirror-image condominium buildings created by Foster + Partners and constructed by a joint venture of Clark Construction Group and Smoot Construction.

The buildings are situated around the core social space of the project: a central public plaza featuring retail stores and restaurants. A system of pedestrian alleyways weaves between the buildings, driving foot-traffic from the streets beyond the property and on-site residential units to the center of the action.

“You have to be very urban to want to live there, because there is going to be this connection between the residential units and the activity going on outside,” says Jack Moyer, senior associate with SBA and project executive for CityCenterDC. “You really will be a part of that overall community, thanks to the feeling of being part of the action.”

With 57 varied floor plans, floor-to-ceiling windows and sustainable design features, each rental unit appeals to the individual tenant’s needs, but the buildings are also equipped with additional social areas—including a pool, fitness center, and office space—to foster activity within the larger community as well. A roof deck, bocce ball court, and dog-walking area sit on the roof of the North building, which is connected to the South building by a glass walkway on the second floor, facilitating easy movement between the two.

“They are two buildings, but they work as one,” Moyer says. “The people who are renting there have this interconnection between the two buildings, and they’re all sharing the same amenity spaces. From what I have heard, the new residents all love being there. It’s very exciting.”

Moyer says their success is clear from the brisk leasing pace of the office buildings, rental units, retail suites, and through condo sales, which have stayed strong since the development opened in the late fall of 2013. “They could have built this project, and it could have been sitting empty for a while, but right now, it’s moving very well,” Moyer says: As of May, the offices were nearly 100 percent leased, the apartments over 60 percent leased, and the condos more than 75 percent sold. 


“In April 2012, Mayor Vincent Gray made a statement that surprised a lot of people. He said he wanted the District to be fossil free by 2030. And he was serious.”

– Beth Heider, Chief Sustainability Officer, Skanska

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thumb“By 2040, half of the built environment will be buildings that don’t exist today. We have a chance to really get it right.”

– Kaid Benfield, Director of the Sustainable Communities, Energy & Transportation Program, NRDC

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