How an Adaptive, Mixed-Use Community Blends Historic and Modern Elements
By Bob Neal Principal, Cooper Carry | October 06, 2019
When working in cities like Washington, D.C., the historic character of buildings and streets abounds. That's why the design for Columbia Place, a 12-story, mixed-use development combining a dual-branded hotel, residences and retail offerings with eight historic buildings, didn't need to create a new sense of place. Rather, the architecture honors and preserves the area's rich history while also enhancing the guest experience for the next generation.
Guided by the notion that cities and neighborhoods can be developed in a way that builds upon their origins, the planning for the mixed-use community focused on the balance between the "old" and the "new." The recently completed project marries modern finishes such as glass and metal with historic structures dating back to the civil war. Conceived by national design firm COOPER CARRY in collaboration with tvsdesign, Columbia Place is proof that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Where Art Meets Business
The story of Columbia Place begins with a history lesson. The surrounding Shaw District is also referred to as the Mount Vernon West Historical District and was originally known as the Northern Liberties. Dating back to 1791, the neighborhood's main feature is Mount Vernon Square, which was laid out on the L'Enfant Plan for the city of Washington.
Right on the edge of Chinatown, steps from the Mt. Vernon Square Metrorail station and minutes from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Union Station, Columbia Place's prominent address provides guests with easy access to plenty of popular attractions: tours of museums and historic monuments, the White House and National Mall, sports and entertainment at Capital One Arena, high-end shopping and coveted tables at some of the city's hottest restaurants.
Today, the area is also home to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, an extraordinary 2.3 million-square-foot facility equipped to handle events of all sizes, from small groups and meetings to conventions for up to 42,000 attendees. Since opening in 2003, the center has hosted nearly 1,800 events including presidential inaugural balls, received a Guinness World Record for hosting the largest sit-down dinner with 16,206 guests, offered public tours of its $4 million art collection and welcomed almost 10 million visitors in its first 10 years. In 2006, the Convention Center and its design team received the prestigious Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) awards for the most successful urban development project.