Washington, DC

Washington Architectural Foundation/Washington Chapter of the AIA

Service Type

Project Type

10,500 sf

November 2011

2013 NAIOP MD/DC Award of Excellence Best Interiors Professional Service/Institutional Tenant Space, 10-25,000 SF

2013 AIA Northern Virginia Chapter Award of Merit, Commercial Interiors

2013 IIDA Mid-Atlantic Silver Award, Interior Architecture, Educational/Institutional

2012 AIA Potomac Valley Chapter Award for Interior Architecture

2012 AIA | DC Award of Merit, Interior Architecture

The opportunity to design the new District Architecture Center for the DC Chapter of the AIA and the Washington Architectural Foundation came to Hickok Cole through an anonymous open design competition held by the AIA. The design process was truly a collaborative effort. With one week to present a concept, the team held a design charrette where each participant presented their ideas and thoughts. This allowed the team to get a number of ideas on the table very quickly and then decide on the best direction. Hickok Cole won the competition and continued to work with AIA|DC on the development of the center.

The design concept evolved from a conviction that the project should express light, transparency, and a connection with the city. The team conceived a plan with two distinct volumes: a wood room that signifies solidity and a glass room that suggests openness. Together, the two rooms produce a sense of warmth and openness. The team purposefully created a two-story space to provide a sense of unity and interconnectedness between both floors of the DAC. The use of glass walls surrounding the center classroom, the heart of the building, extends the feeling of openness and makes the building appear more spacious. Natural daylight, flowing through the street storefront, into the glass volume, and down to the lower level, provides continuity between the building and its context.

The reception area and gallery, along with the classrooms, were arranged to provide the DAC with the maximum amount of flexibility. This allows the Center to have a wide range of options available for various events. The facility was built in the historic Odd Fellows building, constructed in 1917. The project team highlighted elements from the building in their design. One such element is a steel structure that was originally incased in concrete; the team exposed the steel, allowing it to become a design feature in the space.

With every detail, designers considered the prominent location on 7th Street and how the space would be seen from the street as pedestrians passed by the building. As a cultural center that provides a public window into the world of architectural contributions, the team felt visitors inside should always have a view back onto the street and passersby should experience a connection to the interior workings of the building.