Location
Washington, DC

Client
Monument Realty LLC

Service Type

Project Type

Size
415,000 sf

Completion
2007

Awards
2008 Interior Design Magazine Best of Year Awards Merit Award, Public Space

2008 AIA Potomac Valley Chapter Honor Award, Commercial Architecture

2008 AIA | DC Award of Merit, Architecture

2008 AIA Northern Virginia Chapter Award of Merit, Commercial Architecture

2008 NAIOP MD/DC Award of Merit Best Urban Office over 150,000 SF

2008 Mid-Atlantic Construction Best of 2008 Awards Award of Merit, Office

Columbia Center is a 415,000 sf 12 story mid-block office building located on the east side of Fifteenth Street between L and M Streets Northwest. While located in the bustling Central Business District of the Nation’s Capital, Columbia Center’s site is one that sits in a dreary canyon of 1970s precast concrete office buildings with dark-tinted windows and alley ways. The designers had a vision: although Columbia Center would be wedged between two other buildings, the alley would allow for a corner atrium “lightbox” lobby that would illuminate beyond the immediate front façade and spill out for several blocks.  At night, the glowing lobby would be visible from McPherson Square two blocks away.

The ultimate design solution embraces naturalistic metaphors to create a dramatic, four-story, “glowing glass cube” atrium lobby. The lobby features honey-toned anigre wood and dichroic glass “waterfall” panels to capture light and refract rainbow colors.  Providing continuity between the building and its surroundings, the lobby also showcases a grove of acrylic “bamboo” rods lit from below which cast long shadows across the warm earth-toned Italian stone floor and out to the entry sidewalk.  In lieu of large structural columns, the designers chose to make the columns as small as possible in diameter and placed them at random angles to mimic the bamboo light rods; the columns became a sculptural element, enhancing the airiness of the lobby space.  A frosted, patterned glass canopy hovers over the sidewalk, seemingly anchored only by the solid polished black granite fire control room “cube” next to the entry vestibule.

The building also features a variety of curtain applications. Glass curtain walls sheath almost all of Columbia Center’s front façade, from the top to bottom floors, and continue for several structural bays along the north and south façades. Each portion of the curtain wall is angled slightly to reflect light in unique ways.  At the northeast corner, the curtain wall, starting at the fourth floor, slopes away from the adjacent building to capture maximum natural light in the building.

Columbia Center is composed of a 10” post-tensioned slab on a 20’ x 40’ bay spacing, the structural system is designed to accommodate a variety of uses, space requirements, and tenant programs.  Each floor plate is unusually large at 35,000 sf and includes a column-free interior space, allowing a prospective tenant complete flexibility in its space layout.