Columbia Heights

Tags for this project:
Site plan for mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-oriented infill project in Washington, DC.

Location: Washington D.C. Formerly decayed urban neighborhood

Columbia Heights was historically an ideal mixed-use neighborhood with a thriving retail core and elegant arts and entertainment. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 ignited riots in Columbia Heights which left many buildings and businesses damaged or destroyed and within 5 years the core of the community was mostly vacant buildings and unoccupied land. The four buildings which make up this project play a major role in the reshaping of the neighborhood, helping to restore it to its previous grandeur.

Framing the Public Realm
The buildings frame the public realm, providing definition and reversing the complete erosion of the urban form that had previously been present. In their massing, the buildings help create a triangular civic plaza as well as secondary public plaza at the entrances to the Metro. With architectural elements that act as landmarks and gateways to the neighborhood, the project illustrates the intimate dance between urban design and architecture.

Transit-Oriented Development
The introduction of a Metro station in 1999 helped reconnect the neighborhood with the rest of Washington D.C. and again make it an attractive place to live and work. The easy access to public transportation spurred development, including the restoration of the community landmark Tivoli Theatre, a grocery store, and major retail complex. Located above the Metro entrances, these mixed-use residential and retail projects have all the benefits of convenient city living for its residents.

The mix of uses in the project provides new opportunities to live in the neighborhood, as well as providing the neighborhood retail residents desperately needed. Continuous stretches of neighborhood-scale retail stimulate activity along the major corridors of Irving St., 14th Street, and the plaza. The retail component includes a truly unique mix of national chains and locally owned businesses, including restaurants, services, and goods.

Pedestrian Oriented
Animated and visually interesting to the pedestrian, the building facades also provide a defining edge to the street. Stepping back their footprints from the property line, the projects give additional width to the sidewalk for a comfortable street experience and cafe seating. Responding at both the scale of the individual and the city, the projects create elegant plazas and streetscapes that invite the pedestrian at the ground level and when sighted from a distance.

Rich Architectural Character
Healing the scars of the eroded urban form, the architectural identities of the buildings are evocative of the grand traditions of Washington D.C. The design of the projects take cues from the surrounding context, integrating seamlessly into the fabric and convey an important sense of built permanence in the neighborhood.

Encouraging the diversity of people that live in Columbia Heights, the projects provide a significant component of affordable housing. A total of 572 new residential units are included in the the four buildings, of which 175 units are dedicated as affordable units. One of the buildings is entirely composed of rental units dedicated towards the provision of affordable senior housing.

Urban Living
Urbane living is a key element of these projects, which provide a variety of amenities and unique layouts. The project includes a range of units, from studio to 2 bedroom units, including double height lofts. Amenities include gym facilities, community rooms, and beautifully landscaped terraces and roof decks. The rental units are designed with a striking contemporary look for the young urban professional, while the homeownership building has the more traditional feel of an established residence.

Read more at this project's website.

Transect Zone(s): T5 center.
Status: Complete
Project or Plan's Scale: Street
Features: Affordable/subsidized housing, Live/work, Mixed uses, Transit oriented development.
Land area (in acres): 4
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency): 1.508
Retail area (in sq. ft.): 51700
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 572
Parks & green space (in acres):
Residential types: Mid-rise/loft, Low-rise flats, Townhouse/rowhouse/maisonette.
Project team designers: Torti Gallas and Partners; Engineers: GHT Limited; Metropolitan Engineering; Bhargava International, Inc.; Cates Engineering; Simislova, Kehneumi & Associates, PA; Wolfman and Associates, P.C.;Bowman Consulting; Interior Design: Forma Design; Hickok Warner Cole Architects; Landscape Architect: Parker Rodriguez
Project team developers: Owners: Donatelli & Klein, Triangle Development Associates, LLC; Victory Housing

Previous site status:

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -