Location: Arlington, VA. Auto-oriented Washington, D.C. suburb
The project aims to transform the identity of the Arlington, VA neighborhood of Crystal City, a Washington, D.C. suburb. Much of Crystal City's existing suburban fabric consists of 1960s-80s high-rise structures laid out in favor of automobile traffic. The project's infill site was no exception, as it consisted of two 12-story residential towers set back and separated from the street by a parking lot. The firm was challenged to design an additional apartment building that would foster a greater sense of community in this pedestrian-unfriendly environment.
The design improves the urban character of the site with a pedestrian-scale, 4-story L-shaped building that envelopes the high-rise towers and provides edges that define a city block and pay homage to the row house, a common residential typology in the nearby District of Columbia.
The ground floor units were specifically designed to present opportunities for an enhanced urban experience. Apartments open up to the street, allowing residents to enter their homes directly from the sidewalk. Stoops face the sidewalks and walk-out porches lead directly to the street. 212 loft-style apartments make up the building, which offer residents a more urban-feeling interior as well as exterior.
In an effort to humanize and moderate the scale of the site and neighborhood, the exterior appears as a syncopated rhythm of repeating vertical elements. The alternating large and small bays establish a visually rich promenade and, when combined with the broken roof line, maximize sunlight in the units.
While the exterior design enables an animated street presence, the interior's innovative layout connects residents' private and shared lives. The resident experience is made of several rich sequences from public and semi-public to private spaces. An iconic rotunda anchors the site at its corner and draws residents into the common spaces. From the rotunda's main lobby, the promenade proceeds through the building and arrives at an elevated pool deck shared by all residents. The common pool area links the new building's residents with their high-rise lower neighbors.
Ultimately, this project boldly introduces an urban model of residential living to Crystal City, and brings dramatic urban design to the automobile-centric environment, setting the suburb on track toward a more community and people-oriented neighborhood design.Read more at this project's website.
Lessons learned: Great popularity has led to successful increases in rents and an influx in street-level retail that contrasts the shopping malls and big-box in the area.
Transect Zone(s): T3 sub-urban, T4 general.
Project or Plan's Scale: Building
Features: Transit oriented development.
Land area (in acres): 2
Total built area (in sq. ft.): 228
Total project cost (in local currency):
Retail area (in sq. ft.):
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work): 212
Civic uses (type and size): common pool, cafe, fitness center
Parks & green space (in acres):
Project team designers: SK&I Architectural Design Group, LLC
Project team developers: Archstone-Smith
Previous site status: Redevelopment
Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: - Present