Awards of Excellence 2019
DCS Design
Modera Sedici

Modera Sedici
Award of Merit
Best Amenity Space

Project Team

Mill Creek Residential Trust - (Devloper/Owner)
DCS Design - (Architect)
Mill Creek Construction - (General Contractor)
Interface Engineering - (MEP Engineer)
Fernandez & Associates - (Structural Engineer)
Parker Rodriguez - (Landscape)
DVR Consulting - (Code Consultant)
Bowman Consulting - (Civil Engineer)

Executive Summary

Modera Sedici is located on the venerable grounds of Washington, DC’s former Italian Embassy. Displaying iconic Neo-Renaissance architecture, the community overlooks the District’s renowned 16th Street (“Sedici” meaning “16” in Italian), a longstanding destination for global luminaries. While the building had fl oundered for the better part of the last three decades, falling into disrepair. Nationally registered as a Historic landmark, Modera Sedici has been reimagined for modern living offering 134 exclusive apartment homes. The redeveloped original Embassy building includes 22 individually customized apartment homes, with an additional 112 homes in a newly constructed nine-story high-rise.

The challenge with any building redevelopment is preserving the historically significant elements of a structure while reimagining the interior spaces for modern use, especially when the intended use of that building changes – such as transforming a former embassy into a luxury, contemporary apartment community. To ensure the team preserved the history and character of the Embassy building, while developing an adjacent complementary residential tower to meet the demands of today’s renters, the redevelopment team worked hand-in-hand with the city’s Historical Preservation Review Board throughout the entire process. Together, they carefully selected and preserved significant spaces such as the original grand staircase, lobby, ballroom, and library, and effectively weaved them into the modern design of a luxury apartment community offering highly desirable new homes with beautiful Italian touches. Decaying and neglected elements and materials throughout the Embassy such as the original elevators, fireplaces and mantles, travertine and parquet floors, intricate millwork, windows and doors, and the clay tile roofi ng were carefully and precisely restored to their original luster by local artisans.

Each building reflects the original design of the 1925 Embassy and offers modern Italian features and amenities wherever possible, including a cosmopolitan lounge home to vintage fi replaces and floor-to-ceiling millwork; a grand ballroom reimagined for modern use; and a storied courtyard that is reminiscent of a distinctly European setting. Each element of the community is meant to communicate the story and history of the building. Rooms have maintained their Italian names from the original building permit drawings (“Soggiorno”, “Salone”, “Biblioteca”). Materials were carefully selected to pay homage to the building’s ancestry, such as the inclusion of Italian-manufactured cabinetry in every home. Even the newly constructed “Palestra” (fitness studio) features state-of-the-art Italian equipment.

Modern design elements and finishes were incorporated in a way that both complement and highlight the rich historical spaces. The sleek sculptural lobby desk, antiqued mirrored feature walls in the Soggiorno & Biblioteca, and bright contrasting colors introduce contemporary design into the preserved spaces. Timeless materials, such as marble, are used on newly added features to provide a sense of permanence and belonging. The necessities of modern living are cleverly hidden within these new elements, televisions on motorized lifts vanish behind marble mantles, and duct work is concealed behind a decorative ceiling feature above the lobby.

The use of lighting as both a focal point and accent is key in transforming the Embassy into a bright and opulent amenity space. The rich articulation in the new Soggiorno ceiling is highlighted by recessed cove lighting. A striking modern chandelier serves as a new focal point in the grand gathering space with an elegance that echoes the original fixture lost decades earlier. Feature walls showcasing the restored doorways utilize recessed dimensional panels embossed with traditional patterns, accented by lighting to highlight the rich texture.

Outdoor amenities serve as an extension of the indoor spaces, providing an open air experience that is the hallmark of Italian living. The historic Piazza with a water feature and classical sculptures are the heart Modera Sedici, providing tranquil views for amenities and homes. The Terrazza and Vista carry the tradition forward unifying the community, acting as a bridge between the old and new.

The team worked closely with the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission to ensure neighbors were rewarded with a project that paid homage to the original structure which served as a centerpiece of their community. The redevelopment team actively participated in local hearings to provide updates and idea sharing, and found a group of residents who passionately shared the desire to see this once-esteemed and decrepit structure now restored to its original beauty.


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