Awards of Excellence 2020
Trammell Crow Company
888 16th Street

888 16th Street
Award of Merit
Best DC Urban Office: Over 150,000 SF

Project Team

Trammell Crow Company - (Owner + Developer)
Gensler - (Architect)
Clark Construction Group - (Contractor)
CBRE - (Broker)
Thompson Ehle Company

Executive Summary

Since 1969, 888 16th Street Northwest has been the place where Hollywood and Washington intersect. Located one block from the White House and across the street from the historic St. John’s Church, the current building is a “trophy transformation” of the renowned Motion Picture Association (“MPA”) headquarters building. The MPA building was built by longtime MPA President Jack Valenti and, for nearly six decades, played host to countless presidents, politicians, foreign leaders, actors and directors.

The original building was designed in the modernist brutalist style favored by architect Vlastimil Koubek. While Koubek was considered one of Washington’s most influential architects, the MPA Building had fallen into disrepair and could no longer command rents commensurate with its prime location. The exterior façade featured a heavy concrete grid pattern, and the windows were set back 4 feet. On the inside, the building featured a small, low lobby and finished ceiling heights of only 8’0” to 8’2”. The mechanical systems were also failing.

In order to maintain a presence in the building, while raising the capital required to upgrade the building, the MPA created a condominium structure and retained a 20% interest, selling the remaining 80% interest to the developer. The developer then undertook a comprehensive “transformation” of the property into a trophy office building.

One major challenge that the team faced was achieving a modern look on the exterior while maintaining the historic integrity of the existing grid structure. The grid structure was important not only because the building sits within a historic overlay zone, but also because the exterior columns serve as the primary structure of the building. These exterior “columns” allow for an interior floor plate that has only two columns. The team was able to modernize the exterior façade by creating a 2-story glass “pedestal” at the base, cladding the horizontal elements of the grid in Portuguese limestone, and recessing the vertical elements and cladding them in a light grey metal panel. The developer also moved the windows out by 2 feet, which lightened the façade and increased the rentable square footage of the floor plates.

The development team also had to find creative ways to overcome shortcomings that are typical of older office buildings in DC, particularly because the goal was to compete with buildings in the trophy class. These shortcomings included a small lobby, low ceiling heights, inferior HVAC systems, limited window lines, and lack of amenities. The team created an airy two-story lobby with all new finishes, including travertine and Mozambique wood walls, Italian marble floors, and a monumental video wall that runs movie trailers. Through extensive and creative structural and mechanical engineering, the team figured out how to achieve 8’9” finished ceiling heights by running all ductwork, plumbing, and electrical components through the unique “waffle” structure of the ceiling slab. The old perimeter radiator units were replaced by a state-of-th- art DOAS HVAC system. To bring in light, the team installed floor-to-ceiling windows. Finally, the developer added top-of-the-market amenities that typically would not be found in a building this small. These include a 4,200 sf fitness center, a large bicycle storage room, and a 3,400 sf indoor/outdoor event space with direct views of the White House, Washington Monument, St. Johns’ Church, Lafayette Square, and the Jefferson Memorial.

With these changes in place, the building has commanded trophy rents and sales prices and attracted an all-star roster of associations, policy makers, and law firms. The MPA occupies 30,000 sf and hosts marquee events and movie premiers in its state-of-the-art 120 seat theater. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute purchased a two-story 14,000 sf space where it plans to host its renowned graduate programs. Leading international law firms McGuire Woods LLP and Hausfeld LLP have made the building their DC headquarters.

Clark Construction Company Brandywine Realty Trust Glass Jacobson The Tower Companies Trammell Crow Company Trammell Crow Company

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