WDG Architecture Integrates Circa-1929 Warehouse Facade Into New Condominium Tower

460 New York AvenueConstruction is underway on 460 New York Avenue, NW, in Washington, D.C., an 11-story condominium in the rapidly redeveloping Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood. The 63-unit residential tower’s prominent site is among the last available in the sought-after community just north of the city’s Central Business District. WDG Architecture designed the 66,000-square-foot project for Bozzuto Homes in a joint venture with NVCommercial Real Estate Fund I, LP.

A three-level warehouse/garage constructed in 1929 once occupied the triangular site, which borders New York Avenue to the north and L Street to the south. The aging structure had been vacant and deteriorating for many years, yet the building stood as one of few remaining examples of the city’s industrial heritage. The design of 460 New York Avenue incorporates and renews a portion of the textured facade, involving careful replication of the articulated brickwork using a vintage beehive kiln process. New, energy-efficient fenestration recalls the original steel, single-pane windows.

While repurposing one façade of the existing brick structure and replicating the remaining facades at the first three levels, WDG Architecture’s design creates a compelling modern counterpoint with a metal and glass tower rising from the horizontally scaled base. A pattern of zinc paneling and corrugated metal along the façade signals a contemporary twist on the building’s original character. Vertical stacks of angled bay windows and a corrugated metal spine add a dynamic dimension, providing natural light and expansive views for residents, the firm says.

“Retaining part of the existing warehouse provided an industrial context that we wanted to respect,” says Sean Stadler, AIA, LEED AP, principal-in-charge for WDG Architecture. “The building was utilitarian and not overly ornate, but it had an elegance to it, and an orderly rhythm to the façade. Our approach was to design a modern complement. The vertical bays enabled us to adhere to the rigidity, yet provide a fresh visual statement. The zinc panels are an important element. The zinc and metal façade is unusual for a multifamily building in D.C, but zinc is a natural, industrial material that is in harmony with the existing building.”

The architecture also introduces an artful play on the site’s geometry, with the vertical bays along New York Avenue aligned with L Street to the south, and the bays along L Street aligned to New York Avenue. The building’s tripartite design incorporates the existing building as a plinth and the tower as a gateway element along the corridor, while a sleek metal penthouse caps the angular composition and creates a signature roofline, WDG says.

The tower features large common areas and generous amenities, including the 3,500-square-foot rooftop penthouse with a community lounge and adjacent skydeck. A marble lobby overlooks a corner park along the site’s western edge. Condominium floor plans include studio, junior one-bedroom, one-bedroom, one-bedroom-plus-den, and two-bedroom options, ranging from 474 to 1,071 square feet.

The building will offer a vertical lift parking system with 36 spaces, a space-saving innovation more common in Europe, that addresses the challenges of the narrow site. Vehicles will enter on the ground level to park in one of 12 available lifts, each housing three vehicles. The lift will be the second parking system of its type in the city.

460 New York Avenue2The project is the first new condominium option in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood, and is close to two Metro stations. “Consumer demand is shifting toward a more efficient and economical urban lifestyle — without sacrificing quality, innovation or design — and 460 New York Avenue will deliver exactly this type of living in the heart of Washington, D.C.,” says Toby Bozzuto, president of The Bozzuto Group.

“We were challenged to be more creative than if we began with a clean slate,” adds WDG’s Stadler. “We might not have been as ambitious had we started from scratch at this site. The design of the tower not only acknowledges the building’s original character, but celebrates it. At the same time, the building is designed to appeal to young, urban residents who appreciate a clean, modern aesthetic.”

WDG Architecture provided architecture and interior design for the building. Team members also include TCE Structural Engineers, and Vika Capital for civil engineering and landscape architecture. Bozzuto Construction Company is the general contractor for the project.

For more information on the project, visit www.460NYA.com.

Industrial Heritage

A three-level brick building with large windows was originally built on the site in 1929, serving for decades as a warehouse and garage. The original owner, Samuel Bensinger, once known for his tenure in the horse and carriage business, had transitioned into the automobile business along with his son, Gilbert. Bensinger applied for the building permit in 1925, and the building was designed by the architectural firm of Milburn, Heister & Company (in business from 1909 through 1934). Through the years, the building housed such businesses as Republic Trucks, Bell Motor Company, Sullivan Motor Company, and Lion Transfer and Storage.

When design began on 460 New York Avenue, the aging warehouse was vacant and deteriorating, but remained as one of the few examples of the city’s modest industrial heritage. The textured brickwork presents an orderly rhythm along the façade, projecting an understated elegance without overt ornamentation.

In order to optimize density on the site, while also acknowledging the architectural interest of the warehouse, Bozzuto challenged the architectural team to develop design options for a new condominium tower that would retain and renew a portion of the existing structure. WDG Architecture’s solution called for repurposing one wall of the warehouse and replicating the remaining facades at the first three levels along the north and west sides, with a contemporary metal and glass tower rising from this distinctive base.

Much of the structure’s original brickwork had to be replaced. Working closely with the design and construction team, Potomac Valley Brick turned to one of its long-time partners, Belden Brick Company of Canton, Ohio. Belden’s facilities are among the few in the nation that still offer the manufacture of bricks using a vintage “beehive” kiln. This kiln process, in which bricks are set in a circular pattern, allows for a flashing effect that creates dark marks on the brick and an appropriate variation in color/tone to resemble the historic brick. Belden’s Mohawk Blend brick provided the closest possible match, yielding a utilitarian, yet well articulated result.

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