A First Look at Annabelle Selldorf-Designed 14th Street Mixed-Use Development

by UrbanTurf Staff

A First Look at Annabelle Selldorf-Designed 14th Street Mixed-Use Development: Figure 1
A rendering of the Whitman-Walker redevelopment. Click to enlarge.

UrbanTurf has received the first design image for the redevelopment of the Whitman-Walker Health site on 14th Street between R and Riggs Street NW (map).

The plans for the redevelopment of the clinic, a partnership between Whitman-Walker Health and Fivesquares Development, will include four floors of 80-90 apartments above office and retail space. Whitman-Walker will continue to operate several services, taking up the entire second floor and also will have space on the first floor of the new development. The development will run along 14th Street from R Street to Riggs Street NW and will back up to the alley that bisects those two streets on the eastern edge of the Whitman-Walker Health property line.

The project architect is Annabelle Selldorf, a renowned New York-based architect whose projects include the renovation of a former Studebaker Auto Garage into a co-working space in Brooklyn, and 10 Bond, a seven-story residential building in Manhattan.

“We are thrilled with Annabelle’s first design in DC,” Fivesquares managing principal Andy Altman told UrbanTurf. “It is as beautiful and timeless as other notable buildings of hers, such as 10 Bond Street in New York City.”

The development will go before the ANC 2F Community Development Committee on Wednesday night before plans are filed with the Historic Preservation Office later this week. As UrbanTurf reported in January, the rough timeline for completion of the development remains early 2020.

Fivesquares Development was formed by Andy Altman, Ron Kaplan and Harris Schwalb as a spin-off off from Streetscape Partners to focus on select high quality mixed-use urban and transit-oriented developments.

Whitman-Walker redevelopment

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_first_look_at_annabelle_selldorf-designed_14th_street_mixed-use_developme/11162


  1. Nathaniel Martin said at 10:15 pm on Wednesday April 27, 2016:
    You had to go to a New York architect to get this level of banality? How depressing.
  1. Fried Green Tomatoes said at 1:14 pm on Thursday April 28, 2016:
    "Banality" is one of DC's strengths. What passes for architecturally interesting is more often than not destructive for coherent streetscapes and neighborhoods.
  1. Brett said at 4:45 pm on Thursday April 28, 2016:
    Bland. To think people get paid for drawing plain boxes.
  1. Jay said at 7:20 pm on Thursday April 28, 2016:
    Love it! So much nicer than all of the "cutting edge" or "modern" designs we see going up these days that won't stand the test of time. This "banal" design will blend in nicely with the area, complimenting surrounding buildings. It won't look dated in 5-10 years like some of the other buildings that were once considered "interesting" or "different" or "bold."
  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 8:19 pm on Thursday April 28, 2016:
    Umm, Jay, this is pretty darn modern. It's just uninventive modern, as opposed to interesting modern. The pattern keeps repeating. Out-of-town starchitects, overwhelmed by the restrictions that DC and "the market" directly and indirectly place on developments, decide to retreat from the inventiveness that characterizes their work. They capitulate to the box, deciding to focus on making the box beautifully detailed and (to the extent possible given maddening limitations on floor-to-floor and functional requirements) well-proportioned. The premier examples of this are the office buildings and condominiums at City Center. Very polished, to be sure, even elegant at times, but they have no rival as the most boring buildings that Sir Norman Foster's practice has ever created. Perhaps for the starchitects, it's a refreshing change of focus. But for DC, we're left with a lot of well-executed but ultimately dull buildings. And unnecessarily so, because LOCAL DC firms have figured out how to be inventive within all the restrictions. At City Center, for example, the star buildings are the 2 rental apartment buildings, done by local firm Shalom Baranes. Relative to this project, we can look a little south on 14th Street, where local firm Eric Colbert did the new Whitman-Walker Clinic building. It faced similar challenges but the end result is so much more engaging.
  1. Brett said at 9:34 pm on Thursday April 28, 2016:
    @Jay Of course it won't look dated in a few years. Bland boxes are timeless.
  1. Brett said at 9:38 pm on Thursday April 28, 2016:
    @skidrowedc Overwhelmed by the restrictions that DC places? Have you seen this so-called "starchitect's" work? How is this bland box different than the rusty bland box she designed for 10 Bond St in NY? She's completely unimaginative.
  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 6:56 pm on Friday April 29, 2016:
    @Brett You're right! I used "starchitect" because that seems to be the waters Selldorf swims in. But, looking at the firm's website, I gotta agree--she came to DC already primed to do something dull. I should note that there are exceptions that prove the rule. Notably, Morris Adjmi's Atlantic Plumbing buildings, which embrace the box but make it exciting and fresh. On the other hand, the nearby Shay seems to have defeated Miller-Hull, the estimable Seattle firm that did it. The Shay doesn't even appear on the firm's website!

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