In Construction: Tower Building

February 10, 2016

The renovation of the Art Deco-style Tower Building in Washington DC will create sustainable Class-A office space with unique shared amenities that enhance the historic character of the National Register building and introduce an iconic presence with minimal disruption to existing tenants. The project scope includes exterior restoration, renovation of common core areas, and construction of new facilities including a conference center, fitness center, and bike room, as well as the design of graphics and signage.


Exterior Restoration

All four elevations of the building, including the limestone tower, will be repaired where needed and cleaned. An exterior envelope assessment was performed by Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Engineers during the design phase to identify needed repairs. The original street-level cast iron windows will be stripped and repainted with a Tnemec coating. Damaged roofs on the upper level setback floors and rotting timber support structure will be replaced. In an effort to understand the extent of the damage and limit the amount of structural replacement, BBB, SGH, and Silman utilized fall protection gear to survey openings in the upper level roofs.

Interior Restoration

The L shaped main lobby of the building retains many of its historic finishes, which will be preserved. The travertine and marble walls will be restored and the historic plaster ceiling and cornice will be repaired and gilded. A new marble floor and custom light fixtures designed to match the original Art Deco period will be installed. The original bronze elevator surrounds and building directory will be restored with new decorative bronze side panels and a touch screen LCD display will be incorporated into the directory .

New 2nd Floor Terrace

The setback of the tower on 14th Street creates a roof terrace at the 2nd floor that is currently not occupiable. In order to make the roof accessible and usable, a new roof and pavers will be installed on a reinforced roof slab, and the sills of 2 existing windows will be cut down to create doors. The doors are located in recesses at the far side of the terrace in order to not be visible from the street.

1401 K Terrace Drawing


More about Tower Building…

The Tower Building is a 13-story, H-shaped Art Deco building topped by a pyramidal slate roofed tower that reaches 177’ in height (tall for DC!).

The office building, constructed between 1928 and 1929, is listed on the National Register of Historic and the District of Columbia Inventory of Historic Sites. Designed by Robert Beresford, the building is an early example of the Art Deco style in Washington, DC. The commercial tower was commissioned by local developers, Colonel William L. Browning and attorney Bates Warren at a time when the Art Deco style was becoming increasingly popular in America. The building was designed to accommodate a bank on the first floor and offices on the remaining floors The building opened four months before the stock market crash of 1929, halting commercial development in the city for many years and leading to a decrease in tenants. As a result, the space designed for a bank was originally occupied by a Western Union office.

The building is constructed of a steel frame featuring a limestone facade and granite base. The first floor cast iron storefront windows are ornamented with narrow pilasters surrounded by frames of simplistic flowers linked by chevrons and circles, and the cast stone spandrels above the 9th floor windows feature an embossed chevron pattern. Setbacks occur above the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth floors, and the final setback is ornamented with an Aztec pyramidal slate roof with copper cresting, creating a distinguishable form on the DC skyline.

BBB Team

  • Location 1401 K Street, Washington DC

  • Client First Potomac Realty Trust

  • Size 128,000 SF

  • Completion Date Targeted 2016

  • Contractor HITT

  • MEP James Posey Associates

  • Structural Silman

  • Exterior Envelope Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

  • Lighting George Sexton Associates