Located on McPherson Square a few blocks from the White House, the Summit Grand Parc was first created as a club facility for the member universities. It was purchased in 1936 by the United Mine Workers of America as their headquarters building in Washington, and became a crucible for the American labor movement. It remained tenanted as an office structure for the next 69 years until its adaptation as a multi-use office and residential building.
Opportunity The historic University Club building (designed and built in 1912 by George Oakley Totten) needed to be incorporated with a new fourteen-story structure to create a first-class, 90-unit apartment and multistory institutional office structure in the heart of Washington, DC. The existing building is richly ornamented with interior mill-work and tile work and it was the intention of the design to incorporate this existing work into the new apartment layouts.
Creation Martinez+Johnson Architecture retained the entire landmark building including a series of significant meeting rooms on the second and third floors. These spaces serve as conference areas, and offices for a philanthropic foundation. The upper levels of the building are dedicated exclusively to residential use with through-building connections to the apartment units in the new tower to the west. The building systems for both structures are located in the new construction thus minimizing the impact of new construction on the historic fabric of the landmark. New fire and life safety systems serve both components, upgrading and enhancing the living environment of the residents in the building. All existing electrical and mechanical systems were replaced and new sprinklers systems installed. The facility is served by a parking structure virtually unique to the United States – a German-designed parking machine is in an underground, fully automated vault accommodating almost 100 cars.
Upon completion, the new residences were among the first residential units to be constructed in downtown Washington in decades, heralding a new era of living in the city. The success of the venture has its roots in the preservation community and through the continued advice and involvement of DCHPO and NPS. The design and development process involved bringing parties together to understand an existing structure on many levels so as to plan an adaptive re-use of a very challenging property to a very appropriate purpose.