OG 23-258

HPA number
HPA 23-407

1050 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW
United States

D.C. Department of Buildings
Modifications and additions to an existing office building for mixed use
Review Type
Previous Review


No objection to the concept design for modifications and additions to two existing commercial office buildings for residential- and mixed-use, per materials received 21 March 2024, PROVIDED that Option A for 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street and Option B for 1050 Thomas Jefferson Street are selected, and PROVIDED that the applicant return for review in the design development phase. File design development submission at DOB for review by the Commission when ready.


Dear Mr. Jordan:

In its public meeting of 18 April conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design to convert two existing office buildings located at 1000 and 1050 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW, into mixed-use residential buildings (case numbers OG 23-257 and OG 23-258). The Commission adopted the report of the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) and approved the concept design with the following comments.

In their support of the OGB recommendation to approve the proposed massing, character, and materiality of the redeveloped buildings, the Commission members endorsed differentiating the color of the masonry to moderate the two buildings’ apparent scale, to help distinguish them from neighboring buildings, and to avoid the appearance of a single large development. They also suggested consideration of differentiating the southern building’s two-story corner pavilion from the larger building mass. Finally, they encouraged designing the pedestrian plazas at the east⁠–west service alley to be inviting and comfortable places for public occupancy.

The Commission and the Old Georgetown Board look forward to further review of this project at the design development phase. Please coordinate the next submission with the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Rich Jordan, Managing Director
Potomac Investment Properties
1666 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006

cc: Robert Sponseller, Shalom Baranes Associates
Encl.: Report of the Old Georgetown Board, 18 April 2024


OG 23-257 / OG 23-258 (HPA 23-406 / HPA 23-47)
1000 & 1050 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW (Square 1190, Lot 0078 / 0842)
Modifications and additions to two existing commercial buildings for mixed use
Reviewed in concept as OG 23-257 / OG 23-258: Jul, Sept, Oct, & Dec 2023; Feb & Apr 2024

REPORT: The applicant, Potomac Investments, is seeking concept approval to convert two office buildings into mixed-use properties. The two buildings were designed by Vlastimil Koubek, a prolific Washington architect whose boxy Modern and brutalist works from the 1960s⁠–1980s comprise a sizable part of the city’s commercial fabric. 1000 Thomas Jefferson (the southern building along K Street/Whitehurst Freeway) and 1050 Thomas Jefferson (the northern building along Thomas Jefferson Street) were completed in 1980–⁠ 81 as part of the redevelopment of the industrial areas below the canal in the 1970s and 80s. The buildings are characterized by fields of red brick, expanses of flat and recessed strips of windows, and other elements intended to moderate their large size and proximity to the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The two buildings have an overall contextual feel whose massive square footage and length are mediated by stepping volumes, facade reveals, and most prominently at 1050, a glazed double-height mansard roof.

In July 2023, the OGB began review of an initial redevelopment proposal that would remove the existing facades in their entirety, reduce the depth of the commercial floors plates to allow for viable residential units, and construct additional floors. The existing below-grade parking and loading areas would remain, and retail space would be constructed on the ground floors. The two buildings are zoned MU-14, which is intended to promote high-density mixed-use development in the vicinity of the Georgetown waterfront. (Note that the OGB and CFA review for design and historic compatibility is not necessarily constrained by building heights that may be allowed by D.C. zoning.) In total, 1000 Thomas Jefferson would contain approximately 200,000 gsf, with some commercial uses in the lower levels but would be predominantly residential (95⁠–115 units); 1050 Thomas Jefferson would be approximately 250,000 gsf and be primarily residential (170⁠–220 units).

The development team has been through a long but ultimately productive review process over the past six months, resulting in a design resolution that breaks down the scale of the large buildings through a series of setbacks and step-backs at each building facade. For 1000 Thomas Jefferson, the Board was initially presented with two options for the south facade—three or four step-backs towards the west and multiple setbacks culminating in a mechanical penthouse. At 1050, two- and three-volume expressions for the east facade were presented, also with multiple setbacks rising to the penthouses. Overall, the proposal sought to regularize the more subtle massing variations seen in the existing buildings and to create a more uniform expression on most elevations.

In initial concept reviews, the Board members expressed general support for the redevelopment effort but found that it was difficult to judge the project without more development of the architectural expression of the buildings. The advice that was consistent across each review related to the heights of the buildings, with a consensus that both appeared too tall and excessively obtrusive at the roof. Several suggestions were provided for how to reduce the apparent height as the design was revised, ranging from requesting removal of several floors to the elimination of some floors with additional adjustments to the configuration and massing of the occupiable and mechanical penthouses.

By September 2023, 1000 Thomas Jefferson had been reduced by approximately 8’ and 1050 had been reduced by approximately 12’ feet. At the north end of 1050, the massing was further reduced by removing one floor facing the canal and shifting the bay along 31st Street to the south by approximately 30’. At the southwest corner of 1000, the building face was set back 15–17’ from the 31st Street property line for about 60 linear feet, forming an outdoor terrace. Along K Street, the facade had been set back approximately 5’ from the property line for about 120 linear feet. The loading facilities for 1050 were also relocated to the alley, allowing for a corner retail space.

Concept reviews through late 2023 continued with this revised design as the basis for further modifications, with Board members expressing support for the material palette of red and gray brick, but with continuing requests for the building facades to be fully rendered to allow for a full assessment of the design. The Board continued to express concern with the apparent height, with some members requesting the elimination of a floor or more from both buildings; others expressed support for the height of 1000 along the Whitehurst, but with concerns that the jump in scale from the C&O Canal and low rowhouses on 31st Street to the more massive 1050 was still too great.

By December 2023, in response to these comments, one story was removed from the top of 1050 Thomas Jefferson and two stories were notched out of the top of its western facade. For 1000 Thomas Jefferson, in response to concerns about views from Georgetown Waterfront Park, parts of the top levels of the western and eastern wings were removed; a greater setback along K Street resulted in a widening of the sidewalk to 18’. The designs presented in February 2024 had been further modified in response to comments that the adjustments to date were not substantial enough to address the Board’s concerns regarding height and scale. At 1050, revisions included: removal of the north portion of the top level; additional step-backs at the southeast corner and west side; and further differentiation of the northern and southern volumes of the north building. At 1000, revisions included: reduction of the penthouse footprint; articulation of the southwest volume at the corner pavilion; and the development of options for step-backs at the eastern corner. At the February 2024 meeting, the Board found that the design changes to this point had amounted to “nibbles” around the edges and were not fully responsive to the Board’s clear comments on height and scale. The members strongly recommended further height reductions, remarking that earlier and more substantial changes to the proposed height and mass would have likely sped up the review process.

At its meeting on 4 April 2024, the applicant offered more substantive concessions on height and massing, presenting two massing options for each building. The Board ultimately recommended approval of Option A for 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street and Option B for 1050 Thomas Jefferson Street. These options will be presented for the Commission’s review. In summary, Option A (1000 Thomas Jefferson) retains the three-step-back massing preferred by the Board, with setbacks provided at top two levels to the east; relocation of the mechanical enclosure to the alley side; and increase of the south step-back of the mechanical penthouse. Option B (1050 Thomas Jefferson) removes the top-story volume, resulting in an overall building height reduction of approximately a half-story; and provides increased step-backs at the penthouse. Finally, the Board requested that the project be submitted for review in the design development phase.

RECOMMENDATION: NO OBJECTION to the concept design for modifications and additions to two existing commercial office buildings for residential- and mixed-use, per materials received 21 March 2024, PROVIDED that Option A for 1000 Thomas Jefferson Street and Option B for 1050 Thomas Jefferson Street are selected, and PROVIDED that the applicant return for review in the design development phase. File design development submission at DOB for review by the Commission when ready.