Applause – DC’s Glowing Glass Cube


Tucked into a block of drab 1970s concrete buildings in downtown DC lies a welcome surprise: Columbia Center, an angled, 12-story structure that stands out from its non-descript counterparts with a bold pastiche of light and glass. 

When Hickok Cole Architects took on the design of this new office building, they dealt with its circumscribed lot by utilizing an adjacent alley. The architects created a four-story corner atrium lobby, a “glowing glass cube” visible at night from two blocks away. Inside, they installed dichroic glass panels to capture light and refract color. Acrylic, bamboo-shaped light rods illuminate the Italian stone floor, and structural columns, placed at random angles, mimic their shape. Their irregularity of the columns adds to the sense that Columbia Center is a unique addition to DC’s business district.

ARCHITECTURE: Hickok Cole Architects, Washington, DC. GENERAL 
CONTRACTOR: James G. Davis Construction Corp., Rockville, MD.
DEVELOPER: Monument Realty, Washington, DC. PHOTO: Prakash Patel.