The restored Sherman Building lends an imposing presence to its DC neighborhood.

Landmark Case

The Sherman Building—a 160-year-old National Historic Landmark known as the “Old Soldiers’ Home”—was among several important DC buildings damaged by the 2011 earthquake. Entire sections of masonry collapsed and the 130-foot clock tower was visibly cracked. More than 200 stones fell from the structure and 180 had to be removed for safety. The hazardous conditions left the building, a long-time home for retired veterans, vacant for the first time in its history.

In 2012, Quinn Evans Architects was selected to lead a painstaking restoration of the building, located in Brookland. Since plans for the structure didn’t exist, the team had to document the original building using data from a laser scanner that evaluated how it was damaged and knocked out of plumb. “The load-bearing masonry had never been reinforced,” says Quinn Evans senior associate Thomas Jester. “During the redesign, we added pins, stainless-steel dowels, and anchors, depending on the location.” The top portion of the clock tower had to be disassembled, labeled and cataloged, then reassembled around a new, hidden steel support. Some 3,000 stones on the marble façade were meticulously restored and 84 custom-carved to replicate those beyond repair.

Veterans Administration offices now occupy the building. The project took just over a year to complete and earned Quinn Evans Architects a 2014 citation for Technical Excellence of Repairs (Historic) from AIA Northern Virginia.

ARCHITECTURE: Quinn Evans Architects, Washington, DC. GENERAL CONTRACTOR: The Christman Company, Reston, Virginia. STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Keast & Hood Structural Engineers, Washington, DC. PRESERVATION CONSULTANT:  PRESERVE/scapes, Washington, DC. MASONRY & STONEWORK: R. Bratti Associates, Alexandria, Virginia. PHOTOGRAPHY: Dustin Johnson.