Located a stone’s throw from the White House, Metropolitan Square appears as a stately Beaux Arts structure, a visual complement to its illustrious neighbor. Yet behind the venerable façade lies a modern, 12-story office building constructed in 1982—an outside-the-box solution to placate the historic preservation community.
In 2017, owner Boston Properties tapped Gensler’s Washington office to mastermind $60 million in improvements intended to lure new tenants to the 670,000-square-foot property (also home to DC mainstay Old Ebbitt Grill). “It’s a dynamic reimagining of shared amenity spaces that brings new life to this timeless location,” explains architect Jeff Barber, who led the project. He and his team revamped the atrium; renovated the roof deck; and added conference rooms, a tenant lounge and a fitness center on the second floor.
The most dramatic change took place in the atrium (pictured above). Formerly a bland pass-through, it’s now a bright, airy destination, connecting to the second floor via a broad stadium stair. White oak accents unify its expanse and delineate areas for congregating. Fresh wall finishes and glazing reflect light from the existing patterned-glass ceiling down to the new Saint Clair marble floor, while metal extrusions painted gold frame the office windows above. Updated building entrances marry the atrium’s new character with the historic façade.
Metropolitan Square received a 2021 AIA Northern Virginia Award of Merit.
Renovation Architecture: Jeff Barber, AIA, LEED AP, Gensler, Washington, DC. Renovation Contractor: Davis Construction, Rockville, Maryland. Photography: Jessica Marcotte.