DCPL Tour: The Modernist Enclave of Southwest; Oct. 9

Town Center Plaza, I.M. Pei

The original 1962 Town Center Plaza by I.M. Pei is now the Waterfront Tower condos.

Amid the changing landscape of Southwest D.C., the D.C. Preservation League will be holding a walking tour this Saturday (Oct. 9) of the mid-century modern enclave to celebrate the annual DOCOMOMO Tour Day, which will be held in cities across the country. Noted architectural historian Richard Longstreth will lead the tour, which runs from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can register here.

As Southwest, which represents one of the foremost urban renewal projects of the 1950s and ’60s, ages and the area changes to meet the needs of the current residents, questions about what should be preserved and how it should be preserved will continue to be debated among residents, preservationists, city officials and developers. I encourage you to join the tour through Southwest to see the largely untouched mid-century modern gems as well as those that have already been impacted by this new development.

Here are some shots I took the other day in Southwest to preview what is in store as you walk around the area.

Waterfront Station, with its Starbucks and brand new Safeway, has brought life back to the area previously anchored by the dilapidated Waterside Mall, which was designed by Chloethiel Woodard Smith. She was one of the driving forces and architects behind the urban renewal plan in Southwest.

Waterfront Station has brought people back to a once barren space.

Bing Thom’s new design for Arena Stage incorporates new with the old. His new glass structure envelops the original, historic buildings by Harry Weese.

New Arena Stage

Another place that is mixing mid-century modern design with updates is Waterfront Tower, one of the four 1962 I.M. Pei-designed concrete and glass apartment buildings turned into condos. The four buildings were originally known as Town Center Plaza. The totally renovated units have been selling for a year and the building is now 75 percent sold. They range from the high $200s to close to $500K.

Waterfront Tower

The exterior of the I.M. Pei-designed Waterfront Tower has kept the mid-century modern look. The interior has been completely renovated in typical condo style.

I also checked out this Charles Goodman 3 bedr0om/2 bath townhome for sale in River Park. It is listed for$399K.

Goodman townhome

Goodman's River Park will be featured on the tour.

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October 5th, 2010

Mid-Century Mike


2 to “DCPL Tour: The Modernist Enclave of Southwest; Oct. 9”

  1. George says:

    Actually these riverfront townhouses are the only modern design I can afford in the entire DC metro area. While the condo/association fee includes real estate tax it is still steep at $800-900. It may make it unaffordable for me personally. I saw one of the current opens about 3 weeks ago and liked it but the neighborhood was a concern, and I am not talking about crime concerns but the fact there were no children at all and practically no one walking around. Now it was a gloomy Sunday with some occasional light drizzle but there was no life on the streets/sidewalks. Also, many of the units were completely barren and some had the filthiest curtains I had ever seen, like a smoker had lived there for 40 years and never cleaned them (I am a former smoker by the way, no hate here), likewise in the IM Pei building. We also looked at some condos at 560 or 530 N street. Lots of old people. Yes the area is being invested in heavily but it is still a gamble and like everything else in this area (meaning all of Metro DC) over-priced IMO.
    As for the unit we saw, I really did like it. If I buy anywhere as of now it would be here. I think it has the best chance of not loosing value (Maybe a little appreciation) and the design is inspired.

  2. Mary says:

    I think it might have been the time of day that you visited. It’s true that the quiet, almost suburban, feel is a lot of what draws people here, but it’s rare that I go out and don’t run into someone that I know. If you amble along the river after work, there’s a bunch of people out walking dogs, who tend to all know and chat with each other.

    There aren’t a ton of kids, but enough of them live down here that even I, single with none of them, have, by chatting with their parents, heard all about the favored charter school options, what to do about nursery school, etc. I think there is a bit of an age chasm – there’s two big bulges of residents: those more or less in their 30s and those who’re retired, so more of the kids that are around here tend to be younger than school age.

    I think I live in the building that you characterized as “lots of old people” and, well, yeah. On the other hand, they have interesting things to say about the neighborhood (my complex still has a double handful of original owners) and it suggests it’s a nice area if they stayed all these years…

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