A partnership headed by the Alexandria architecture, engineering and planning firm of VVKR has been awarded a contract by the District government to go forward with plans for a new, $26.5 million city office building.
Under an accelerated construction system designed to complete work before inflation drives costs even higher, building work is scheduled to begin later this year and be finshed by 1981. It will be the first major building designed for the D.C. government in recent history.
The new municipal office building will be located on the full block bounded by 3d, 4th, D and E Streets NW, atop a subway entrance. About 2,000 city employes will work at the 8-story building with 550,000 square feet of space and up to 200 parking spaces on two additional underground floors.
With a mixture of contemporary and traditional architecture evident in buildings adjacent to the new office center, a major design consideration of D. C. officials is to tie the area together. "The building provides the opportunity to mesh together and unify the total area. That will be a challenge," noted William Vosbeck, a partner in VVKR who has guided its direction and growth for 20 years.
VVKR is the 40th largest architecture-engineering firm in the nation and the largest in metropolitan Washington. The partnership has been particularly active here in recent years, having designed Alexandria Hospital, the American Trucking Association headquarters on Capitol Hill and the National Automobile Dealers Association in Fairfax County, among dozens of other buildings.
Among unusual planning aspects VVKR must address in its design are possible utilization of solar energy for hot water, heating and air conditioning. and the lack of final decisions on what D.C. agencies will be housed in the building.
According to VVKR partners, the building will be designed much like a speculative office center, allowing for flexible use inside. If the City Council decides to move to the new building -- a plan now being considered -- a large new council chamber would be built. For now, the design will concentrate on a "shell only," said VVKR architect Stan Taylor, director of housing and community development for the Alexandria firm.
The potential use of solar energy will be studied as part of the design work now beginning, Taylor added.
Under D.C. law, minority firm participation also is required in such contracts and VKKR has concluded a joint venture agreement with two minority firms on the design and engineering contract work -- Devrouax & Purnell and Robert Traynham Coles.
The new office building is designed to bring order out of chaos related to city government office space, distributed about the city for many years. In Pierre L'Enfant's original plan for the city, D.C. government buildings were located exactly where the new building will be in a municipal center that was started in the 1920s. A master plan for the Judiciary Square area now includes four proposed new D.C. buildings -- of which the VVKR design project would be first.
Located on the block currently are two small buildings that will be demolished along with parking lots.
VVKR's design plan includes the start of construction about eight months after the design process begins instead of waiting about 18 months, under normal procedures. when a total design plan is completed. Once basic foundations are planned, construction bids will be sought and work will begin even though the total design package is not finished. VVKR partners said this should help complete construction up to nine months earlier than normal -- saving any inflation in construction costs during that time.
VVKR is engaged in site planning, all types of engineering, interior design and construction management, in addition to traditional architectural design, with annual gross volume of about $5 million and 200 employes. The Alexandria firm has developed a specialty in solar energy use and just finished work on the Calvert Memorial Hospital in Frederick -- the second solar heated hospital in the country. VVKR also designed conversion of the Scottish Rite Temple here to solar energy.