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Crystal City's Tech

The words "Crystal City" and "tech haven" usually aren't uttered in the same breath. (Unless you hold Best Buy in extremely high regard.) But some creative new spaces from the neighborhood's biggest landlord—including one unveiled last night—are shaking things up.

At Vornado/Charles E. Smith's 251 18th St, we snapped two of the firm's mad scientists in lab coats: leasing SVP Bruce Pascal and president Mitchell Schear (with CBRE's Brad Flickinger and Cushman & Wakefield's Jessica Miller), at the debut of six spec suites on the building's sixth floor, each designed by a different architect for $65/SF. Most are big open spaces, with prominent kitchens and cafes, and informal benching for employees in premium windowed areas instead of old school sunless interiors. And souped up with touch screens, writing walls, and LED lights. 

The six firms are RTKL, FOX, OTJ, Perkins & Will, SmithGroup, and VOA, and Gensler did the community spaces. We snapped RTKL's Nathan Ferrance, Dennis Gaffney, Liz Wozny, and Matt Karner in the 5k SF suite they designed. Of course it's super-green, with floors made from recycled post-consumer material. Bruce tells us the suites aren't just about filling space and attracting techies, but also to get the world to "see Crystal City in a new light." Two-thirds of the 301k SF building was vacated by a defense contractor under BRAC, which gave Vornado a blank canvas to leap into the future--and right across from a Metro stop.

Amy Adye and Rob Moylan of SmithGroup (right, with Peabody Office's Stephen Peabody and Rachel Acevedo) in their suite, which Rob tells us was designed to be "as open and engaging as possible." And these aren't the only vacant spaces Vornado is giving a dramatic makeover: the old Safeway space on Crystal Drive has been filled by TechShop, a creative workshop and fabrication studio.

Vornado also treated guests (like HBW Group's Pat Foley, McBride's Robert Blumel and Richard McBride, and Mack-Cali's Ken Smondrowski) to grub from two of Spike Mendelsohn's brands: Good Stuff Eatery and We the Pizza. A Good Stuff branch has been open in Crystal City for two years, while We the Pizza will soon open.

Other design pros from across the region checked out the new space: here's FORM's Jessica Hollenback, Danielle Shaurette, and Leslie Baer. Crystal City will also be the setting of our exciting Creative Office Revolution event on March 31, where Mitchell Schear, Bob Fox, WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey and others will discuss the changing face of workspaces. More info here!