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Downtown's Newest Trophy

Washington DC Office

Carr Properties' 1700 New York Ave has been through quite the journey. Once envisioned as the site of Frank Gehry's first DC project, it's now one of the newest office deliveries in the nation's capital. (This is dramatic, Pixar-worthy stuff.)

Here's the back story: The site where Carr's 124k SF glass trophy delivered at the beginning of the year had served for years as a parking lot for owner and next-door neighbor the Corcoran Gallery. In the mid-2000s, an adventurous (and expensive) Gehry design was slated to be built as an addition to the Corcoran, until its board nixed the plan in '05—resulting in then-Corcoran prez David Levy's resignation. So the Corcoran decided to shop it to developers instead, and Carr Properties won the sweepstakes in '08 with a complex ground lease.

Once Carr was in control, the crew we snapped on Thursday night got to work to design and fill it: SmithGroupJJR's Amy AdyeTrip Howell and Amy Bowser of JLL, Carr Properties' Austen Holderness, and SmithGroupJJR's Andy Rollman. Andy, who led the design effort, said 1700 New York had to not only be respectful of the Corcoran, but get past the Commission of Fine Arts, which eventually gave the OK. "Building a jewel" was the overall design goal, he tells us, and the design team tried to achieve that through not only lots of glass but sleek, sharp lines, too.

SmithGroupJJR's project architect, Chris Woody, tells us that the plans of other developers might have led to demolishing parts of the Corcoran down below, which the designers were trying to avoid at all costs. Once the design was in place, Trip and Amy got to work on leasing, and they didn't have to look far to lock down the first tenant. SmithGroupJJR liked the site (and this view) so much they committed to taking 35k SF at 1700 New York before Carr had even broken ground. And not long after, the big kahuna was secured as Sullivan & Cromwell signed on for 57k SF just before ground was broken in 2012. Trip tells us there's still a floor left, though there's strong interest in the available space. 

We checked out SmithGroup's completely open floor plan. Andy tells us that once a deal for 1700 New York was signed, they needed to find short-term space since their then-lease at 1850 K St was bought out early. So they moved into another Carr Properties joint—901 K St—for two years, and moved all contents from furniture to light switches over to 1700 New York earlier this year.