D.C. USA Retail Complex

Reviving the District's Columbia Heights Neighborhood
D.C. USA is the largest and most significant component of Columbia Heights’ revitalized retail corridor.
Anthony A. Williams, Former Washington, D.C. Mayor
Location: 
Washington, D.C.
Client: 
Gird Properties & Gotham Organization
Architect: 
BLT Architects
Contract Value: 
$95,000,000
Size: 
890,000 Square Feet
Year Completed: 
2008
Expertise: 

Clark, in a joint venture, led the construction of D.C. USA, an urban retail complex located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Tenants include major retailers Target, Marshalls, Best Buy, and Washington Sports Club.

In addition to two concrete garages, Clark's core and shell work at D.C. USA included three stories of structural steel and poured concrete and an exterior of granite, brick, and precast concrete on the front and steel siding and concrete loading docks in the back. Construction also included 11 elevators, four escalators, and a floating glass staircase.

The most prominent feature of the retail center is its three-story atrium. The tubular shape created from glass panels and steel beams specifically fabricated for this job refracts light at specific angles to pool in light during the day and make the atrium appear lit up at night.

The DC USA complex was a major component in the effort to revitalize the Columbia Heights neighborhood—an area that fell into disarray after the 1968 riots. With spured growth in the area, the city stipulated that D.C. USA must retain a piece of existing architecture to maintain a feeling of “old” D.C. This façade consisted of hallow terracotta and concrete and was quite fragile and extraordinarily susceptible to damage. The project team pinned up the structure with steel before proceeding to the enormous challenge of excavating beneath and building around it. To keep the façade from collapsing, a structural engineer had to approve every step before proceeding, which took an exceptional amount of preparation for each stage of construction. A restoration team filled in cracks in the façade and, after the building was complete, the wall was braced, tied back into the new structure, and refinished.

Awards: 
Mid-Atlantic Construction Magazine - Best Retail Project, Award of Merit
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