Slim Is In

Leo A Daly renovates Washington, D.C.’s 999 Union Square building with the help of some high-tech tiles from Lea Ceramiche.

12/31/2012 By Elianne Halbersberg, Photography by Ron Blunt Photography

Located in the NoMa neighborhood of downtown Washington, D.C., close to Union Station and Capitol Hill, the recently renovated 999 Union Square building is home to several government agencies, including the D.C. Department of Health, the Internal Revenue Service, the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Homeland Security. It’s also a prime example of how a little tile and stone can warm up even the most stoic of spaces.

Global A&D firm Leo A Daly headed up the interior renovations to the building’s main lobby, common areas on all floors, elevators, restrooms and a new fitness facility located on the first floor—a total of 151,000 square feet. Leo A Daly Senior Designer Pei Tan explains that the company’s goal was to renovate the space “so that it meets the current and future security needs of its government agency tenants, while still providing an open, welcoming and professional-feeling environment.”

According to Tan, that meant designing for functionality while adding a healthy dose of “Washington classical” to appeal to agency decision makers. A larger security area was added adjacent to the lobby, and the design team combined natural materials, such as wood panels, stone and glass, with a contemporary but not too-modern aesthetic.

“The space needed to meet security requirements for government clients, but not look like the ‘bunker’ style of the past,” Tan says. “The project includes both open and closed office layout planning, as well as breakout rooms for conferences and employee breaks. We wanted to meet client needs and expectations for commonality of spaces, as well as their functionality. The design needed to be both beautiful and practical. The intent was to move the design up from Class B level to Class A level.”

The result is a beautiful building with scores of high-performance, high-design touches. A custom-designed security desk, fabricated by Washington Wood Working, now anchors the main lobby space, while flexible LED linear rope fixtures glow behind its curved acrylic panel. New plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures and air filters helped the building achieve LEED Silver certification, while non-porous DuPont Zodiaq recycled quartz countertops in the restrooms keep things clean.

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