Philadelphia-based architect Ewing Cole Cherry Brott was faced with a challenge during a $21 million adaptive reuse of Building 33 within the Sanger Quadrangle in the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.
The 145-year-old gun component manufacturing and storage facility-which consists of four structures: a three-story, L-shaped building that forms one half of the Sanger Quad and three smaller freestanding buildings located within the quad courtyard-would become offices for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Office of the Navy Judge Advocate General and Naval Legal Services Command.
The main concern was how to incorporate all four structures into one complete office space. "No one wants to go into a building, go out of that building to go into another building," says Paul Brott, principal in charge with Ewing Cole. "We designed a three-story atrium that connects the freestanding buildings with the main Building 33 structure."
A unique aspect of the atrium is that its north-side glass curtain wall partially encloses one of the small buildings. "We were planning to fully enclose the building, but because we had a limit on how much space we could build-156,000 square feet, which included the renovation of the existing four buildings-we simply ran out of space," adds Brott. "We ended up putting the wall where we felt it would make sense design-wise. The way the building pokes into the atrium turned out to be a nice effect."