In July 2020, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (“DMPED”), issued a request for proposals to redevelop a parcel of land located at 1351 Alabama Avenue SE, also referred to as Malcolm X. The NRP Group and Argos group contacted Moya Design Partners to lead the design of their response to this RFP.
Located at the intersection of Alabama Avenue SE and Congress Street SE, the site is a prominent location as you approach downtown D.C. from the south. Because of the acute angle of Congress Street, the site provides an open visual respite along Alabama Avenue SE. This sets the stage for a memorable first impression and the sense of arrival that the Congress Heights neighborhood deserves. To solve this acute angle at the intersection, we proposed to set back the building and allow the corner to become public park.
The design proposes a layering system that articulates the façade and the massing of the building at the same time. These layers have the flexibility to be carved as needed, either for functionality or design intent, creating visual interest in the architectural form. The solid inner layer acts as the structure of the project revealing a basic tri-dimensional grid from which the building’s geometries emerge.
A much lighter second layer sits in front. It has the same geometry but in an inclined plane that creates multiple views of the city. The third layer is more ephemeral; defined by the ever-changing relationship between light and shadow created by the balconies.
At street level the design breaks down scale to relate to the community, the avenue, and pedestrians. The same layering occurs, but this time each layer builds upon the previous one, adding more texture and depth. Here, the building engages every sense, addressing pedestrians directly. The lower layers generate identifiable expressions for different uses: lobby, child-care center, ground floor dwelling units and amenities. These functional and engaging spaces work in conjunction with the articulation of the streetscape and its relationship with the building to confer a sense of permanence to the neighborhood.