• NAIOP Northern Virginia Award of Excellence, Adaptive Reuse
  • AGC of DC Best Interior Construction Award, Contractors over $400M

Project Brief

Located across the Potomac River, Crystal City had always been an extension of Washington, DC. A neighbor to the Pentagon, the area used to be flooded with federal agency headquarters and government office buildings. But that’s all changing. Due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) many military tenants departed, leaving Crystal City’s office buildings outdated and abandoned.

To revitalize the formerly government-centric community, developers are repositioning Crystal City’s empty square footage. The goal? To attract tech start-ups, small businesses, and the entrepreneurial energy associated with such ventures. This was the driving force behind WeLive — the residential brand of WeWork that takes the increasingly popular co-working experience and extends it to shared living.

As the project’s General Contractor, our mission was twofold. First, convert a 1960s precast government office building into a vibrant communal living space. Secondly, serve as the pioneer for constructing a first-of-its-kind project, combining residential (WeLive) and co-working (WeWork) in one prototype. The stakes were high, and a surge in media attention made them even higher. Our team was excited be part of an innovative concept — one that would challenge traditional apartment living and allow us to transform this outdated office building in Crystal City. 

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“This project demonstrates our ability to work with new and unique trends [in the real estate market] as they come. We can seamlessly adapt to totally new types of spaces, building uses, construction methods, and clients.”       

Steve Hawryluk, Vice President, DAVIS

Working at the Speed of Innovation

Faced with an ambitious 16-month construction schedule, this project required cohesion and agility from the entire team. Adding to the complexity, the Crystal City WeLive/WeWork facility was being constructed concurrently with its sister project in New York City, and the overall prototype design constantly in flux. This resulted in design changes for the Crystal City location throughout the construction process, and made a tight timeline even tighter.

To ensure the completion date and prevent delays, our team worked around-the-clock. We seamlessly and continuously adapted the construction plan and communicated change directives to our subcontractors in the field. The final design was very different from where it started, but our team’s ability to work with WeWork to respond quickly and ensure clear lines of communication allowed the project to evolve with ease for the client.

Distinctive From the Inside Out

Our DAVIS team created a 165,000-SF mixed-use building, complete with: 216 micro-apartments, 24,960-SF of office space, 5,848-SF of ground-floor retail, and a two-level below-grade parking garage. From a technical perspective, our list is even longer. To effectively repurpose the building, it needed to be stripped down to its core and re-caulked throughout — a fragile task that involved removing and replacing joint sealants from glass and precast. We also made structural repairs to the precast connections, made repairs to the balcony waterproofing and the main and penthouse roofs, updated the façade and installed all new utilities. Beyond the property walls, our team overhauled the landscaping and hardscaping including repairs to the roads, curbs, and sidewalks. Lastly, to ensure the building’s vibrant interior matched the exterior, we painted the façade with a bold color palette and eye-catching pattern. 

Adapting for First Adopters

The project’s concept and design needed a GC partner who could provide and synthesize its expertise to co-create and deliver. And we did just that. It speaks to how we continue to advance the construction industry by redefining and providing client and community value. Building this groundbreaking prototype with both a longtime client (Vornado) and a new client (WeWork) was a true honor for DAVIS. The client wanted to provide a new style of living, and they trusted our team to carry out their unique vision. Their feedback has been excellent; recognizing our team’s pivotal role in reinventing the way “we live.”

Photos by WeWork/Lauren Kallen