655 New York Avenue

655 New York Avenue

Making History with DC's Biggest Move

Most people see Washington, DC as a modern metropolis – a city bursting with bold new architecture, trophy office buildings, and sleek high-rise condos. However, the city is also filled classic treasures; historic buildings dating back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. And as the region’s leading general contractor, it’s our job to preserve the legacy of these historic structures while updating them for their next chapter.

Renowned for our historic restoration expertise, DAVIS has restored and redefined so many of DC’s most prominent older buildings—like Georgetown Car Barn and Uline Arena, to name a few. But our project at 655 New York Avenue has taken historic preservation to a whole new level. Slated for a 2018 completion, the mixed-use development will encompass the full city block, blending the old and new Washington by incorporating 19 historic buildings into the new structure. Following the project award, our team’s first milestone was to relocate two of the early 1900s era buildings – a move that is being referred to as a “record-setting feat of engineering.” 

  • Project type
    Commercial Buildings
  • Architect
    Shalom Baranes Associates
  • client
    Douglas Development Corporation; Brookfield Properties
  • awards
    ABC Excellence in Construction Award, Mega Project ENR Mid-Atlantic Best Project Award of Merit, Office/Retail Mixed-Use Development ULI Trends Award - Excellence in Office Development WBC Craftsmanship Award, Sitework, Underpinning, Foundations and Excavations (Star Award) WBC Craftsmanship Award, Interior Stone & Marble, Exterior Glass

Making way for the new construction meant moving an 800-ton and 1,100-ton building. These were the two heaviest building moves in Washington’s history.

Joe Baker, Project Executive, DAVIS

Preparing for a Record Breaker

Whenever a historic building is being integrated into new construction, the process becomes more complicated. Now, multiply that process by 19. At 655 New York Avenue, we seamlessly blended new construction with 19 historic buildings – two of which we actually moved from their original locations in order to consolidate the site and create a feasible garage. Wondering how we made the moves? It took time, patience, and the utmost precision. Click through the slides below to see how we did it.

Project Challenges

Building Vertically and Horizontally

When both building moves completed, the excavation and concrete structure construction were already well underway. Typically, these processes do not occur simultaneously, but the unique nature of this project necessitates that we build vertically and horizontally at the same time. By utilizing our team’s virtual construction expertise - which includes automated deformation monitoring of the historic structures – we got the job done safely, precisely and on time. 

Photos by Rick McCleary


Watch how our team prepared to stabilize, lift and move a historic building at the 655 New York Avenue project site. The preparation took over eight months – but the move only took a day.