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 typeCommercial Buildings
ArchitectShalom Baranes Associates
clientDouglas Development Corporation; Brookfield Properties
awardsABC 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.
To ensure each building would remain intact, we employed a strict stabilization process. All flooring was re-secured, and all masonry was repaired and repointed. We then stiffened the structures by adding wood-framed shear walls, steel channels, and steel cabling – essentially making the building into a rigid box.
New permanent foundations were created where the buildings were to be relocated by installing concrete and structural steel caissons which supported a large 30” thick concrete podium slab. From there, temporary move steel was installed at the ground floors. The buildings were then raised up by a hydraulic jack system, lifted off their original foundations, and moved to the new locations on top of a temporary steel roll beam rail system where hydraulic push rams slowly slid the buildings into their final locations. The preparation took over eight months – but the moves themselves only took about a day each.
Once the moves were complete, we were able to start the next phase: excavation for the new city block sized, 3-story parking garage inclusive of excavating underneath of these massive structures.
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