Collection 145

Collection 14: A Case Study

Washington, DC

Rather than tear them down, a modern mixed-use development embraces and celebrates a row of historic structures on Washington's bustling 14th Street.

Collection 14 is a mixed-use project in a vibrant and sought-after downtown neighborhood central to Washington, DC. The project incorporates several historic buildings and delivers a design that celebrates the area’s history and culture at the bustling intersection of 14th and U streets.

Project Facts

  • Client:

  • Madison Investments
  • Size:

  • 235,000 sf
  • Sustainable Design:

  • LEED Gold Certified
  • Markets:

  • Large Scale Mixed-Use, Workplace, Residential, Retail + Experience
  • Region:

  • United States
  • Studios:

  • Washington, DC


  • 2022 Award of Merit, Best Master Plan/Mixed Use Project, NAIOP DC
  • Collection 14

    The development seeks to maximize social interaction and economic and cultural activity, and enhance the high quality of life and sustainability in the growing U Street Historic District with a program that provides residential choice in a variety of unit types (including twenty affordable units), new retail opportunities along 14th Street, and office space for start-ups and other small businesses. Included as well is an innovative adaptive re-use of existing facades—and an entire historic garage building repurposed as an event space and paired with an arts program that enhances the existing arts activities in the district.

    The project originated as two separate sites that the client intended to transform into an apartment building and separate condominiums. Through a detailed site analysis, however, the design team uncovered ways to maximize the value of the existing historic structures (below, right) and incorporate them into an integrated, mixed-use project by purchasing some adjacent properties, including a defunct, 1960s-era gas station and car-repair garage (below, left):

    Collection 14 1 Collection 14 2

    The exterior expression is based upon the industrial language of the 14th Street corridor, where historically large, simple warehouse-like buildings hosted light industrial uses such as car showrooms and automobile repair businesses in the early-to-mid 20th century. The façade along 14th Street is vertical in orientation, with tall bays or window groupings breaking it into increments related to the historic scale of development along the corridor. Historic storefronts of contributing structures were rebuilt and restored to their original condition and integrated into the overall composition. Each frontage supports active uses, and retail bays are extended into the public space with protected entrances to storefronts that create variety of scale and experience at the sidewalk.

    The design team also discovered elevation drawings of storefront designs from the early 1900s for three of the existing buildings retained on the site. These elevations provided inspiration for the new storefront designs, helping to restore the historical condition and introduce more variety and human scale to the sidewalk and retail experience. Finally, a long horizontal volume set back from the street forms a “bridge” above the former garage in the center of the block to unite both sides of the site.

    Collection 14 3

    “The design for Collection 14 skillfully modulates the height, mass, cadence and articulation of its facades to relate to the retained historic buildings on the site and to the surrounding U Street Historic District.  It is an excellent illustration of how a larger building can be successfully and compatibly introduced into a context of smaller structures.” —Steve Callcott, Deputy Preservation Officer, Washington, DC, Office of Planning

    Collection 14 4 Collection 14 5

    The side elevation along W Street (above, left) is designed to complement the scale of the surrounding residential buildings. An alley between W and V streets (above, right) provides access to retail and leasable office space with a new event space in and above the historic garage.

    The language of the building in form and material expression is a simple combination of masonry, glass, and metal panels used in the bay windows and upper reaches of the building. The design intentionally complements the predominantly brick language of the 14th Street corridor and integrates durable traditional construction methodologies with modern, high-performance strategies to reduce energy usage. The vibrant interior material palette, which complements the exterior, gets a boost with designed areas for public murals and art.

    The project earned LEED Gold Certification shortly after its opening in April, 2022.

    Collection 14 6 Collection 14 9
    Collection 14 7 Collection 14 10

    “I love Collection 14.  The project brings a modern apartment building and ground floor retail to historic 14th Street by weaving together a block of stores of various heights and depths.  Even the alley is animated with an office use!  The design elegantly incorporates the historic facades and works with renewed ground floor retail spaces of various sizes, offering much to the neighborhood, including highly sought meeting space.  The new apartments bring more life, vibrancy and residents to urban living along 14th Street.” —Cheryl Cort, Policy Director, Coalition for Smarter Growth, Washington, DC

    Collection 14 11 Collection 14 12

    Parking for cars and bicycles is accommodated underground at a reduced ratio (.3 per unit) for cars, encouraging residents to live “car-free,” take advantage of the nearby transit, and patronize neighborhood amenities for daily needs—all within easy walking distance of the site. Charging stations for electric vehicles are also provided.

    Collection 14 serves as an excellent example of what is possible through a convergent design approach marrying new residential development with adaptive re-use, cultural programming, and new retail opportunities.