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Columbia Plaza

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1963, Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon. 23rd St. and Virginia Ave. NW

Columbia Plaza is the only executed part of what was planned as two extensive urban renewal development areas for Foggy Bottom. Since the 1940s, planners had deemed the area ripe for a massive reconstruction effort similar to the plan implemented in the District's Southwest Quadrant. The project was scaled back gradually to a single, albeit large, block: a “packaged living” composition, with a hotel, apartments, commercial plaza, and underground parking. The plan called for four groups of high-rise apartments and one hotel arranged around a shopping center and a low-rise serpentine building containing apartments and duplex town houses following the line of the freeway to the rear. The architects likened the shopping area to a “town square,” with retail shops at the perimeter. The entrance to the shops from the street was through an arcade, a device intended to differentiate the plaza from the street.

Finally, an office block replaced the hotel, and the supposed town center is usually devoid of pedestrian traffic, for few people chose to live, work, and shop within a single block.

Writing Credits

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee


What's Nearby


Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "Columbia Plaza", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 212-213.

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