Columbia Heights Revitalization

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Columbia Heights was historically an ideal mixed-use neighborhood with a thriving retail core and elegant arts and entertainment. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 ignited riots in Columbia Heights which left many buildings and businesses damaged or destroyed, and within 5 years the core of the community was mostly vacant buildings and unoccupied land.

Four Torti Gallas-designed projects: Park Triangle, Kenyon Square, Victory Heights and Highland Park, have played a major role in reviving the Columbia Heights neighborhood, helping to restore it to its previous grandeur.

The introduction of a Metro station in 1999 helped reconnect the neighborhood with the rest of Washington, DC. and make it an attractive place to live and work. The easy access to public transportation spurred development, including the restoration of the community landmark Tivoli Theatre, a grocery store, and major retail complex. Located on top of the Metro entrances, Torti Gallas’ mixed-use residential and retail projects offer their residents all the benefits of convenient city living.

The four buildings frame the public realm, providing definition and reversing the complete erosion of the urban form that previously occurred. In their massing, the buildings help create a triangular civic plaza as well as secondary public plazas at the entrances to the Metro. With architectural elements that act as landmarks and gateways to the neighborhood, the projects illustrate the intimate dance between urban design and architecture.

Animated and visually interesting to the pedestrian, the building facades also provide a defining edge to the street. Stepping back their footprints from the property line, the projects give additional width to the sidewalk for a comfortable street experience and cafe seating. Responding at both the scale of the individual and the city, the projects create elegant plazas and inviting streetscapes.

Healing the scars of the eroded urban form, the architectural identities of the buildings are evocative of the grand traditions of Washington. The design of the projects takes cues from the surrounding context in order to integrate seamlessly into the fabric and convey an important sense of built permanence in the neighborhood.

To encourage a diverse mix of residents in Columbia Heights, the projects provide a significant component of affordable housing. The four new buildings have a total of 572 residential units, 175 of which are affordable units at a range of income levels. Victory Heights offers 75 affordable senior rental units.

Urban living is a key element of these projects, which provide a variety of amenities and unique unit layouts. Residences range from studio to 2 bedroom units, including double height lofts. Amenities include gym facilities, community rooms, and beautifully landscaped terraces and roof decks. The rental units are designed with a striking contemporary look for the young urban professional, while the homeownership building has the more traditional feel of an established residence.

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Project Data

• mixed-use urban infill
• 588 residential units
• mix of efficiency, one- and two-bedroom units
• 57,000 sf of retail
• below grade parking for 454 cars
• includes 75 affordable senior living apartments


Comprehensive Planning
Architectural Design
Community Meetings
Feasibility/Yield Analysis
Neighborhood Planning
Urban Design
Transit Oriented Development


Congress for The New Urbanism Charter Award


Builder's Choice Award


Urban Land Institute, Global Award for Excellence

Torti Gallas + Partners understands how to integrate and transform neighborhoods for the connected world.

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