Torti Gallas is pleased to announce that they are the recipient of two Presidential Citations in Urban Design from the Washington, DC Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The Citations were given to the Torti Gallas designed Social Safeway in Georgetown and the Nannie Helen at 4800 Apartments Ward 7.

The Washington Chapter/AIA Awards Program recognizes excellence in the categories of architecture, interior architecture and historic resources. The program not only demonstrates the value of good design, but also illustrates the wide variety of services performed by architects.

The Social Safeway replaced an existing grocery store on a site that was divided from the street by a large parking lot.  The new design mends this urban edge by pulling the building back to the street – recreating the urban pedestrian experience along Wisconsin Avenue.   The parking garage is then located behind the ground floor retail while still keeping an above-ground parking deck off of the back of the second level.  This creates a more pedestrian friendly store with a more active street front environment.  

The new 71,000 SF building is two stories with the Safeway Grocery on the second floor and smaller “mom and pop” liner retail stores on the ground floor.  The main store is accessed from a two-story corner piece that will also act as a public area.  In the winter, the second floor of this entry will provide enclosed seating space, while in the warmer months, windows surrounding the corner might be opened to provide a more inviting atmosphere.

Due to the historic nature of Georgetown, there was careful consideration on the façade detailing of the building.  Some elements such as the rhythm of the bays were set up as a response to the rowhouse context, while the sunshades were placed as a functional and innovative response to the southwest sun.  The blending of material selection (red brick), façade rhythm, and contemporary elements for sun control, provide a transition from traditional architecture to a contemporary yet contextual north edge of Georgetown proper. 

The Nannie Helen at 4800 is an exciting mixed-use project that creates an active and vibrant residential community, providing many benefits to the residents and the larger Deanwood community of Washington, DC. The project is 100% affordable housing and 1/3 of the units are replacement public housing units as part of the Lincoln Heights/Richardson Dwellings New Communities Initiative for the District of Columbia Housing Authority.

An approved Planned Unit Development (PUD) plan was established through engagement with the community and city agencies including the consolidation of 10 consecutive parcels located along Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, NE. The Nannie Helen’s urban design repairs the eroded urban fabric by re-establishing the street edge and creating a vital mixed-use destination. The retail component of the project anchors the corner of the site and connects the existing retail at Minnesota Avenue with the planned Lincoln Heights/Richardson Dwellings town center farther down Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue. The project is located within a 15 minute walk of three Metro stations and is served by a major bus route. The public realm and building design provide pedestrian and bicycle access and connectivity to the existing street network with elements such as wide sidewalks, adequate lighting, and street trees.

The project includes 70 apartments in a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. The majority of units are two- and three-bedroom to cater to the needs of families in the community. The ground floor units have adjacent outdoor space and several of the units include outdoor balconies. The project also includes an 800 square foot Fitness Center and an outdoor, rubberized surface playground area for children, promoting healthy, active lifestyles for its inhabitants.

Given the site’s urban location, a focus on reducing the heat island effect is also an important goal, which will be achieved through the use of reflective roofing and paving that is light colored or shaded. Pervious pavement will be provided in the parking areas and a biorention swale will be provided to reduce the amount of stormwater sent to the sewer system.