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Insights from a Site Visit

This week I conducted my final site visit at 1400 Crystal Drive, a gut renovation of an office building in the heart of Crystal City with a killer view.  The project was recently awarded LEED Gold certification by the US Green Building Council and the 2013 Craftsmanship award by Washington Building Congress.


The visit started on the rooftop patio with tables and chairs and light-colored roofing materials to reflect heat from the sun, minimizing the heat island effect on the community.  With the user experience in mind, designers added a small, but well placed, green roof that seamlessly connects this towering structure to the serene view of the winding Potomac and the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary below.


View of the Capitol from the roof 1400 Crystal Drive, overlooking the Potomac River and Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary.


Inside, the building uses a specially designed Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) heating and cooling system that earned numerous LEED green building points for energy efficiency.  Clever use of the existing ventilation shaft combined with this modern upgrade also opened up valuable square footage that would otherwise have been reserved for mechanical equipment.

Production of steel and concrete is quite carbon intensive so the developer’s decision to maintain and add onto the existing structure is a refreshing diversion from the typical demo, scrap, and rebuild that we so often see.  Add to that the fact that this project was completed months (or in some cases years) faster than nearby new construction projects, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more projects like this in the future.


The left side of the photo shows the preserved concrete and steel structure.  On the right is the addition.

By:  Jessica Abralind