Preserving Historic Museum on High-Profile Commercial Project in the Nation’s Capital
1700 New York Avenue, an award-winning LEED® Gold certified, 174,861-square-foot, Class A office building, is located in Washington, D.C. less than two blocks from the White House and directly adjacent to the world-renowned Corcoran Gallery of Art. This core and shell project required Balfour Beatty to ensure jobsite activities – including selective demolition, utility relocations, and new construction – resulted in minimal disruption to the Corcoran Gallery’s ongoing operations. In addition to vigilant construction practices, the project team implemented several state-of-the-art technologies such as laser scanning and BIM that aided in protecting the historic museum while also ensuring the highest quality craftsmanship for owner, Carr Properties.
Prior to construction, Balfour Beatty utilized laser scanning technology to ascertain whether the amount of space between the existing Corcoran Gallery and the planned commercial building was accurate as reflected in the original drawings. Once the project team performed the scan, they discovered that the preliminary measurements had been taken from the Corcoran Gallery’s brick façade, but the stone and precast sills on the building’s windows projected past that façade by at least ¾ of an inch. Although this may seem like an inconsequential discovery, the additional space would have prevented the project team from installing the required expansion joint between the two buildings. Armed with this new field accurate information, the architect refined the drawings to account for a larger space between the buildings, thereby avoiding major structural issues that would have manifested as construction progressed.
The project team also utilized BIM to provide Carr Properties with the most optimal quality control process available. During the procurement stage, for example, Balfour Beatty created a 3D model of the support of excavation to demonstrate how the existing buildings would be supported. BIM clash detection was integral to planning the location of major MEP and structural components through each major design iteration for 1700 New York Avenue. Autodesk’s BIM 360 Field was a vital part of the punchlist and field reporting processes, because it created one central, cloud-based platform to store and share all project documents. Balfour Beatty’s ability to strategically sequence punchlist work documented via BIM 360 Field reduced subcontractor confusion and downtime while also ensuring high quality finish work and completeness before final walkthroughs.
The design of 1700 New York Avenue inherently required diligent attention to the Corcoran Gallery, as its sixth, seventh, and eighth floors cantilever to the south over the museum’s roof. The 15-foot cantilevers at the perimeter of the building required a considerable amount of post-tension cabling. The height of 1700 New York Avenue exceeds the height of the adjacent Corcoran Gallery at the sixth floor, providing a striking architectural visual. The cantilever at the sixth floor is 12 feet at the farthest point, while the seventh and eighth floors transverse over the existing Corcoran Gallery by 32 feet.
Due to the size of the cantilever and the loads imposed during the slab pour, the engineered truss called for shoring to be extended into the building the same distance it had to extend out over the Corcoran Gallery. This required that the longest trusses were approximately 65 feet in length. The truss height measured nearly six feet. Shoring of the decks was also required during the pours from the sixth floor deck down to the slab-on-grade in the basement. The bottom of the truss over the Corcoran Gallery was within a foot-and-a-half of the existing skylight once installed. Extra care was essential to coordinating this condition since the Corcoran Gallery was open to the public during this time.
Today, 1700 New York Avenue is a building as impressive as its surroundings. With stunning views of Washington’s monumental core at its top floors, the all-glass building is striking to pedestrians and onlookers who pass through New York Avenue and adjacent streets. Though it’s not often that modern buildings are constructed next to truly historic ones, this project proved that it’s possible to preserve history while moving dirt right alongside it.