Lafayette Building Modernization 3 1

Lafayette Building Modernization

Location Washington, DC

Client General Services Administration

Services Commissioning, Construction Management, Estimating & Cost Management

Project Value $166 million

Hill provided construction management services for the modernization of the historic Lafayette Building in Washington, DC, located on Vermont Avenue, N.W., near the White House. The modernization project encompassed 565,000 SF, including 2 underground floors that accommodate underground parking and mechanical and electrical systems infrastructure and 12 above-ground floors that house Class A office space and amenities for multiple tenants, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The modernization was designed to help the landmark building achieve a LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council and maintain its prestigious status on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, the modernization helped the building comply with the U.S. General Services Administration’s stringent medium-level security requirements.

Hill managed the complex project through the design, procurement, and construction phases. The nature of the project demanded effective management of compliance with fire and life safety standards, energy-efficient lighting, security, restoration of the elevator cabs, and facade restoration. In addition, perimeter security systems and blast-resistant windows were installed. In addition to a complete renovation of the interior space, the project also provided a major systems upgrade, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems throughout the building, as well as abatement of hazardous materials. Some existing walls were demolished to capture more usable office space. 

The Lafayette Building is in a prominent location in the city, facing both Lafayette Square and McPherson Park, one block from the White House. It occupies two-thirds of an irregularly shaped block bounded by Vermont Avenue and Fifteenth, I, and H streets and has an unusual footprint that is shaped like a lowercase E. The building is 12 stories in height, with the top 2 stories set back behind a terraced balcony. This highly visible and well-trafficked site presented several logistical and staging challenges the Hill team addressed as the project proceeded.

A key aspect of the project was preserving the historical character of the building. The Lafayette Building traces its legacy to 1938, when the Lafayette Building Corporation was established to construct a building at Lafayette and Fifteenth streets. The group retained the renowned Chicago architectural firm Holabird & Root to design the building, which included some of the first uses of underground parking and central air conditioning in the city. The building was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2005.

The project earned the Best Project Between $50 Million and $100 Million from CMAA’s National Capital Chapter.