Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I. M. Pei leaves 'footprints' in Southwest WDC

It was around this time last year that I heard news that I.M Pei had designed several buildings in the Southwest area of Washington DC. According to the reports, including residential apartment buildings. Though, at the time, Richard and speculated as to which ones they may have been, since then, not only have I inquired of long-time SWers but have also searched the internet for information pertaining to I. M. Pei's architectural contributions to Southwest DC community.

I. M. Pei's architectural footprints, can be traced to two specific complexes in the Southwest area of Washington DC: The L'Enfant Plaza (Promenade) and the Town Center (Waterside) complexes.

L'Enfant Plaza Complex

Southwest Washington was once a working class and commercial sector of the city near the waterfront. But urban renewal ... or literal urban removal ... essentially wiped the area off the map. (The building of the Southwest Freeway helped too.). Architect I.M. Pei designed the L'Enfant Plaza Complex in the mid-1960s.

Refurbished in 2000 by then owners Sarakreek Management Partners, the La Promenade Shopping Mall along with the entire L'Enfant Plaza Complex is currently listed amongst JPG Companies properties.

Scheduled to open in 2009, a state-of-the-art National Children's Museum will be the centerpiece of a major new development at L'Enfant Plaza in Southwest Washington, DC.

The Town Center (Waterside Mall)

Two pairs of residential towers designed by legendary architect I.M. Pei flank Waterside Mall on M Street. The eastern pair, known as Town Center, is currently uninhabited. The western pair called Marina View, also slated for redevelopment, is currently occupied.

The four identical apartment towers, located just off the four corners of Waterside Mall, were initally called Town Center Plaza. The buildings were one of several projects of I. M. Pei, which resulted in his receiving the Brunner Award of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

There are now plans by a division of Charles E. Smith Commercial Realty to redo the mall with housing, shops and offices. What began as The Town Center Plaza and later called Waterside Mall is now known as Waterfront Mall.