Both established more than a hundred years ago by immigrant communities, Holy Rosary Church and Adas Israel Synagogue are cultural anchors that have preserved tradition, culture, history and language for generations. In the 1960s, the Church was partially demolished to make way for the construction of I-395 and the Synagogue was relocated to avoid demolition during construction of Washington’s WMATA Headquarters building. Capitol Crossing’s focus on architectural preservation, urban design, and contextual, contemporary construction ensures that these longstanding community institutions will continue to thrive. Through a complex, multi-phase construction effort that involved two temporary relocations of the 1876 Synagogue, the new development returns both structures to their historically appropriate locations and orientations.
Hany Hassan, FAIA, Lead Designer for the restoration projects said,
“It has been an honour to help preserve these sacred buildings and give them new life. A generation ago, these buildings were seen as impediments to new development, and were nearly torn down. It was very exciting for me to work with development partners who recognise their integral role in a revitalised downtown, and who brought together the best minds in design and design technology to make that integration seamless.”
BBB served as Architect and Preservation Architect for the restoration and expansion of Holy Rosary Church. BBB designed a 5-story, 32,000 SF limestone and brick addition that connects at multiple levels and locations to an existing Sanctuary dating to 1919. For the Sanctuary restoration, BBB developed comprehensive documentation to restore the interior and exterior historic finishes of terrazzo, plaster, scaglolia, mosaic tiles, limestone, granite, copper as well as the relocation of an existing exterior statue. The new addition is comprised of a rectory, adult education classrooms, offices, and meetings spaces, and provides multiple new entrances into the church. BBB’s design restores the Parish’s layout prior to the construction of I-395 and is punctuated by a large outdoor terraced garden.
The addition is located above the Capitol Crossing superstructure and partially above the active highway. It provides a secure access to the public parking garage for the entire Capitol Crossing project with an emergency egress from the underground interstate. The project required precise coordination with Capitol Crossing’s superstructure design team: Skidmore Owens Merrill; structural engineer LERA; and lead civil engineering firm STV to integrate the above grade structure into the highway-spanning bridge, garage, platform, and streetscape project. To allow the church to remain operational during construction, the first phase of the BBB team’s design included temporary rerouting of all incoming utilities, new restroom facilities, façade protection, and building monitoring.
Adas Israel Synagogue in Focus
Adas Israel Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Washington DC, is a quaint, “stripped-down Romanesque Revival” masonry structure built in 1876 by German immigrants. It was relocated in 1969 during the planning and construction of the new Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Headquarters to avoid demolition. BBB has worked closely with PGP and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington for nearly a decade to renovate and preserve the Synagogue in preparation for two more recent relocations: the first in 2016 to enable construction of a below-grade parking garage and the second in 2019 to place the building at its permanent location at the southeast corner of 3rd and F Street NW, across the newly reconstituted F Street NW from Holy Rosary Church. Prior to the moves, BBB, with Balfour Beatty Construction (BBC), managed the demolition of non-historic building fabric and monitored the structure until its final relocation in January 2019.
BBB’s rehabilitation included intricate new ground floor masonry walls with brick closely resembling the original brick; new windows and new exterior doors to match the doors removed; reconstruction of the main stairs with salvaged 100-year-old pine; repairs and repointing of the original exterior brick masonry walls; repairs to sanctuary level interior finishes; and the reinstallation of temporary electrical and mechanical systems.
Additional work at Capitol Crossing
The BBB team also helped ready Capitol Crossing’s Centre Block, the balance of the record lot that includes Holy Rosary Church, for future development including designing the two future buildings’ incoming utilities, below-grade building services, structural transitions, building core and vertical transportation layouts, and street-level penetrations. The BBB team executed the design using advanced BIM modeling and teamed with BBC for intricate clash detection. The construction for this work was completed in August of 2020. At Capitol Crossing’s newly opened 200 Massachusetts Ave. NW office building, BBB is currently providing support for tenant improvements for the development’s first two restaurants, “L’Ardente” and “Love, Makoto” whose below slab building systems will span over the existing highway and further integrate with Capitol Crossing’s North Block.