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Renewing a Landmark: The McCormick Apartments

Designed by Jules H. de Sibour and built by Stanley McCormick, heir to the International Harvester fortune to complement the Beaux-Arts neighborhood, the McCormick Apartments at 1789 Massachusetts Avenue NW was constructed in 1915–1916. The building was listed on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites in 1964 and placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 1972. The Fifth Floor Mellon Apartment was added to the National Register in 1973 and the building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.   The building, which continues to be used as an office building, was renovated beginning in the fall of 2013. The exterior was cleaned and remains unchanged except for minor additions noted below. The main stair and the perimeter rooms on every floor remain intact as do most of the interior corridors. Interior areas that had already been altered were modified for elevators, mechanical spaces, and restrooms. The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) retains a perpetual historic easement on the property as part of the transfer.

This session will describe the challenges of the existing structural system required to create a new below grade level and remove columns to create large open gathering space, discuss the mechanical and electrical approach to minimally impact the historic spaces, and explain the preservation approach for the interior and exterior rehabilitation work

Presented by: Mary Katherine Lanzillotta, Brian Farrell, Dipa Makim and Michelle Bloshteyn

Presenter Bio: The McCormick Apartment Team is composed of representatives from Hartman-Cox Architects, Silman Structural Engineers and Affiliated Engineers Inc.

Organized by: AIA|DC

Co-Sponsored by: DC Council of Architectural and Engineering Societies


At the completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the structural complexity of underpinning the entire building to construct a new level below the ground floor;
  • Discuss the challenges of removing three columns on the first floor and creating a story truss between the second and third floors to transfer the load;
  • Explore and identify mechanical and electrical strategies to work within the limited plenum space of the building; and
  • Explain the various interior and exterior rehabilitation work necessary to preserve the building for future generations.