The transformation of 20 Massachusetts Ave NW from an aging federal office building into a dynamic mixed-use destination in downtown Washington DC marked a significant milestone in urban redevelopment.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2024
Third Award | Urban Design (Built)

Project Title: 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Studio Name: LEO A DALY
Design Brief: Retrospective Analysis of the Revitalization of 20 Massachusetts Ave NW


Positioned near the US Capitol, this adaptive-reuse project seamlessly integrated new Class A office spaces, a hotel, and premium ground-floor retail, revitalizing a once barren stretch between downtown Washington DC and the Capitol. By harmonizing historical preservation with contemporary functionality, the project honored the city’s architectural legacy while meeting the evolving needs of modern urban living. Reflecting on the journey of revitalization, it’s evident that the project served as a catalyst for positive change in the neighborhood, breathing new life into the urban landscape and fostering a sense of vitality and vibrancy.


Design Objectives:

  • Integration and Adaptation: The successful integration of new functionalities into the existing building framework while preserving its historical significance underscored the project’s commitment to honoring the past while embracing the future.
  • Aesthetic Harmony: The achievement of a symbiotic relationship between the building’s exterior and its surroundings exemplified the project’s dedication to blending historical elements with contemporary design sensibilities, contributing to the city’s unique urban character.
  • Functional Efficiency: The prioritization of functionality and user experience within interior spaces facilitated a seamless transition for occupants and visitors, enhancing usability and appeal.
  • Community Engagement: Active involvement of the local community throughout the design process ensured that the project reflected the needs and aspirations of the broader community, fostering inclusivity and diversity.
  • Sustainability and Resilience: Implementation of sustainable design strategies not only minimized environmental impact but also enhanced the long-term resilience of the project, mitigating climate risks and promoting responsible resource management.

Design Features:

  • Exterior Transformation: The meticulous overhaul of the building’s exterior successfully married historical references with contemporary aesthetics, creating a visually striking composition that honored the city’s architectural heritage.
  • Wayfinding and Arrival Experience: The installation of a signature port cochere canopy and strategic placement of amenities in the main hotel lobby enhanced the arrival experience, ensuring intuitive wayfinding and orientation for visitors.
  • Interior Design Elements: The curation of sculptural art and cultivation of diverse atrium spaces infused the interiors with urban vibrancy, creating dynamic environments conducive to collaboration and community engagement.
  • Sustainable Practices: Integration of green roofs, permeable surfaces, and energy-efficient systems demonstrated the project’s commitment to environmental sustainability, while flood-resistant design elements enhanced resilience to climate change and future uncertainties.


The completion of the revitalization project at 20 Massachusetts Ave NW represents more than just a successful fusion of history and modernity; it symbolizes the collective effort and vision of stakeholders committed to creating a vibrant mixed-use destination that enriches the surrounding community and enhances the city’s urban fabric for generations to come. Through thoughtful integration, aesthetic harmony, functional efficiency, community engagement, and sustainability, the project has left an indelible mark on the urban landscape, setting a precedent for future revitalization efforts.