The new Wharf Marina Pavilion, part of the expanding District Wharf development, runs along the water’s edge of the Potomac River’s Washington Channel. One of its main features is Water Building One. A starkly elegant glass box, it stands out due to the signature, structural super truss that encases it. This highly graphic design element elicits an immediate emotional response, drawing crowds to the new building.

Global Design & Architecture Design Awards 2023
Second Award | Commercial (Built)

Project Name: Water Building One
Category: Architecture: Commercial (Built)
Studio Name: HWKN
Design Team: Matthias Hollwich, Todd Shapiro, Robert May, Thomas Orton, Joe Kuhn, Alberto Herzog, Nicolas Lee
Area: 13,400 sqft
Year: 2022
Location: Washington, D.C.
Consultants: N/A
Photography Credits: Ryan Fischer
Render Credits: N/A
Other Credits:
Architect: HWKN Architecture and Major Architecture
Client: Hoffman-Madison Waterfront
Developer: Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Water Building One | HWKN - Rethinking The Future Awards - Sheet2
©Ryan Fischer

Thanks to the signature truss, a playful, zig- zag, the roof was able to be elevated above the boardwalk, creating space around the building where people can gather. Most critically, it supports the all-glass structure and is why the interior can be open and completely free of columns. “Form is function’, states the design principal. From any vantage point inside, visitors get uninterrupted views towards the Jefferson Memorial, the hundreds of yacht slips, and to the East Potomac Park across the channel.

At night, the building is transformed: it turns into a lantern—its brightly illuminated interior a sign of life and energy. With visitors sitting and leaning against the trusses, for an instant, it appears as if they are actually holding up the shimmering glass box. From further out, viewed from a boat in the Channel, Water Building One becomes a fun-filled, all-glass lighthouse.

Water Building One | HWKN - Rethinking The Future Awards - Sheet3
©Ryan Fischer

Adding to this sense of liveliness is Water Building One’s rooftop deck. ‘It’s not often you get to design a roof,’ says the design principal.  “But we wanted to draw attention to our building from above, so that the people, looking down from their offices at a beautiful river view, would see our building as an invitation to come visit. It became our ‘fifth facade’, designed as carefully as its counterparts: the playful, zig-zagging trusses.’

Water Building One | HWKN - Rethinking The Future Awards - Sheet4
©Ryan Fischer

The crowd-pleasing Water Building One opened in Fall 2023.