APS : Architectural Preservation Services

Projects

Commercial National Bank Building

Washington, DC

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Client

Tishman Speyer

Completion Date

2008

Background

Dating from 1917, the Commercial National Bank is an eleven-story limestone office building located at the northwest corner of 14th and G Streets, in downtown Washington, DC. It is the work of the early twentieth-century local architect, Waddy B. Wood, who designed the building in an austere neo-classical manner. Mr. Wood was a prolific architect, known for several other significant buildings in Washington, DC, among them: the Union Trust Bank Building in 1906 (now the American Bar Association), the Masonic Temple in 1907 (now the National Museum for Women in the Arts), and the Department of the Interior (1936).

Scope

Although the building is in relatively good condition, the light wells have become an eyesore: the masonry exhibits atmospheric soiling and damage caused by skateboarders, and inappropriate repairs over the years have only exacerbated the problem. APS assessed the condition of the stonework, performed cleaning tests, conducted research on the history of the building to determine the significance of the light wells, consulted with the DC Office of Planning to establish the types of changes the building could legally undergo, and provided the client with several options for improving the exterior appearance of the Commercial National Bank Building.

The cleaning tests, in particular, included determining the most appropriate methods for removing the various types of soiling and staining, such as general soiling, calcium staining, scuff marks, rust stains, and oil drips. APS provided the client with specifications for removing the various stains on the surface of the granite, as well as other recommendations for repairing the masonry. The client chose adaptive re-use of the light wells as planters, and APS provided recommendations to accomplish the transition with sensitivity to the existing materials and the exterior appearance of the building.