Page 182

being a residence, its sense of scale is very appealing. It’s very congenial to begin with.”

Spain’s new DC digs

To make the space even more inviting, KCCT has reshaped the home’s three main floors and attached Chancery to accommodate various types of programming. The ground floor will serve as exhibition and reception space that extends to the restored outdoor terrace and gardens. The public library will be located on the second floor alongside contemporary office spaces, and the third floor will be reworked into offices for the Ministry of Educational Affairs. The third floor will house studios and workrooms for visiting artists and scholars, too. Out in the Chancery, a black box theater with a flexible stage will host traveling Spanish theater troops. The Spanish government even has plans for a restaurant, which they hope will be helmed by famous chef and Top Chef personality José Andrés.

A 1923 residence built for the U.S. VP becomes Spanish culture’s public home

Project Credits: Cervantes & Assoc. Johns & Bhatia K.S. International


he building is stately, but you don’t have to go through 15 acres to get to the front door,” says Enrique Bellini. The architect is talking about 2801 16th Street NW, an impressive 28,000square-foot structure located on the curb of 16th Street and up the block from Washington DC’s leafy Meridian Hill Park. In 1923, the federal government constructed the home for the U.S. Vice President, but the VP and his family never moved in. Spain bought the house shortly thereafter and has been hosting diplomats and attachés at its grounds ever since. Now, KCCT is heading a massive renovation that will take the building public, converting it into a cultural center aptly named the Spain/U.S. House. “The Spanish Embassy is one of the most aggressive organizations when it comes to coordinating cultural programs in DC,” Bellini says. “They want to share Spanish culture with the city at one site. The [16th Street] residence is perfect for this because by 182

Money makes the world go ‘round and structures go up, although the process is not all that simple. To ensure their building stays within the budget, KCCT enlists the help of KS International to provide cost estimates for big projects like the Spanish Cultural Center. “Cost estimating is required by law on government projects to establish budgets, but also ensure projects are bid within these budgets,” says Douglas Mitten, PE, CCE, CVS, President of PMSI, Inc. In addition to helping set and maintain a budget, cost estimating aids architects by providing “a better understanding of projects during the design process,” Mitten says. “Cost data enables decision makers to avoid unnecessary costs and verify that proposed building features are properly aligned with budget constraints.” Because the last thing any architect wants is for prices to go through their roof unexpectedly.


But the best aspect of the Spain/U.S. House design plan, says Bellini, is the futuristic technology grid that will run throughout the house underneath the floors. “It will let us locate electronic components wherever we want, so all kinds of remote communications will be possible,” he says. Even linking with other Spain Houses worldwide will not be out of question, a key design factor that falls right in line with the country’s cultural mission. “The point of the Spain/U.S. House is to bring the culture to you. You don’t necessarily have to fly to Spain to experience the wonders the country has to offer.” For now, you still have to fly to Spain, as the Spain/U.S. House hasn’t entered construction just yet. However, Bellini promises, “It’s a very exciting project that will happen very soon.”

From Baking to Googling A former Nabisco factory finds a new life as the Pittsburgh Google headquarters


abisco stopped baking in Pittsburgh in 1998, leaving behind its iconic brick plant in Pittsburgh’s downtrodden East Liberty neighborhood. The building stood as an officially “blighted” site until 2010, when Google decided to move on in. And when Google moved in, the neighborhood suddenly seemed to be looking up. Notes from the Bureau

Architecture: Volume 1  

A Special Edition From Design Bureau 2012