The University of the District of Columbia wants to build a student center on what’s now an empty plaza creating a hole in the Connecticut Avenue streetscape right at the Van Ness Metro station. An active building here would be a big improvement over dead space.

The plan calls for landscaping and some cafe seating along the Connecticut Avenue frontage. The building will also have a green roof as well as a rain garden between it and the existing buildings. The remaining plaza area will also get a small lawn as well as some other landscaping.
Here’s the new building:

The design happens to look quite a bit like DC’s new libraries, for better or worse:

Left: Benning library architectural sketch. Image from DC Public Libraries.

Right: Anacostia library. Photo from And Now, Anacostia.

These new libraries have gotten some architectural praise, and since both are institutions devoted to learning, it makes some sense for UDC to look somewhat library-like. Certainly this is far better than the concrete bunker architecture of the buildings behind it. On the other hand, this still seems a bit boring. It would be nice for the building to have a more defined top. and the current urban design thinking discourages arcades along the ground floor like this building appears to have. What do you think? Update: several commenters pointed out that the ground floor doesn’t have an arcade, just a “structural reveal” where the ground floor has visibility into the structure.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.