Architecture, Interior Design, Commercial Real Estate, Entertainment, Washington DC
If only your office was as cool.
No, really. You might have a fancy rooftop deck, or a golf simulator, maybe even a white-tablecloth restaurant in the lobby. But you don't have the original costume Christopher Reeve wore in "Superman," or the Heart of the Ocean necklace Kate Winslet wore in "Titanic." And no way you have the sorting hat from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
Those are just a few of the items on display in the Motion Picture Association's headquarters building in downtown D.C. The MPA moved in August from swing space at One Franklin Square back to its longtime home at 1600 Eye St. NW after a major repositioning by Trammell Crow Co. and Meadow Partners. The WBJ recently toured the improved space, designed by Gensler and chock full of stuff to geek out on if you're a fan of popular culture.
"What inspired this was kind of melding the idea of classic Hollywood and technology together," said John McKinney, a principal at Gensler who was part of the design team.
The building's showplace is its ground-floor event space facing Eye Street NW. Set against a wall fashioned to look like a movie curtain and interspersed with video screens showing TV or movie previews, you'll find a life-sized statue of Batman from "The Dark Knight Rises," a miniature space capsule from "Apollo 13," and the costumes Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto wore in "Star Trek: Into Darkness," among other things.
It's not a museum, mind you. It's a commercial office building redesigned for multiple occupants including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, which plans to occupy about 14,000 square feet. But the MPA's members include the studios that brought Batman, Superman and Star Trek to the Silver Screen, and in this modern era of office as brand, the building features plenty of memorabilia on loan from those shops.
The association, with about 40 local employees and 200 globally, lobbies on behalf of its members just like every other government affairs shop. But it also holds plenty of events, including a couple of movie screenings a week on average in its freshly remodeled and expanded 118-seat theater, accessible from that ground-floor event space. It has hosted the likes of Charlize Theron in connection with a screening of "Bombshell," Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson for a screening of crime drama "Power," and Jane Fonda in connection with Mark Ruffalo's environmental drama "Dark Waters."
From there you can continue to a door leading into the building's main lobby, which also has a separate entrance at 888 16th St. NW. The MPA occupies about 30,000 square feet, including parts of the second floor and its main headquarters space on eight. As you might expect, there are all kinds of costumes and set pieces inside, including some of the weaponry from the "Men in Black" and a proton pack from the 2016 remake of "Ghostbusters."
That left Trammell Crow and Meadow with about 120,000 square feet to play with. The partners retained CBRE to market space, and having separate entrances helped downplay the impression that other companies would be taking remainder space the MPA didn't need.
"It was important to make sure that we kind of bring the building to current but also give an eye toward the future," said Jordan Goldstein, a principal and global design director for Gensler. "How does this building have a long life beyond its present and past?"
The MPA picked Trammell Crow Co. and Meadow Partners to reposition 1600 Eye as part of a competitive bidding process run by Savills Studley. The pair acquired a majority interest in the building for $32.25 million in 2017, while the association retained ownership of its space.
Renovations to the Brutalist structure, which dates back to the 1960s, included replacing the building's deep-set, punch-window facade with floor-to-ceiling glass, introducing a new fitness center, and converting mechanical equipment on the building's rooftop into usable, indoor-outdoor penthouse space. That prospect didn't come without its own drama, Goldstein said.
"The crazy thing is this building, which has some amazing views, had no rooftop, no occupiable rooftop whatsoever," Goldstein said. "In fact when we went out the first time and went to the corner, the building management at the time got a phone call from the White House. 'What are you guys doing?' Because the corner ironically, has a view between