Kennedy-Warren Apartment Building

Edit profile
Kennedy-Warren Apartment Building
The Kennedy-Warren Apartment Building, also known as the "Old Lady", is a historic 11-story apartment building in Washington, D.C. It is located at 3133 Connecticut Avenue, NW between the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park neighborhoods. The Art Deco building was constructed from 1929 to 1931 and is located beside the Klingle Valley Bridge and Smithsonian National Zoological Park. The apartment building overlooks Rock Creek Park and has been home to several historical figures, including two United States presidents. The Kennedy-Warren is considered the largest and best example of an Art Deco apartment building in Washington, D.C. In 1989, the building was listed as a District of Columbia Historic Landmark, and in 1994 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

History
Construction In 1929, Edgar S. Kennedy and Monroe Warren, Sr. chose Joseph Younger to design a new apartment building in Northwest Washington, D.C. The building's entry tower and north wing opened in 1931 with 117 rental units. It was the first building in Washington, D.C. to use aluminum trim on both the interior and exterior, and the first apartment building in the country to use a forced, natural-air cooling system. A second wing was planned, but Kennedy and Warren fell into bankruptcy during the Great Depression, and construction of the second wing was put on hold. In 1931, the building's mortgage holders, B. F. Saul Company of Bethesda, Maryland, took ownership of the Kennedy-Warren. A 200-unit addition to the back of the east side of the building designed by Alexander H. Sonnemann was constructed in 1935. Expansion A collection of Younger's drawings was discovered in 1987, and the building's owners decided to finish the Kennedy-Warren's original design. The start of construction was delayed for several years due to zoning restrictions, which were resolved (in part) by an agreement between tenants and the building's owner ”“ the B.F. Saul Company ”“ requiring the owner, at its sole expense, to return the aging original building to a state of good repair. Following the finalization of zoning approval, in 2002 the B.F. Saul Company and Hartman-Cox Architects LLP began construction of the planned 300,000 sq ft (27,871 sq m) second wing at a cost of $48.5 million. The original drawings by Younger were incomplete, but the architects followed the same architectural style of the now "historic wing" and used most of the same type of building materials. Contemporary apartment layouts and the addition of balconies are the only change from Younger's original design. Apartments in the original wing were measured to create the floorplans for rental units in the new wing. In addition, the historic wing's exterior was refurbished, and the main lobby, lounges, and promenade were renovated. The brick used for the new wing was specially mixed to match the color and variation of that in the original wing. Hartman-Cox received a Palladio Award in 2006 for construction of the new 114-apartment wing and renovation of the older wing. Rent control controversy Shortly after the expansion construction began in 2002, the B.F. Saul Company made several attempts to effectively remove the original wings of the Kennedy-Warren from being subject to the rent control laws of Washington, D.C. Although many tenants originally believed that the owners simply wanted to increase rents to take advantage of what was at the time a strong real estate market, it was later revealed that the company intended to gut the interior of the "Historic Wings" to convert them to high-end luxury apartments. This strategy began in 2002 with an attempt by the building's owner to have current tenants voluntarily agree to raise rents for all future tenants by 300 percent. When the agreement failed to obtain an adequate number of tenant signatures, the owners pursued rent control litigation in an attempt to charge tenants for the cost of performing repairs and other infrastructure work on the building. Many tenants believed that this action violated the tenant-owner agreement that had helped to resolve the earlier zoning impediments to the expansion, and the building's tenant association resolved to fight the rent increase litigation in court. In January 2008, Kennedy-Warren tenants began a rent strike in protest of the owner's attempts to increase rents. Washington, D.C. officials called it the first large-scale rent strike of its kind in the city. Shortly after the beginning of the strike, the B.F. Saul Company again attempted to reach an agreement with tenants to dramatically raise rents for future tenants of the original wings. While the agreement received more than the minimum number of signatures required under the law, the content of the agreement was determined by the city government to be illegal and "patently coercive". Following the rejection of this agreement, many tenants have continued on the rent strike; litigation brought by the owner to increase rents ”“ as well as tenant litigation challenging existing rents ”“ is pending.

Architecture
Exterior The building is considered the zenith of Art Deco architecture in Washington, D.C. Due to the slope of the land on its eastern and northern sides, the building is larger than it appears to someone walking down Connecticut Avenue. Six floors are located beneath the entrance level; two are residential, and the other four contain a ballroom, parking spaces, and service space. The decorative stonework found in the original wing was produced by the Edmonds Art Stone Company of Washington, D.C. Aluminum castings are used for rows of square-shaped, decorative spandrels on the entry tower and wings that mark each of the eleven floors. The spandrels found on the original buildings were produced by Alcoa, while the spandrels on the new wing were produced by the Boose Aluminum Foundry. Aluminum was also used for the lobby doors and portico. The building was constructed of brick and Indiana limestone. The forced-air ventilation system uses large fans at the back of the building to suck in cool air from the park floor and distribute it throughout the building's corridors. The front portico features an aluminum, rounded marquee with a half-circle design topped by pointed spires. A stained glass bay window is located above the entrance. On either side of the portico are two windows with a pair of limestone Aztec eagles above them. Two more limestone eagles are located at each of the two portico wing entrances. At the top of the center tower are two limestone griffins beneath a pointed copper peak. A frieze of elephants carved into the cement are located above alcoves along the building's facade. Interior The Kennedy-Warren's main lobby contains a 20 feet (6.1 m) ceiling and features an aluminum stair railing and balcony. During the building's renovation, the lobby was restored to its original Art Deco appearance. A faux-painted wood paneling covers the lobby walls and a replica of the original chandelier hangs from the ceiling. The lobby ceiling features intricate, geometric designs and sunburst shapes painted onto the beams. A dark green and gold rug features a flower-shaped motif that matches the flower shapes found on the stair railing and the building's exterior. The elevator doors are made of black metal and feature a copper tree and flower design. Kennedy-Warren amenities include a pool, spa, sauna, conference center, ballroom, concierge, and a small store located inside the entry tower which sells food staples. A private members-only club located in the historic wing contains a lounge and piano bar.

Notable tenants
Harry S. Truman rented a $150/month two-bedroom, two-bath apartment at the Kennedy-Warren in 1937, while still a senator from Missouri. Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird resided in the building before they moved to the White House. Other notable former residents include Harry Hopkins, H. R. Haldeman, P. J. O'Rourke, congressmen, senators, and several admirals and generals during World War II.

Building Activity

  • removed a media
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com