South of Market


1875 Explorer Street, Reston, VA


Boston Properties, Washington, DC


SmithGroup Inc., Washington, DC


CEI - Computerized Engineering, Inc., Ashland, VA


HITT Contracting, Inc., Fairfax, VA

Project Scope

Sq. Footage:



South of Market
South of Market
South of Market
South of Market

At first glance, the scene is that of an elegant East Coast town that developed over time, with major brand retailers, discriminating shoppers and high profile tenants doing important business. And it’s all true, except that instead of taking decades this carefully planned mixed use community arose in a few short years … and is thriving despite an extended economic downturn.

On the main street in this heart of the district’s 80-acre urban core, master planners elected to complete the neighborhood with a 650,000-square-foot speculative office and retail complex. The speculative development project comprises two 10-story buildings and one 6-story building, each having ground-floor retail and office above. The three buildings sit on top of a common, two-level, below-grade parking structure, and read as one building on a full block with a plaza one-third of the way along. The project is roughly 90 percent leased or committed, far outpacing the broader area in which vacancies have spiked.

With context of major importance, aesthetics were a primary consideration for the precast cladding design. To contrast two gleaming precast concrete towers across the street, the design team chose the warmth of an amber thin brick, which was embedded in the face of the precast architectural panels. Glass units at the top corresponded to the precast towers across the street.

“Precast gave us flexibility,” says the architect. “We could introduce metal and brick where we wanted without having to worry about a complicated back-up structure of metal studs or CMU.”

The 10-story / six-story / ten-story height differential was chosen to let more light into the block and provide more natural light in the higher buildings. On the first floor, a gray/green Brazilian Verde Maritaca granite is the backdrop for branded retailer space on three sides of each building; the fourth side accommodates delivery loading and entry. The retail wraps into the plaza with a good mix of food and apparel. Lobbies connect along the long axis of the buildings, and visitors can literally walk through the entire block. Inside are poured terrazzo floors, art glass, Bubinga and Sapelle wood veneers.

Above, inserted aluminum channels through certain floors on the horizontal and vertical break down the facade of punch windows fitted with low-E glass, and provides a more modern, engineered look. On the orangey side of red, the brick runs edge to edge on the panels in a running bond finished with rake joints. The windows were deeply inset with L-shaped thin bricks completing the recesses. Soldier courses set off the tops of the windows which are decorated with metal sills.

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