In the heart of Washington D.C. lies District Wharf, one of the area’s most ambitious development projects. District Wharf is both a destination and a community as it has a broad promenade, dining, shopping and easy access to water activities. The
Wharf dubs itself as “Where D.C. Meets its Water”.
It is also home to the Main Avenue Fish Market, the oldest continuously-operating fish market in the country, which features seafood barges offering up fresh catches of fish, shrimp, oysters, clams and blue crab. The market opened in 1805, 17 years earlier
than the New York City’s Fulton Fish Market.
A $25 million redevelopment project, led by developers PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette, was completed in the fall of 2018. The development includes six new buildings, with a focus on blending the historic structure of the Wharf with a new, modern aesthetic.
To define the character of the buildings at the District Wharf, the design team ultimately chose metal as a material, a unique choice given that Washington D.C. is known as a concrete city. Insulated metal panels were used to unify the metal barges with
the sole remaining buildings. IMPs were used for five of the new buildings: a distillery and a bar; a doughnut shop and coffee shop; two restaurant buildings, and an operations building.
“There were layers of history that we had to fit in, and metal panels were a great way to tie into the barge structures that could differentiate the historic building but really relate to the history of the barges in a sophisticated way,”
said David Bagnoli, Principal at StudioMB, the architects for the project.
The project utilizes more than 25,000 square feet of Kingspan insulated metal panels, including Optimo,
a flat wall panel available in a variety of finishes, and KarrierPanel, a universal barrier wall system.
The panels were installed by Ajay Glass.
Performance was an important piece of the material selection as the owners are pursuing LEED Silver certification by taking a campus approach.
“The buildings are part of an interesting approach to sustainable design, and LEED and the metal panels are a very critical component of that,” said Bagnoli.
Aesthetics was also crucial to material selection – the architects didn’t want all the panels to be the same profile. For example, KarrierPanel used on the operations building was designed to look like a corrugated metal shed, but other IMPs
were vinyl-wrapped, some had a granite finish, and some were even painted with vendor murals to relate to the carnival-like neon signage of the barges. The Tiki TNT bar even features a tropical mural painted directly on the Kingspan panels.
“There’s a lot of interesting signage approaches that have been done there, including a mural that was painted directly on both a solid and a perforated metal panel, which is really beautiful,” said Jenna Bolino, AIA, Associate at StudioMB.
The design team was challenged to incorporate new construction into the historic District Wharf, but Kingspan panels defined the architectural character of the structures, easily linking the history and the future together.