Town Center East

1001 and 1101 3rd Street SW

Town Center East is a two-building apartment complex erected in 1960-1961 within the larger Town Center Plaza superblock planned by I.M. Pei. The twin nine-story buildings designed by Pei face each other across a landscaped yard. The complex is mirrored by Town Center West on the opposite side of the original retail center.

The buildings are significant as one of Pei’s first forays into the use of structural concrete as an exterior material. The slender columns and carved slab-ends render a ponderous material into a surprisingly delicate frame for the extensive glazing, so that the whole appears like an almost weightless curtain wall. The towers are unusual in their inward orientation: end-on to the major street, they give the impression of towers in a park while maximizing courtyard views and leaving no utilitarian “back-of-house” area. Main entrances reached through dual parking lots are less successful, but the interpenetration of interior and exterior spaces at the ground level is characteristic of Modernism.

DC Inventory: June 27, 2013.

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1001 and 1101 3rd Street SW