After demolishing university dormitories on its 8.9-acre South Campus in Washington, D.C., in 2011, The Catholic University of America (CUA) built a new college town on the urban infill site in partnership with two private developers. Named Monroe Street Market for Monroe Street, N.E., which cuts through the site, the five–city-block parcel now offers 562 apartments, a variety of retail and restaurants, a public arts building with spaces to work and host art shows and other community events, and an urban plaza that acts as a gateway into the development and outdoor performance stage.
All the components work together to attract students, staff, alumni, and neighbors for a lively hub that has also become a bridge and neighborhood stabilizer for the adjacent Brookland and Edgewood communities. When completed, the project gave the university the opportunity to increase revenue by selling some of its land and leasing other pieces.
Architects KTGY Architecture + Planning and Maurice Walters Architects collaborated with the developers to produce four distinct buildings that look as if they’ve long existed rather than just being “dropped into the neighborhood,” says Mike Henehan, vice president of developer Bozzuto. Along the Arts Walk, the two-part Brookland Works building features 27 artists’ studios with glass doors that roll up and open to a pedestrian promenade. The lofts also open to a small plaza, used for exhibits and a farmers market, and lie steps from a Metro stop and bike path. Above the lofts are 152 apartments.
The three remaining buildings—Portland Flats, Cornerstone, and Edgewood Arts—each contribute further diversity in shape, color, and height and offer different functions: Portland Flats houses 100 apartments and has the feeling of a boutique hotel. Cornerstone is the biggest, with 310 units, and the main magnet, because of its outdoor pool, bookstore, and gym. Finally, Edgewood Arts contains more than 3,000 square feet of space for varied arts and community functions.
Though new, the village fits in seamlessly and enhances life in the area on a 24/7 basis. It’s become a vibrant pedestrian environment that’s been transformative for the neighborhood, and that’s kickstarted more projects, says Adam Hale, project manager and architect at KTGY.