Housing Complex

Chinese-American Architect Proposes Globular Bowl for Atop I-395

Innovative? (U.S.-China Capital Cities Friendship Council)

Holy bejeezus. Mike Neibauer reports in today's BizJo that Alfred Liu, president of AEPA Architects Engineers P.C., is pitching a 1.7-million square foot "Washington Global Trade Center" that would sit over the I-395 freeway between K Street and New York Avenue. The office building, meant primarily for foreign enterprises seeking to do business in the U.S., would be nested in a gigantic globe split longitudinally on either side.

Decking over the highway wouldn't be a problem. The city generally favors making use of those air rights, as with Louis Dreyfus Property Group's planned "Return to L'Enfant" project to the south.

The issue would come in convincing D.C.'s various review bodies to get on board something that looks like it belongs in Dubai, not the architecturally stodgy capital of the United States. Liu's most prominent work in D.C. is the Wah Luck House at 6th and H NW, which is no shining example of enlightened design, and his pagoda-ed proposal for an international trade center above the Gallery Place Metro stop lost out to Herb Miller's (most of his clients are in China). I predict this latest outlandish idea will probably end up fairly quickly in the Unbuilt Washington exhibit. (Correction: This post originally said the Wah Luck House was at 4th and H, not 6th and H.)

But if Liu can come up with the money and the foreign investment he promises, the city would be wise not to disregard it so quickly—it's capital and guts that the city can't afford to brush off.

  • Tad

    Not a bad idea. But it better be more
    architecturally interesting. Gutsy ideas
    need good design behind them.

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  • Adam L

    I'm willing to accept anything to cover up even more of the I-395 scar, except for that. The building is basically the standard 70s-era glass box, except that this one is being birthed by an immensely cheesy globe. If we want really innovative Dubai architecture that fits within our stuffy Height Act restrictions, it can be done.

    We don't have to settle for that.

  • hmm

    nice headline

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    Between K and New York? That's where the road comes up to ground level, so if that's really the case, that would have to mean the truncating of I-395 back to Mass Ave. (not that I'd hav a problem with that).

  • Andrew Horn

    And what did his ancestry have to do with this? Would the words "Ukrainian-American", "Franco-American" or even "African-american" have appeared in the headline?

    Or is it just that important that you get the right number of characters in the headline?

    Honestly, bad form.

  • seriously

    Liu is one of weakest architects in the city. Just check out their self-designed office building at Pennsylvania and L Street; unhealthy miserable building. This globe thing is delusional.

  • http://alexblock.net Alex B.


    You wouldn't necessarily need to change the layout of the roadway. You'd just have the air rights begin on NY Ave at the 2nd floor. It wouldn't be much different from the on-ramps to 395 built into the Department of Labor.

  • Jeff

    This thing is basically a boring office block with a cheap Disneyland globe on either side. Seems like "stodgy" Washington DC would do better than allowing crap like this to pollute the skyline.

  • Lydia DePillis

    @Andrew Horn

    I described Liu as "Chinese American" because his career has been largely focused on Chinatown, his firm does much of its work in China, and this new project depends largely on interested Chinese companies.

  • Randall M.

    This building design makes me sleepy.

  • Anon2

    haha, this thing is ugly but it would be hilariously out-of-place in the heart of DC. Talk about weird...it looks like some sort of space egg opening up to lay a 2001 space odyssey monolith.

  • Si Kailian

    The borg is taking over earth

  • moreseriously

    It seems to me that this is a rendering to get conversation started. The proposed trade center will bring international trade and business to Washington, D.C, which is a positive step.

    The tone of this article is unfortunate and the author needs to do more research before publishing.

  • douglasawillinger

    or rather continue the I395 tunnel north. How is this going to impact the I-395 right of way? Any renderings for the public to see?