October 18, 2012 Mid-Century Modern

Help Save D.C.’s Wire Office Building

Wire Building

The 1949-50 Wire Building or Wire Office Building at the corner of Vermont Avenue and K Street, NW, is in danger of being torn down. The building was designed and constructed by Alvin L. Aubinoe and Harry Edwards for owner and developer Preston Wire, after whom the building was named. The Wire Building was one of the first buildings constructed in what would become a major wave of post-World War II commercial development in downtown Washington, particularly along K Street. In 2010, the D.C. Preservation League (DCPL) sponsored a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

The owner recently filed a raze permit and the nomination will be heard by D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board on Oct. 25. The DCPL is urging that the building be included in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites, which are “deemed worthy of recognition and protection for their contribution to the cultural heritage of one of the nation’s most beautiful and historic cities,” according to the city’s Historic Preservation Office. Please email Catherine Buell, Chair, D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board at  [email protected], to make the Board aware that there is support for preserving this building and mid-century modern architecture in the city.

Wire Building_2

Here’s more information from the National Register nomination:

“Designed by Alvin Aubinoe and Harry Edwards and constructed by Alvin L. Aubinoe Inc., the building marked a transition between an earlier period of Streamline Moderne and the period of Corporate International style that dominated commercial office building architecture during the 1950s. Aubinoe and Edwards built their reputations on the Art Deco and streamlined designs of the modern apartment buildings they produced for the Cafritz Construction Company. The Wire Building, as well as the Shapiro Building at 1413 K Street NW (1952) and the building by Edwin Weihe at 1001 Connecticut Avenue NW, share certain characteristics with ribbon windows, curved corners, and stone cladding reminiscent of these earlier designs. The Wire Building marked the beginning of a period of Modernism clearly illustrated by Federal Building at 1522 K Street (1953-54) and the Professional Building at 2100 K Street (1960).”