Great Architects of New York: Henry J. Hardenbergh
The Willard Hotel
Address
1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Location
14th Street NW from Pennsylvania Avenue to F Street, west side
Neighborhood
Downtown
Built
1901; addition, 1986, by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates
Use
Hotel with office space and ground floor shops.
AIA Guide
N/A

As Hardenbergh's Willkie Memorial Building was being torn down, another one of his buildings, saved from demolition, was being enlarged.

Hardenbergh's 1901 "New Willard" replaced an earlier structure of the same name that had been a critical location for the peace talks that failed to stop the Civil War. The New Willard survived until LBJ's administration. It closed in 1968, when the riot-torn blocks east of the White House were in rough shape. Thereafter, the owner wanted to demolish it or strip the facade and replace it with a glass box! It fell into quasi-public receivership during the Carter Administration, when it was sold to the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, which was charged with rehabilitating the blocks east of the White House. With the threat of razing the entire block looming overhead, the development corporation entertained ideas as to rehabilitate the abandoned Willard. The winner was Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates of New York, which filled in the large vacant site to the west (at 1455 Pennsylvania Ave.) with a vigorous riff off of the original that adds office space and a ballroom and creates a pleasant courtyard.* Old Henry probably would have been pleased.

*Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer disavowed any involvement in the project after a new developer demanded more retail and office space and cut the number of hotel rooms. Thus the addition, which is acknowledged as their design, was executed by Vladimir Koubeck.

Newspaper articles

  • Forgey, Benjamin. "Cityscape; Willard Hotel: Well Worth the Wait; After First-Rate Restoration, Landmark is to Reopen This Month." The Washington Post, Aug. 9, 1986; p. D1.
  • Goldberger, Paul. "Washington Talk: An Appraisal; On Pennsylvania Avenue, A Restoration With Wit." The New York Times, Sept. 22, 1986; p. B6.
  • Vonier, Thomas. "Washington's Willard is back." Progressive Architecture, Nov. 1986; p. 25.



  • This is the corner at 14th and Pennsylvania, taken from the southeast.


    This is the corner at 14th & F Streets, taken from the northeast.


    This is the side that fronts on Pennsylvania, taken from the southwest. Hardenbergh's original building is at right. The 1986 addition by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, which created the courtyard, plays off the original style but loosens up its form.


    This part is crazy! It's a detail of the 1986 addition.