With the implementation of the modern DC Streetcar system, the District of Columbia required a new facility to house the city’s streetcar fleet but also sought to establish a center for workforce training where students and residents could learn the technical skills for new transit jobs. ZGF provided urban, architectural, and interior design services for the 30,013 SF, two-story Car Barn Training Center (CBTC), a significant civic structure that represents the culmination of a broader urban design and transit planning endeavor in implementing the modern DC streetcar system.

CBTC’s urban and architectural design was driven by the goal of sensitively integrating a contemporary civic structure into its historic context—an educational campus built for African American students during segregation. The building’s parti responds to the Georgian architecture of the adjacent education campus through a civic-scaled, light-colored frame that encloses the masonry volumes of the maintenance bays, streetcar operations, and classrooms. The entrance to CBTC is accessible via a grand staircase that leads to large windows, welcoming the community to approach and observe the maintenance occurring within.

The interior design of CBTC is intentionally simple, showcasing the functions that occur within the building. A light palette, large windows, and north-facing sawtooth skylights allow daylight to flood the facility and fill interior spaces, creating a bright and pleasant workspace. The steel structure and concrete slabs remain exposed, both in the public and maintenance spaces, reflecting the building’s light-industrial purpose. DC Streetcar branding becomes the focal point of the public lobby, where the logo is punched out of blackened steel that accents the staircase. On the second floor, flexible conferencing space features operable partitions and modular furniture that allow for smaller training sessions for streetcar employees and students, as well as larger public community meetings.

Designed to exceed LEED Gold?, CBTC’s design incorporates sustainable strategies, including grass tracks, permeable pavements, stormwater collection, native plantings, sunshading, and daylighting. The District Department of Energy and Environment (DDOEE) participated in the project as a stakeholder, advocating for a building that could act as a demonstration project for the newly developed Sustainable DC Plan—one of the most ambitious sustainability plans in the country. A terrace and green roof, shaded by an array of photovoltaic panels, is accessible from the mezzanine level and offers views spanning from the H Street Corridor to the Anacostia River and beyond.