500 NJ Ave, NW


    New construction respectfully designed as the “opening act” for the Capitol and a back-drop for a proposed memorial to a patriot from New Jersey.

Unprecedented zoning variances were won 14 July 2001 for 500 New Jersey Avenue. It was the world’s shortest public hearing: 15 minutes. There was a unanimous bench decision. The order was signed the next day. You have never seen government work that fast! But because 9/11 occurred just seven weeks later, I was forced the sell the site and a variation of that building was constructed by the NAR National Association of Realtors. Many people were very disappointed at the design change.

(photo of the building originally designed is on the home page, and the contrasting photos are on page 1 of ULI article below)

(aerial photo showing the context for the building is on the 800 NJ Ave page of this site)

Jay Hellman – Letter To The Editor

On 26 Nov 2004 The Washington Post published my letter to the editor in their “Free for All” section. I was explaining why their then-architecture-critic Ben Forgey failed to understand the important aspects of the NAR variation on my original design for that singular site. The Post gave it the title: Embracing the Modern.


500 New Jersey Avenue – ULI article

An article that properly compares and contrasts the two building designs was published by the ULI Urban Land Institute in their Nov/Dec 2005 issue of Urban Land magazine. It was entitled — Choosing a Skyline: How intelligently are we recognizing urban context as a feature of environmental responsibility? It is written in the theme of comparing a movie to the book.


NCPC Letter

The larger context urban design transformation potential of the area surrounding the office building site — implementing my conclusions about re-inventing the city in the age of the computer — is beautifully captured in a short letter written by Donald Kennon, Ph.D., Chief Historian of the United States Capitol Historical Society to NCPC’s (National Capital Planning Commission) then-director of long range planning Ronald Wilson. This letter resulted in NCPC modifying its study on future memorial and museum sites in Washington, DC to include sites along NJ Ave near the Capitol.


Changes To 500 NJ Ave Not In Public Interest

On 2 Jan 2003, Terri Bishop, then-executive director of the CCNV Community for Creative Non-Violence and former ANC Commissioner (Advisory Neighborhood Commission) wrote a letter to the Honorable Sharon Ambrose, then-DC Council member from that ward, explaining why the design changes for the building at 500 NJ Ave were not in the public interest. In particular, the operable windows, bay windows, and balconies with French doors created a connection between the people inside the building with the public outside making for a healthy, holistic approach to the flow of neighborhood space.