Caldwell Hall

Catholic University of America | Washington, DC

Caldwell Hall was dedicated in 1888, making it the oldest building on the campus of Catholic University. The university sought a comprehensive approach to modernizing the building for long-term use that would celebrate its historic character and that could be structured to allow for its continuous use. The two phases of this project, which represent the first holistic approach in decades to understanding and improving Caldwell Hall, will help this historic campus landmark remain functional and relevant as the university continues to evolve in the 21st century.

The first phase addressed the building envelope, specifically the windows. VMA demonstrated to the university that restoring the unique and beautiful first-floor windows, instead of replacing them as intended, would better achieve their goals by increasing the level of preservation while reducing project costs. The remaining replacement windows were fitted with custom aluminum profiles were that accurately matched the detail of the originals. The non-historic exterior doors at the main entrance were replaced with a model that was more representative of the original doors, but which included contemporary controls for security and accessibility. VMA also oversaw the repair and restoration of the building’s c. 1959 Seton Wing, damaged during the 2011 earthquake, when the university expanded the base scope during design.

After the completion of phase one in 2020, VMA embarked on a second phase intended to improve comfort and accessibility inside of Caldwell, especially simplifying circulation routes that must navigate fifteen different floor levels. A historic resource study and space utilization evaluation have provided the information necessary for the university to make informed decisions about programmatic changes within the building. Construction is currently underway.

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Architecture, Interior Design, Historical Preservation

Caldwell Hall

Catholic University of America | Washington, DC

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