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Bell Architects

Bell Architects

Washington, DC

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Curved stairs create a small amphitheater area
Curved stairs create a small amphitheater area
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Gadsbys Tavern Ice Well

AIA DC 2013 Chapter Design Award Winner

Gadsby’s Tavern Ice Well (c 1793 NHL) is architecturally significant as one of the few remaining urban ice wells and an important part of Alexandria’s commercial and social history. The sidewalk area was altered to provide views into the well in the 1970s as part of Bicentennial celebrations. This project focused on preservation of the ice well and tavern building, creating an integrated outdoor exhibit, while addressing structural, storm water, deterioration and public safety concerns of the 1970s alterations.The design was subject to review and approval by BAR, NPS, SHPO, OHA and was improved by the public process.


Rehabilitation retains all remaining historic fabric, reconfigures the 1970’s viewing platform and improves the visitor’s experience. Integration of sidewalk features creates a small amphitheater area with carved stone didactic panels and a subdued palette of materials. Removal of excess metal guards and framing and brick walls enhances public safety and street visibility. The below grade exhibit space, in curvilinear bluestone evokes images of a water eroded quarry and contrasts with the historic brick of the domed ice well. An upturned concrete beam is wrapped in stone at the sidewalk level following the curve of the ice well below, carved with key historical information and providing an overhang at the vision panels to reduce glare.


The integration of art, architecture and craft: collaboration between museum curator, architect, carver, mason, stone, metal and glass fabricators was critical to result in a balance of blending in and standing out, within the context of the 18th century surroundings.

 
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Status: Built
Location: Alexandria, VA, US
My Role: Architecture, Historic Preservation

 
Preserved interior of c. 1793 ice well
Preserved interior of c. 1793 ice well
Outdoor exhibit with panels
Outdoor exhibit with panels
Integration of art, architecture and craft
Integration of art, architecture and craft

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