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Letter Perfect


BusinessWeek/Architectural Record Awards

A successful partnership between the federal government and a private developer rehabilitated a national landmark building in Washington D.C. First erected in 1842, the Old General Post Office was transformed into the 172-room Hotel Monaco and opened in July, 2002, a fine example of adaptive reuse.

The Tariff Building, as it was known locally, was abandoned in 1995, its Renaissance Palazzo structure turning to ruin. The solution: A competition was held in which the winning developer would get a long-term lease in exchange for revitalizing the post office to use for another purpose.

The winner, Michael Stanton Architecture, washed and repainted the outside and restored the interior. The Post Office's main sorting room became the hotel's restaurant. The dead-letter room became the main meeting room. Guest rooms were designed to ensure that the historic fabric of the old rooms was maintained.

The hotel is an economic success, too, preserving a beautiful building and bringing new life to a "transitional" neighborhood.

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