Solidifying its commitment to the Washington, DC community, the law firm Venable LLP has moved to a prominent new space in an historic downtown location.
Venable is occupying more than 240,000 square feet at newly completed Terrell Place, located across F Street from the MCI Center. The new development consists of three connected structures: the former Hecht’s department store building, adjoined by a new nine-story building with historic facades, as well as a new 11-story building fronting F Street. Venable takes residence in two of the buildings, covering six floors.
The firm’s Washington office has approximately 220 lawyers and a total professional staff of approximately 500. Venable has nearly 450 lawyers firm-wide, with offices in Washington, Baltimore and other locations in Maryland, and Northern Virginia.
“We are proud and excited to be moving into this unique building,” said William D. Coston, Partner-in-Charge of Venable’s Washington, DC office, and a litigator who has practiced in the District for more than 25 years. “Terrell Place has a special standing in Washington’s civic and commercial history. We think it will be an excellent home and an effective location for us to continue serving both the Washington community as well as our clients nationally.”
Mr. Coston noted that in addition to bringing the firm closer to the major courthouses in town, the new office places Venable at the foot of Capitol Hill and Congress, giving the firm’s active legislative practice a welcome convenience.
James L. Shea, Managing Partner of Venable, noted that the strength of the firm’s Washington-based practices will allow the firm to continue to grow in key areas: “We will use our new DC platform to further develop our national intellectual property, products liability, regulatory and legislative, and business practices. Terrell Place is a tangible expression of our commitment to quality.”
The Washington-based law firm began planning the move in 1999, recognizing its need for long-term expansion. Venable’s lease at Terrell Place, which was signed in 2001, was named the best urban office lease that year as part of the Washington Business Journal’s annual “Best Real Estate Deals of the Year.”
CarrAmerica Urban Development, LLC, the project’s developer, credited Venable with playing a pivotal role in bringing Terrell Place project to fruition. Venable, in turn, relied on the expert advice of its real estate advisors, Tony Gould, Aaron Katz and Mark Anderson, to bring the deal together, and on its architects to design the interiors.
“This was a highly unusual project,” explained Todd Degarmo, a principal with Studios Architecture, the prominent architectural firm that designed the interiors. “Terrell Place was a unique landscape to work within due to the blending of historic and new building elements. Fortunately, Venable had very enlightened and creative ideas about how to proceed, and we think this project will help transform an entire neighborhood. The completion of this move says a lot about Venable and its commitment to helping restore a vital piece of Washington history.”
Terrell Place is named in honor of Mary Church Terrell, a civil rights activist who led the fight to desegregate DC’s restaurants in the 1950s. One of Mrs. Terrell’s best-known protests occurred in front of Hecht’s department store on Seventh Street.
The new office features a complete litigation support facility, with concourse-level case-management rooms connected to a central file base. Mr. Coston expects this plan will be highly cost-effective as well as functional. Conference rooms and the firm’s cafeteria will be located on the top floor of the new building. “We wanted to locate our social space at the penthouse level, where it would be best enjoyed by all of our employees,” said Mr. Coston. The roof top will feature 10,000 square feet of terrace space and a bocce ball court.
Venable opened its DC office in 1981 with only “a handful of lawyers,” according to Mr. Coston, who has watched as that office has become not only the firm’s largest but also flagship office.
“We are extremely proud of the steady growth we’ve enjoyed in Washington,” said Benjamin R. Civiletti, who chairs the firm and is a former U.S. Attorney General. “We believe our move into Terrell Place completes our transformation into a Washington, DC-based law firm. We look forward to serving a new generation of clients from this historic location.”