A joint project by architect Chloethiel Woodward Smith and landscape architect Dan Kiley, this residential complex was developed between 1963 and 1966 as part of the Southwest Washington Redevelopment Plan led by the District of Columbia’s Redevelopment Land Agency. Following Kiley and Smith’s Capitol Park collaboration in 1959, the six-acre complex was the fourth superblock completed as part of the Southwest Redevelopment Plan’s 560-acre urban renewal area. Incorporating some of the District’s earliest rowhouses, including those on Wheat Row (1793), the Duncanson-Cranch House (1794), and the Edward Simon Lewis House (1817), the development antedated the National Historic Preservation Act and was one of the city’s first adaptive reuse projects.
Facing Waterfront Park (designed by Hideo Sasaki in 1972), the complex consists of three high-rise apartment buildings and sixteen rowhouses arranged in a series of quadrangles. Enclosed on three sides by high-rise towers, a central courtyard garden planted with a grid of maple trees is edged by a wide, elevated walkway to its west. The walkway, topped by a pergola, separates the courtyard from a one-acre aquatic garden, one of several distinct garden spaces designed by Kiley and strategically positioned throughout the development. The aquatic garden includes jet fountains, water lilies, a geometric island planted with a willow tree, and a series of platforms that traverses the reflecting pool connecting to an allée of dogwood trees. Facing the Washington Channel, the garden reflects the sky and creates a similar visual experience for high-rise residents at various stories. Other distinct gardens include a sunken English garden with a round basin, planted with sugar maple trees, and a well-shaded garden with a linear pool and private pathway to the waterfront. Dotting the exterior façade, large balcony planters integrate the vertical surface of the high-rises with the complex’s multiple variegated gardens. Stepped roof terraces and a rooftop community garden look down over the aquatic garden and its adjacent sunbathing lawn. The rowhouses were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and Harbour Square was added in 2018.