The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

Client Millennium Partners, EastBanc
Location Washington, DC
Status Completed in 2003

The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown converted an abandoned incinerator into one of DC's most striking hotels.

The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown integrates a 1932 landmarked incinerator building into a high-end mixed-use complex on a steeply sloping site in Washington D.C.’s highly-regulated Georgetown neighborhood. 

The incinerator building itself had been badly neglected and had subsequently fallen into disrepair. The decaying building, with its 160-foot smokestack, was used as a garbage incinerator for 39 years before closing in 1971.

A 40-foot height limitation and FAR of only 2.5 eliminated the possibility of stacking program elements on top of the site. To solve this, approximately 50% of the program was placed underground. Construction involved blasting away 50 feet of rock while protecting the incinerator, nearby houses and a church.

The mixed-use program consists of an 86-key Ritz-Carlton Hotel, 28 residential apartments, a 14-screen theater, below-grade parking for 350 cars, and 8,000 sq. ft. of retail space. 

Residential units take full advantage of Potomac River views and are situated on top of the plinth along K Street. The theaters and parking facility are concealed within the plinth, while hotel buildings are located off quiet South Street.


Interiors, by Handel Interiors, exposes the essential structural components and contrasts them with simple but richly textured furnishings and finishes.

Designed to reflect the theme "touched by fire," interiors are comprised of a mix of exposed metal and brick, while artwork and furnishings were selected to support the feel of the space.  The incinerator was transformed into the hotel’s public spaces, housing the lobby, bar, restaurant, and meeting spaces; the smokestack itself became a private dining room 16 feet in diameter. The gantry crane, originally used to pick up garbage and drop it into the incinerator, was refurbished and kept as a "found object" in the hotel lobby space, a reminder of the building's former use. 


2004 Award of Merit - AIA/New York State Citation for Design - Boston Society of Architects / AIA New York Project of the Year, Architecture Category - National Commercial Builders Council Awards of Excellence Finalist, Hotel of the Year Award - Gold Key Award for Best Hotel Interior Design 2003 Award of Excellence - AIA/DC Craftsmanship Award - Washington Building Congress 2002 Award of Excellence - AIA/DC 2000 Award of Merit - Concrete Industry Board


Design Architect Architect of Record Interior Designer

Design Partner(s)

Associate Architect - Shalom Baranes & Associates


Maxwell MacKenzie