REI Opens DC Flagship in Historic Washington Coliseum

by Katie Lee

Washington, D.C. — On October 21, 2016, REI opened its fifth flagship store in Washington, D.C. The 51,000-square-foot store is located in an historic 1941 building in the NOMA neighborhood, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

“Opening this incredible store in Washington, D.C., in a contentious election year has been fun, if a little challenging given all the noise around the election. It’s important to get past all that, though, and we’ve been working to show that the outdoors brings people together. Thousands of residents have connected this summer through our 100 ‘United Outside’ events. We’ve designed this flagship to be a beautiful convening space where the outdoor community can plan adventures over a great cup of coffee and gear up,” says Jerry Stritzke, CEO and president of REI.

The distinct features of the REI DC Flagship include:

• A 1,052-square-foot La Colombe café.

• An Adventure Station offered in partnership with the National Park Service and REI outdoor experts.

• An outdoor courtyard at the store’s core, featuring a fireplace and views of the building’s historic structural concrete arches.

• Bike, ski and snowboard shop services.

• A community space with a robust schedule of free and low-cost, in-store classes for cycling, paddling, fitness, hiking and camping, climbing, snow sports, photography and wilderness medicine.

• A collection of gear shops that will blend into a commons area that creates a communal shopping experience.

“The flagship’s design represents a whole new approach to how REI thinks about the customer experience, presenting the co-op, our services and experience at their best,” says Rebecca Smith, general manager of REI’s DC flagship.

REI worked closely with its partners Douglas Development, CallisonRTKL and Davis Construction to honor the history of the retail space through smart design and construction. The building, formally known as the Washington Coliseum and Uline Arena, opened in 1941. Additional details about the rich history of the building and how historic elements were woven throughout the store are available at

“CallisonRTKL has had a long relationship with REI developing their next generation retail concepts, including their flagship in SoHo,” says Alex Shapleigh, CallisonRTKL vice president and the lead designer on the project. “We are honored to have partnered with them on their newest flagship store in one of Washington, D.C.’s most storied buildings.”

The flagship will join eight other REI stores located in and around the Washington, D.C., area. It is the retailer’s fifth flagship, joining locations in Seattle, Denver, Bloomington, Minn., and the SoHo area of New York City. REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. REI has 148 stores in 36 states.


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