When you go to Capital One Arena to watch a Washington Wizards or Capitals game, or sing at a Cardi B or Bad Bunny concert, you probably aren’t thinking about who designed the arena to begin with. But today, we should give thanks to one of those architects. Colden “Coke” Florance, one of the architects whose firms designed Capital One Arena, died on Dec. 28 at his home in Washington. He was 92 years old.
Tristan Navera of Washington Business Journal announced the news last week. Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the arena, also posted their condolences.
We are saddened by the loss of Golden “Coke” Florance. Coke’s work is seen across downtown DC, including the MCI Center, now @CapitalOneArena. He transformed many buildings that have been and will continue to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. He may be gone, but his…— Monumental Sports & Entertainment (@MSE) January 2, 2024
Florance owned the firm Florance Eichbaum Esocoff King for much of the 20th century, where it was involved in numerous projects in D.C. These include historic renovations of the Old Executive Office Building, the National Building Museum, embassies like Finland’s on Massachusetts Avenue NW, residential projects and most notably for our site, the building now known as Capital One Arena.
Florance Eichbaum Esocoff King has since been merged into SmithGroup.
In an interview with Bisnow.com in 2006, Florance said that building the then-MCI Center was “perhaps the most civically complex project of all.”
In the Bisnow interview, Florance noted that architecture isn’t simply about drawing a building plan and calling it a day. It involves a big team. In an article by Stephen C. Fehr and Maryann Haggerty of The Washington Post, Florance Eichbaum Esocoff King was one of three firms involved in the arena’s construction.
And Florance’s words in that piece ring true about the arena to this day.
“It really will become an icon for the city, a force for cohesion,” he said in Fehr’s and Haggerty’s piece. Florance also added, “Unlike many public buildings in Washington, this one will be alive and active to the street.”
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Rest in paradise, Coke.