LocationWashington, DC, USA
PhotographsRobert Lautman & Suzane Reatig
Short Description of Project
The site is located in the up and coming Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. In this residential neighborhood of two- and three-story row houses, the challenge was to design a new duplex residence that would respect and complement the historic context as well as provide uplifting spaces for the inhabitants.
The corner lot presented an opportunity to design an unconventional, two-unit townhouse. We approached the project through reinterpreting the traditional Washington D.C. solid-massed row house form. By introducing a central, shared courtyard, we were able to create two residences that offer three-story single-family living. The result is a U-shaped building that is divided vertically in the center, creating two units that are the mirror image of one another.
The compact first floor includes kitchen and living spaces, and continues seamlessly to the courtyard, feeling open and spacious. The staircases and rooms in the upper floors have great views of the courtyard, the sky and the urban fabric. Each residence has triple exposure with access to light, air, and multiple views.
The unique configuration and usage of materials offers features extremely rare to urban dwellings. In the city where nature and sky are scarce, a central paved courtyard planted with a crape myrtle tree provides a welcoming entrance and comfortable outdoor living space.
Type of Construction
As affordability was of central concern to the client, we kept building and construction costs low by using standard, off-shelf-shelf items. The structure is a wood frame with a masonry façade made of trendstone ground faced veneer and curtain walls of aluminum and glass. The windows are Kawneer aluminum storefront. The lighting consists of Bega light fixtures.
Short Description of Architect
Suzane Reatig, FAIA, is an award-winning Washington D.C.-based architect. For the past 12 years she has been extensively involved in the transformation of the Shaw neighborhood. In 1993, she was recognized for her design for the Metropolitan Community Church, a building that has come to have deep meaning for the Shaw community. The See-Through House is an example of affordable, quality modern housing that is changing the Washington D.C. cityscape.