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Mt. Vernon Square, Washington DC

This urban infill project is located in the Mount Vernon Square Historic District.  The once parking lot along M Street NW, fronts a block filled with an eclectic collection of architecturally diverse residences. Unlike other areas within the district, the rich architectural fabric along this street is comprised of individual unmatched houses that were built from the 1850s to the 1920s.  The pair of façades were designed to each have a separate aesthetic that also refers to the surrounding historic rowhouses.  The project’s masonry detailing successfully organized the front facades, emulating the consistent rhythm of unique façade patterns found along this block.

Designing the pair of façades to each have a separate aesthetic specifically references the surrounding historic character and allows both the history and architectural diversity of the block to be sustained for years to come.  The heights of the new houses comfortably fit with their neighbors by placing the mansard house against the short two-story flat and locating the taller three-story house to align with its adjacent three-story historic neighbor.  The facades are articulated by a variety of brick coursing patterns and string courses, including a band of header courses at the top of the second floors and a stacked bond pattern for the top floor of the three-story house.  The masonry detailing successfully organizes the front facades, emulating the consistent rhythm of the unique façade patterns found along this block.

The design also supports the well-being of its occupants.  The project scope focused on enhanced building performance by meeting today’s energy standards.  This included optimizing the HVAC systems, maximizing fresh air, both mechanically and through operable fenestration, and providing ample natural light.  Each unit also has access to private outdoor space.  The backyard provides an intimate patio space for the two lower-level units and the rooftop decks provide an expansive space with city views for the upper-level units.  The proximity to an active commercial corridor and neighborhood amenities also promotes walkability.

Owner: Lock 7 Development

Contractor: Harbor Builders

Photographer: Jessica Marcotte