The InTowner
To receive free monthly notices advising of the availability of each new PDF issue, simply send an email request to and include name, postal mailing address and phone number. This information will not be shared with any other lists or entities.
Marcus Moore Restorations

Advertisement

A Glass Tower Pops Out on Harvard Street

By David Alpert

Harvard Street in Columbia Heights, between 14th and 15th Streets, looks like a typical DC street, with a combination of classic row house styles. Except, in the middle, a single glass building sticks out, in more ways than one. Since Google Street View took these pictures, the construction was completed, and the modern, glass façade spans the entire front and of the building and most of one side.

Many non-historic district neighborhoods are struggling with pop-ups; where zoning allows three stories in a block made up of two-story houses, there’s no historic protection, and the occasional homeowner (by right) puts an ugly vinyl-siding third story atop their beautiful old brick row house.

This, on the other hand, pops out in two different ways. First, it projects out closer to the street than the buildings on either side. On many streets, whole rows of houses were originally set back some distance from the property line. Outside of historic districts, though, many blocks lack building restriction lines to stop a property owner from adding onto the front of the house in these cases, even if that breaks up the consistency of the row. DC’s zoning update process discussed this issue during the Low and Moderate Density Residential working group. The Office of Planning’s currently proposed new regulations would let some neighborhoods impose building restriction lines, keeping all buildings behind one consistent line, or build-to lines, requiring all buildings to position the front edge at that line.

The design is a more complex issue. To the east is a long row of the early 20th century townhouses with bay windows; to the west, a brick apartment building, an alley, and then a long row of the brick row houses with porches common in this area. Sandwiched between the two is now this glass tower.

Copyright (c) 2009 David Alpert & InTowner Publishing Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited, except as provided by 17 U.S.C. §107 & 108 (“fair use”).