What A Phenomenal Building

DSCN7802, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I was stunned to learn of its purpose. So free PoP t-shirt to the first person who names the street this is on and the function of the building.

19 Comment

  • It’s a water pumping station in the 300 block of Bryant St NW!

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Wow! SQF, how’d you know that? Please email me directly so I can get you a shirt.

  • I ride my bike past it often. It is fascinating at night because you can see all the big old pumping machinery which is well illuminated.

  • It is near where my husband and I used to walk our dogs and I agree it is cool-looking at night. Unfortunately the routine gunshots from nearby 4th & V made us change our route.

  • damn you SQF!!

    Yeah it’s a shame about the violence down at the projects on W and V streets.

    This building is seriously unbelievable. They’ve been renovating it for the past few years and it’s turned out great. The maintenance shop next door is undergoing renovation as well and is turning out extremely nice. Well done DC.

  • Nice! I am actually writing my masters “semi-thesis” on this pumping station!

  • But why is it so fancy? Did it used to be something else? Seems a bit elaborate for just a water pumping station…

  • Reminds me of the Fairmount Waterworks in Philadelphia. Of course, that has now been restored as a restaurant/event space, but it still hearkens back to the days when we invested in great civic buildings…not some of the crap we threw up in the 70s and 80s…and today.

  • there was a time when all government buildings were that elaborate, especially utilities. waterworks buildings all over the country built in the late 19th and early 20th century are beautiful architectural works. Check out this one: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/fa267/19th/waterworks_01.jpg

  • back from the day when “good enough for government work” meant “of the highest quality”.

    now we tend to think it should just be efficient rather than inspiring.

  • the bus barn on upper 14th street nw is equally beautiful — one would never know it’s a bus depot!

  • Equally beautiful is the WASA pumping station in Southest next to the new Ballpark.

  • As Jim says, utilities used to be an opportunity for an architectural statement. The Trevi Fountain in Rome is the facade of a waterworks.

  • It took me about fifteen minutes to figure it out. Originally I thought it was some sort of factory or old mill, judging by the smokestack. Then I started thinking about why the building’s function would be shocking to PoP. Since the building is so beautiful, its function would probably be something much less glamorous. The sturdy perimeter fence suggested that whatever was inside would not be freely open to the public. I was pretty sure that it would be a government building that had something to do with utilities. I happened to notice some exposed pipes through the two large arched windows in the bottom left of the photo, so on a hunch I did a Google Image Search for “dc water treatment plant.” On the first page of results was this:


    Scrolling down, there was a photo of the Bryant Street Pumping Station. 🙂

  • This is seriously one of my favorite architectural structures in DC.

  • they should turn this property into luxury condos. kidding! it’s lovely.

  • I spent many months (maybe a year) on that project. It’s a beautiful building… but once you step inside you’d never know. It’s just your typical public utility building. Which makes it an even better building.

  • this building is actually across the street from the school i have worked in for 3 years and i never knew what it was for!

  • Jim – that is one of HH Richardson’s designs. He designed a host of these signature “Romanesque” public structures in Boston, NE small towns and beyond – including a couple in DC. He’s amazing! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Hobson_Richardson

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