68 Comment

  • what the hell is that?

  • After the wall collapse the other day, I wonder about the integrity of the load-bearing walls with all that additional weight.

    • Agree – and also (besides wondering why they did this and how it is allowable) why didn’t’ they do stick frame construction.

      • The block wall = fire protection. With zero lot lines I believe there is supposed to be a requirement for a two hour rated wall (not that this is always followed). It’s possible to get a two hour rating with stick framing, but you would need to use type x treated wood, type x sheething, a fireproof/resistant insulation, 5/8″ type x drywall interior, and a fire resitant cladding (like hardy board siding, or stucco…) From a construction standpoint it may have been much easier/cheaper to simply put up the block in order to acheive the required rating.

        • That sheething, insulation, type-X framing blah blah is so much more difficult, time-consuming and costly. Why bother? Plus, you can paint the cinder block any color you want. Many colors, even. That hardy board stuff is so boring.

    • Hard to tell from the picture, but it’s very likely that the steel goes all the wal down to the basement. With reinforced footings under the steel the bulk of the load would be carried on the interior steel framing and not on the party walls.

  • Oh good grief…what an eyesore. If I were their neighbors I’d reinforce my roof, cause that thing looks like it’s about to fall down…

  • You dawg, I heard you like rowhouses, so we put a rowhouse on top of your rowhouse so you can…

  • Best argument in favor of historic preservation and zoning regulations.

  • Thats just sad

  • Does not look derecho-proof.

  • Absolutely horrible. That architect should hang his head in shame.

  • Check out the nice popups two + three doors down. What a contrast.

    • I don’t think I would have considered those great pop-ups on their own, but next to this they’re excellent!

  • We need council members who will put zoning into effect to prevent this. Jim Graham has represented this street for years and this is one of the few areas without zoning regulations to prevent this. It’s the wild wild west over here. This area has been commended for progressive architecture – the Beauregard, Murano, Visio to name a few. Magazines and the Post have featured theses modern buildings. Now we have this atrocious piece of crap. I hope it falls down before anyone lives in it during an earthquake. What tasteless owners!

  • Somebody should check the FAR on this thing. If it really goes 5 stories, it’s got to be more than the permitted 3.5.

  • It would be nice if the entire row of homes would do that. Get a lot more density that way and not have so much of this 2 story stuff in a crowded neighborhood literally next door to a metro station.

    • I’m guess this might be a way to force neighbors into selling to a developer. At this point wit this new eyesore next door, the adjacent rowhouses are worth far more as potential future 4-5 story condos than anything else. I’d be really pissed if I had that roofdeck3 houses down!

  • monstrosity. way to make your house look RIDICULOUS next to your neighbors

  • I walked by again yesterday as I was heading home from the metro.

    Those beams on the very top of the walls appear to be wood and just laid across the gap. There’s no way to tell if they are properly secured to the walls (glued down?).

    Any reason why those might be up there? They’re too narrow to walk across.

    • Those wood beams at the top are likely temporary bracing for the block wall. They will stay in place until the roof joists and rafters are installed.

  • Somebody has to go first. I predict that ten years from now, this block will be a mix of 2-5 story rowhouses, and none of them will look all that much out of place. A lot more people will live on that block, none of whom will think the block is ruined because it isn’t a uniform row of identical houses.

    • I’m waiting for the church to sell the grass lot on W & 12th. That’s a BIG piece of real estate. I’m also surprised that Industrial Bank hasn’t sold or developed their parking lot next to Liv. It’s always empty.

      Those are two nice lots that can support large, tall apartment buildings right next to the metro. Prime real estate.

    • Yes someone must go first because all the 2-story 10 ft wide row houses in DC will become 5 stories eventually.

      • Interesting point. I do like the idea of all 5 story buildings instead of 2…. But this is butt ass ugly currently

        • It’s just the material of construction. Why does it matter if the structural elements are ugly?

  • Is there going to be an elevator? Too many stairs to clime.

  • Who approved this? I want names

    • DCRA did. They’ve also issued a couple of stop work orders but just issued a permit for 4 stories of scaffolding to be erected in the front yard. You can look all this and the owner up on PIVS. The owner is an LLC based in Virginia, but I was able to use the (very user-unfriendly) virginia corporation commission website to find out its registered agent, who is apparently a guy who lives in Herndon and also owns a gas station out there.

  • And yet it’s impossible to build that apartment building at 13th & U.

  • Horrific, shameful, hideous

  • Where are the NIMBYs when people really care what they think?

  • The south side of V street is part of the U Street Historic District, but the north side is not. If it was in the historic district this could have been avoided.

  • There is no current realistic scenario where this will end up looking good. Highly unlikely the neighbors will follow suit in the coming years. If a developer had taken the whole block for a much larger building and integrated just the facades into that, it could have stood a chance. As is, aesthetically it’s going to be a ongoing joke for the foreseeable future. Yeah it may be functional, and a few more people can live there, at the cost of looking ridiculous.

  • This is how not to do a popup! Compared to the one we saw the other day…just yikes.

  • When I saw this I was initially horrified. But maybe this popup is just so ridiculous that all future pop-ups on the block will look more normal. People often add onto houses. When it comes to a rowhouse on a small lot it’s often more convenient to build up. It looks terrible right now but once it’s finished and a couple other neighbors also do popups then it won’t be so ugly. I’m fine with it. We need more housing in DC.

    • As a part time developer myself, I’m extremely curious about what they plan to do stair-wise assuming this is going to be a multiunit building. These buildings are only about 10′ wide (i know because i looked at the one next door when it was for sale) and your average staircase is roughly 3′ wide and about 10′ long meaning that there will be a not insignificant portion of these units that is only 7′ wide. Further once you get past about the second floor that staircase can’t keep going back forever and it’s going to need to turn and come back to the front, which necessitates a hall and another 3′ chopped off the unit dimensions. I don’t really understand the market for condos that have parts that are only 7′ or 4′ wide. I would love to see the plans for this one.

      • Maybe it will have only SPIRAL staircases, to make it a nightmare both inside and out.

      • It looks deep enough, there could be a dedicated stair well, maybe? If the front door opened into the well, each unit could have it’s front entrance on the opposite side. Pretty clean, functional, but probably not very stylish.

  • All these NIMBY’s complaining… have they never been to Paris or New York? Oh wait, you don’t even have to go a mile to see historical examples of beautiful 4-5 story homes. I walked past probably 40 of them on M while my way to the Convention Center Metro this morning.

    4-5 floor walk ups are a classic and time-tested way to create non-high rise density. This one is ugly because it’s out of place at the moment. If the neighbors follow suit, though, this could be a beautiful row.

    If you think this is too high, check out the 200-400 blocks of M St. Those buildings have been there for 110 years and they’re all beautiful. I’d be lucky to own or live in any of them.

    • Yeah, but this block was NOT built with 4-story houses to begin with.

      As Carver was saying above: “If a developer had taken the whole block for a much larger building and integrated just the facades into that, it could have stood a chance. As is, aesthetically it’s going to be a ongoing joke for the foreseeable future. Yeah it may be functional, and a few more people can live there, at the cost of looking ridiculous.”

      • Maybe. Many of those historic rows went up in pieces. The Atlantic did a nice story a while back on how historically, this sort of out-of-place single owner popup is what drove heights to where we see them in those old neighborhoods today. Few of those happened all at once. Our fear of this transitional look often leads to zoning regulations which prohibit the same kind of natural growth that allowed the beautiful neighborhoods we protect today to come about.

        We stop being so default in our negativity. I think we could make some real progress on density in DC with this sort of project. We don’t need to change height restrictions, hire developers, or find large plots to develop in unison if we do things this way… and honestly, a lot of DC neighborhoods that are currently too sparsely populated to attract enviable services could become hot spots were this trend to be better embraced.

        We need to remember that the end-game of this path is a beautiful, personal, dense neighborhood whose combined aesthetics & function will attract people for generations. I’m for it, even if it’s ugly now.

        • Density is good, but so is preserving attractive historic architecture. (Yes, the houses with formstone would look a lot better with the formstone removed and the brick restored… but that’s a consequence of people screwing around with the original appearance.)

          There are many vacant lots, derelict buildings, etc. that AREN’T attractive, could accommodate apartment/condo buildings, and would be a much better way of achieving the density goal than this kind of “F*** you, rest of the block” style of pop-up.

  • horrible – absolutely horrible!

  • Great Ceaser’s Ghost.

  • Well, that was fun, reading the previous comments. As soon as I saw the photo, I knew I was in for a heaping helping of outrage and angst. Yeah I agree that this is out of place and looks silly now. Once it’s complete it may look a lot better or it may still be silly, but that kind of variety is the point of a city. If you want everything all nice and orderly, then you want a planned community, like Kentlands or Columbia. I want the energy and visual diversity that comes from a lot of different people making a lot of different decisions (not all good, and not all the choices I would have made), without the unseen hand of an architectural design review committee smoothing everything out. Sure that can be important in historic areas but it’s stifling if it’s imposed where it’s not necessary. And since, as pointed out by a previous poster, this side of the block is not included in the historic district, the community has already determined that this side of the block, this row of houses, does not require that kind of protection, and therefore a pop-up like this, which takes advantage of the full height allowable under the current zoning, is fair game. Maybe it will inspire the rest of the block to build upwards too, increasing the density as so many of us claim to find desirable, or maybe it will remain a real-life illustration of what not to do, and inspire the expansion of the historic district, or a reduction in the height limit – either way, I am eager to see how it turns out, both in appearance and in impact.

  • brookland_rez

    That is going to put so much extra weight on the 100 y/o footings, I don’t see how that can possibly be structurally sound. I can’t believe DCRA signed off on that one.

  • This looks like a fairly boring and generic stretch of homes. Glad to see some variety

  • Has this been reported to the city?

  • I’m all for more density, but I don’t see how this will work inside. Assuming this will be a 5-story multi-unit building, how small will these units be? And as another commenter said, how will they deal with the stairwell? As for how it looks. Sure, it’ll look out of place, but it is hard to judge how it will look aesthetically until it is finished. Right now it is just a shell.

  • I think this has to have lowered the property values of this entire neighborhood, at least a bit. After seeing this, I would never purchase anything in this corner of U Street that is outside the historic district.

  • It just astounds me. I couldn’t get a permit to add on a bathroom and a pantry to my house — about 85 sq. ft. And yet folk can go three more stories in the air in a block of single family residences. You’d think you were in DC from the way the permit process works.

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