43 Comment

  • As a corner building, it makes total sense to put more windows in. I’m always perplexed when I see corner or semi-detached buildings with no windows on the sides at all.

    I don’t hate this. It probably doesn’t match the rest of the block but I’m not sure why anyone should care. The houses beside it don’t look all that interesting.

  • “Mommy why is that blue house doing that thing to that gray house?”

    “Honey when two houses love one another sometimes they want to make a baby house.”

  • When did simple rear additions get the ominous sounding “pop-back” moniker? Rear Additions to relatively small 100 year old house are perfectly reasonable.

    • Most rear additions are people filling in their “sleeping porches” (if they hadn’t already been turned into sunrooms). This addition goes back quite a bit further than that — I don’t know how deep these lots are, but quite possibly the builder got a variance to exceed the 60% lot coverage limit.

      • Do you have proof of your claim that most rear additions are people filling in sleeping porches? This is definitely not the case where I live – there are plenty of houses with rear additions that are far more extensive than a simple sleeping porch conversion (which makes sense, because the houses around me didn’t originally have sleeping porches.)

        • west_egg

          So argumentative! Perhaps “most” rear additions nowadays are more extensive, but mainly because sleeping porches have mostly been filled in. Walk around Petworth and you’ll see hundreds of homes with sleeping porches that have been converted to living space. It’s basically standard nowadays.

        • I’d say that because the “fill-in-the-sleeping-porch” rear addition is a cheaper option, it would be more common than a bigger addition. But what do I know? Go big or go home, I guess.

        • I’m talking about the rear additions I see in the neighborhood where I live, and in those I often drive through — I should have specified “Most additions I see.”
          I think it’s perfectly reasonable to call rear additions “pop-backs.” If the term has negative undertones, well… that’s because most pop-ups are ugly.
          I don’t know what the proportion is for rear additions, but apparently the vast majority of pop-ups are done by developers. (That was surprising to me when I learned it.)

  • UGLY!! DC is becoming so boring.

  • I think it’s ugly, boring, and too square. It’s also unfortunate that it blocks so much of the neighbor’s light.

  • It’s OK, passable. But it could have been so much better. Color-wise, it seems to work, but the new cladding should have been brick. Moreover, with this building, as well as almost all pop-ups, the overriding issue is that the cornice of the former structure has not been raised. This produces a hybrid-like appearance, which often does not complement adjacent buildings nor the neighborhood in general. Of course, elevating the cornice is expensive, so developers usually opt out and just plunk a box on top. That’s a problem and needs to change. Perhaps, if pop-ups are to allowed to continue, raising the cornice should be required.

    • There is a pretty strong thought within preservation circles that an addition should be clearly discernible from the original structure, which this project does very well.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I like it. I like the 2 colors, and they kept the lines of the old building and put the new around it.

  • Not bad at all. Another of the all-too-few examples that prove it can be done tastefully. Enlivens the monotonous DC vernacular along the block without offending.

  • I actually like how this turned out. That addition is well-integrated into the [altered] facade.

  • Really ugly. It would look better if they’d simply looked for a paint scheme that fitin with adjacent buildings (red, peach, anything but blue).

  • It’s a real shame that they chopped off the brickwork at the top in the original design. Dont know why they thought that was necessary. It gave the house character, and matched with the style of the rest of the block.

    • Strongly agreed. They could have build the same pop-up and left the original upper facade in place, if they’d been willing to configure the windows a little differently.

      • I disagree. While I like the flourish on its own, I think it looked tacky and out of proportion on the original building; building a flat-topped box above the flourish only makes it worse.

        • Actually, when I look at the StreetView pictures some more, I’m not sure I mind the loss of the arch/flourish as much… but I do think the cornice (?) looks kind of “jagged” where it goes down under the leftmost window. Seems like it would’ve made sense to do whatever filling-in was necessary to make it level all the way across.

  • I bike by this every day. The construction on this one looked pretty legit, for what that’s worth. I.e., workers in hard hats, permits and plans posted, supervisors on site, etc. This was not a cheap job.

    That said, I am not THRILLED with the final design, but I think it’s OK.

  • justinbc

    After looking at the rest of the houses on that block they should be happy to have this one. Those previous photos all look rather dumpy for the whole street, and this is at least nice on the outside.

    • This is a pop-up perspective not often seen on Popville. Aesthetics are very subjective incredibly difficult to quantify, so I have a hard time accepting people’s “its so ugly/it doesn’t fit the rest of the block” arguments about pop-ups. Ignoring the resulting price/square foot that these houses/condos sell for and how it may preclude a portion of the population from living there, I think it is good that people are investing money in the neighborhoods. Although some may say that in 10-20 years we will look back and question how we let this development happen to our neighborhood, I suggest that we also consider what our neighborhoods will look like in 20 years if we don’t spend any money at all modernizing them.

      • Yes it’s an investment of money, but of nothing else cultural, aesthetic, or any other commonly held value that also builds a neighborhood. This is simply the most economical solution to enclose a volume, and that isn’t architecture. This popup does not communicate to the neighborhood that the owner cares about investing in the neighborhood itself, only the subject property. The owner himself may have a different feeling, but this is what the utilitarian approach communicates to the rest of us.

        • How is this utilitarian approach any different than the one used ~80 years ago to build this row of simple, relatively unadorned row homes for the lower-to-middle classes? Those awkward doo-dads adorning some of the neighboring houses aren’t doing anything to add to the “cultural, aesthetic, or other commonly held value that also builds a neighborhood.” They’re not fooling anyone – nobody passing by marvels at the wonderful architectural tastes of its inhabitants. While architecture can undoubtedly affect a neighborhood, these haphazard stabs are Spanish revival aren’t a good example of such.

  • Not so good!

  • Looks like a cross between a pre-fab house from the suburbs and a prison. Add another story and a few hexagon windows and it could give the Ella a run for its ugly.

  • Wow! I think that looks great and is a great example of how a well designed renovation can turn out. I think most of the “pop-up” ire comes from flippers trying to make a quick buck. But clearly this developer put the time, effort and care into ensuring a good finished product. Great job.

  • Extremely ugly, just a box.
    Nothing to do with the rest of the block.

  • Ugly, ugly, ugly. In 10 or 20 years, we are all going to look around and say, “what did we let happen?’

  • Mug of Glop

    I think the front looks good, but the side is just lazy, cheap design. “Just make it a blank, unadorned wall and smack some generic windows in there.” More could have been done to migrate some of the design elements of the surrounding houses into it by some sort of detail work with a modern spin instead of the “suburban office park” look that it has right now.

  • Live a couple blocks away. The building itself looks great. Construction looked legal/permitted, etc. Until the laws of economics are thrown out the window, I don’t fault the owner for not adding some architectural flourishes as a nod to the other houses on the block.

    If you had the cash, you’d pop up (and back), too.

  • The roof on the house to the immediate left is now at serious risk of collapse. When the roofs are all the same height it allows for the weight of snow and ice to be evenly distributed and even melt/slide off evenly. With this extra 10 feet (the pop-up portion), the snow will now accumulate on the neighbor’s roof because it can essentially bank up against the side of the pop-up. Though most of these houses were built around the 1910’s-1920’s, there was still some engineering thought put into this. The roofs were not designed to bear all of the extra weight that it will now be under in the next snowstorm.

    The city actually has halted this project a number of times since it started for permitting issues and design flaws. Ultimately the developer has been able to correct or circumvent these, but the city will be taking a hard stance on the pop-up, primarily because of the risk posed to neighboring homes.

  • It’s not the worst pop-up (construction wise, it looks solidly done), but if you’re going to build a big angular box that doesn’t have matching siding, why not make it more attractive with a mural instead?

  • I don’t think it’s the worst pop-up we’ve ever seen, by any stretch. But I’m surprised by the people holding it up as an example of tastefulness and elegance. Most popups are far more tasteful than the Ella. I actually think the majority of pop-ups in DC are better done than this. Aside from lining up the windows, it’s clear that the only real design principle is maxing out allowable square footage. I’m not giving them the Pritzker for that.

  • I’m an architect. I love this addition! Love when classical design meets modern. The addition is simple and understated, making the original structure pop. Love.

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