Let’s face it: pop-ups are going to continue to be built all over DC, whether we like them or not. Entire streets are being disfigured, both by clumsy top story additions and by the insensitive removal of traditional brick row homes in order to replace them with new, boxy buildings that stick out (an up) like eyesores, don’t respect scale or context, but most definitely maximize FAR.
How can we help property owners and developers build better designed, better integrated, more sensitive pop-ups? Whether row houses are torn down or not, rising about adjacent roof lines is a certainly a tricky design proposition. My default position has often been to try to make it as invisible (or at least discreet) as possible. Then I came across this:
There many examples of glorious upper stories throughout Washington, that could very well serve as inspiration for tackling this difficult design challenge. Mansard roofs are often employed, along with dormers of various shapes, to cap traditional row homes. I am not advocating that we suddenly start adding traditional looking mansard roofs to row buildings, but rather that we consider pop-ups a design opportunity instead of a faux-pas. After all, zoning regulations allow them, and they will continue to be built (at least outside Historic Districts).
Some of our recent projects attempt to embrace the pop-up as a project type, transforming them into an opportunity to integrate buildings of various scales into existing blocks of row houses. Instead of shying away from visibility, our goal with these projects is to provide architectural design solutions that coexist without having to insult or apologize, that respect their context and try to maintain their integrity simultaneously. After all, good architecture is not style or time specific. Can pop-ups be designed in such a way that they become positive additions to traditional city streets? This is no easy task…
Here are some examples of how we are trying to strike a balance between old vs. new, short vs. tall(er).