DC’s Modern Architecture Neighborhood

by Mark Wellborn

1204 W Street NW

It will likely come as news to many readers that the country is in the midst of The American Institute of Architects National Architecture Week. In its honor, UrbanTurf decided to highlight what we consider to be the neighborhood with the highest concentration of modern residential architecture in the city.

When one thinks of common residential architectural styles around DC, modern would be pretty low on the list. DC has a strong preservationist tendency, so it is not a city where modern architecture flourishes.

However, there is a small pocket in Northwest that has quietly established itself as the city’s outpost for this architectural style. Just a couple blocks northeast of the U Street Metro station, on 10th and 11th Streets between V Street and Florida Avenue, there is a concentration of homes that give the neighborhood a very un-DC, modernist feel. We snapped photos of some of the best specimens:

2109 10th St, NW (map)
Row houses at 2114-2122 10th Street NW (map)
1204 W Street NW (map)
2128 11th Street NW (map)
The Lacey at 2250 11th Street NW (map)

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dcs_modern_architecture_neighborhood/3321


  1. rico said at 3:42 pm on Wednesday April 13, 2011:

    W st house and the LACEY need to be credited to Division1 architects…..i always said the LACEY was the most modern condo building in DC…a block away…...@ 2115 11th st NW… (1/2 block down from 1204 W ST.)..is a nice re-model..MODERN by KUBE architecture ... bringing an otherwise typical vanilla developer “DC” row house into what looks like a much more modern iteration ... the ones in the photos are great..but i think are ground up - nice to see one transformed into the 21st century…

  1. mike said at 7:56 am on Thursday April 14, 2011:

    Before you compliment the 1204 W St. building, I recommend you take a look inside.  I toured the house (liked it from the outside and considered buying it when it was on the market for $1.3m or so).  It was the least practical house I’ve ever set foot in.  The absence of walls/doors (even on bathrooms) was strange.  The “clean line” architecture made the kitchen useless.  And the entire house was horribly laid out.  I was really disappointed.  You can still have modern architecture without it becoming useless.

  1. Nick the Greek said at 8:24 am on Thursday April 14, 2011:

    You picked some nice looking buildings to show for this article.  You should do an article on some of the ugly stuff in the same neighborhood.  Pop ups that make no sense and just plain ugly architecture.  The ugly buildings make you long for an Historic District to protect property values of the nice buildings.

  1. Jack said at 4:55 pm on Thursday April 14, 2011:

    Unfortunately none of these houses are “modern”—they were built recently, but they’re actually “contemporary” in style.  If you want real “modern” by modernist designers (which tend to be smaller and very well laid-out) check out the Southwest Waterfront in DC, or Hollin Hills in Alexandria or Mohican Hills in Bethesda.

  1. rockcreek said at 12:56 pm on Friday April 15, 2011:

    @Jack has it - all postmodern / contemporary.  There are a good # of modern houses salted around DC, though (for example, on University Terr., NW [http://www.flickr.com/photos/midcentarc/2238553139] and on Arkansas Ave., NW [http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenosale/1591277520/]).

    If you’re including the suburbs in “around DC”, there are a lot of examples (e.g. Hollin Hills in Alexandria: http://www.flickr.com/groups/hollinhills/pool/with/2450082993/)

  1. H Street Landlord said at 11:03 am on Saturday April 16, 2011:

    Nice post. Love the micro-modern neighborhood.

  1. J Street said at 6:22 pm on Saturday April 16, 2011:

    I agree with Nick that it is time for historic district or zoning that protects this neighborhood.  Like other city neigborhoods (i.e. Georgetown, Adams Morgan, DuPont), bars and businesses are zoned to certain commercial streets or sections with noise rules and outdoor limits.  However, in this neighborhood a bar can open up an outdoor patio right next to a home and stream their noise and urine onto its neighbor until 2:00 am /3:00 am everyday of the week.

  1. paul said at 7:27 pm on Sunday April 17, 2011:

    “Modern” and “modernist” are not synonymous.  One can use the term ‘modern’ without referring to ‘modernist’ style architecture.

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