90 Furnished Studios Planned For Dupont Mansion Receive ANC Approval

by Lark Turner

A rendering of the proposal from SB-Urban and Hartman-Cox.

A plan to redevelop the historic Patterson House into about 92 small studios received design approval from the Dupont Circle ANC on Monday night, where developer SB-Urban and architect Hartman-Fox shared more details on the project.

The development, which includes a seven-story addition, is set to go before the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) on March 6. A previous developer’s plans to convert the property into a hotel hit a wall last October when the HPRB labeled the proposal “incompatibly tall in relationship to the Patterson House.”

The new plan for the historic mansion calls for just over 90 fully-furnished studios that would average about 350 square feet. The first floor of the mansion, located at 15 Dupont Circle NW (map), would become shared space for the building’s residents to offset the size of the apartments. Though the developer is referring to the units as “micro,” micro-units typically peak in the low 300-square-foot range. Still, the size of the apartments managed to elicit a few gasps at the ANC 2B meeting on Monday.

But Michael Balaban, SB-Urban’s president, said the size of the studios would suit a certain type of DC resident.

“These people will come to town almost literally with a laptop, a credit card, and a backpack, and we’ll have a community for them in this space,” Balaban said. When a commissioner asked whether the project would function like a long-term hotel, Balaban said no, an indication that the minimum lease term would be in the several month range.

The project won’t have any resident parking, but Balaban said residents would “almost certainly” be barred from obtaining a residential parking permit (RPP). A similar plan for a Logan Circle project provoked skepticism from the Board of Zoning Adjustment last month.

“Our research shows, and our traffic management plan will demonstrate, that these customers will not have cars and they won’t need them,” he said.

The ANC did not approve or deny any recommendations on zoning exceptions related to parking at the meeting. The commission’s design approval focused solely on the exterior proposal and whether it would protect the historic landmark. The positive recommendation will be weighed by the HPRB when the project goes before the board next month.

Mary Katherine Lanzillotta of Hartman-Cox said that the project will be clad in three different types of glass: one is white and opaque, intended to match the Patterson House’s exterior; another is a transition glass; and the third is clear, to form windows.

The previous hotel plan was struck down in part because the HPRB felt it filled up too much of the open space between the Patterson House and the adjacent Boardman House, saying it “introduces a solid mass in a space that was designed to be an open void.” SB-Urban’s project also puts an addition in that space. Lanzillotta tried to head off criticism Monday by emphasizing that the planned building adds something new to the space between the two historic buildings without detracting from them.

“The design here is to be a simple, elegant form that will nestle between these two wonderful historic masonry structures, but do it in a way that contributes to the community,” she said.

At least one ANC commissioner considers the design a big improvement from the previous proposal. When an attendee complained that the new structure seemed “very severe,” commissioner Abigail Nichols quipped, “Did you see the other proposal? This is terrific!”

See other articles related to: sb-urban, patterson mansion, dupont circle, dclofts

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/patterson_house_design_gets_anc_approval_units_wont_have_parking/8134


  1. Scoot said at 11:12 pm on Tuesday February 18, 2014:

    “introduces a solid mass in a space that was designed to be an open void.”

    I don’t know how the HBRP is so confident that the “open void” between the two buildings was designed intentionally. That seems like conjecture, considering the HPRB provides no primary source or other documentation to confirm this assumption.

    What is more, the 1950s addition within this “void” already falls outside the HPRB’s own characterization of the landmark’s period of significance of 1902-1948. The HPRB’s position seems to be that it’s OK to tear down the 1950s addition, but not OK to build anything in its place. If you were wondering about the HPRB’s tacit position on density, this ought to leave no doubt.

    Personally, I feel that the new addition is an interesting contrast against the Boardman House; the juxtaposition makes the classical building stand out even more. Although I’m not really sure what the function of these new studios will be. Corporate apartments maybe?

  1. Zach said at 11:01 am on Wednesday February 19, 2014:

    While I’m not wild about the proposed use, I applaud the developer for selecting an appropriate architect for the job. Hartman-Cox has a proven track record of working with historic buildings and building sensitive additions. If only the previous hotel developer selected an experienced architect that actually worked on significant projects (and lecturing about them at CUA doesn’t count).

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