Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
The Lacey in Washington, DC by Division1
May 17th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal
The Lacey is a 26-unit, four level, 25,000 SF residential building organized around a three-level central corridor/atrium. Outdoor space is ample with a communal second floor terrace and rooftop, as well as private balconies, courtyards, and terraces for the units.
The Lacey is located three blocks from the famed U Street Corridor in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC. The buildings comprising the neighborhood are predominately Victorian-era, hastily constructed, row houses by speculative builders and real estate developers in response to the rapid growth of the federal government following the Civil War. During the turn of the 20th century the U Street Corridor was home to the nation’s largest African American community until it was surpassed by Harlem in the 1920’s. The Neighborhood remained a cultural center for African Americans, producing the likes of Pearl Bailey and Duke Ellington. Following the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and consequent riots, the neighborhood went into rapid decline until the 1990’s. One of the first transformative projects for the neighborhood was a 5 row house development developed and designed on vacant drug infested lots by Division1. This was soon followed by the W Street residence, only a couple of blocks away, also developed and designed by Division1, and most recently the Lacey condominiums. With these 3 projects, Division1 anchored the neighborhood and reinstated its cultural significance — now the design-center of Washington, DC.
“We are thrilled to begin the construction phase of a project that celebrates the vision, perseverance and ambition of two men, who symbolize the essence of this community,” says developer Imar Hutchins. “Considerable effort has gone into its planning and we are excited to bring to life the innovative designs conceived by Division1 Architects.” The Lacey is Mr. Hutchins’ premier venture in residential development in the “U” Street neighborhood. As the owner of the Florida Avenue Grill, he champions the concept of creating and preserving unique establishments that celebrate the past and help shape the future, while continuing to serve the community. The Florida Avenue Grill is known as much today for its celebrity clientele as for serving what’s widely considered the best soul food in DC since 1944.
The site of the Lacey was a former parking lot for the Florida Avenue Grill, a landmark African American soul-food establishment that opened in 1944, and one of the few restaurants that survived through decades of decline. The owner of the Florida Avenue Grill commissioned Division1 to build a forward-looking building that would depart from the brick and mortar tenant buildings of the declining past and express an optimism for the future while symbolizing a dedication to the neighborhood and its rebirth. Thus the building was named the Lacey in honor of Lacey C. Wilson Sr. and Lacey C. Wilson Jr. longtime proprietors of the Florida Avenue Grill.
From the street the Lacey can be seen as one large volume set upon a lower volume comprised of duplexes with private entrances, stoops, small front yards (typical of the surrounding row homes). The larger volume holding the various units is actually split in two creating a full-height corridor that runs the length of the site. Each end of the corridor is full-height glass (a light steel frame exterior staircase pushes out from one side that takes residents to a communal terrace and rooftop) allowing for maximum light and ventilation. All access to the units is contained in this central space by means of staggered landings that maximize openness. All of the units have either a balcony, while many have a balcony and either a terrace or courtyard.
Glass, steel and concrete
The units are all open-plan with floor-to-ceiling windows, wide-plank maple hardwood floors, and movable glass partitions for maximum light and flexibility.