Design Line
Friday, October 7 2016

4th & Rhode Island Avenue Housing | A Catalyst for Urban Growth



4th & Rhode Island Avenue Housing: North ElevationPROJECT COMPLETION
4th & Rhode Island Avenue Housing

Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS’ recent project completion at 4th and Rhode Island Avenue, NE is the first residential development in the large block west of the Rhode Island Avenue Metro Station. This transit-oriented development will catalyze further growth in this area of the city characterized by vacant buildings, struggling commercial uses, and big-box retail. The building’s 116 new households will drive new investment in the neighborhood and provide a tangible benefit to the fledgling community. A publicly accessible multipurpose facility at the street level will be used for neighborhood meetings and large tenant gatherings. At the parking level, a bio-retention area brings an island of green to what is otherwise a completely paved super-block. With more pedestrian activity and more eyes on the street, the project will transform this area of Bloomingdale back into a neighborhood hub for commerce, concerts and entertainment.

4th & Rhode Island Avenue Housing

The L-shaped building layout surrounds a raised, secure landscaped courtyard for residents – creating a quiet oasis within a dense urban context. Street front retail screens on grade parking sloping gently with the hill behind to satisfy reduced parking approved through zoning variance. The unique design of the building showcases ideas for the future of affordable housing in the District of Columbia. The exterior materials – lively brick and masonry, cementitious siding, and metal panels – were chosen for their durability, low maintenance, and opportunity for bringing color, scale and interest to the building façades. The large windows bring light deep into bedrooms and living areas.


The unit mix provides options from small studios to large 3 bedroom family units, accommodating a diverse mix of residents. The typical two bedroom unit has two bathrooms, and every unit has washer-dryer hookups, Energy Star lighting and appliances, separately metered and controlled utilities, storage space, and internet and TV connections. Everyone has access to a number of amenities, beyond the usual level of LIHTC projects, including a meeting room, an exercise facility, in-building office space for the social service providers, and enclosed bicycle and automobile parking. Additionally, residents have direct but controlled access to two large on-site outdoor green areas.

4th & Rhode Island Avenue Housing
4th & Rhode Island Avenue Housing SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE

As an affordable housing project and as required by the Green Building Act, this project was designed and submitted for compliance under the Enterprise Green Communities program. As with any project of its type constructed on a limited budget, the design team explored specific sustainable strategies that provided the most energy efficiency for the least first cost. Energy Star fixtures were selected to save on electricity and water use. Particular attention was given to the design of the exterior envelope to prevent air and water infiltration. The required pressure testing of the units and ductwork brought air leakage conditions to our attention effectively – allowing them to be corrected and re-tested. By verifying the airtightness of the units and HVAC duct system, we can be confident that the HVAC systems are working at peak efficiency and that conditioned air is delivered where it is needed. Sustainable finish materials, inside and out, were selected with durability and aesthetics in mind. A solar array will be installed on the roof area and will help reduce residents’ energy costs.

Photography by Maxwell McKenzie