This multifamily property’s story begins in the 1930s with Mr. Harry Wardman, a Washington, D.C. real estate developer. Wardman was known for his landmark hotels, luxury apartment buildings, and rowhouses. He was also a self-made man. Architect Bill Bonstra and his team attempted to capture Wardman’s legacy in this condominium lot, named after the Depression-era businessman, by balancing the site’s history with modern-day lifestyles. “Contemporary architecture strengthens the historical,” Bonstra claims, “Not threatens. Without new construction, cities will die.”
The neighborhood is characterized by an older demographic living in an established community—a little oasis from the bustle of city life—and it was important to create an end result that was livable and comfortable while still drawing on the rich history of the area. The duality of the building is clearly seen in the juxtaposition between old and new: arched windows against the glassy rear tower.
To work within the site was logistically challenging. A narrow 10-foot-wide alley was always occupied and the existing buildings had to be underpinned, sometimes even dug underneath, in order to access the building as carefully as possible. The goal was not to copy the old style of the surroundings, but to derive something new from the existing architecture. The judges were particularly impressed by how responsive to the building is to the needs of its site and the diversity in its neighborhood. “Exemplary of a drive to analyze historic architecture, reinterpret and strengthen the building<’ said one juror. “Woodley Wardman Condominiums fits right into this urban environment.”
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Washington, DC.