Diversity is what makes Wash-ington, D.C.’s emerging U Street/Shaw neighborhood cool, and this sleek condo building is making a noteworthy contribution to the mix. Located just blocks away from Howard University, Little Ethiopia, the Lincoln Theater, and a cornucopia of bars and clubs, it shares a block with the legendary Florida Grill—a veritable mecca for lovers of soul food, and one of the few area businesses still standing after the 1968 riots. In fact, The Lacey is named in honor of the grill’s original proprietors.
But that’s pretty much where its historic antecedents end. Unapologetically contemporary, the four-story building adds some new textures (concrete, steel, and glass) to the local patchwork of weathered brick homes, bodegas, and funky boutiques. Its glass façade, irregularly punched out with recessed balconies, glows like a lantern at night. By day, it joins forces with an interior atrium to ensure that every unit is flooded with natural light.
No two units are the same in the 26-unit structure, which offers a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom condos, plus four penthouses with rooftop terraces, and four ground-floor live/work units. Sliding glass partitions allow residents to fashion their living quarters according to their liking. Wide plank maple floors, high ceilings, and huge windows make even the smallest units feel roomy.
The architecture does play to local tradition on matters of ingress and egress. Walk-up stoops are a neighborhood staple, and the building’s exposed backbone of staircases takes the old-fashioned fire escape and turns it into a design motif.