The Porter Street Residences house visiting scholars participating in various exchange programs administered in the United States by one of Washington, DC’s prominent embassies, in addition to accommodating both permanent and rotating embassy staff. Replacing an existing, outmoded building, the new 63,000 sf facility consists of 27 apartment units, administrative offices, as well as a variety of public spaces including a multi-purpose reception hall, library, cafeteria and private dining rooms, community rooms, lounge, and a fitness center.
Sensitively scaled to a residential neighborhood of small apartment buildings, the Porter Street Residences are composed of a serial repetition of three 3-story apartment buildings joined to a larger public building. The complex occupies a long, narrow, and steeply sloped site, thus creating the opportunity to position the taller and more voluminous public building at a lower elevation as compared to the three apartment buildings. This composition both satisfies a programmatic need for larger, internal spaces while simultaneously achieving visual continuity with the residentially scaled surroundings. The site’s slope also affords the opportunity to introduce much needed parking and service spaces which are situated substantially below grade and concealed from view. The form of the Porter Street Residences is strongly linear. In counterpoint, the building’s massing is highly articulated so as to mute its length. This is achieved by giving expression to the individual residential buildings---each accentuated by a projecting entry/stair tower---together with a stronger, iconic identity reserved for the public building. The expressive quality of the overall massing works in conjunction with a modest palette of brick, concrete block, and stucco which is drawn from the surrounding neighborhood. Form and materials, together, create a distinctly modern identity for the Porter Street Residences.