What's Poping Up on New Jersey


Yesterday the Help and I dined at Beau Thai, outside. I had my back turned to avoid looking at the pop ups on New Jersey Avenue. I rather see the peeling paint on top of the Africare building (formerly the Morse School) than those things. There are 3.

There are two on the 1700 block of New Jersey about two houses apart. The one on the left looks like it might fit into the neighborhood a bit better than the one on the right, which look awfully pedestrian. Also the one on the left has been empty for like, forever. It was a DC government owned property that just languished, all borded up for years and years. It is good that it is getting fixed and may even fit with the pseudo-turret. The one on the right. Eh, it could be worse.

Blackbox house
Then over on the 1600 block of New Jersey we have the Blackbox of Doom. Doom I say. DOOOM.

There was a house, was a simple little two story deal. If you go to Google Street view, you can sort of see what was there before at 1631 New Jersey. First, they tore off its face. Then they slowly built out what you see. Gee, I hope this is not a spec building, and someone actually wants this and plans on living in it as their home, because otherwise the Invisible Hand is gonna do some smiting. Here is why. There is a modernist odd looking thing on the 1400-1300 block of 5th Street, where it was portioned off into condos which took a good long time to sell, and if I'm not mistaken 1 or 2 units were in foreclosure. Also there was another condo conversion on the oppossite side of New Jersey that looked a tiny bit odd. It still had some classic elements but some modernistic bents of where the windows were and such. If memory serves me right, the builder lived in one of the units and it seemed to take a while for the other unit to get occupied. But that's fuzzy memory and I could be wrong. Also the other tall structure you may notice on the right side of the picture is an infill building. It was nothing but a empty lot several years ago.
If you want to want to wring your hands about the loss of history, take a gander at the Historic Survey of Shaw East written by Kelsey & Associates (big PDF file), paying special attention to squares 507 and 509E. On page 95 it appears 1631 NJ Ave NW was built before 1887. Well, that's gone now. I'm not too concerned with the history, just the aesthetics.


I personally like the "blackbox" on NJ Ave. Everything in this city does not have to be cookie cutter brick row houses. It is nice to have somthing a little different in the neighborhood.

I don't mind the Blackbox either. Obviously someone with some legitimate design background tried to make the most out of a pretty tiny house in disrepair. Does it fit the aesthetic of NJ Ave? Eh, that's debatable. However, I find it much less egregious than the 'traditional', drawn-up-on-a-napkin pop-up a few houses north (which to me looks like a blitzed John Belushi raising one eyebrow higher than the other). The newest pop-up seems like they have a real chance to do a quality job. Fingers crossed.

(I loved reading through the .pdf. Thanks for the link!)

Actually, It looks like the correct address is 1651 New Jersey Ave and I agree it just doesn't fit in. It looks like some sort of night club..ugh... I live on New Jersey across from the two new popups and it's really sad how our view has changed. It was a beautiful block. The owner of the first popup actually has done a very nice job inside retaining many of the original historical details. He kept telling us how wonderful the popup would be and we believed him... needless to say we are all very disappointed. This new popup at least blends more with the aesthetics of the original architecture than the other two.

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