13th St. Sanctuary
Washington, District of Columbia
Architect/Designer | StudioMB
Builder | Harbour Builder
Photographer | Thomas Holdsworth-Architectural Photographer
This complex adaptive reuse project converts a neglected 1917 church into eight co-living units. Having suffered significant structural damage in the 2011 Mid-Atlantic earthquake, the building was deemed unsafe and sold. The technical challenges associated with reusing the building included introduction of new slotted window openings into the heavy masonry exterior, while paying homage to the building’s original architectural elements.
The result is a bold balance of old and new and a unique approach for creating much-needed housing for Washington. While living with roommates isn’t new, organized co-living is a new model that responds to increased debt, high housing costs, and a desire to offset expenses. Cost-effective and flexible, it allows tenants to rent sleeping rooms in larger-scale units. Unlike traditional apartments, co-living uses individual leases instead of a master lease; shared kitchens, living rooms, and common areas provide community, while private bedrooms and bathrooms offer a degree of independence. The structurally complex challenge of accommodating this new type of residential use in a grand but damaged worship space required subtle insertions that meet the demands of shared living while adhering to the city’s standards for retaining significant architectural defining features.