Aerial view of Mass Ave and I-395 entrance

The Height Limit and D.C.’s Mid-Rise Architecture

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 7:00pm
Led by 
Philip Esocoff

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The term “Washington box” is often used disparagingly to describe the city’s architecture.  Think the blocks of K Street, NW in downtown lined with commercial buildings of the same height, same set back, and similar design. Many would point to Washington, D.C.’s legally-mandated building height limit as the source of this architectural monotony.  Yet many designers working within the parameters of the federal Height Act manage to create buildings that stand out for their authentic, unique style. What’s the secret to their success? Long-time D.C. architect Phil Esocoff offers answers via the perspective of someone who has designed numerous buildings that define D.C.’s architectural landscape.  Using examples of his own work and that of other architects who seem to have found the height limit inspiring rather than constraining, Esocoff will consider what makes a Washington building distinctive and identify the best approaches to create high-quality architecture in D.C.'s mid-rise context.  For Esocoff, it all goes back to the original city plan designed by Peter Charles L’Enfant.


Philip Esocoff, FAIA, has practiced architecture in the nation’s capital for over forty years, and is a recognized authority on urban planning and architectural design.  His award-winning projects include Senate Square in D.C.’s H Street corridor, The Jefferson in Penn Quarter, the former Greyhound Bus Terminal on New York Avenue, and The Whitman condominium in Shaw. Esocoff received his professional education at the University of Pennsylvania and at the Architectural Association, London, and has been inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.  He is married to D.C.-based architect, Amy Weinstein.


Hosted by Carolyn Crouch, founder of Washington Walks.


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