The renovation of this historic late 19th century brick building includes daylighting and controlling solar heat gain on perimeter walls.

Project: U Street Studios
Studio Name: ISTUDIO Architects
Design Team: Rick Harlan Schneider, FAIA
Year: 2004
Location: Washington, DC
Photography Credits: Daniel Redmond

U Street Studios By ISTUDIO Architects - Sheet2
©Daniel Redmond

Coming up with innovative green building solutions that could be approved by the historic preservation office was the primary challenge. ArchitectureDC makes note that Rick in his design research “explored the neighborhood, noticing U Street’s funky flavor.”

Historic + Green

U Street Studios By ISTUDIO Architects - Sheet3The work considers environmental factors like daylight and breezes, cultural and historical references which provided inspiration for this light, open, studio office addition. The approved resolution is a sensitive renovation of the existing historic townhouse with a carefully crafted modern addition seen only from the alley.

U Street Studios By ISTUDIO Architects - Sheet4
©Daniel Redmond

The rear elevation is a smart wall combining sunscreens, translucent panels, and operable windows to provide plenty of daylight to the interior while controlling glare and heat. The aesthetic celebrates resource efficiency by minimizing additional finishes like ceilings and carpets and reduces the use of wood.

©Daniel Redmond

The building was designed to take advantage of natural airflows for energy efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation. Eco-friendly finishes include certified wood, linoleum floors, and low-VOC paints and sealers.

Studio Profile

ISTUDIO leads communities to a more resilient future with bold work that goes beyond sustainability. A nationally recognized pioneer, our collaborative approach helps clients and partners alike realize their mission to serve communities through the built environment.

We work with government and non-government agencies worldwide to create architecture that improves the places we live, work, learn, and play. From the nation’s capital to USAID-funded projects in Africa and the Middle East, the ISTUDIO planning and design process emphasizes collaboration, encourages engagement, and a deep understanding of site. Projects range in size and type from resilient park recreation centers and green schools to urban industrial and infrastructure projects. We have developed town center master plans in Mali, green school planning recommendations in Jordan, and a vision plan for waterfront resilience in Washington DC.

Principal Rick Schneider, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, embraces civic engagement to address climate change. His presentations before the US EPA, National Park Service, and Congress guide transformation. He provides policy language that helps municipalities go green. Rick gave key testimony on resilience and the adoption of the 2006 DC Green Building Act making Washington the first large US city to require sustainable metrics for new public buildings. As a result the city is now a Resilient Capital City and the world’s first LEED Platinum City. For his ongoing efforts the Mayor and the Director of Energy and the Environment honored the firm in 2020 with a District Sustainability Award.

We are thoughtful, collaborative, and we know how the GSA subconsultant process works. We possess the latest tools necessary for any successful project, including the most up to date technology such as: BIM; 3D visualization; LCA and energy modeling; virtual collaboration; data collection; and project management. We are well-versed in the various metrics for design excellence including LEED, WELL, ILFI Net Zero, Biophilia, and Green Communities.

We are honored by the international recognition we’ve received for our forward-thinking design work and our commitment to community-building and sustainability. Our work has been recognized with a range of awards and publications from the Committee of 100 for the Federal City and Rethinking the Future to the New York Times, Architizer, and Forbes. The studio was invited by the European Cultural Center to exhibit our work on sustainability and resilience in Venice during the 2021 Biennale.


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