Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Shaw DC: Voices Afer the Sale (Part 1 of 3): Ridge Street Row NW

It is my pleasure to introduce this as the first of three articles designed to give breath to the "Voices After the Sale."  All too often we hear much about a property as it is vacant, on the market, yet what happens to the voices of the property after the owners move in?

This Shaw Living Series, "Voices After the Sale," teams up with Suzane Reatig Architecture, who offered to provide three different voices describing the feeling of living in Shaw, and living in a Reatig rental after the tenants moved in.

The first interview speaks with Nooni Reatig, daughter of Suzane Reatig, detailing her experience of what it is like to live in a building which she helped design.

Ridge Street Row (413-419 Ridge St. NW):  Part 1 of 3

Kevin:  What is it like to live in a building that you helped design- Ridge Street Row (413-419 Ridge St. NW)?

Nooni:  It feels really cool, it’s like being a variable in your own experiment.  As architects, we design buildings for people to live in, but it’s up to the person who lives in a space to make it a home.  Making my home in one of our designs makes me realize that the design process is never over.  I think about that every time I rearrange my furniture (which is more often than I think may be normal!).  But I also think that the measure of the success of a space is its versatility- how to design a room that is a blank slate, which can accommodate an endless possibility of arrangements and lifestyles.

Kevin:  What is the main thing that you think about when designing housing?

Nooni:  In our office, we work as a team collaboratively, besides the physical maximizing of light and air to a space, connecting the inside to the outside, the main thought is to design apartments or houses that we would live in ourselves.  That’s what I think about first, how I would live in a space and then how to make that space as simple and universal so that it could accommodate anyone.

Kevin: And what about your use of color?

Nooni:  We like to use color.  Life isn’t lived in black and white or sepia.  All colors exist in nature, even neon.  Using color is just an extension of bringing nature to our buildings.  In the city where nature is rare, every outdoor space, is essential.  It’s the nature in between buildings that enliven the street and add value.  Adding color to a door or a railing is giving that feeling of nature in a small burst so that when someone comes to their bright green door, they feel happy- that’s creating a connection to nature through color.

Kevin:  What sets apart Ridge St.?

Nooni:  It was built with pre-fabricated concrete with floor to ceiling storefront windows.  The construction methods were more commercial that residential.  The result is highly efficient units with low utility bills and good sound insulation.  For me what sets it apart is that is creates simultaneous feelings of openness and privacy.  Although the alley side of the buildings is all glass, the building is both set back from the alley and shielded by privacy walls.  From inside the units, the living rooms feel like they continue to the outside because of this openness.  All of the units have oversize terraces.  When the outdoor spaces are as large as the indoor spaces, it creates a feeling of luxury and openness. 

Kevin:  What do you like about living here?

Nooni:  I like sitting in my living room and seeing the sky, seeing the birds on the telephone line in the alley- it makes me feel connected.  All of the units have private back entrances and stairs, either going up or down.  The stairs create interaction, I like when my neighbors come home and we say hi through the glass- it feels like an extended family.

Kevin:  Nooni, I just want to thank you for your collaboration with this series, and look forward to "interviewing" the other two individuals with you from your other properties!

Nooni:  Yes! It will be a lot of fun.

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