Buildings in downtown DC are generally forbidden to interfere with the space-making of the Washington Monument, so opportunities for new development are becoming less common, especially in the historic center(s) of the city. But the edges of the DC diamond are less dense, and new space-markers at DC’s edges don’t compete with the Washington Monument, presenting the opportunity for peripheral density.

The District needs housing—almost 50,000 people are on the waiting list for subsidized housing, and the real estate market is overburdened. Since land is less expensive and less litigious in east DC, the bulk of new affordable housing built in DC over the last decade has been on the east side of the city, primarily east of the Anacostia River.

Can mixed-use, multistory buildings that would otherwise be cheap and generic gain significance by serving multiple urban functions: not only as housing, but also as neighborhood centers, as spacemaking devices, and as gatehouses to the District? Can gatehouses provide a boost to DC’s housing stock while working together to frame the three dimensional boundaries of the District?