While reading this old issue of Dwell, I found this gem, Hoagie’s Heroes. Best friends since middle school, Casey Patten and David Mazza opened Taylor Gourmet, a Philadelphia style deli in 2008. In September 2009, Dwell featured their first location on H Street NE between North Capitol and 15th Street NE in Washington, DC. Their goal is to make the best “damn” sandwich in the district. Due to the popularity of their first store, they recently opened a second deli on K Street NW nestled into the City Vista development in Downtown D.C. The friends and now business partners moved to the DC area after graduating from Penn State and worked in real estate and construction for several years before buying the building in 2007. The two decided to place the deli on the ground floor and live in two 850-square-foot, bachelor pads on the second and third floor.
Patten and Mazza hired local architecture and interior design firm, Grupo 7 to realize their space. They were up front with their vision for a blending of industrial and rustic style and of course achieve their goals on a limited budget. The pair challenged the architecture firm to design using cheap materials in innovative ways. Wood from salvaged shipping pallets are used throughout the deli on walls and cladding the cash wrap. Chain-link fence poles serve as vertical supports for the shelving in the market. Another charming and cost-effective solution comes in the bouquet of incandescent lights creating a chandelier in the rear of the deli. The roll-up doors on the facade at Taylor Gourmet is perhaps the most eye-cathcing feature that differentiates this hot spot from other stores in the area. The design of the facade and the interior of the H street store is mimicked in the City Vista location.
A similar palette and sensitivity to rustic and industrial elements carries into the bachelor pad apartments above. The demolition of the existing apartments revealed brick walls which they choose to expose.
The two one-bedroom apartments are basically identical. The two also chose to create similar kitchens created by customizing IKEA kitchen cabinets. The missing element from the homes is a defined dining area which hits home for me. I really have no need for a dining table and chairs at the moment – particularly because I tend to eat while perched on the sofa in front of my flat screen TV. So, I totally understand the omission.
The similar layouts will be certainly help with resale and the NE neighborhood is on the rise. As their business grows, the two can find others to take over their homes.
I must say that I am a bit jealous – it has always been my dream to own a small store and live above it…and I am thrilled to see that their decisions despite having a tight budget were driven by sustainable design and enhancing the neighborhood.
IMAGE CREDITS: Dwell
I finally had the chance to check out the Eastern Market Flea Market yesterday in D.C. I was a little disappointed by the lack of true antiques and my fave, mid century and industrial pieces. But the area is beautiful and as a professional shopper, I managed to find some great items. The following are my favorites from the trip. Above Thonet side chairs and Industrial stool.
Handmade wood cutting boards – Just amazing!
Handmade Tea Set with Pussy Willow Detail
African Mask and Ebonized table
David Adjaye is only 43 and this rising starchitect has not slowed down since he opened his London based practice 8 years ago. Born in Tanzania, Adjaye’s father was a Ghanaian diplomat and he and his family lived in Jeddah, Cairo, and Beirut during his childhood. Adjaye’s design style draws from experiences, especially in residential projects placing significance on privacy and the home as a retreat. While his public works are more accessible and open. Adjaye has not let his success go to his head, still managing large commissions along with socially conscious low-budget work.
In April, Adjaye won the $500 million commission to design National Museum of African American History & Culture in D.C., a collaborative effort between Adjaye, the Freelon Group, and Davis Brody Bond. The museum, located near the Washington Monument will most likely be the last addition to the National Mall. The competition for the museum was steep to say the least. Among the finalists were Moshe Safdie & Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Foster + Company. Check out the finalists work here. At the presentation to the selection committee, Adjaye set himself apart from the pack by addressing the past as well as hope for the future for Black Americans. “I spoke about celebration. How do we make a building that says ‘Look at where we are!’ not just ‘Look at where we came from’ or ‘Look at what we went through’?” according to Fast Company’s featured story which profiled the designer in their October 09 issue. Elements of the struggle of Black Americans are expressed in the architecture and materiality of the spaces. In addition to the museum, Adjaye also submitted a proposal to rebuild two inner-city branches of the D.C. Public Library. Adjaye believes that high design should not be just for the large budget projects but everyone. He went on to say, “The world is changing in a certain way…I’m seeing a design industry — not just architecture — that has more diversity, more new voices and different references coming into the canon.” Let’s be honest, recognized designers and architects are predominantly white and this can be quite discouraging to young people of color. I hope that Adjaye’s work can not only change the way people view architecture but inspire the architects and designers of the future.
When I am out of town, I absolutely hate to feel like a tourist. While in D.C. last week, I wanted to refresh myself on some of the city’s rich history without walking around with my camera, map, and other paraphernalia that screams “tourist” no matter what you do. I stayed at my friend’s condo in Chinatown, which is essentially in the heart of D.C. My friend mentioned that he and his fiancé enjoy running near their home because they can see national monuments along the way. So it occurred to me that I should try running around their neighborhood and take some photos. They live a short distance to the National Mall so over the course of my week stay, I went for three wonderful “running tours” and I highly recommend it. After returning from my run, I would take a refreshing dip in my friend’s rooftop pool. So, consider taking a running tour on your next trip – it’s a great way to exersise and avoid looking like a tourist while sight seeing. And don’t forget to treat yourself to something relaxing when you are done.
A friend told me to stop by Ben’s Chili Bowl. I somehow forgot how widely publicized it was that President Obama enjoyed eating there. I must admit, I was a little excited to go to an establishment that the president frequents. I planned on grabbing a quick bite but something about the space and the friendly staff made me want to linger. As a designer, I find myself being obsessed with the latest and greatest in design, the up-to-date finishes, architectural innovations and the creative use of materials and furnishings. The red and white color scheme, the open kitchen, the banquets repaired with duct tape, the lack of any sort of natural finishes. At Ben’s, all the things as designers we are taught to scoff at, were so appealing. Why? This place exudes a simplicity that elegantly reflects a past that often gets overshadowed by the new.
While I was enjoying my fries (sorry I don’t eat chili), I realized that we were all fortunate that places like Ben’s open themselves up to the broader community, people of every ethnicity were represented while every staff member was Black. And I appreciated that on the menu, I read, “Black owned and operated since 1958”. On August 22, 1958, Ben and Virginia Ali opened Ben’s Chili Bowl. Reading the rich history of Ben’s sent chills down my spine knowing that the U street corridor was once considered the “Black Broadway”. Many Black celebrities and visionaries like Martin Luther King, Jr, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and Nat King Cole hung out at Ben’s. Envisioning this rich history made it all the more appropriate that the owners have preserved this very special place. I enjoyed reading the comments posted as a certain warmth, humor and appreciation of the customers has also been retained. Some of the coments are listed below:
On the menu, near the hot dog selections:
Welcome to ben’s chili bowl
Our chili will make a hot dog bark
Posted on the kitchen equipment:
Who eats for free at Ben’s?
The Obama family
But he paid (hand written)
In the bar and banquet seating area in the front as you leave:
We love our customers
You are the best
Usually when I leave most places, I think about all of the things that I would change about the design, but not here. I am just glad that my friend suggested I drop by. And I highly recommend that you do too when you visit D.C. Ben’s is located at 1213 U Street Northwest, Washington, D.C. Go to the Ben’s Chili Bowl website to find out more about this landmark. Next time I visit I plan to check out Ben’s Next Door, the Ben’s high end spin off which is located, you guessed it, next door to Ben’s.
The next several articles will be on my recent trip to America’s capital, Washington, D.C. Of course, I must begin with one of my favorite parts of the city, you guessed it, the Metro. The dark tunnels illuminated mainly by the lights embedded in the platforms seduce me more and more each time I visit.
The Metro was created by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) in 1967. The first phase of opertaion began in 1976. And according to the Metro website, “Today, Metrorail serves 86 stations and has 106 miles of track. Metrobus serves the nation’s capital 24 hours a day, seven days a week with 1,500 buses.” The Metro services the Washington, DC metropolitan area along with neighboring counties in Maryland and Virginia. While the history and growth of the Metro is fascinating, I craved more information on the design of this transit system.
Architect, Harry Weese, was charged in 1967 with the design of the 100-mile metro system. He was applauded for the iconic vaulted coffered concrete ceilings which are uninterrupted by columns. In his article about the designer, Herbert Muschamp mentions that the stations evokes the feeling of a church narthex and perhaps this religious connection is why these stations have such a profound impact on people. (Click here to view the New York Times article) The design of the Metro system is just a small part of the impact Weese’s architecture has had on the world. He was known for his contribution to 20th century modern architecture and historic preservation. Other buildings designed by Weese prior to his death in 1998 include the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and the Time Life Building in Chicago, IL.
Visiting DC ? Go to the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority website for more information on the Metro.