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The Surprising Material You May See More of in DC Architecture

Shipping containers might not be the first image that pops into your head when you think about green design. On closer inspection, though, it makes sense. They’re durable, cheap, plentiful, and practically begging to be recycled. Hundreds of thousands of them sit empty and discarded at American ports.

For Travis Price, the environmentally focused architect behind Aaron Pomerantz’s gallery, the boxes have another plus: They’re so easy to build with that Price likens them to giant, steel Legos.

The gallery is actually on the small side compared with Price’s other container buildings, the first of which was an apartment complex near Catholic University that took five months to complete. Price says constructing it with traditional methods and materials would have cost 35 percent more and taken at least a year.

Since then, he has reimagined containers into modern designs for several more DC neighborhoods.

Catholic University Apartments


18 containers

Where: Edgewood.

What: The four apartments, developed by Catholic University alums and rented to current students, were the District’s first container residences.

When: Completed March 2014.

Carter Condos

Carter Condos

12 containers

Where: Shaw.

What: Four two-bedroom, two-bath units from developer Rob Carter.

When: Coming December 2017.

Kramer Street Apartments

Kramer Street Apartments

88 containers

Where: H Street corridor.

What: 22 rowhouse-style residences, 40 percent of them affordable housing.

When: Never. DC chose a competing proposal for the city-owned lot.

Hecht Farmers Market

Hecht Farmers Market

70 containers

Where: Ivy City.

What: A farmers-market component of Douglas Development’s Hecht Warehouse District.

When: TBD—Douglas hasn’t finalized its plans.

Safeway Redevelopment

Renderings by Travis Price Architects
Renderings by Travis Price Architects

12 containers

Where: Brookland.

What: Hinds Development will transform an old Safeway into four loft-like apartments above retail space.

When: Coming fall 2017.

This article appears in the December 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.