Engine No. 2 is a retrofit exercise to provide affordable housing in Washington DC downtown area using a public-private investment development scheme. The city government allows to develop public owned land like the existing FEMS fire station in this site to provide affordable housing in the city.

Mass timber construction weight-strength ratio makes feasible to add residential units over the existing brutalist building, although limited structural reinforcement will be required, is possible to preserve the existing structure. Reusing and retrofitting instead of demolishing is an urban strategy that responds adequately to the climate change challenge.

The existing structural grid uses a span of six meters, this represents a challenge for the design of residential units, the proposal is to have units of three meters wide but using two levels communicated my interior stairs. This strategy maximizes the rentable area by virtue of reducing the corridor areas to every other level, as a consequence the units are more spacious, filled with light, and more ventilated.

The project proposes to use the roof of the existing building as a semi-public space to extend the urban fabric. Double structural glulam beams and columns are used at the demising condition to provide an air gap between units to mitigate the sound transmission.

A vertical connection at the north-east corner of the property provides access to the new plaza over the roof of the fire station; this places frames the existing fire-dog national memorial.



Engine No. 2 is a project of IaaC, Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia developed at Master in Mass Timber Design in 2022 by Student: Julio Javier Ramirez Argaiz. Faculty: Minna Riska & Dagfinn Sagen (Mdh arkitekter)