The Triumph

  • Client

    • District of Columbia Department of General Services
  • Project Type

In 2016, the District of Columbia Depart of Human Services launched a district-wide initiative to transfer homeless residents from DC General, an over-populated and dilapidated central emergency shelter, to smaller-scale, service-enriched, community-based shelters located throughout the city. DLR Group’s design for The Triumph short-term family housing facility in Washington Highlands near the border of Maryland successfully integrates this new building within its residential neighborhood without the institutional association that often accompanies similar projects. The residence provides families with a safe, inspiring, and dignified environment, including in-house support services, to help families re-join their communities in a shorter time frame.


Contextual Integration
A significant challenge in designing the facility was how to accommodate the full programmatic requirements on a steeply-sloping site, surrounded by shorter structures to the east and taller structures to the west. The building was designed to sit back from the street, for which a large, landscaped forecourt provides natural shade and ecological habits. The building orientation also gives the residents a community-oriented green space, including a playground, basketball court, and garden.  

Landscape terracing and a façade composed of a series of setbacks combine to break down the massing of the residential housing black. Open spaces occur at three different scales: small-scale, domestic recesses relate to the individual residential units; mid-sized courtyards punctuate the hillsides; and a large, communal entry terrace forms a refuge from urban surroundings. The façade’s projecting and retreating bays of glass frame views of domestic life within the building.

Environment of Community
This facility provides 50 residential family units, along with laundry rooms, study spaces, and common rooms distributed throughout the five upper floors of the building. Interior planning maximizes natural light into all residences and shared common areas, particularly main circulation paths to heighten visibility for residents and imbue a sense of warmth. Each residential floor has its own group of common spaces located off the elevator lobby, within view of the reception desk, including separate study and common rooms. The ground floor houses resident amenities including a multipurpose room, dining facility, computer lab, and health clinic, as well as operational and on-site case management offices to provide wrap-around social services to residents.

Domestic Scale of Place
Each residential floor of 10 units is treated as its own neighborhood with a floor-specific palette visible from the exterior. Maximizing natural light for the interior was an important design goal to help relieve stress for those going through homelessness while also decreasing energy usage. Even public residential corridors are glazed on the north and south elevations to increase daylight and views to the exterior.

High-performance, sustainable design strategies have been integrated into the design of the Triumph. Low-flow plumbing fixtures, LED lighting, and variable refrigerant volume HVAC systems have resulted in a 8.9% energy cost savings compared to the baseline ASHRAE 90.1-2010 standards. Building materials and finishes were selected based on local availability, pre- and post-consumer recycled content, and low VOC levels. This comprehensive approach to design achieved Gold level certification of the LEED for Homes rating system.

DLR Group provided architecture, planning, and interior design services. Learn more about the project's 2020 American Architecture Award

Awards & Recognition

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  • The Chicago Athenaeum

    2020 American Architecture Award

The Triumph

District of Columbia Department of General Services