Landscape Architecture Bureau created an outdoor oasis on the rooftop of The Apollo, an apartment building In DC.

View from the Top

Tucked into Northeast DC’s rapidly gentrifying H Street Corridor, The Apollo is an eight-story, mixed-use apartment building that sprawls over a city block. Taking advantage of this large footprint, developer Insight Property Group tapped DC-based Landscape Architecture Bureau (LAB) to create a diverse array of outdoor spaces that would complement a dynamic, modern design by SK+I Architecture. “Insight envisioned marketing the project on the basis of its exterior spaces,” explains LAB principal Jon Fitch, who spearheaded the landscape plan.

LAB conceived eight outdoor terraces, including two expansive rooftop patios and six others located on lower levels of the building. “It was important that they all be differentiated from each other,” Fitch notes, “and that they be sort of hidden, so you’d stumble on them while going through the building.”

The lower-level courtyards provide gathering opportunities for small groups: a shady area softened by lush ferns; an orderly parterre garden; a series of intimate patios connected by a winding path; and a community garden with streetscape views. Extensive green roofs on several levels are part of the mix.

The rooftop expanse crowns the design. The west terrace, oriented toward unobstructed views of the Capitol and monuments, boasts built-in, engineered-wood seating, tiered to accommodate numbers of people wishing to take in the cityscape—and the fireworks on the Fourth of July. A pool beckons, with seating beneath a pergola at one end. The lush eastern terrace (pictured) features a screen facing a lawn for informal gatherings and summer movie nights; four outdoor grilling stations with dining areas; and space for walking and washing your dog. Durable porcelain tile clads the surfaces while grasses, Black-eyed Susans and lavender fill cast-concrete containers.

Landscape Architecture: Landscape Architecture Bureau, LLC, Washington, DC. Architecture: SK+I Architecture, Bethesda, Maryland. Developer: Insight Property Group, Arlington, Virginia. Photography: Prakash Patel.