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One of Miller Hull's residential projects from Seattle. (Benjamin Benschneider, Craig Richmond and James F. Housel)

In this week’s cover story, I talk about how residential developers tend to stick with local architects who know the city’s laws and personalities best. There were two exceptions: Eastbanc, with its West End project, and JBG. The latter has been working on a request for proposal system that will bring in bids from firms all over the country, saying it’s willing to pay more for high quality. One of its first big tests: A size-yet-to-be-determined apartment building on the empty lots on Florida Avenue, recently purchased from Metro.

“The area requires high design, because it is such an emerging area and it needs something to really draw people,” says JBG principal Kai Reynolds. “We’re going to spend a lot more on design than we usually do.”

The winner: Miller Hull architects, a Seattle firm that came in at 22 on Architect Magazine’s Top 50 list this year. For the local expertise, they’ll be paired with Georgetown-based BKV Group.

Reynolds says that “transforming the warehouse vernacular into housing” is the design aesthetic they’ll be going for—-not like the other big new residential development in that neck of the woods, Eric Colbert‘s Floridian, which Reynolds doesn’t love. The Northwest is littered with Miller Hull’s elegant modern buildings, and it’s exciting that something similar could be in store for the eastern end of U Street.