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Anacostia Arts Center gains new tenant

The latest tenant at the Anacostia Arts Center is DC Modern Design + Build. 
Michael Vallen, principal of Vallen Design Studio, says that he and Sean Lada, who heads Bethesda-based general contractor Adela Construction, did so much work together that branding themselves as a single entity and pursing work jointly made good sense.
“I do primarily residential work, but once in a while a small commercial project, too,” says Vallen, who among other things worked on the recent conversion of iconic LeDroit Park funeral home Frazier’s into a six-unit residential building. “We put it as close back to its earlier life” – two row houses – “as we could.”
DC Modern Design + Build, whose own URL is in progress, won’t offer rock-bottom pricing, Vallen says, but nor will it be the most expensive place to turn to for help with adding built-ins or tackling a full-house gut-and-renovate job.
“There is an artistic quality to the center” on Good Hope Road that Vallen has admired since it opened last year, he says. “I like to be among other creative people who like to talk about their work and what they do.” Among his neighbors: a studio offering yoga classes, a café called Nurish, and a couple of pop-up clothing boutiques: Vintage and Charmed and Nubian Hueman. One or two vacancies remain.
Personally and professionally, the Los Angeles born-and-bred Vallen says he is drawn to living and taking design inspiration from transitional neighborhoods. “I find the gentrified neighborhoods not nearly as interesting culturally or architecturally.”
Currently a Deanwood resident, he’s also lived since 1989 in Columbia Heights and Brookland.
Unlike many designers or architects, Vallen, who is trained as both, doesn’t mind if you peek over his shoulder to see what he’s working on.
“I have always tried to take away the mystery of what I do,” he says. “I don’t mind when people come in and talk to me.”
To that end, DC Modern Design + Build will also serve as a gallery displaying design- and architecture-related photos and other art. 

Read more articles by Amy Rogers Nazarov.

Amy Rogers Nazarov is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist with more than 25 years experience as a staff reporter and a freelance writer, covering technology, adoption, real estate, and lifestyle topics from food & drink to home organizing. Her byline has appeared in Cooking Light, The Washington Post, Slate, Washingtonian, The Writer, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Express, The Baltimore Examiner, The Sacramento Bee, Cure, The Washington Times, Museum, and many other outlets. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors and tweets at @WordKitchenDC.
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