Dirty Habit Diners Enjoy Historic View

Historical renovation in the Hotel Monaco DC uses Sage dynamic glass to provide a comfortable view for restaurant occupants.

When the dynamic glass is clear, the view from the surrounding patio into the front of the Dirty Habit reveals an exciting interior design.

Located in the heart of Washington D.C.’s Penn Quarter, the Dirty Habit restaurant at the iconic Hotel Monaco DC offers an invaluable addition to the city’s thriving restaurant and bar scene. The hotel is located inside the classical revival architecture of the General Post Office Building, which was constructed in 1839 and has since been named a National Historic Landmark.

The owner of the original Dirty Habit restaurant in San Francisco was considering opening a restaurant on the East Coast and became interested in replacing the restaurant that had previously inhabited the Hotel Monaco for 14 years. The owner wanted to ensure the East Coast location would attract a multitude of diners and be as successful as its flagship restaurant.

The designer, Stanton Architecture, San Francisco, is known for overseeing the recent renovation of the historic mail sorting room. The firm specializes in compelling design solutions for hospitality, historic preservation, master planning, and rebranding. Stanton teamed with interior designers at Dawson Design Associates, Seattle. The two firms were confronted with the challenge of creating a dynamic space that featured cutting-edge design while adhering to the General Service Administration’s (GSA) historic-preservation-committee requirements to preserve visibility to the General Post Office façade. The architects also knew the space had suffered from heat gain and glare in the past and the courtyard could get hot and uncomfortable in summer months.

Based on this information, the architects considered how they could create a space with structural glass to preserve views to the Post Office façade, while developing a cutting-edge design. Additionally, the architects wanted to ensure they would be able to combat heat gain and glare, since they would be replacing the previous restaurant’s traditional façade with an all-glass façade. They wanted to provide diners with a truly dynamic experience, so they would feel equally comfortable eating indoors or relaxing in the outdoor patio space.

On hot, sunny days, the dynamic glass is darkened to keep diners comfortable inside. This view of the rear of the Dirty Habit shows the reflected building across the patio.

The architects knew they would be unable to use traditional options such as blinds and shades, since these solutions would block views and interfere with the space design. After exploring a number of solar-control options, the architects chose SageGlass dynamic glass, Faribault, MN, for its ability to optimize daylight, outdoor views, and comfort while preventing glare, fading, and overheating. The dynamic-glass technology answered all of the architect’s design challenges by preserving the view to the Post Office façade, optimizing dining comfort, mitigating solar heat and glare, and creating a unique dining experience.

“When designing Dirty Habit, we wanted to ensure we took into account the ample outdoor patio space and provided unobstructed views of the General Post Office façade,” said Michael Stanton, principal of Stanton Architecture. “SageGlass provided us with the flexibility to create a dynamic restaurant with historical views that was both free from heat gain and glare and maximized the restaurant’s outdoor space.”

SageGlass partnered with glazing contractor Innovo Construction LLC, Washington D.C., to install 2,042 sq. ft. of dynamic glass on the façade and skylight of the restaurant to provide diners with unobstructed views and a dining experience free from heat gain and glare. Diners are able to enjoy the outdoor patio space or can dine inside and still experience the ambience of the outdoors, since the atrium’s dynamic glass walls that overlook the patio can be cleared by remote control. Additionally, the dynamic-glass façade stands out among the classical architecture of the General Post Office, attracting tourists and locals to the restaurant.

The restaurant, which officially opened in September 2016, features cocktails and social plates, edgy design, and an urban patio that encompasses an entire city block. Located across the street from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the restaurant attracts visitors from around the world.


— Explore the SageGlass portfolio.

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— Plan to dine at Dirty Habit.

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