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  • 1500.1 A penthouse, when not in conflict with The Height Act, may be erected to a height in excess of the building height authorized by the zone district, in accordance with the conditions specified in this section.  

    1500.2 Except for compliance with the setbacks required by Subtitle C § 1502 and as otherwise noted in this section, a penthouse that is less than four feet (4 ft.) in height above a roof or parapet wall shall not be subject to the requirements of this section.


    1500.3A penthouse may house mechanical equipment or any use permitted within the zone, except as follows:


    (a)Penthouse habitable space on a detached dwelling, semi-detached dwelling, rowhouse, or flat shall be limited pursuant to Subtitle C § 1500.4;


    (b)Within residential zones in which the building is limited to thirty-five feet (35 ft.) or forty feet (40 ft.) maximum, the penthouse use shall be limited to penthouse mechanical space and ancillary space associated with a rooftop deck, to a maximum area of twenty percent (20%) of the building roof area dedicated to rooftop unenclosed and uncovered deck, terrace, or recreation space;


    (c)A nightclub, bar, cocktail lounge, or restaurant use shall only be permitted as a special exception if approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment under Subtitle X, Chapter 9; or


    (d)Penthouse habitable space is not permitted on any building within an area bound by I Street, N.W. to the north; Constitution Avenue, N.W. to the south; 19th Street, N.W. to the west, and 13th Street, N.W. to the east.

    1500.4 Notwithstanding Subtitle C § 1500.3, a penthouse, other than screening for rooftop mechanical equipment or a guard-rail required by Title 12 of the DCMR, D.C. Construction Code for a roof deck, shall not be permitted on the roof of a detached dwelling, semi-detached dwelling, rowhouse or flat in any zone; however, the Board of Zoning Adjustment may approve a penthouse as a special exception under Subtitle X, Chapter 9, provided the penthouse:

    (a) Is no more than ten feet (10 ft.) in height and contains no more than one (1) story; and

    (b) Contains only stair or elevator access to the roof, and a maximum of thirty square feet (30 sq. ft.) of storage space ancillary to a rooftop deck.

    1500.5 For the administration of this section, mechanical equipment shall not include telephone equipment, radio, television, or electronic equipment of a type not necessary to the operation of the building or structure. Antenna equipment cabinets and antenna equipment shelters shall be regulated by Subtitle C, Chapter 13.

    1500.6 All penthouses and mechanical equipment shall be placed in one (1) enclosure, except that a rooftop egress stairwell enclosure not containing any other form of habitable or mechanical space may be contained within a separate enclosure, and shall harmonize with the main structure in architectural character, material, and color.

    1500.7 When roof levels vary by one (1) floor or more or when separate elevator cores are required, there may be one (1) enclosure for each elevator core at each roof level.

    1500.8 When consisting solely of mechanical equipment, the equipment shall be enclosed fully as prescribed in Subtitle C §§ 1500.6 and 1500.7 except that louvers may be provided. A roof over a cooling tower need not be provided when the tower is located at or totally below the top of enclosing walls.

    1500.9 Enclosing walls of the penthouse shall be of equal, uniform height as measured from roof level, except that: 

    (a)Enclosing walls of penthouse habitable space may be of a single different height than walls enclosing penthouse mechanical space;

    (b)For a penthouse containing no habitable space, enclosing walls of penthouse mechanical space shall be of a single uniform height except walls enclosing an elevator override may be of a separate uniform height; and

    (c)Required screening walls around uncovered mechanical equipment may be of a single, different uniform height.

    1500.10 Enclosing walls of a penthouse from roof level shall rise vertically to a roof, with a slope not exceeding twenty percent (20%) from vertical.

    1500.11 For residential buildings, the construction of penthouse habitable space, except penthouse habitable space devoted exclusively to communal rooftop recreation or amenity space for the primary use of residents of the residential building, is subject to the Inclusionary Zoning set-aside provisions of Subtitle C, Chapter 10 Inclusionary Zoning.

    1500.12 For non-residential buildings, the construction of penthouse habitable space, including all forms of habitable space, shall trigger the affordable housing requirement as set forth in Subtitle C § 1505. 




§ 1 of the Zoning Act of 1938, approved June 20, 1938 (52 Stat. 797, as amended; D.C. Official Code § 6-641.01 (2012 Repl.)).


Final Rulemaking published at 63 DCR 2447, 2712 (March 4, 2016 – Part 2); as amended by Final Rulemaking published at 64 DCR 22 (January 6, 2017).