CFA 20/MAR/03-6


Georgetown Business District
Wisconsin Avenue, NW
United States

D.C. Department of Transportation
Georgetown Business District
Streetscape design. Phase II. (Previous: CFA 12/JAN/02-12)
Review Type


Dear Ms. Pourciau:

During its meeting 20 March 2003, the Commission reviewed Phase II of the proposed Streetscape Improvement Plan in the Georgetown Historic District: Wisconsin Avenue. Many of the issues were addressed and resolved during the review of the proposed plan for M Street, Phase I,in 17 January 2002. However, Wisconsin Avenue has several special conditions of its own.

The Old Georgetown Board looked at the proposed design very closely at their meeting of 6 March 2003, and have provided a list of recommendations we believe should be followed while implementing the plan.  A copy of the Board Report is attached.

One of the main interest in implementing the Streetscape plan is to reduce the number of visual and physical obstructions while improving the appearance of the district.  InPhase I forM Street the lampposts will be used to display street signs, which reduces the need for additional sign posts crowding the sidewalks. With this in mind, the number of proposed post sleeves on Wisconsin Avenue should be reduced to prevent the potential for a conglomeration of additional sign posts in the future.

We share the Board's view of the overall uniformity of the proposed plan. A number of strategies should be used to reduce the monotony and vary the character of the sidewalks. The plan already proposes the use of bluestone around utility covers, on the handicapped ramps and on particular stretches of Wisconsin Avenue. The placement of trees  and lampposts, avoiding the entrances to the businesses, will add to the irregularity expected in a historic district. In addition to this, varying the pattern of the brick paving is essential to the success of the sidewalks maintaining the historic character rather than encouraging a contemporary look.

The entrance gateway on the block between Reservoir and R streets raises  some concern as well. We are not convinced that the increase in the number of light fixtures due to the close spacing of the lampposts and trees at every 15' on this stretch of Wisconsin Avenue is an appropriate urban design strategy. The Commission recommends further study with the Old Georgetown Board and the community for alternative spacing, taking into consideration not only the vehicular, but the pedestrian experience.

We look forward to contributing to the implementation of the streetscape improvements will have on everyone's enjoyment of the historic district.

/s/Harry G. Robinson III
Harry G. Robinson III, FAIA

Michelle Pourciau Deputy Director
District Division of Transportation Government of the District of Columbia Department of Public Works
2000 14th Street, NW
Washington DC 20009

cc: Ali Shakeri, WMATA
Jeff Lee, Lee Landscape Architects
Tom Birch, ANC 2E
Barbara Zartman, CAG