Georgetown Park (shopping mall)
3270 M Street, NW
Dear Mr. Miller:
In its meeting of 16 October, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the concept application for the redevelopment of Georgetown Park, Phase 2, the western portion of the shopping mall located at 3270 M Street, NW (case number OG 08-11). The review followed a visit to the site that morning by the Commission members, who did not approve the concept design but asked that the project team submit a revised design for this prominent site within the Georgetown Historic District.
In their discussion, the Commission members noted the contrast between the highly articulated commercial character of M Street and the more heroic industrial scale along the C & O Canal National Historical Park. Observing that the typical urban condition in Georgetown is often the composition of brick masonry boxes seen in perspective, the Commission recommended that the complex massing be clarified and simplified to emphasize volumes and setbacks rather than the manipulation of surface treatments. Commission members expressed concern that the current proposal instead presents a collage of skins and surfaces—whether glass curtainwall or terra-cotta cladding—and that the abrupt change in architectural language exacerbates the perception of large scale. While supporting the possibility of a large building on the site at the scale and height proposed, they recommended more integrated articulation and clearer transitions of the building forms.
The Commission commented on several issues regarding the treatment of the new building in its immediate context. Noting that the scale of a large inwardly-focused anchor store and shopping mall is fundamentally antithetical to the architectural grain of Georgetown, the Commission members recommended the expression of the retail facades in a scale and rhythm compatible with the historic fabric of commercial and residential buildings. In addition, they suggested that the gap at the eastern edge of the project along M Street used for loading be reconceived as an independent element between retail structures to reinforce the established character of M Street. The Commission expressed appreciation for the efforts to enhance activity in the adjacent public plaza facing the historic market building as well as the improvements to the market’s service area.
The Commission looks forward to reviewing a revised concept design including additional documentation of the building in its historic context—such as perspective views from M Street in the vicinity of Key Bridge and 34th Street—in order to illustrate the potential impact of the project. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Herbert Miller, Chairman & CEO
Western Development Corporation
3255 Grace Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
cc: Shalom Baranes, Shalom Baranes Associates
Kevin Brandt, National Park Service