2715 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Dear Mr. Lanier:
In its meeting of 19 May, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept proposal for a five-story residential and commercial mixed-use building at 2715 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (case number OG 15-239). The Commission expressed appreciation for the thorough presentation and approved the concept submission, adopting the report of the Old Georgetown Board (enclosed) and providing the following additional comments for the development of the design.
The Commission members supported the overall approach of designing the building as a unique object within the complex setting of federal parkland and varied urban development in the Old Georgetown historic district. They observed the distinct character on each side of the site, which serves as a gateway location to the Georgetown neighborhood from downtown Washington, and they expressed appreciation for the subtle massing which addresses these contextual conditions. Noting the contribution of this project to the Georgetown cityscape in comparison to the site’s existing gas station, they commended the design in particular for its sensitive scale and materials, and for its elegant relationship to its specific site.
For the development of the design, the Commission members encouraged refining the perimeter of the site, which as presented conveys a sharp distinction between the building, the park, and the surrounding streetscapes; they recommended instead a more permeable design that encourages pedestrian movement through the site, and which would extend the setting of the building from curb to curb. They suggested this continuity of public space could be achieved in part through a less rigid treatment of the paving materials, perhaps by interweaving the brick of the sidewalks and the granite of the new development. They also requested that the design of the public plaza to the west be refined as a social space, with greater emphasis on place-making rather than a formal extension of the building’s architecture; they noted that the site design was not yet as well developed as the architecture. They expressed appreciation for the coordination with the National Park Service and the D.C. government in addressing the design and maintenance of the open space associated with this project.
The Commission and the Old Georgetown Board look forward to further review of this project at the design development phase; please coordinate the next submission with the staff, which is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Anthony Lanier, President
3307 M Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20007
cc: Eduardo Souto de Moura, Souto Moura Arquitectos
Enclosure: Report of the Old Georgetown Board, 19 May 2016
OG 15-239 (HPA 15-449)
2715 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
(Square 1321, Lot 827)
Demolition – New construction – Site Work
(Reviewed: Apr. 2016. Dec. 2015, Oct. 2015, July 2015)
REPORT: The applicant, EastBanc, submitted a concept proposal to demolish a non-contributing service station and erect a five-story mixed-use building situated at the prominent intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and M Street, a gateway site into the Old Georgetown historic district from the main part of the city. The scope of work also includes redesigning the adjacent triangular reservation under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.
Over the course of its review, the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) questioned the geometric design concept of alternating panels of solid brick panels and large recessed voids, the similarity of the four elevations facing varying urban conditions, and the first-floor planning which originally included large expanses of solid blank wall along the prominent western elevation facing the small plaza. In addition, the OGB raised concerns about the composition of the top floor, penthouse, and roof terrace as an integrated part of the building. The site plan and building design have been adjusted over several cycles of review before the OGB, although the fundamental design principles have remained the same. At its meeting of April 2016, the OGB approved the design with recommendations for developing the details of the building and site, such as simplifying the profile of the granite base at the south elevation and providing more information regarding lighting, railings, stone elements, and the design of the park landscape to the west.
RECOMMENDATION: No objection to concept design to demolish non-contributing service station, and erect a five-story mixed-use building as shown in supplemental drawings dated 21 March 2016. File new submission at DCRA of design development drawings to include wall sections, masonry, lighting, and railing details, and material samples.