OG 23-199

HPA number
HPA 23-309

2900 - 2922 M Street, 1132 29th Street, NW
United States

D.C. Department of Buildings
New five-story building and alterations to historic rowhouses
Review Type
Previous Review
Submitted Documents


Dear Mr. Martin:

In its public meeting of 20 July conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts, based on its prior review of the submission materials, adopted the report (attached) of the Old Georgetown Board and approved the concept design for a new five-story building and alterations to historic rowhouses located at 2900–2922 M Street and 1132 29th Street, NW (case number OG 23-199).

Please coordinate the next submission with the staff, which is available to assist you.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Chris Martin
Martin-Diamond Properties, LLC
2639 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20008

cc: Dean Hutchison, CORE Architecture
Jonathan Mellon, Architectural Historian

Encl.: Report of the Old Georgetown Board, 20 July 2023


OG 23-199 (HPA 23-309)
2900-2022 M Street, 1132 29th Street
(Square 1321, Lot 833)
New 5-story building and alterations to historic rowhouses
(Reviewed in concept as OG 23-199: May 2023, Jun 2023, Jul 2023)

REPORT: The applicant seeks concept approval for redevelopment, including construction of alterations to several historic buildings along M and 29th Streets, the redesign of two non-historic in- fill structures on M Street, and a new five-story building plus rooftop mechanical screening and basement, technically as an addition and with connections to the existing historic structures on M Street. The block consists of mostly 1870s buildings that were built as dwellings, some with businesses on the ground floor. The newest building on the block is 2900, which was built in 1892 as a dwelling and funeral parlor; the building behind at 1132 29th Street was likely built in the 1890s as a carriage house. The two infill pieces proposed to be demolished were constructed later, the brick structure to the east dating from around 1970, and the wood infill to the west dating from the 1980s.

Applications for redevelopment were reviewed by the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) in November 2019, December 2019, and October 2020, with no action taken at any of the meetings. The last set of drawings, reviewed in October 2020, received generally positive feedback from the OGB members, who commented that the massing was responsive to previous guidance. The larger points emphasized at that time were: minimizing the height of the upper story and penthouse; the general impact on the front row of historic buildings with a recommendation to shift the penthouse further south and set back the balcony railing at the rooftop terraces; the preservation of the rear alley and original block plan; the logic of architectural treatment of the proposed metal skin; and the design of in-fill elements on M Street. The OGB also requested a balloon test to demonstrate height and visibility from M Street and the surrounding areas. There were still concerns about demolition, particularly at the rear of the historic buildings and on the interior. The application was ultimately returned in 2021 to the District Government without action due to inactivity.

In May 2023, a concept proposal was submitted by a new design team for a design that was similar to the massing and height of the 2019 proposals. The proposal located the new building to be set back an additional 10 feet from the rears of the historic M Street rowhouses compared to the 2020 submission, although the massing at the penthouse floor was larger, a double-loaded plate instead of the single-loaded story with a more substantial step-back. The mass of the building facing 29th Street, serving as a transition between the historic carriage house and the large 1970s office building to the south, increased in height by a floor. The overall design character of the enclosure was also changed, with a shift in material from metal and brick to all brick.

In response to the new submission, the OGB supported the general direction of the project, including the treatment of the historic buildings along M Street and the general location of the mid-block building and its proposed brick exterior. However, the OGB expressed concerns regarding the enlargement of the top floor and requested more floor plans, particularly of the penthouse, which should show setback dimensions and other pertinent information, as well as a roof plan with mechanical and overrun details. The OGB supported the increased setback of the new building from the historic rowhouses, which would protect the structures and help mitigate the visibility of the new mid-block building, and requested a balloon test for the height applied to long views of the project for a better understanding of how the surrounding area would be impacted by the development. The OGB also advised that more information was needed for the design details for the infill structures along M Street and did not support the projecting balconies and outdoor terraces, particularly the one located on 29th Street.

In its review of a new concept submission at its June 2023 meeting, the OGB again did not approve the concept design, but expressed support for the proposed design for the upper part of the mid-block building because of the location and setback of the penthouse—and again emphasized the need for a balloon test to demonstrate the visibility and impact of the project. The OGB recommended reducing some of the height or incorporating more step-backs in the massing of the project along 29th Street, which should relate more to the historic buildings instead of the adjacent modern building. The OGB commented that the balconies as proposed at the rear were out of character with this historic district, but said balconies might be considered if they were installed within the masonry openings, rather than projecting, helping to integrate them more with the overall design. For the treatment of the historic structures along M Street, the OGB supported the general preservation approach and the setback of the new building away from the historic buildings, but raised concerns about the amount of interior demolition, especially since the drawings were unclear; it requested photos of the interior and asked that the historic flooring be retained.

At its meeting in July 2023, the OGB reviewed a revised submission and, finding that the proposal was responsive to previous comments, recommended approval of the concept design with the following conditions that: the stepped massing option is used at the 29th Street elevation; interior demolition at the historic rowhouses is further studied and minimized; a window opening is installed at the recessed panel at the top floor of the north elevation; and the design and materiality of the fourth floor of the north elevation is studied to minimize visibility of the lighter-colored brick. The OGB expressed great appreciation for the balloon test, which revealed accurate visibility of the proposed building, and requested that the applicant return for design development review and erect an on-site materials mockup.

RECOMMENDATION: No objection to concept design for construction of five-story building plus rooftop mechanical enclosure and basement, with connections to existing structures on M Street, redesign of two non-historic in-fill structures on M Street, and alterations to several historic buildings along M and 29th Streets, per supplemental materials received 27 June 2023, PROVIDED the stepped massing option is used at the 29th Street elevation, interior demolition is further studied and minimized, a window opening is installed at the recessed panel at the top floor of the north elevation, the design and materiality of the fourth floor of the north elevation is studied to minimize visibility of the lighter-colored brick, and a materials mockup is installed on site for review by the OGB during the review process. File design-development submission at DOB with detailed and dimensioned drawings for review by the Commission.