Corcoran Gallery of Art
1700 New York Avenue, NW
Dear Mr. Carr:
In its meeting of 20 January, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept proposal for a new eight-story office building at 1700 New York Avenue, NW (case number SL 11-037), to be located on the undeveloped portion of the Corcoran Gallery of Art property. The Commission offered the following comments but did not take an action on the proposal, requesting the submission of a revised design.
While supportive of the effort to develop an appropriate structure at this prominent location, the Commission members expressed concern that the current proposal—a scheme described as a chiseled block of glass—is appropriate neither in its architectural relationship to its neighbors nor in its urbanistic relationship to the street. They characterized the architecture as overly assertive and competing for attention with the delicate detail of the landmark Corcoran Gallery, whereas a quieter scheme with more discipline in its form would be more suitable for its function as a mid-block office building.
In criticizing the proposed design's relationship to its surroundings, the Commission members commented that the excessive height of the building along New York Avenue and the various volumes cantilevering toward the street would be antithetical to the established character and architecture of the immediate context. They reiterated their previous concerns about the height, noting that the proposal to locate the penthouse at the New York Avenue facade only accentuates the negative impact of the building. They recommended further study to resolve the conditions created by the awkward geometries of the site—such as at the proposed garage entrance—emphasizing the goal of a design that is harmonious with the established character of the context. In conclusion, the Commission recommended that the design of the building be reconceived as a simpler, quieter volume with more limited architectural gestures, possibly executed in a taut glass skin, to serve as an appropriate neighbor to the rich architectural quality of the Corcoran Gallery, the formal autonomy of the United Unions Building, and the character of Washington's monumental streets.
The Commission looks forward to the review of a new concept design submission and again encouraged Carr Development and the Corcoran to pursue the best possible building design for this very important and visible site. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Robert Carr, Managing Partner
1776 Eye Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
cc: David King, SmithGroup
Frederick Bollerer, Corcoran Gallery of Art