5906 17th Street, NW
Dear Mr. Yancey:
In its meeting of 18 April, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for a new single-family house to be located at 5906 17th Street, NW (case number SL 19-109). The Commission did not take an action, providing the following recommendations for the development of the design.
The Commission members observed that the site—a trapezoidal parcel sloping gradually from the street toward Rock Creek Park and adjacent to undevelopable land on two sides—calls for a different approach than the presented design proposes. They recommended that the overall design goal be to connect the house to the park, creating an elegant, dignified, and durable house and landscape. For the site design, they urged the careful survey and study of the topography, and they recommended manipulating the sloping grades around the house rather than using planters to direct water. They observed that much of the site layout appears to be determined by the proposed basement-level location of the garage, and they expressed concern that the design for the proposed driveway appears to create a basin prone to flooding. Instead of the proposed landscape of planters and exotic ornamental shrubs, they recommended treating the site as a looser transition zone between the wooded park and the lawns of the surrounding neighborhood by adding a few large canopy trees to the edges adjacent to the parkland, accented by native understory trees such as blackhaw or amelanchier.
For the design of the house, the Commission members recommended treating the southern exposure to the parkland as a primary facade, perhaps modifying the interior plan to open this facade more to the park. They questioned the architectural character and scale of the house, which they said resembled a multi-family building as much as a traditional single-family dwelling, and they recommended adjusting the proportions of the massing and facades in order to create a more gracious residence. They also suggested that the house could be grounded to the site with low walls or terraces extending into the landscape.
The Commission looks forward to review of a new concept design for this house. Please consult with the staff, which is available to assist you in the development of the design.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Harvey Yancey, President
H2 Design Build
4700 14th Street, NW, Suite 3
Washington, DC 20011
cc: Jonathan Harden, Studio 207