Friday, October 29, 2010

HPRB Approves In-fill Project: Historic 14th Street Filling Up


Yesterday, the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) recommended approval of a six-floor office space development at 1525 14th Street, NW in the 14th Street Historic District. Originally approved in 2004 as a seven-floor residential project, developer Giorgio Furioso of Furioso Development decided to switch gears given the difficulty of financing and unloading a small-scale condo operation under current conditions. With the change from residential to non-residential, Furioso also ditched original architect Sorg for updated concept designs from Eric Colbert & Associates.

The development will be sandwiched by two eateries, as it is set to occupy the empty space (currently a parking lot) between the beloved Great Wall Szechuan House and the highly reviewed Posto. The project calls for an additional three stories to be affixed atop the historic and stylish facade of 1515 14th, "a classically-styled automobile showroom constructed in 1928 for a Hudson dealership" that now houses Posto on the ground-floor, and an art gallery on the top level (both entities will remain). The addition to 1515 will be set back roughly 20 ft. from the front fa├žade, so as not to compromise the architectural integrity of the building. Furioso is proposing that the first two floors of the total 55,000 s.f. house retail tenants, while the remaining four levels will be reserved as office space. The building will rest atop three below-grade levels, the first for storage, and the bottom two accessed by a car elevator for parking.

The originally proposed residential project offered a much different aesthetic, as architects at Sorg had initially designed a Cubism-inspired building reminiscent of the work of Frank Gehry. And while the density and massing of the new proposal remain the same, the design is entirely reworked. Although not boring, the new design is certainly less adventurous than the previous. And while the design and materials remain of a modern flavor, the prevailing stone curtain system, and the arrangement of the columns, help better reflect and mesh with the proportions and the large showroom windows of the historic building next door.

HPRB Staff Reviewer Steve Callcott had previously expressed concerns about fluorescent fixtures from the offices becoming an unattractive anomaly on the historic nighttime streetscape. Due to these concerns one of the earlier drafts, a design employing a more generous use of unobstructed glass, was scrapped for the presently submitted rendering (pictured at the top). Architect Eric Colbert explained that increased architectural complexity on the facade as well as added louvers had diminished views into the office levels and alleviated Callcott's concerns. With Callcott and the Board's approval, the development team will now submit their proposal to the BZA, with a groundbreaking still some time off.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

15 comments:

IMGoph on Oct 29, 2010, 5:25:00 PM said...

so that underground parking looks like it's going to be accessed from the alley, and not a curb cut, right?

if so, good.

Ace in DC said...

Can someone please explain why curb cuts are so bad? Is it a pedestrian vs. cars pulling out thing? When walking around I as a pedestrian, I have never noticed/had issues with a curb cut.

Ace in DC said...

P.S. the original design was sooo much cooler. Wish it came through. One day there will be cutting edge architectural design in DC. One day...

Anonymous said...

I hope so too. Cities that don't allow new modern design become boring. Especially in historic districts.

Look at how a few modern buildings in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam makes the whole district better, including the vast majority of historic buildings near by.

The Dutch don't know the definition of "but it must blend with the historic buildings". Instead they go all out and it really works well.

Of course, for a historic district to remain historic, the vast majority of old buildings need to remain.

Anonymous said...

Ace,
The issue with curb cuts is a pedestrian issue yes. But it is also a parking issue. Having many curb cuts limits on-street parking, and also privatizes the street frontage so that pubic space is given over to private owners and the public is not able to use it. It also means the streets just aren't very nice to walk on. Witness certain (DC) streets with a lot of houses built during the 70's that had front loading garages.

Anonymous said...

The reason "The Dutch don't know the definition of "but it must blend with the historic buildings". is that they have so many complete historic towns and neighborhoods, therefore they support the sculptural me-centered buildings much better. The trite "Europeans are more adventurous" in these regards is belied by how strict they zone their towns and don't allow their historic fabric to be scrapped. Remember, 14th street was torched, abandoned, and boarded up for years before. We are lucky any of it's original character remains. The redesign is much better in building on the existing character, and being another background building should inform the architect. Well done.

ZZinDC said...

The other issue with curb cuts is that they limit the useable street frontage of building. Rather have a shop front than a garage ramp.

Brooks Butler Hays on Nov 1, 2010, 10:31:00 AM said...

Guys and gals, I'm all for a curb cut debate, but I thought I'd point out that clearly there is not a curb cut involved in these plans, if you notice the rendering, unless the loading dock is some Harry Potter like teleportation vortex on the facade glass, the building clearly stretches from one facade to the next, it's a complete infill, loading/trash/etc will happen from the back alley

Anonymous said...

i wish there was a curb cut in. the back alley is already overused with deliveries from the two restaurants. more traffic in the back alley is not needed or wanted. lets remember that the 14th street businesses share that alley with residents on kingman place.

IMGoph on Nov 1, 2010, 5:08:00 PM said...

and let's remember that the residents on kingman place knew they were buying next to a commercially zoned strip when they bought their houses. it might not have been busy then, but things change.

Jno said...

I like the daring design of the first one, but, it did kind of look like a Gehry copy. The second design blends nicely with the other building still the other one would be fun to walk by everyday, it would turn heads.

Old Uncle Unh-Unh said...

The "beloved Great Wall Szechuan House?" I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen an actual customer in that dump. Too bad that building can't be reworked into something more interesting.

IMGoph on Nov 1, 2010, 6:39:00 PM said...

old uncle unh-unh: i guess you just haven't actually taken the time to actually check the restaurant out, but it is consistently rated one of the best chinese restaurants in the city. i know many people (myself included) who get carry-out from there multiple times a month.

Anonymous said...

“Although not boring, the new design is certainly less adventurous” is a huge understatement. The original Sorg design was not a struck of genius but at least seemed to be on the right path.
Not only Amsterdam but many western European cities understand modern intervention in a truly historic fabric. Old architecture is not necessarily good architecture and when the design of a new building tries to mimic a mediocre old building the result is an equally mediocre new building. European cities philosophy is that good “old” architecture should be stand on its own and any intervention, although respectful, should be clearly new, of the period and hopefully shine on its own. I applaud Furioso for trying to produce a good product in a difficult economy, but the new design is not quite there yet.
I am also concerned about the garage entrance on the alley. This is among the narrowest in the city and with services for Posto and Studio Theater in addition to the residents of Kingman Place, 1529 14th street and Q street, I’m afraid the traffic in the alley will be impossible.

Anonymous said...

If you think Great Wall serves good Chinese food, you need to have your taste buds examined! That place serves the nastiest Chinese I've had in DC (or anywhere for that matter).

 

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