Friday, November 05, 2010

Carr Properties to Build Glass Box onto Corcoran Art Gallery


The historic Corcoran Gallery of Art is set for a significant addition in the near future, as Carr Properties and architects at SmithGroup have submitted a design concept to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for feedback. A recommendation will be returned by the HPRB at its next meeting on November 18th. Their recently submitted application reveals that developers are attempting to move forward with a nine-story office addition to the previously expanded northwest corner of the art gallery that was originally designed by Charles Adams Platt in the 1920s.

Although some Corcoran staff may occupy offices in the new building, it will act and operate separately, generating lease revenues that will assist the Gallery in its effort to grow the collection and the College of Art's endowment. While operating separately, the structure is technically intended to be an addition, as original plans have always called for an expansion of the Gallery in this direction; the addition will be connected to the original 1890s building through a stairwell and partly cantilevered over the Clark Wing.

In August, the Corcoran Gallery granted Carr Properties a long term ground lease of the site on which developers will apparently build, own, and operate the new offices. Unless an extension is requested by Carr, if all the required public approvals are not secured prior to December 15th of next year, the lease will automatically terminate. The property's street address is 1700 New York Avenue, NW, fronting New York Avenue to the south and E Street to the north. Rising several stories above the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the top floors of the addition will offer panoramic views of the White House, the National Mall, the Capitol, and the various surrounding monuments. In addition to office space and a basement for storage, the expansion will also increase parking availability at the gallery, with three levels of garage set to sit below the new building.

The recently submitted designs by SmithGroup go in a much different direction from previously submitted plans. Hartman-Cox had received approval from the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) and the Historic Preservation Review Board as far back as 1988, but never followed through on their plans for a 120,000 s.f. addition. Again in 2008, Hartman-Cox resubmitted similar renderings on behalf of the Corcoran Gallery, but HPRB called the firm's aesthetic of choice "clearly historicist, [and] perhaps more in vogue in the 1980s than at present," advising the architects to reconfigure the building's design so to more "clearly reflect its own identity and purpose." Smith heeded this advice with hopes that their starkly modern and minimalist stylistics will be better received by HPRB; but developers know that regardless of the outcome, a long road of applications and meetings and approval decisions lies ahead.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Christ, can't we do ANYTHING more original than another glass box! Yeah, it's got a couple of slashes in it so it's updated.
Talk about a conservative architectural town, the radical thing would be to build something that harmonized just a wee-bit to the Corcoran. Maybe even something that gave people walking by something to look at besides another reflection of the neighboring buildings.
What a waste

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable that HPRB would push for this design. No concept of how the fabric they are charged with preserving developed.

Mid-Century or Neo-Bauhaus is as historicist as any neo-classical building. Stop obsessing about originality and worry about the city for once!

Brooks Butler Hays on Nov 5, 2010, 4:22:00 PM said...

to be fair anon, the HPRB did not specifically push for this design, they simply said that the previous designs were too similar to the corcoran gallery, and i quote...

"Rising taller and possessing a more complicated massing, it more than dilutes the qualities of the original, it rivals it and distracts"

... they go on to explain...

"A choice between classicism and contemporaneity is simply a matter of taste. There is no reason that the structure could not be historicist, yet distinct, evoking an ancient design tradition and the vocabulary of much of Washington’s core to suggest continuity and stability. There are also plenty of other options available."

I think at this point its only fair to blame the architects not the HPRB for your displeasure in the design, as HPRB has not yet put forth an official reaction/ruling/report on this specific concept

Critically Urban on Nov 5, 2010, 5:13:00 PM said...

To the first "anonymous": Glass buildings are aesthetically pleasing, transparent to the point of ethereal in some cases, and IMO, are probably going to stick around for probably at least my own lifetime (at 24, I've still got a ways ago, fingers crossed). The reason ours are generally "boxy" obviously is due to the height limit. Glass buildings in other cities can afford to create architecturally interesting rooflines, whereas here, it would be mostly infeasible from a financial standpoint, as well as from the standpoint of having to maximize horizontal spaces.

If I were you, I'd steer clear of painting the town architecturally conservative simply because of the designs you may see downtown. Downtown does not the city make. Our neighborhoods are full of blocks and blocks of incredibly gorgeous historic rowhomes, as well as starkly contemporary and contrasting infill rowhomes, architecturally interesting historic and modern apartment/condo buildings, new libraries, and houses of worship. Get around and you'll see just how architecturally beautiful the city is if you can look outside a good chunk of 1960s-80s downtown.

Anonymous said...

I think the angular, disjointed facade will look quickly dated. Upon further thought, it looks like it was designed a decade ago.

Anonymous said...

This is how much I don't like this design:
I liked the earlier Gehry proposal better.

Anonymous said...

@ Butler Hays,
Thanks for the clarification, I still wish HPRB would see the historicist lable applies to this design as well as a traditional design in that it dates back to the 1920's.

@ Critically Urban,
I will let HPRB speak for me when they say it's a matter of taste, one no better than the other, except by your logic, glass boxes aren't as succesfull in the zoned confines of downtown DC. The reason no doubt is the vocabulary limits the expression to sculptural qualities since it is devoid of architectural ornament/detail.

I won't say classicism is better or worse than modernism. Suffice it to say the brain craves interest if not beauty, and as much as it pains me, Gehry would have been a vast improvement over this design.

Anonymous said...

One thing I can say for sure, thank God Gehry did not get to implement his poor taste on this site.

Anonymous said...

It needs Stone and Glass ... not just glass. Its forms should be quieter.

Anonymous said...

I was just really struck by the stark design shift from Gehry to Smithgroup…too bad they didn’t hire someone like Sorg. How cool would it be to have a cubist office building next to the Corcoran? Or at least something that says “this is not your average office building. We are part of/next to an art school and gallery, while nodding to the White House!” a tall order, but a bummer to settle.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, the approval process can be a big game. This could be somewhat of a negotiating ploy by Carr. I wouldn't be so quick to jump on the architects. Perhaps they are putting out this "meh" design at their client's direction simply to get the process going.

I have no direct experience with the HPRB, so maybe they are a bit more straightforward, but having dealt with similar bodies elsewhere, the final approved design often looks quite a bit different from the original proposal. Some developers realize that their first design is going to get savaged no matter what they do, so they throw a sacrificial lamb out there with the first design and then get serious.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, preferred the Calatrava design from the competition that Gehry won. This new design is pretty bland, to be sure, but at least it's better than the reactionary thing that Hartman-Cox proposed.

Anonymous said...

i beg to differ...the gehry design was at least creative and interesting. while i don't believe every building has to 'say something', artistic expression for an art gallery and school kinda makes sense. can we go back to that approved design, please?

Anonymous said...

Oh please, can we get something "outside of the box"? ...talk about "meh" lived here all my life, love it to death, but let's join the 21st. Went to the Corcoran, but that was then, this is now.

Anonymous said...

The Gehry or the Calatrava designs were far superior choices, more in tune with the convergence of art and architecture as sculpture and a much needed nod towards moving Washington's staid reputation forward.

Anonymous said...

I kinda liked the Gehry design better also.
- HeadInTheClouds

Anonymous said...

I kind of wish the convention center turned out like this. But not the Corcoran.

Mr. 14th & You on Nov 10, 2010, 12:18:00 PM said...

I, for one, *loved* the Gehry design, and will forever rue the day that project was cancelled. What a loss.

But that's just me...

 

DCmud - The Urban Real Estate Digest of Washington DC Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Pop Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template