At long last, Georgetown's Eastbanc will unveil its plans for West End library and fire station sites on the 25th of April at a meeting of the ANC. After months of meeting with local community groups to fine-tune plans, Eastbanc intends to roll out its plans more publicly for redevelopment of the two sites.
Eastbanc's proposal is for a 52-unit low-income (max 60% AMI), 90 foot residential building above a new fire station on M Street, and a 10-story residence of up to 180 units above a new library and retail filling the 2300 block of L Street. The developer was selected by the District of Columbia in March of 2010 to redevelop the 4 city-owned sites - 1 at the fire station and 3 contiguous sites between the West End Library and special operations facility at 23rd and L, each a 2 story, deteriorating building subsumed by development and recent population surge. Eastbanc is not releasing its designs until the ANC meeting, but early renderings (at left, above) indicate the projects will be in keeping with the designer's minimalist, contemporary style.
The project is being designed by New York and Mexico-based TEN Arquitectos, (for Taller de Enrique Norten) and will add 10,000 s.f. of ground floor retail to the street.
Enrique Norten, lead designer on the West End project, started TEN Arquitectos in Mexico City in 1986 designing small, modern single-family homes. The firm has now swelled to an international presence, though still with a predominantly Mexican portfolio, and seeks to "straddle the line between Mexican and New York sensibilities," says a spokesman, who says Norton creates for a "very minimalist aesthetic." The architect has received attention for his redesign of federal buildings throughout Mexico as well as several high profile projects in New York City.
Completed projects and proposals bear that out, with designs that encompass simple, angular and monument- style towers with expansive footprints as well as diminutive rectangular buildings in more clustered urban spaces, most of which reject the graph paper effect of even lines and flat facades in favor of broken, asymmetrical contours and surfaces. (see visuals: Harlem Park in NYC above left, James Hotel in Los Angeles, above right, Mercedes House in NYC below 1, Chopo Museum Mexico, below 2, New York library below 3, Reforma in Mexico, below 4)
Sean Stadler, Principal of WDG Architecture which was chosen as the architect of record to execute the designs, says Eastbanc's choice of Norten demonstrates Eastbanc's commitment to "trying to assert good architecture into the community." Says Stadler, "they approach development not just from a dollars and sense position. I think that TEN Arquitectos is thinking with a much more global eye on architecture than DC tends to, and I think that's part of the strategy that Eastbanc has had in the past." Citing Eastbanc's other accomplishments at 22 West and Ritz Carlton Georgetown (a former power plant), Stadler credits Eastbanc with the transformative effect of well executed project. "If you look at the old power plant in Georgetown, its really made it a much more personable place."
To accomplish the LEED - possibly gold - ranking that Stadler says the team is striving for, and which Eastbanc didn't apply for on prior projects, the architect says to expect efficient glass, solar shades, exterior louvers, a green roof, and the latest wastewater management strategies. Noting the "strategy in this project in reducing our carbon footprint," Stadler calls the mostly glass, louvered shell "a much more efficient vehicle to stop heat from entering the building. Its not an eyebrow, but a more European approach, an operable full louver, somewhat like a blind on the exterior." According to Stadler, the exterior blinds block heat before it enters the building, in contrast to interior blinds, but also "visually adds texture and depth to the facade."
Eastbanc's Joe Sternlieb says the April 25th unveiling will be just the end of a years-long roadshow, acclimating the public and seeking input that has honed the design. "We tend to do alot of community meetings before we file...we've had over 60 community meetings so far over last 4 years, and retooled project many times based on community feedback." Sternlieb says he hopes to file the PUD application with the zoning forces in the first week of May, in conformance with milestones dictated by the District government, though he declines to set a timeline for construction, saying only that construction could begin within a year of zoning approval, or late 2012, at best. Only the library-police site is subject to zoning review, with the fire station "within the zoning envelope." LeMay Erickson Willcox Architects, which has expertise in designing fire stations, is helping craft the M Street site.
While the library and fire station will be rebuilt on site, the special-operations unit will be moved elsewhere.
Washington D.C. real estate development news