Monday, August 08, 2011

Colbert Redesigns for Wallach Place and 14th Street


One month ago, Eric Colbert's design for a residential building at 1905-1917 14th Street NW was soundly rejected by the HPRB. Since then, Colbert seems to have taken comments from the Board, such as "it's more appropriate to K Street" and "looks too commercial," to heart. Colbert has reworked the building's design - for client Level 2 Development - and, as reported by U Street Dirt, presented a vastly different rendering to Wallach Place residents (compare below).

Reworked design:


Original design:
The new design is still 7 stories tall, however the massing has been shifted to the southern end, where the entrance was repositioned, and the overall density has been decreased, allowing for a more significant stepdown at the back of the building (to an adjacent commercial rowhouse and Wallach Place residents across an alley).

Level 2's plan for 154 units has been shaved down to 144, with a loss of approximately 4,000 s.f. overall - a net loss of ten, cozy 400-s.f. studio units - the same floor plan that makes up the majority (approximately 85-percent) of the building.

A decorative cornice has been added around the 4-story (northern) section of the building and the two 4-story projecting bays on 14th Street. The new design has an exterior that is less glassy (i.e. windows have been broken down into smaller sizes), possibly in an attempt to make the building look "less commercial."

The building's footprint remains unchanged, at nearly 16,000 s.f., and includes ground floor retail. Colbert and Level 2 principals David Franco and John Kardon met with Wallach Place residents last week in advance of meeting with the U Street Neighborhood Association (Aug. 11th), and ANC1B Design Review Committee (Aug. 15th). The development team will seek full approval with ANC1B on Sept. 1st and then revisit the HPRB, ideally, later that month.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

better massing but just as uninspired. Good enough...

Anonymous said...

Yeah, 400 square feet is pretty cozy.

Anonymous said...

What an architectural boring city this is.

Bad buildings pretending to be vernacular and they are just pretty sad

Anonymous said...

The buildings are just so damn short in this city, is 7 stories all that really is allowed by zoning? It can't be. Taller buildings give more density and therefore more retail and etc. DC is just such an uninspiring 'city.' New York is the greatest city because it is so dynamic and bending with time. DC architecture is just such a big yawn, so monotonous.

Anonymous said...

The original looked pretty cheesy. The is also pretty boring. Nonetheless, either are a big improvement over what is currently there.

Agreed that DC architecture is pretty bland. But, I've resigned myself to the fact that not every city can be London/NYC/Paris.

Anonymous said...

Looks great. How can you anonymous critics bash architecture that is such a great improvement over what is there? The subjective nature of this and other reviews in the District are appalling and only serve to stifle development.

Amy Kenigsberg on Aug 9, 2011, 10:28:00 AM said...

I think they could have spiced up the building a bit and made it more inspiring. I do agree that the massing is better.

-Amy, Fuse Pilates

Anonymous said...

I'd agree that the architecture in DC is a bit bland but what makes NYC, Paris, and London so incredible is not so much their architecture but what they do with and how they use their public spaces. We have a lot of it here and most of it is used so poorly. Compare Dupont Circle or Meridian Hill to other cities urban parks. Ours suck. Raise your voices to NPS and other agencies on getting our traffic circles, parks, and public spaces put to better use. And get involved with your ANC to stop the NIMBYs from squashing everything out of their fear of density.

Anonymous said...

Why is the architecture so boring? Perhaps it's due to the ridiculous height limits that we have. Developers want to maximize their profit. In order to do that it's pretty difficult to make anything other than a box when the absolute maximum you can build is what, 100 feet high? (using the width of the adjacent street + 20 ft rule). There is demand for housing, you can't place all of the blame on the developers for not building creatively. Does anyone have examples of what they would like to see instead?

Personally, I like the buildings on P (particularly the streetscape while walking behind them on Churh), but hate the Solea. Luckily, this looks more like the former than the latter.

Anonymous said...

They have a strict height limit in Paris. The main thing that will and is giving DC world class pep is density. DC architecture is great, DuPont, Shaw, etc. People who complain about boring architecture can't admit that an average building in just about any city can be boring. It's the banal modernist junk that will wipe out DC's uniqueness, something NYC, Paris and London deal with every day.

Anonymous said...

DC's density is woefully inadequate compared to Paris and other low-rise cities though. DC's streets are arguably too wide or too hostile to mixing retail and residential in close proximity. Plus, DC really is just such a small city, so much of it is single family homes or rowhouses.

Anonymous said...

Am I reading this correctly that there are going to be approximately 122 apartments/condos that are approximately 400 square feet in this building? Is this a viable plan? I lived in a 496 sq ft condo for 5 years and it was fine, and I imagine the pricing of units this size will be at an attractive entry point, but (assuming condos) the turnover of units is likely to be very high (after the rental limit is reached), and with the high transfer taxes in DC, I'm guessing that a lot of potential owners will be turned off by both the size and the costs associated with unloading it a few years down the road. Seems like -- from a business perspective -- doubling the size and halving the number of units makes more sense, but I'm not in the business.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say that to me they both look too overwhelming rather than ugly, at least in that location....

Anonymous said...

I agree that the massing of the new design is an improvement. I also agree that both are pretty bland. HELLO, developers and community activists: We want more interesting architecture! Take some risks!

Anonymous said...

easy to say "take some risks" when it's not your money.

Anonymous said...

A building mostly full of studio units. Will NOT be selling my clients anything in that building. Gonna become a dorm in short order. Di. Sas. Ter.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't seem to be unique? DC needs that creative influence in architecture. It's U street, not downtown.

Anonymous said...

The density has nothing to do with exciting design. I do not wish to live in NY, London or Paris for the very reasons you think DC should look like it, too many tall buildings in too small of a space, with too many people. With 7 stories you can still see the beautiful sky and how wonderful. More and more developers are making condos/apts too small - 400 sq fee is a dormitory ROOM and there should be options for those who do not wish to live in a dormitory room. Give us more rowhouses, townshouses and yes, single family homes. Make us neighborhoods, where you know your neighbors and our kids play together (I'm not talking about dogs)and not just giving a glance as you pass in the halls.

Anonymous said...

move to new york if u find d.c. so awful

 

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