Friday, September 09, 2011

Design Details Released for DC's Highest Rent District in Chinatown


Developing the only unused and deteriorating corner at 7th and H Streets, NW in the heart of Gallery Place - Chinatown has long been on many minds. Finally, a design by Sacha Rosen of R2L:Architects, which combines the preservation of the six historic structures on site with contemporary new additions, has materialized and is moving through the approval process.

Granted unanimous ANC2C consent last Wednesday, Rosen will introduce the design to the Historic Preservation Review Board on September 22nd. Of the design, Rosen said, "This is a very contemporary, but respectful treatment of [the site's] important historic fabric."

Owned by McCaffery Interests and Douglas Development, the property includes the corner site (801 7th St, actually two buildings combined in the early 1900s), an adjacent structure to the east (675 H St), a rear carriage house, and two buildings on 7th Street to the north of the corner (807 and 809 7th St).

The joint venturers obtained the last piece of the puzzle - 675 H St - at foreclosure this past February, for $9.1 million.

Rosen explained there will be a new one-story addition on top of 675 H St, and a two-story addition on top of the rear carriage house, however nothing will rise above the existing four-story corner building except for a rooftop mechanical penthouse (set back on the new construction portion). Structurally unsound portions of 807 and 809 7th Street will be demolished and replaced with new four-story additions.

New facades, set back from the historic facades along 7th and H Streets, will be primarily glass; a glass elevator will also be contained within, rising up to a rooftop deck. A four-story atrium will enclose an existing exterior courtyard between 675 H St and the rear carriage house.

The entire project will contain approximately 60,000 s.f., and Rosen said that the project's main objective, in addition to honoring the history of the intersection, is to "make the overall development as flexible as possible to accommodate an exciting mix of retail and office spaces." Owners are asking for some of the most expensive retail rents in the city at the site. R2L is also currently working on designs for the Wonder Bread building in Shaw.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks pretty unambitious for such a key corner of the city. In other words, it’s perfectly designed so as minimize opposition from the myriad of concerned citizens than must be placated. If I remember correctly the original proposal was for a taller housing complex in back, with muti-story urban retail in front. Now, the 4-story “tower” is safely hidden out of view so as to not arouse fear of heights. The muti-story retail looks to have been chopped down to the more conventional mix of offices upstairs and 1-story level ground.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is an unambitious proposal for such an important crossroads in the city.

Anonymous said...

They bought the parcels up through foreclosure so the scaled back plan prob now financially viable for the new owners

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, the "tower" should be hidden in this case. It's another banal peice of glass skinned square footage. Nice job.

Hillman said...

What is it with our love of boring architecture?

Stunningly dull design.

Paul said...

Looks good to me. Lots of haters. But the star of the project will be the rehabbed historic buildings - not the modest additions.

Chuck said...

Ridiculous comments regarding "historic structures". Those buildings are ALL junk and should come down. Stop with all the "historic" BS and allow real architecture to transcend this DC mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That historic corner building is more interesting than any of the modern buildings I've seen constructed in this part of the city.

Anonymous said...

Looks good. Where is this going DT Frederick?

Anonymous said...

I work in Chinatown and I'm looking forward to the rehabbed historic buildings and very happy to see they are not replacing them with skyscrapers, which would take away from the archway, 4 levels is high enough. Some modern designs are very boring

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but this is historic preservation run amok! There is nothing contextually appropriate about this design. That corner is right across the street from jumbotrons, not a 16th century English village. The existing buildings are dull as dish water and demand nothing less than total demolition. The reason why this city has such trouble creating a pleasant urban atmosphere and a thriving downtown is because of this kind of low density, NIMBYist urban design. This city already has to overcome the height restrictions. If people want to claim that they live in an aplha, "world class" city then they have to start fighting for better design and against this warped desire to build a faux/historic rural hamlet and call it a big city.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a bunch of transplants wanting to do away with the few historic sites that remain in DC. You want hardcore urban feel? Move to New York home of the Goths, and the impatient.

Stephen Smith on Sep 13, 2011, 2:18:00 AM said...

This addition really should be allowed to be bigger (I'm not totally sure the constraint was zoning – it might've been finance, but given this city's very robust urban real estate market, I doubt it). Notice that old brick building in the background to the left on the second and third pictures? Notice how it has just a blank wall, and not, say, windows? That's because the person who built it 100 years ago expected that a similarly tall building will be built right next door.

Now, given that the smaller buildings that are right next door are now pretty old, I'm not advocating that we allow them to be torn down. However, for the corner parcels in question that're going to be redeveloped either way, the least we can do is allow it to be at least as large as the neighborhood expected a friggin' century ago. (If not – *gasp* – bigger!)

Anonymous said...

Not sure what all the general hate is about . . . is this one project really representative of DC? (No).

DC happens to be one of most walkable and livable cities in the nation, from it's pleasant neighborhood centers to it's nicely scaled downtown. I find New York fascinating, and always will. And DC will never be New York, but frankly the downtown in DC is just as interesting on a block per block basis. The historic architectural element are impeccable, the sidewalks wide, and the activity level vibrant.

In other words, DC has done a lot right, and I think a lot of that creativity has been because of the height limits, not in spite of it. There are few pockets of uselessness because everything is utilized.

Having said that, these two historic buildings have to be about the most boring in all the downtown. And the project simply yawns.

It's be nice to see the corner redeveloped but it won't be noticed after it's done. But, let's be honest, 7th & H is far from the most important corner in the city. Do any of the folks saying that ever venture out of the Penn Quarter?

Anonymous said...

This isn't just any corner. It's next to the largest Friendship arch in the US. The scale of this building respects the arch. I'm generally not into this line of thinking of "scale" when someone says a new building has to respect some shitty 2 story townhouse on the same block. But the arch is truly a big deal.

Besides, Douglas development is the landowner and they want to keep the historic building. In fact they routinely acquire sites that have historic buildings because they value them and want to incorporate them.

Anonymous said...

If modern buildings where designed to be beautiful and lasting, why you could replace just about all the historic fabric, over time. Being that modern buildings tend to look anti-human and built to last 50 years, no way.

Anonymous said...

Since when is historic preservation "unambitious"?? Its often much more expensive and prohibits owners from maximizing the amount that can be built. Seems to me a sacrifice to preserve a historic structure in our nations capital and should be applauded.

Anonymous said...

I was actually born IN D.C. and I can say with some degree of authority and experience that this city has a deserved reputation for being dull and conformist. I've enjoyed what Douglas has done with some other sites and believe in preservation of things that are worth preserving, but this is just another missed opportunity to inject life into this breathless city. There is an overwhelming sense of mediocrity that seems to always prevail in D.C. and that is why it only retains the most leaden and muted of people. I have stayed, hanging on to the promise of a cultural breakthrough that always seems just around the corner, until you look at proposals like this...

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to Yeni Wong's old plan for that corner: http://pqliving.com/new-gallery-square-development-drawings-7th-h-st-nw/

Anonymous said...

Better dull than garrish, the jumbotrons being a case in point. Sometimes muted is not such a bad thing.

 

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