Monday, October 03, 2011

Corner of 7th and H Street to Become Less Noticeable


McCaffery and Douglas' joint development project at the corner of 7th and H Streets, NW - the heart of Chinatown - went before the Historic Preservation Review Board last week, with the Board approving the concept with a contingency - "that the one-story addition on 7th Street is pulled back sufficient to ensure that it won’t be visible from the street."

Disheartened will be those readers who felt that the building's design by Sacha Rosen of R2L: Architects - much smaller than a former one for the site - wasn't noticeable enough.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOL. It is moves like this that give lie to the notion that DC is gradually maturing into a world class capital city. DC remains at heart a stogy mid-sized commuter town. Nothing more.

Anonymous said...

so to be world class you have to aspire to Hong Kong density? I'm not sure the humanely scaled Paris skyline or London's preponderance of terrace flats are hurting their standing as world class cities.

Critically Urban on Oct 3, 2011, 11:48:00 AM said...

I agree with Anon #2. World class classification is not decided by what is allowed or disallowed in our historic districts. It lies in the people. DC is a growing, vibrant city and has all the opportunity in the world to continue along this course.

Adam L said...

There's nothing historic about this project. Buildings along a dense commercial corridor across the street from transit and at the intersection of two of the city's most-traveled bus routes should be required to maximize all possible uses of the space. Anything less than that is a ridiculous waste of resources.

Anonymous said...

Poster 1 here again.
I didn't say anything about Honk Kong. I'm not calling for a 70-story tower on the spot.

But, having to hide a 1-story addition to a three-story building in the most active intersection in the city is a little silly.
Especially, when there are several 10-story buildings right around the corner.

London and Paris are world class cities no doubt. DC would do well to imitate them.

Anonymous said...

well if DC where to immitate Paris, it would banish just about all new construction that wasn't historicist from it's historic core. Create an all glass tower block say in Tyson's corner...hey wait a minute, that's not a bad idea at all!

Anonymous said...

The difference between DC and Paris, it that Paris has already undergone the process of turning into a grand capital city: grand boulevard with world class shopping, bustling public squares, dense residential areas lined with grand apartment buildings and small cafes and shops on the corners, and 24/7 (or at least 18/7) vibrancy throughout the core.

DC is still an up and coming city. It would be a shame to stunt its growth in adolescence.
Right now, DC’s vibrancy is basically confined to a handful of 2-4 block long commercial strips. Outside that, DC is basically a giant 9-5 office district surrounded by leafy quasi-small town row house neighborhoods.

Better than Cleveland or Atlanta, but not exactly a world class capital city.

Anonymous said...

Apparently DC isn't doing as badly in the "global city" category as many seem to think: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/node/373401

Anonymous said...

As the US Capital, DC is bound to rank high as a center of global influence. But, that seperate from this debate on the quality of the city's built environment.

Anonymous said...

I do concur with the sentiment that DC's evolution is constantly stunted as every baby step towards being a world class city is met with disdain...usually because far too many transients treat the city like a symbol.

Its so disheartening to see this small minded thinking holding the city back.

Anonymous said...

"usually because far too many transients treat the city like a symbol."

A symbol of what?

Anonymous said...

London and Paris both have high-rises. Especially London, which is building tall and good looking buildings in its denser commercial districts.

Anonymous said...

becasue those European skyscrapers is what everyone thinks of when musing about their world class status, sure.

Thankfully, NYC had skyskrapers built before modernism took over our architectural profession, or else all of Wall Street and mid-town would look like a hall of mirrors.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what the debate is hear. I don't know anyone who can argue with a straight face that DC is on the same level as a NYC, London, Paris. Highrises or not.

Anonymous said...

This design is the worst of modernism and historic preservation combined. Blah! What a snooze. Just like so many things in our culture right now, this building has nothing more to say about the city/area's history or where it plans to go, hence the 'world-class' debate. D.C. is definitely not a world-class city in the sense of London, NYC, or Paris. However, it is at a crossroads where it has to make a decision about whether that's where it wants to go in the future or if it just wants to be a quaint, historic village that happens to host global industry.

Anonymous said...

Agree with anonymous 1, this is just outrageous that a large, signature building was not built at the most vibrant spot in DC. Actually, a building out of scale with surrounding buildings is more appropriate than this short grotesque proposal.

DC is NOT a world class city, no one can say that with a straight face when comparing it to NY, Paris or Tokyo. Is DC Cleveland or Atlanta? Certainly not! But it is no where near global status. Paris may not have tall buildings within its historic core, but it has tremendous DENSITY. Dc's density is pretty low, and the areas where great density exists, the neighborhood is very small.

DC is and will continue to be a big small town, with little vibrancy. The city: planners, government and people don't strive to be the best or greatest, such as in NYC, which really is the greatest city in the world.

DC has come far, but has much farther to go.

Anonymous said...

People need to move to NYC if you want an urban feel. All you are going to do is make yourself miserable. Even if the project were 10-12 stories tall, that wouldn't change the fact that DC is only a city of 600,000.

Appreciate DC for what it is. DC will never be as vibrant or cutting edge as the big global cities. But, it is a place where you can have access to some of the amenities of larger city, while still living in a quiet, leafy neighborhood with a house and a small yard. How many people in NYC,Paris can have friends over for BBQ in the summer?

Anonymous said...

While I agree that DC is not NY, Paris, or Tokyo, I wish people would stop saying what DC will never be. DC has a lot of growth potential left, and you will probably not be around by the time DC finishes growing. Please keep your "DC will never be" comments away. It is not productive.

Anonymous said...

Ok, let me amend my statement. DC will never be a London, Paris or NY anytime in the next 50 years. Yes, it will grow and change. But, a more realistic goal for the next 20 years or so is to rival the population (800k), downtown vibrancy, and retail and restaurant scene of San Francisco. Even that is a pretty tall order to pull of in 20 years.

Anonymous said...

Well, seeing as how the historic 3-story building was allowed to structurally fail and collapse (except for the facade), losing a little bit of square footage in new construction seems fair for their neglect.

Or has no one read the actual staff report? http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/Historic+Preservation/Plans+and+Reports/Project+Reports+and+Actions/HPRB+Reports/HPRB+Meeting+and+Hearings,+September+22,+2011/Downtown+HD+-+801+7th+Street+NW+-+HPA+11-484

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with the design. I actually prefer it to all the 12 story buildings going up elsewhere in the city. To me (with the untrained eye), they all look the same- like Farragut for example. This design is different and fits the context of the surroundings. Plenty of other areas to build your NYC-style, London-influenced, Paris-architectured 12 story buildings. (Farragut perhaps?)

westnorth.com on Oct 6, 2011, 12:00:00 PM said...

I call foul on this. The HPRB has allowed visible-from-the-street pop-ups elsewhere within the Downtown Historic District. 3/4 of the corners of 10th & F are within the district and have 10-story buildings behind historic facades. (F St also has "historic" 10-story buildings. This is, you know, downtown and all.) The building housing RFD, right across 7th, goes up to 7 stories behind a "historic" facade. Following that logic, I can't see what could possibly be wrong about a 4 story building that's even further set back from the street.

The Parisian skyline is dominated by 8-story buildings. What's been proposed here is half that size, not "Hong Kong density." And "people need to move to NYC if you want an urban feel"? Please, a nation of over 300M people is only allotted one "urban feel" city? So much for "land of the free."

westnorth.com on Oct 6, 2011, 12:10:00 PM said...

@Anonymous 10:57: I just read the staff report, which recommended approval, and don't understand your logic. The current owners just bought the building out of foreclosure in February. Why should they be penalized for the previous owner's neglect, seeing as the previous owner also neglected things like mortgage payments?

Oh, and as for being a stakeholder, my great-uncle (who knew a little something about Hong Kong) lived at 7th & H for much of his life.

Anonymous said...

Many of you have clearly never been to Paris. It is a good example of what DC CAN be...vibrant and protective of its low-lying skyline. DC's inner core actually has taller office buildings than Paris' (except montparnasse).

Some of you are referring to the taller high rises in La Defense, which is on the outskirts of town (similar to Rosslyn).

 

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