Friday, November 18, 2011

GW to Demolish Last of Pennsylvania Avenue Rowhouses


George Washington University plans to demolish a group of townhouses along Pennsylvania Avenue, dating back to 1910, to make way for a large office building designed by Gensler. The townhouses are nearly the last remaining historic structures on Pennsylvania, excepting the Mexican Embassy.

The six properties to be demolished from 2134 - 2142 Pennsylvania Ave., include tenants the Froggy Bottom Pub, Panda Cafe, Mehran, and Thai Place.

The area lies just outside the Foggy Bottom Historic District, and the buildings are not "landmarked" as historic, so no historic review is required. A GW spokesman said "The 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan included a historic preservation plan... During that process, the properties were examined and were determined not be historically significant."

GW's idea is to create a sizable development akin to the recently completed Square 54 - located just west, at 2200 Pennsylvania Avenue - a $250-million, 2.6-acre development of GW-owned land developed by Boston Properties.

For this project, GW would create a similar stream of revenue by again partnering with a third-party developer responsible for developing, leasing and managing the building, creating income for GW through office and/or retail leases.

GW media relations affirmed, "The future space will be commercial property with the potential for retail at street level along Pennsylvania Avenue. While similar in type of redevelopment, it will be on a much smaller scale than The Avenue/[Square 54]."

The large building at 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue, now occupied by Kaiser Permanente, would be partially demolished, with the east portion left intact, and the west portion expunged. Kaiser intends to vacate the building in October of 2012.

The glassy design by Gensler will be 11 stories and 130' tall, with an additional 3 floors below grade for 178 parking spaces, resulting in a total of 255,550 s.f., and will target LEED Gold upon completion.

The University anticipates filing an application with the Zoning Commission early next year in order to modify what was approved for the site in the overarching Planned Unit Development/"2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan" and increase by 40' in height and 45,000 s.f. the remaining building at 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue.

An initial presentation of the project was given to ANC 2A this past Wednesday, and a second trip to the ANC should take place early next year. A Zoning hearing could come in the summer of 2012. The university aims to begin construction in early 2014.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pathetic. God forbid we leave something in this town that isn't a monotonous 11 story glass piece of crap. I'm totally with GW on this one - if it's only 100 years old and isn't lived in by John Q. Adams then it should be in a landfill. I want to be able to walk around K St./West End and have every block look exactly the same, damn it.

Anonymous said...

Projects like this show why we really need to retire the height limit.

In a normal urban city, the easy answer would be to knock down the 70s office box, rebuild with a visually attractive taller building and maintain the historic buildings. Instead, we can either knock down the rowhouse for a bland glass box, or push development to Tysons.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if these relics of row house street scapes are worth saving when they're so isolated, but what they're proposing to replace them is the height of crappy architecture. The last thing that area needs is another soul killing grid facade of glass or whatever. No articulation, proportion, or decoration kills the streetscape.

The problem with your building height argument to demo the 1970's building for a more attractive building is that you'd get the Gennsler's Bland Glass box, but only 20 stories higher. By all means, push the development to Tysons, or maybe SW which is totally underbuilt.

Whether you have a 10 story height limit or 100 stories, you still have a limit. It's like the build more highway's to relieve congestion argument, at some point you have to think more intelligently, rather than degrade the human environment for short term profit.

BTW, those row houses go back to the post Civil war era of the 1870's. The one on the right has the Violet Le Duc decorative touches that Richard Morris Hunt popularized in NYC.

Bob See on Nov 19, 2011, 11:01:00 AM said...

From looking at the site plans, in addition to the Pennsylvania Ave townhouses mentioned, it appears that 4 buildings on I St (3 on the street and a 4th in the back) are also going to be razed for an alley relocation:

http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=38.9007,-77.047921&spn=0.001676,0.002832&vpsrc=6&t=m&z=19&layer=c&cbll=38.9007,-77.047797&panoid=dZ5K57rq101fLv8RkLBySg&cbp=12,326.8,,0,-3.07

And that glass box is another sterile, lifeless, monolthic behemoth, so it fits with the rest of GW at least...

IMGoph on Nov 19, 2011, 12:10:00 PM said...

DC - continuing to aspire to be lifeless.

There's noting exciting about this. It's the antithesis of exciting. It would be interesting to see what they could come up with if mediocrity wasn't the goal.

Anonymous said...

This is DC's off the shelf corporate modernism. Another shimmering high tech grid that will fade over time and get the usual zippy face-lift like the rest of 1960's-1980's K street. Haven't we learned that this stuff sucks yet?

Anonymous said...

Terrible design. Also ironic since GW's City Campus Classroom TV ads show that group of restaurants, particularly Thai Place, as a highlight

1314 said...

Makes me want to cry, but then I quickly recovered and realized it's their property and they can do what they want and I have no control over it. Thank God there are historic districts.

Anonymous said...

Very small thinking on the part of GW. Disappointed they can't incorporate at least the facades somehow.

Andrew W on Nov 21, 2011, 2:14:00 AM said...

Very lame. Plus as a GW alum, what's going to happen to Froggy Bottom!?! That place is a campus institution.

Will Handsfield on Nov 21, 2011, 10:50:00 AM said...

Solution: Wipe out panda cafe and Mehran for the new building's entrance, keep the remainder of the historic buildings as a facade, do a walk out deck at their roof cornice line for the new building, then step that building back from the street 10' every 3 floors.

Panda & Mehran are nothing special, but the other building's facades are classic DC, and it'd be a shame to lose them.

CJ said...

Someone should petition to get these things landmarked.

Anonymous said...

What a terrible design. It is so cold and lifeless. Why not keep at least the facades of the older structures and incorporate them into the design. This has been gone in many other areas of the city with pretty good results.

Anonymous said...

"Someone should petition to get these things landmarked"

In 2006 our illustrious HPO along with then-planning director, Ellen McCarthy, negotiated a laughable, gerrymandered "historic district" within and outside GWU's campus boundaries as part of its 20-year Campus Plan.

These buildings didn't make the cut.

http://www.neighborhood.gwu.edu/campusdev/docs/map_historicpreservation.pdf

Anonymous said...

This is horrifying. I am a devoted modernist who often thinks that the preservationists are overzealous, but in this case, the loss of these small, historic buildings would be detrimental to the neighborhood, especially since the design of the building replacing them is so bland. I mean really, the design is inexcusable. Come on!

Anonymous said...

If you don't like what GW is doing tell them and tell DC gov!

And stop whining about the height limit. Do better design with the limits you're given. Put your talent where your mouth is.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Gensler would dare to show this design in, e.g. NY or Chicago.
It's either this or Colbert.
What a city!

Anonymous said...

How can individual business compete with a well endowed university the continues to eat up the neighborhood. Business is business but even GW has to abide by the zoning regulations. I have to agree with other posters that the design shows very little imagination and will replace some buildings that aren't part of the undistinguished architecture that lines Pennsylvania Avenue. GW can use the facades just as they did on the other side of the circle and create a more exciting street scape.

Anonymous said...

Pathetic, Pathetic, Pathetic....We need inspired design related to the GW Campus....this is sooo depressing...I've lived here all my life, and DC wins the award for cold, boring box buildings...come on you guys...get with it.

Anonymous said...

So sad. Its little tidbits of historic architecture like this block that give downtown a (albeit small) sense of ;emaining character. Take for instance, the group of rowhouses along M Street (Sign of the Whale, etc) or the area around Lafayette Square. When the Crow Bar was torn down and the IMF block along Pennsylvania Ave (including 21st Amendment) these were huge losses that will be forever missed.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I never knew there were so many disgruntled/frustrated architects in the DC area. Maybe you guys should submit your plans to architectural firms when you hear about new developments since you all seem to be experts about what the city needs.

Kelly on Nov 22, 2011, 10:39:00 AM said...

Bob See, yes, three town houses on Eye Street and the John Quincy Adams House will also be demolished in order to reconfigure the alleyway.

Andrew W, here's a good article discussing what might happen to the Froggy Bottom Pub: http://www.gwhatchet.com/2011/11/21/iconic-campus-pub-restaurant-to-close/?wpisrc=nl_lunchln

 

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