Monday, January 31, 2011
The Eisenhower Commission selected architect Frank Gehry early last year to design the memorial, and several subsequent rounds of revisions have honed the site plan into three designs, one that creates a circular pattern of smooth, non-supporting and seemingly unfinished columns surrounding the park and tribute (top rendering), a second that follows the colonnade and deference to L'Enfant but allows Maryland Avenue vehicular traffic to continue through the site (middle rendering), and a third that leaves the original concept of a road closure and block-filling park intact, along with the original concept of a screen - "tapestries of woven stainless steel mesh supported on the colonnade of limestone" (bottom rendering).
The $90-120 million project (Washingtonspeak for $180m) mandated by Congress for the 34th President is behind schedule on its projected 2015 opening, but whenever it wraps up, it will provide "a cohesive and contemplative space for learning about President Eisenhower and his vast accomplishments." Each version will have a central tree grove strategically placed to frame local vistas, underneath which visitors relax, sit and learn amid a new orthogonal grid of urban canopy.
The Eisenhower Commission, a 12 member, bipartisan group that includes senators, representatives, former presidential appointees, and Ike's grandson, has expressed its preference for the Scheme 3 that eliminates Maryland Avenue and breaks up the L'Enfant plan, creating a more cohesive tribute to the General and President. "It would be extraordinary if we can build this memorial designed by the foremost architect in America in today" said Daniel Feil, Executive Architect for the Eisenhower Commission. "This will be the 7th monument for a President [in DC] and the first in a century."
The presentation by NCPC is the first of three phases before the Commission, in this case to render design guidance on each of the three plans. The second of three required NCPC hearings will review the ultimate plan once it is selected, with a third hearing for final plan review; NCPC reviewed and approved site selection in 2006, and Gehry made an informational presentation before NCPC a year ago. NCPC Public Affairs Director Lisa McSpadden notes that the Commission "did give very specific design principals" to the National Park Service, incorporating 7 guidelines such as maintaining views of U.S. Capitol. The U.S. Commission on Fine Arts CFA reviewed and approved it on January 20th, the next step will entail a public review and comment period. Gehry and his team will be on hand at Thursday's meeting to hear out the Commission's presentation.
Washington DC real estate development news
When a mold-ridden, baby blue, vinyl-sided 1970s “fake” farmhouse in Frederick County, Va., needed a total architectural alignment (translation: to raze or not to raze), Reader & Swartz Architects recruited the growing young family who lived there in a proactive design effort largely about lifestyle.
With yoga practice paramount among homeowners Stephen and Julie Pettler’s daily requisites, the original 2,858 s.f. home was reimagined “poetically,” according to Principal Chuck Swartz, to reach up and out, emulating a yoga pose. Appreciating the sun’s path in the course of the day with considerable length and glass added to the southern face, the ultimate 5,125 s.f. design included a soothing, cork-floored yoga room and library, and a dedicated school room for home schooled Zoe, now 14, Olivia, 11 and Sophia, 8.
Kapalabhati (breathing technique for cleansing breaths)
“When we started the project, there was really nothing in the house worth keeping because it was neither historic nor special,” Swartz said, recalling a kind of initial 911 call from the homeowners. “One of the things that had happened along the way was that with each improvement to the house (purchased in 2002), things got worse,” he continued, explaining that contractors had clogged or sealed crawl spaces and attic vents through the years. Project manager Kevin Walker called its walls “…a haven for mold.” Suffering serious respiratory ailments as a result and requiring mold abatement, the family had considered demolishing the property except for a conservation conscience that impelled it to investigate other options.
“In another situation, we might have bulldozed,” Swartz conceded, “but our client charged us with doing as good as we could environmentally, so that meant fixing the mold situation and not using toxic materials that might off-gas. Anything that was going into this house had to be thoughtful,” he said. Construction waste was sorted and recycled when possible. Additionally, Swartz recalled that the structure was situated perfectly–on a private road with mature trees and lots of land and vistas, and siting that utilized passive solar gain – making the decision to maintain the footprint of the house that much easier.
Building a 2,267 s.f. two-story addition to the East containing the yoga room, a library and master suite above it, and a one-story living room to the Southwest, the house went from being a “boxy piece of something to something that stretched up and out to the sun,” said Swartz. Sporting a gable roof made of trusses, the architects were able to remove them and create a simple shed roofline. “By putting a new hat on it and adding the two wings, we really changed the house’s sense of self,” he affirmed.
Retaining the existing box as the core of the new house, this became the kitchen with three children’s bedrooms, a laundry room and bathroom above it. While working within the structure’s traditional though limiting eight-foot ceilings, the architects decided to open up the second floor above the kitchen, creating a space that at its apogee is 28 feet high, and which fosters easy conversation between downstairs and upstairs occupants (Swartz quipped about waking up the kids from the kitchen). A light monitor – or vertical window with a tiny roof – at the top channels sunlight everywhere, and cedar trees a friend of the Pettler’s was cutting down anyway were reincarnated as columns that support steel used in some of the kitchen construction.
In the kitchen, which Swartz called the home’s spiritual center because its design connects everyone, cabinets of maple, crushed sunflower seeds, bamboo and sorghum can be seen, with towering wood structures which hold the oven and refrigerator shooting up through the open space with a skyscraper-like or sun worshipping quality. Topped with wells (not planters that can leak), house plants nest in self-watering pots so as not be over-watered. On the second floor, little doors open up to the wells for plant maintenance. The living room addition, in part defined by a soapstone structure that houses a woodstove and bookshelves, has a surprise tree leaning out from a corner of the structure. Deep shelves are lined with metal to hold firewood, and in a nod to nature, a boulder–unearthed during the construction process–now doubles as sculpture and seating. The space reaches up and out, toward the sun, with a ceiling trajectory of about eight feet to more than 15 feet.
“We wanted to make a modern house that was really wonderful, but not make it all about the architect,” Swartz explained, also speaking to the façade. To that end, a decision to personalize the home’s exterior was manifested in the expanded use of “tattoos,” wherein art panels were painted by family members, relatives, friends and even an artist in Japan where Julie Pettler had worked. “They had friends over, and had champagne and chocolate, telling people they couldn’t leave until they painted a panel,” Swartz recalled, noting a clear poly coating was applied in the end. “Now it’s like a time capsule on the outside of the building,” he said.
Skinned in cedar siding, the exterior material finds its way to the interior, framing the staircase and seen again outside the kitchen where the living room is. Unpainted plaster walls on the first floor and drywall for bedroom walls maintain the space’s clean simplicity, with downstairs flooring of reclaimed wormy chestnut. The stairs themselves, made of hickory, are each two risers high, essentially creating bleacher seating for the girls and/or platforms for pots and plants. Rafts between the bleachers facilitate climbing, with a flying staircase effect achieved beyond the landing.
With a high efficiency HVAC that includes ground-loop geothermal, radiant floor tubing and an on demand tank-less water heater, as well as other sustainable elements such as low or no-VOC stains and sealants, and high efficiency fixtures and fittings, the house meets the personal criteria of an environmentally- and health-conscious young family.
“It was important to me to see how a family could be that involved in the architecture,” Walker said, noting the process was more about the people living there than the architects. “They are so much more in tune with the results because of that. It was good to see them come back to their home, but with a whole different life.”
"After" photography by Judy Davis/HDPhoto
Sunday, January 30, 2011
The District of Columbia granted the developer a time extension just this fall, under which Donatelli has until mid 2012 to file for building permits, though Chris Donatelli had firmly maintained that he intends to build sooner, and said in a text (yes, text. Cool.) that construction would start within 60 days. Originally approved as the "Calla Lilly", a 69 unit residence (see rendering, at right below), the building will now feature a setback penthouse level and blend more harmoniously into Highland Park. The recent zoning extension also alleviates parking requirements by taking advantage of Highland Park's underground garage. The new Highland Park West apartment tower will front Irving Street and be connected to its sibling, both physically and visually, replicating the style of the existing apartments. A new shelter facility will occupy the back portion of the lot, and will stand separately from the apartment buildings.
Highland Park was completed by Donatelli and partner Gragg and Associates in early 2008; the Art Deco revival building, designed by Silver Spring architects Torti Gallas, adds a subtle timelessness while without mirroring nearby architecture. The project had been listed for sale as condominiums from 2005 to 2007, but in late 2007 Donatelli canceled sales with only about a quarter of its 227 units having sold, converting the building to apartments that filled quickly.
DC Real Estate Development News
Friday, January 28, 2011
Labels: Abbey Road Property Group, Arlington, Equity Residential, SK and I Architects
replace several dated stripmalls with 188 rental apartments on top of a substantial 33,000 s.f. of retail base. Equity, the largest owner-operator of apartments in the country with 133,000 units (and counting), owns the adjoining Sheffield Court apartment building, so it presumably knows something about the not-entirely-obvious site away from the Clarendon Boulevard golden strip. Despite the large retail footprint, individual shops will be scaled small for local-serving operators, and Equity representatives say they have not even begun trying to secure tenants yet.
Marty McKenna of Equity says anticipated to break ground in 2008 under plans approved for a previous developer by Arlington County in January of 2008. Designed by Bethesda-based SK&I, the traditional brick, stone masonry, glass, and cementitious fiberboard sided structure consists of two buildings, each using the same materials and rising four and five stories - LEED certified as part of the county's approval - with 18 subsidized apartments and parking behind each building for the retail and one level below-grade parking for residents.
The Washington Smart Growth Alliance has given the project the smart thumbs up, prodded by the stripmalls-into-anything philosophy, despite the generous Details from Abbey Road, the previous developer, are available on their website.
Arlington, Virginia Real Estate Development News
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Jim Bell, real estate agent for Washington Fine Properties notes how difficult it is to find this much space (13,000 s.f.) in a downtown residential property, though the building, likely built in the 1800's (the courthouse that stored the papers apparently burned down, so it's not entirely clear what year the home was built), is zoned for multi-purpose use. The space had been renovated by the son of the most recent owner, a doctor with a passion for architecture and design. The dwelling is being marketed as an embassy-turned-residence, a "single family home for the past 7 years," but DC residents know that it was actually the former Artists Residents Inn.
What's so great about the home? For starters, large windows facing south and west exposure allow plenty of light, or in realtorspeak, "a magical glow."
Let's talk numbers:
- 13 fireplaces
- 18 flat screen TV's with surround sound
- 8 bedrooms
- 9 full baths
- 2 half baths
- 13 HVAC zones
- 1 gym
- 1 "telecommunications room" with
- 1 steel-enclosed "panic room"
- 1 massage room
- 3 laundry rooms (including "concealed laundry room")
- 5 parking spaces
- 6 countries represented in the home: French limestone, Italian marble, American pine (reclaimed from a Buffalo, NY schoolhouse) as well as pine from a Pennsylvania barn, an 18th century Spanish door, a 19th century Portuguese door, and a 19th century Indian door.
Four bedrooms reside on the third level, each with its own fireplace and en-suite bathroom. But the fourth level provides a bit more exclusivity to get away from the kids, with a master suite with sitting room and full bath, as well as two more bedrooms with bathrooms. There's an in-law suite in the lower level, as well as the gym, massage room and panic room, should the market tank after the settlement papers are inked.
of duraflame logs.
Monday, January 24, 2011
," "re-oxygenating fitness center," and in-house pet salon for sundry four-leggers. The Gazette reported that Archstone had contested Woodfield Investments' application for a nearby apartment building as a competitor for HUD funds, an appeal that was dismissed by the city, and which ended amicably with both projects approved by the city and both granted HUD funds; Archstone received an $89.9 million FHA insured Section 221(d)4 loan through CWCapital.
Archstone also started a 469-unit apartment in NoMa last summer, and maintains that it still has stated plans to break ground on CityCenter this spring.
Gaithersburg, MD, real estate development news
Friday, January 21, 2011
Labels: Donohoe Companies, Purple Line, Silver Spring, VOA Associates
The location is key, since the site abuts a future purple line station, scheduled to break ground in 2013. The sixteen mile light rail line will run between Bethesda and New Carrollton. The county issued an RFQ last February, and estimated that the site could hold 120 units of housing, but required that 60% of the housing on the site be subsidized.
VOA Associates have been chosen as architects for the project, which, according to a designer in the Washington office, could begin sometime in 2011. As these things go, we're guessing rail construction time lines will shape development; sometime in 2011 seems soon.
Richard Nelson, Director of Montgomery County's Department of Housing and Urban Affairs says as much. “Transit-oriented urban infill projects can be challenging," he said, "and it was essential to select a team with deep experience in transit-oriented development, multi-family housing, tight infill locations and mixed-use development.”
And don't forget about the rehabbing of the Silver Spring Library. The public has been weighing in on color (Apparently MCPL gave residents free reign to weigh in until earlier this month) materials and design for the 30 million dollar project, which is scheduled to begin in about a year and will take two years to complete.
It's likely the Donohoe project will align with the development of its potential neighbors. Let's hope three years from now when the projects are complete, residents will still like the library colors.
Silver Spring real estate development news