Friday, September 30, 2011

Douglas' KFC Residential Approved by Zoning

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This week, the Board of Zoning Adjustment waved forward Douglas' 4-story residential-and-retail project, designed by Sacha Rosen of R2L: Architects, to replace a chickenless KFC at 1442 Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast.

Douglas was given an off-street parking requirement variance, and a special exception from roof structure requirements. The plan replaces Douglas' earlier proposal, in 2009, for a two-story office building on the corner.

Construction will most likely commence next spring. According to Douglas' construction manager, Paul Millstein, the project will begin construction "as soon as we can get permits out."

Half of the ground floor will be taken up by a 2,630-s.f. retail space fronting Pennsylvania Avenue, a bicycle room and lobby (accessible from 15th), whereas the other half will be 7 parking spaces (accessible from back alley). Above, there will be three floors with 7 apartment units each, 21 in all. A penthouse (to house mechanical units, and offer private terrace area to four residents) makes up a partial fifth floor structure. A green roof will cover the penthouse portion and the fourth floor - the main - roof, which will also be fringed with greenery.

On September 6th, ANC 6B's Planning, Zoning and Environmental Committee approved the project, followed by the full ANC, and the Capitol Hill Restoration Society.
: Article previously detailed the project as was approved in July, not September: changes since July include relocated vehicular access, cropped retail space, small design refinements, and a slight decrease in elevation.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Morning Real Estate Review

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Donatelli sells Ellington apartments for $100M (Washington Business Journal) Donatelli said he would use the capital to invest in new mixed-use developments, likely transit-oriented, in "emerging neighborhoods."

Lincoln Theatre may have to close without DC funds (Washington Post) District of Columbia Councilmember Jim Graham, who sits on the theater’s board, told WAMU-FM he doesn’t know how the Lincoln will survive another year.

Apartments thrive, and CEO reaps reward (Wall Street Journal) Chicago-based apartment giant Equity Residential, with multiple holdings in the DC area, recently gave its CEO David Neithercut “a long-term compensation grant and retention award” (read: bonus) valued at $6.5 million.

Developing cities (Forbes) DC is a good example of what does and doesn't get cities to make better use of its once industrial land.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

One at a Time for Furioso, Now Offices on 14th

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Unlike many D.C. developers, Giorgio Furioso, founder of Furioso Development, prides himself on being “boutique” and developing one project at a time. As such, the focus right now is solely on his new 14th Street mixed-use project “1525 Fourteen,” a build-to-suit that stands out among a slew of new development on 14th Street, NW, primarily because of what it’s not – a condo.

“I’m going in the opposite direction of where everyone else is going,” says Furioso, “An office building has never been built [on 14th] north of Thomas Circle.”

“You can’t have a really vital neighborhood without a 24/7 presence,” Furioso continues. “Part of how you [create neighborhood vitality] is through mixed use. That’s most of Europe, [and] why New York works so well.”

In addition to bringing office use to 14th Street, Furioso says 1525 Fourteen stands out for what the 42,000-s.f. building aims to accomplish through an “extremely green attitude; if you’re not into green it’s not going to be your building.” Designed to achieve LEED Gold, the project includes a green roof, geothermal heating, solar panels, a charging station for hybrid cars, and a bicycle room with showers; 28 small-car parking spaces, accessible by a car elevator not a ramp, are included in two underground floors.

With the design by Eric Colbert completed, approvals secured and financing in place, Furioso is now looking to fill the 6-story building, ideally with an environmentally minded non-profit for the top four floors, and a local retailer for the bottom two, preferably one not in the food industry. Considering the wealth of restaurants on, or coming to, 14th Street, Furioso explains, “I’ve been called by about ten restaurants, but I’m trying not to go there.”

To understand the goals, logic, and business philosophy of Furioso, it’s useful to take a look back.

“I come completely from an arts background,” says Furioso. “Art is all problem solving. You create a problem and then you try and figure out how to solve it. In a way, what’s kept development exciting for me is that I treat it like art. It’s not art… but the way I approach it is very much in an art solving shape and form.”

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree from the Boston Museum school, Furioso chose Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) over Yale for his MFA – not only because a full ride was offered, but because he was given the opportunity to teach (painting) while attending. There was only one problem: “RIT had built a brand new campus, and, I swear, it looked like a hospital,” says Furioso. “It was really, really disturbing.”

Instead of inhabiting a sterile, boxy, mint-condition dorm room, Furioso chose to sprawl out in an abandoned and dilapidated building downtown that was owned by RIT. “I took over an entire floor. It was unlocked and I put in my own lock,” Furioso recalls. “By the time I graduated the whole grad school had moved into that old building.”

Furioso says that his choice to live someplace with gritty urban character served as a creative impetus – “A space for an artist is like a tool; it’s no different than a pencil, a brush, a camera. Space is where so much of the creative spirit [is nurtured] … for poetry some people go to a landscape, a seascape, the woods. For visual artists that interior space is as much a tool [as the poet’s destination].”

Another consequence of that move – to wander away from the white-walled dorms – was a fascination with development. “It started me on this quest of changing, fixing, and making spaces your own,” he says. After graduation, Furioso took on teaching full-time and came to the D.C. area as a visiting professor at the University of Maryland, but “couldn’t find an art studio to save my life,” he explains. Although art studio space seemed sparse, in the early ‘80s, school buildings were in spades, and the District was selling them at auction.

These sidelined schools, making for unique and expansive residential and/or personal work spaces, offered Furioso and others an opportunity, in Eckington. “I bought a school with some other friends who were artists… four of us bought the whole school.” At once, Furioso settled into a studio space and waded into the world of D.C. development.

Another foreclosure, this time a building at the 400 block of M Street, NW, led to a more significant investment for Furioso, but also a financial challenge, “It had already been foreclosed twice before,” recalls Furioso. “The bank was really in bad shape.” To get around a dearth of financing, Furioso set his creative mind to legal matters and created a corporation in which the buildings space would be represented by stock. Gathering $10,000 from each of eight artists interested in obtaining a space within the building, Furioso put the up-front funds into fixes and repairs: “I fixed the roof that was collapsing before I even owned it. The bank thought I was totally nuts.”

But, it worked: Furioso bought the building for $76,000, and the artists each paid $25,000 for raw space – $200,000 in all. The property was rehabbed, completely redone over a 10-year period, and the value has since skyrocketed. “The spaces were really big; truly [New York-style] lofts, before lofts sort of hit the mainstream,” says Furioso. Though impossible to sell as “stock represented property,” the building eventually turned into a condominium and became what it is today – The Mohawk.

Shortly after, in 1987, Furioso committed fully to development, incorporating his company with the goal “to develop artist spaces,” amidst some skepticism about throwing money into a business model that catered to the iconic starving artist types. Despite doubts, the company grew quickly, but was immediately parsed back because, as Furioso explains, “My intention was always to be a boutique developer doing really interesting things, one at a time. And no one really gets it…. I never wanted to get really big, or have a huge staff. I have a business philosophy that is so anti-American,” he laughs.

An Italian national, Furioso was uprooted by his parents, first to Montreal then to the states, landing in New York at the age of twelve. His Italian heritage colors not only his approach to venture capitalism, but historic preservation (historic has a different meaning – “In Italy the 'new church' is 600 years old!”) and underscores his belief that 1525 Fourteen will succeed by offering 24/7 neighborhood vitality, something he considers somewhat European.

Of his current project at 1525, Furioso’s excitement comes through, “We’re looking for a special, really great tenant,” says Furioso. “Once we do that, we’ll put a shovel into the ground and get started.” He’ll also stay connected to the building once it’s finished – “I’ll be doing a business in the cellar, my own personal business.”

Furioso continues pointing out aspects of the design: “The lobby is like a little jewel box. We’re not building this cathedral… because the energy from it is kind of wasted, but it’ll be really beautiful,” and adds that he can provide “a beautiful grand stairway so that the two floors [for one retailer] feel connected,” while scrolling through photo examples of the Crate & Barrel on Massachusetts Avenue.

Furioso maintains involvement with the design and the development every step of the way, crediting his innate fascination with all of it, “The question before I start a development is: does this interest me? Will I lose any money? If I don’t lose any money I don’t care if I make ten cents as long as it’s interesting.” But he hasn’t; with several successful developments, among them: The Mohawk, his initial artist loft foray; Church Place, a modern 32-unit condo; The Roosevelt, a historic preservation project; and Solo Piazza, which was, when built in 1999, "the first large, new residential building on 13th Street [NW] and just about the whole District,” says Furioso.

Furioso’s success in development can perhaps be attributed to his attitude, problem-solving approach and hands-on nature, but whittled down even further to a simple penchant for risk-taking, the first of which dates back 30 years, when he deserted a position as the head of Ohio University’s art department. “I gave up my tenure and came here. My mother until the day she died was saying ‘I can’t believe you gave up tenure.’ I gave up security. Security’s never been a big thing for me.”

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Morning Real Estate Review

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JBGR Breaks Ground on Tysons West Project - 440 hotel units, 300-400 residential units and 250,000 s.f. of office and retail space are underway.

Conforming loan limits drop tomorrow in DC area - Limits for FHA, FNMA and Freddie Mac drop from $729,750 to $625,500 in the DC area.

Bozzuto to start work on NY Ave apartment building
(CityPaper) the project had been on hold for a few years, but now the developer is going forward with the 63 unit apartment building in Mt. Vernon Triangle.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lighting the Way into Crystal City

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According to its president and CEO Angela Fox, the Crystal City BID focuses on the "ins and outs of Crystal City" - literally. The BID currently has two projects in the pipeline to revamp primary "gateways" into, and out of, Crystal City.

Of those projects is the effort to beautify and "light" the southern vehicle entrance at the intersection of Route 1 and Crystal Drive, which will begin its 6-to-8-week-long period of construction, by Rand, next Monday, October 3rd.

The ground breaking ceremony will be supplemented by some detailed renderings of what will be responsible for lighting the project, which Fox described as, "Sixteen LED poles, lit two-thirds of the way up... the poles will follow diagonal [pea gravel] paths through the property" as well as "continue up the façade of the building on site." Although paths are walker accessible, the area is not meant to be a public park.

Along with LED poles and pea gravel paths, the 30,000-s.f. parcel will be clad in new turf, and planted with 28 trees.

The project was planned and approved almost two years ago, however the land was being used by the county in the interim. When finished, there will be "a lovely gateway experience" said Fox, creating "the aesthetic awareness that you are entering Crystal City."

Of the design, Fox said, "It was a very creative process; Gensler held a sort of seminar with their young architects, a design competition over the course of several hours." A few of the resulting designs were then refined into one formal design.

Fox added that the goal of the BID has been to "re-brand Crystal City [using] light and illumination" with artistic efforts that exemplify the properties of crystal.

The other gateway project currently underway by the BID is the improvement of the Crystal City Metro entrance, a partnership with Vornado that is in the final stage of the permitting process. These two efforts, together with the redevelopment of Long Bridge park at the northern entrance to the city, will offer "three new sparkling entrances," Fox said. "By the end of the year."

Virginia real estate development news

Morning Real Estate Review

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Fed to buy $10 billion agency MBS in early October (Reuters) The Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's policy-setting group, has decided to reinvest money from maturing mortgage-related securities with the goal to help the struggling housing market.

NAHB spent $560,000 lobbying in 2Q (Forbes) Among the issues that the group lobbied on: taxes, labor, air and water quality, energy efficiency, the federal budget, lead renovation repair and painting...

Is this the end for the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership? (Washington Post) The nonprofit, that markets the city to businesses and developers, may cease operation next week due to a budget shortfall.

Earth Advantage Institute Launches Certification Pilot for Vibrant, Livable Eco Neighborhoods
(PR Newswire) Pilot program will rate and certify the livability and accomplishments of existing neighborhoods.... intended to determine whether there is sufficient market interest in such a certification program.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Braddock Gateway Residential Plan Gets Initial Approval

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Alexandria-based Jaguar Development has received preliminary site plan approval for the first phase in its 5-phase Braddock Gateway development, paving the way for a 270-unit, 277,000-s.f. apartment building.

Jaguar managing partner, Eddy Cettina, says that the next step, final site plan approval, will take place within the next 9 months to a year.

Although the entire Braddock Gateway development plan was approved in 2008, its developer laid low through the recession, and approached the City with amendments to Phase I in July. Preliminary approval of these amendments was granted by City Council on September 17th.

Phase I's acre-sized parcel is at the southernmost end of the development property, located 1000 feet from the Braddock Metro station.

Jaguar chose to lead with rental apartments on the site because "[i]t is the closet [building] to the metro, and will cater to renters who want easy transit access."

As a transit oriented development, the first phase will also include the construction (by Jaguar) of a "high capacity" bus/transit stop along First Street, just east of Payne Street, with a covered waiting area and LED touchscreen offering rider info.

Designed by Rust | Orling Architecture, the residential-and-retail building will vary in height from 50' to 150' - from 6 to 15 stories - with the tallest section being the central tower (the focus), which is flanked by "two lower shoulders," the eastern 6-story wing with pool deck, and the western 13-story wing.

During design revisions, the western wing was taken down by two stories in order to further stagger height overall, emphasize the "shoulder" appearance of the building, and better relate the design to that of the entire development, according to the city. The staff report, recommending preliminary approval of Phase I, stated the importance of the design review, "Given the site's strategic location... and the pronounced vertical nature... the 2008 development review process placed considerable importance on the quality of the architecture, as the site truly serves as a gateway into the historic portion of the City."

The first completed building in the development will be surrounded by 14'-wide sidewalks, featuring decorative brick and dotted with trees; pedestrian oriented street frontage will be built along Fayette Street. Open space included in the development will total 14,000 s.f., consisting of a 6,000-s.f. central green on the ground floor and a 8,000-s.f. roof top area. Two levels of underground parking will offer 243 parking spaces, with another 26 spaces located on a surface lot off of Fayette.

As for the rest of the 5-building development, "[w]e are concentrating on phase one right now," said Cettina, although she did confirm that the plan for the entire 7-acre development site has not been changed; the plan is for 770,000 s.f. of new development that includes 630 residential units, 70,000 s.f. of office and 15,000 s.f. of retail.

Patricia Escher, principal planner with the City Dept. of Planning and Zoning, offered that the development a considerable improvement to the site, currently holding two vacant warehouses and a surface parking lot. "The entire five phased development of Braddock Gateway will improve an underutilized portion of the City." The project, to be LEED certified, will also conform to Alexandria's green standards.

Escher added that "the first phase will be providing a combined total of $1.6 million to the City’s affordable housing fund, the neighborhood’s streetscape fund and [include] improvements to a local park."

Alexandria, Virginia real estate development news

Morning Real Estate Review

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District of Columbia issues new foreclosure mediation rules. The DC government has issued proposed rules to help homeowners in foreclosure.

Jair Lynch buys up 600 block of H Street
(Washington CityPaper) DC developer pays $51m for the project that has already received approval, and has now been given a 2 year extension of authorization.

Why do women pay more than men for mortages?
(Mortgage Daily News) A new study suggests men search more for lower rates, even if they can't ask for directions.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Beauty and the Bach

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By Beth Herman

An estimated 50,000 of them pepper New Zealand's pristine cliffs and shores, historically cobbled from fibrolite (asbestos sheets), corrugated iron, old timber or even recycled trams, and devoid of electricity and running water. Since the mid-20th Century, and though most have received modern updates with some even evolving into multimillion dollar escapes, the Kiwi bach (pron. "batch") - a kind of eclectic vacation bungalow - has been the go-to domicile for thousands of New Zealanders seeking solace from the daily grind, usually with family, extended family and good friends in tow.


For the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon’s Team New Zealand, reimagining the bach in a sustainable light occurred to a core of four Victoria University of Wellington School of Architecture students a couple of years ago, according to team spokesperson Nick Officer. The concept of competition was nary a glint in their eyes, however.

“It was just a project for us, but the university really liked it and pushed us to submit a proposal,” Officer said of their subsequent entry into the Decathlon, where students are charged with creating and manipulating an affordable (under $250,000) net zero energy house. “From there it just snowballed,” he affirmed, noting New Zealand is the first entry from the Southern Hemisphere in the event’s history.

With construction commencing in February and ending in May, and following an 18-day open house that hosted 20,000 visitors in Wellington, “First Light”—aptly named for the country that receives the planet’s first rays of daylight— began its painstaking 30-day crossing to the United States. Transiting the Panama Canal, and on to Philadelphia, the house arrived in D.C. by truck – in six containers. Reassembled at the National Mall in just under seven days by 26 dedicated though sleep-deprived students (the trip from New Zealand took 30 hours with a Los Angeles stopover), Team New Zealand competes against 19 other teams in 10 categories, including architecture, market appeal and engineering, in pursuit of solar gold (first place).









Outside In

Favoring an indoor/outdoor motif, Officer said New Zealanders are very passionate about their landscape and environment, in this case teasing them all the way through the 800 s.f. house. Sustainable decking runs both outdoors and indoors, with large, triple-glazed windows and a mammoth skylight exposing occupants to open sky. Bi-folding doors on both sides of the house open its interior to air and light, and a striking, shade-producing timber canopy above the house’s waterproof membrane provides independent support for a six kilowatt solar array containing 28 polycrystalline photovoltaic panels and 40 evacuated tube solar collectors. An interactive energy system monitors and displays the house’s output vis-à-vis weather conditions.

With “First Light” created as a year round residence, as opposed to a traditional Kiwi bach used in summer, concrete slab flooring beneath the space’s largest windows passively absorbs and stores the heat of day, retaining it for comfort in cooler months. A reverse-cycle heat pump affords energy-sensitive heating and cooling,

“We’ve got a foot of sheep’s wool in between the walls,” Officer said in reference to the space’s native resource-type insulation, giving it an R-value of 6, “almost like wrapping the house in a wooly blanket.”

Employing “sustainable, renewable, elemental materials,” Officer cited the use of timber that includes native New Zealand Rimu garnered from an old sheep shearing shed, Western Red Cedar for the exterior—a detachable cladding system was developed by the team, and sustainably-sourced Pinus radiata—a species of pine—used for structural elements and interior linings.

Innovations such as a clothes drying cupboard, where solar-heated water is propelled through rails and a fan accelerates drying, and multifunctional rooms with custom, adaptable furniture—including bunk beds and a sofa bed—plus a master bedroom, help ensure family and guests are not left behind or are without conveniences. “It’s about a lot of people able to be in one space, enjoying each other’s company,” Officer said of the historical Kiwi bach concept. Following the Decathlon, "First Light" will travel back to New Zealand where it is slated to become a private home.

Graduating this December with a master’s degree in architecture, Officer indicated it’s been a busy year and he’s not had time to give much thought to where he’ll practice his craft. “I’ll go anywhere in the world to work on sustainable projects,” he said.



photos courtesy of Kelly Matlock and Team New Zealand

Meridian Hill Baptist Church Condominium Gets Design Adjustment

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A church-turned-condominium project by developer Bozzuto and architect Martinez + Johnson will likely head back to the Historic Preservation Review Board next month, says Bozzuto VP and director of development Clark Wagner, but without additional façade windows sought by the team.

Developers had sought to add glass to the stone facade, but city officials scotched the idea of changing the historic fa
çade, originally built in 1927. Instead, the plan is to simply replace the windows, as well as other changes requested by HPRB, including a different "skin" for the new construction portion of the project.

HPRB did approve "the demolition of the rear of the building and the general design approach to the additions in concept, [including] the terrace alterations to the church roof, if they can be concealed from public view."

After HPRB approves the entire revised design, Bozzuto will then file its application with the Board of Zoning Adjustment, said Wagner. In July, ANC secretary Jack McKay said that the ANC, which has not yet opined on the matter, is most interested in the rear setback and rear access of the property.

The community has a heightened sensitivity to fire safety measures after the Deauville apartment fire in 2008; the fire responsible for the demise of the Meridian Hill Baptist Church and the rise of the current plan to turn the property in condominiums. Spacing to adjacent properties has already proved to be an issue in the redevelopment of a neighboring property, the Mt. Pleasant Library at 3160 16th Street, NW.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Morning Real Estate Review

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Warehouse Demand Expected to Exceed Pre-Recession Peak in 2012 (CoStar) Prologis, the world’s largest developer and owner of warehouses, expects the recovery in logistics real estate will accelerate through 2012

On the bright side, building permits are up (MSNBC) The Commerce Department reported that building permits hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 620,000 last month, up 3.2 percent from a revised rate of 601,000 in July.

The rebuilding of Tysons Corner (Washington Post) Tysons is only a few years away from realizing the reinvention that has been many years in the making.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Your Next Place

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By Franklin Schneider

City life can be cool, but it can also become really tedious. The traffic, the car alarms at 5am, packing onto the metro like cattle, crackheads lighting up directly under your bedroom window (can you get a contact crack high?). I once got so sick of it all that I took a couple months off and retreated to my parents' country house, but that was just as bad, in totally different way. The nearest bar was a 25 minute drive away, the well water tasted like DDT, and the television seemed to only receive broadcasts from thirty years ago. I was so bored that I think time actually stopped, and not in a good way.



Is there no happy medium? Well yeah, but it's going to cost you. First time on the market for this place, and it's easy to see why. It's a country house in the middle of the city, a palatial Forties-style house on a double lot in the Palisades, completely surrounded by a dense ring of greenery. Total privacy. Howard Hughes himself would approve of this place

There's also an in-ground pool (for skinny dipping) and a huge outdoor patio area. Inside, the house is roomy, with lots of windows (loved the sunroom), and quaint woodwork and tiling. It's in the Palisades, so you can zip over to Georgetown in just a few minutes. And then, after you get elbowed off the sidewalk by Jersey Shore-types in popped collars talking on their iPhones and a stampede of office girls going for free cupcakes, you can zip right back to your country house and pretend none of it ever happened. Those of us without urban country houses will have to continue to resort to heavy drinking.

4863 Potomac Ave. NW
$1,799,000
5 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths







Friday, September 23, 2011

Tweaking Science: NAS Goes Under the Knife

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By Beth Herman

Its marble headquarters at 2101 Constitution Avenue NW was built in 1924 by celebrated architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, who died four days prior to its dedication. Though it continues to serve as an epicenter of the elite in times of war and peace, the National Academy of Sciences building’s programmatic mission had changed dramatically in recent years, according to Quinn Evans Architects Principal Larry Barr.

Undergoing three more building campaigns and sequential additions of a west wing in 1962, an east wing in 1965 and a 700-seat auditorium in 1970, the 182,000 s.f. space had been compromised in recent years by an insufficient infrastructure that resulted in burgeoning maintenance fees. Tantamount to that, the organization’s modus operandi had changed to include substantial public engagement at hearings and presentations, its conference rooms and public spaces markedly unequal to the task.

“As recently as 10, 15, 20 years ago, an awful lot of NAS’ work was behind closed doors,” Barr said. “It was time to bring the facility into the 21st Century,” a project begun in 2007 and slated for completion in April, 2012.

Citing elements and more that were part of a 2006 master plan, including relocating and/or expanding conference rooms, reinterpreting public access, evolved wayfinding and circulation, and improved ADA-compliancy (some of the Academy's nearly 2,200 esteemed members and 400 foreign associates, if visiting, had to enter indirectly on C Street through the back), Barr said encroaching on the building’s historic fabric was certainly at issue. “It was turning the first floor into a public floor that was the driver,” he added, noting additional space needed to be captured without expanding beyond perimeter walls.

To that end, utilizing east and west courtyards that accrued to related wings, the architects infilled each space with a roof and skylights so they became suitable, informal public gathering spaces for hearing breaks or cocktail parties. Three new conference rooms have been established on the main floor, two accommodating up to 150 people each, with a smaller space seating 50. The renovation also reintroduces two historic gallery spaces to showcase art.

According to Quinn Evans Project Manager Tom Jester, a considerable number of half-levels needed to be addressed to make the building handicap-accessible. Accordingly, elevators and ramps are being installed, with front-of-the-building access achieved by the removal of an existing window, and wall beneath the window, down to the ground. A bronze door will be added to match other historic bronze doors throughout the structure, facilitating access to an entry vestibule and elevator that goes to the main floor lobby.

Preserve and protect

With the 1924 portion of the building most historically significant, including the Great Hall which contains the behemoth rotunda, integrating elements like fire protection, updated electrical systems and data systems into historic spaces where there isn’t a great deal of cavity space, or access behind walls, was a significant design challenge. Identifying “creativity” as a key component in a successful restoration/renovation of this nature, Jester said specific variances had to be obtained to preserve the work of original architect Goodhue and his team, which included bronze sculptor Lee Lawrie—who created the building’s bronze spandrel panels, window mullions and mammoth pocket doors—and muralist Hildreth Meiere. Goodhue favored these artists and had collaborated with them on other projects.

Akoustolith, a widely used porous ceramic material employed in the early 20th Century to moderate noise, was used in the building's Great Hall and contains decorative painting and gilding. With the team in the process of conserving and restoring those surfaces, Jester said they will be brought much closer to their original appearance. Untouched since original construction, the material had fallen victim to cigarette smoke and other environmental abrasives—emblematic of its age.

Under the sun

In regard to NAS’ exterior, Barr said the building was generally in good condition, with repointing underway and a major concern expressed by the team that over time mortar had been replaced with an inappropriate sealant. Subsequently sealant has been removed from joints which are again filled with mortar compatible with the original masonry.

Restoring the building’s original steel windows while preserving the 1924 building’s historic character was also important— the decision made to retain them but apply a low-emission glaze. Windows were replaced with insulated glass units in the 1962, ’65 and ’70 additions. Skylights over the east and west courtyards contain integrated photovoltaics—part of the glass’ assembly—which is different from a typical roof solar array. The architects believe the process, while widespread in Europe, is still cutting edge in the U.S.

Historic lighting fixtures are being retrofitted to incorporate LED’s, where possible, on the path to LEED Silver certification—a requirement for the $45 million NAS project as it is financed with city bonds. The restoration/renovation is the District’s first project to be reviewed under the lens of the D.C. Green Building Act.

Citing the efficiency and cooperative spirit of an extensive team with an aggressive schedule, which includes The Gilbane Building Company and The Christman Company, Barr has summarized the NAS project as “a very challenging intellectual exercise” in its complexity, allowing for 21st Century activity without compromising historic integrity. “In the end it’s going to be a great building for the client,” he said.

Demolition Making Way For Madison Apartment in Alexandria

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Demolition has begun at 800 N. Henry Street in Alexandria, the site claimed by the Madison, a two-building apartment complex developed by Equity Residential. According to Dirk Geratz, principal planner for the City of Alexandria, construction is to begin in November.

Equity Residential took over sole responsibility of the project last year and can be credited for its revival. The development had been idle after City Council approval came three years ago; idle "due in part to the economy over the last several years," according to the City.

New construction costs, estimated to be around $37 million, will be spread across two 5- and 7-story buildings containing 360 apartment units, nearly 9,700 s.f. of ground-floor retail and 45,280 s.f. of "open space" - public plaza, courtyard and rooftop pool - designed by SK&I, who was brought on as the architect in 2010; Cooper Carry was formerly the architect.

In February, the plan was both bumped up and scaled back from what was approved in 2008 - whereas the number of apartment units increased, from 344 to 360, retail space was cut, from 23,000 s.f. to 9,672 s.f., and the number of parking spaces trimmed by nearly 100 spots (from 561 to 464).

Retail space will be located on the corner of North Henry and Madison Streets. Varied styles and materials will be incorporated throughout the property in an effort to make the whole development appear as several distinct entities. A new private access street will connect North Fayette to North Henry Street.

The development, initially meant to be underway in 2009, is located two blocks from the Braddock Metro stop in West Old Town; the project awaited approval in 2007 due to the incoming Braddock Metro Small Area Plan, which was adopted by Council in March of 2008.

Article amendment: SK&I was brought on as the project architect (replacing Cooper Carry) in 2010, when Equity Residential took over sole responsibility of the project; Trammell Crow Co. was a development partner in 2008, when the project was first approved.


Virginia real estate development news

Morning Real Estate Review

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Area Cities Make List of America’s 50 Best (Washingtonian) Arlington ranks second, Washington ranks sixth on Bloomberg Businessweek’s list of the best cities in the country.

Watergate office building to be sold (Washington Post) BentleyForbes' Watergate property under contract to be sold to District-based private equity real estate investor Penzance Cos.

Prince George's Council panel backs $50M development fund (Washington Business Journal) County Council panel voted to send the legislation creating the fund, what Baker has called a "game changer" for development in the Washington area, to the full council.

Fund Invests $650M In Emerging Market for Green Retrofits of Aging Buildings (CoStar) A business consortium has announced the largest single private-sector investment to date in commercial property energy retrofits and upgrades.

Roadside plans Cambria Suites hotel at O Street Market (PR Newswire) DC's Roadside Development to partner with Choice Hotels and Concordia Hospitality plan to build Cambria Suites at the CityMarket at O.

correction: BentleyForbes is selling its Watergate office property, not Euro Properties. Euro Properties owns the Watergate hotel and is not selling.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Your Next Place

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By Franklin Schneider

The bungalow is like the little black dress of houses; simple, timeless, and sort of impossible to improve on. (I’m wearing one right now!) And this expanded bungalow in AU Park is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Beautifully compact and deceptively large, it’s a model of sublime design. If Apple made an “iHouse” it would look very much like this.

A wide, welcoming front porch leads to a bright, airy living area with hardwood floors and a fireplace. This leads naturally to a dining room and then to a large kitchen with table space and adorable checkerboard tiling. There’s also a library and/or den on the first floor – all in all, the open, simple floor plan makes for an extremely naturalistic and pleasant living space. Upstairs are three bedrooms and two bathrooms; it doesn’t seem possible, thinking back to how the house looked from outside, that there’s enough room for all these rooms inside. But there is. (So there.) The basement is fully finished, and has a little kitchenette. There’s also a fenced-in backyard for your dog (or kids) to run around in, and a detached garage.



The more houses I see, the more I find myself gravitating towards these sorts of places. A huge house is impressive initially, but once you consider the practical side of having a huge house, it starts to seem a little ridiculous. I read this story recently about Will Smith, who lives in what’s reputed to be the finest house in all of California, a palatial mansion of unprecedented luxury. For some reason, he has a replica of the small kitchen from the 70s sitcom “Good Times” in his house, and it turns out that that’s where his family spends most of the their time. I’m not saying we should all live in the kitchen from “Good Times,” but you get my point. It’s like, I have fifty pairs of shoes, but I only wear maybe four of them. What’s the point of the excess? This house is like your four favorite pairs of shoes.

4527 49th Street NW
$839,000
3 Bedrooms, 4 Baths





Solar-Powered Homes Compete in 10-day Solar Decathlon

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In West Potomac Park, 20 collegiate teams, from as far as New Zealand and as near as Maryland, are readying their solar-powered residential creations - two years in the making - to compete in the 5th biennial U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

The teams have each designed and built a solar-powered house that they will live in, and monitor the operational efficiencies of, over 10 days. All homes have a footprint less than 1,000 s.f. (not including exterior decking) and should have cost $250,000, or less, to build - teams will lose points for going over.

The winner will be whichever team scores the most out of a maximum 1,000 points; there are 100 points attainable across 10 categories. Six categories will be judged by a jury: architecture, market appeal, engineering, communications, affordability, and home entertainment (livability). The rest will be "measured" results of how the house performs: comfort zone (i.e. temperature, humidity), hot water, efficacy of appliances, and energy balance. In order to determine something like "home entertainment" value, each team is required to throw a dinner party.

The Solar Village opens to the public this Friday, the 23rd, and will run until Sunday, October 2nd. Hours are from 10 am to 2 pm on weekdays, and 10 am to 5:30 pm on weekends. A big turn out is expected - in 2009, the event brought in 307,502 visitors.

Below is a look at what is in store for visitors, and, as an architecture student with New Zealand's team said, "It's interesting how differently people approach the same problem."

Tennessee, Living Light:

The University of Tennessee's design is a nod to a traditional cantilever barn found in southern Appalachia, with seasonal venting capabilities. Nearly all of the structure is wrapped in double glass; the amount of light coming into the house is controlled with wrap-around shades. The team is the only one using solar cylinder tubes.




Team New York, Roofpod:

The City College of New York's design was inspired by "high population, and low space" - the house is designed to be plopped on top of a New York high rise; the team calls it "a penthouse with a purpose" due to a green roof, storm-water management system, and surplus energy all benefiting its host building. For assembly, deconstructed parts of the house "fit in an elevator" and the rest can be hoisted up without a crane.




Team New Jersey, ENJOY House:

Rutgers and New Jersey Institute of Technology's design was done with "a retired, elderly couple living on the Jersey Shore" in mind. The design makes good use of concrete and an "inverted-hip shape roof" to increase rainwater collection, as well as optimize solar energy captured. The team was still working today...



Team Massachusetts, 4D Home:

The University of Massachusetts at Lowell and Massachusetts college of Art and Design's house has a "Northeast vernacular," says team member Chelsie Kelly; it includes a gable roof, I-joists to reduce thermal bridging, and 15-inch-thick walls.



Team Florida, FLeX House:

Four Florida Universities - South Florida, Florida State, Central Floria, and the U of Florida - worked together to create a modular house that features sectional "cubes" that can be repositioned (i.e. slid on tracks). Inside the home, a liquid desiccating waterfall pulls humidity out of the air during hot summer months.




Team China, Y Container:

Tongji University's house is made up of six recycled shipping containers; two laid side-by-side branch off in three directions (in a "Y" shape) from the house's core. Cost conscientious containers were used partly "to offset the high cost of [utilized] photovoltaic technology." The "Y" shape was also done to increase "a flow of space" and, inside, triangle-shaped furniture can be reconfigured into many seating/lying/what-not options.



Team Belgium, E-Cube:

Ghent University's design was done to achieve affordability and rapid assembly, as well as simplicity. Team member Charlotte Vyncke said, "It's affordable but very spacious" and "It's a do it yourself building kit... no special tools or heavy machinery are needed."




SCI-Arc/Caltech, CHIP:

The Southern California Institute of Architecture and California Institute of Technology created a visually distinctive home, most noticeable for its exterior "puffy jacket" like appearance. The design arcs upward, through a series of platforms, to a loft bedroom. The durable ground-floor is designed for So. Cal socializing, with surfboards and skateboards welcomed in.



Purdue, INhome:

Purdue University's all-American design features a wraparound porch, and what else but a garage (the only one in the competition). Team member McKenna Regan said, "Hopefully [our home] shows it can be an easy transition into solar living." Inside, near the kitchen, a biowall helps filter the air.




Parsons NS Stevens, Empowerhouse:

Parsons the New School for Design and Stevens Institute of Technology constructed a home that will be headed to the Deanwood neighborhood after the competition ends. Together with Habitat for Humanity and The D.C. Dept of Housing and Community Development, the team selected a housing recipient, and then designed the creation to fit "a narrow lot in an urban community."




Ohio State, enCORE:

Ohio State University built its home with a family in mind, and onion-like inspriration; a team member stated, "The house works in layers... unveiling itself until you get down to the core."




New Zealand, First Light:

Victoria University of Wellington traveled 8,750 miles to bear its creation, named for New Zealand's unique geographic location which allows its inhabitants "to see the light before anyone else does," said a team member. Wrapped in western red cedar and insulated with recycled sheep's wool, the house was designed with a traditional NZ vacation home, the "Kiwi bach," in mind.




Middlebury College, Self-Reliance:

Middlebury College's house was designed for "a young Northeastern family of four” and inspired by the "simplicity and durability of a traditional Northeastern farmstead." The house upholds a "seed-to-plate" philosophy by incorporating edible gardens, both inside and out. Materials include locally sourced slate and maple wood.





Maryland, WaterShed:

The University of Maryland's house is designed with water conservation in mind, and inspired by the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. The team created a house, and a wetland, which runs through the house's core; the wetland helps filter and recycle grey water (i.e. water used in the shower, sink, washer).




Illinois, Re_Home:

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created a home that serves as "immediate response rehousing" for people left homeless at the hands of a natural disaster; the home can be assembled in only 12 hours and is comprised of two units that fit onto one semi truck.



Florida Int'l, perFORM[D]ance House:

Florida International University went it alone and created a house that "dances" (in a way), with solar panels that adjust to optimize sun capture according to geographic location. Massive shade panels, durable enough to offer hurricane protection, can be raised and lowered.



Canada, TRTL (Technological Residence, Traditional Living):

The University of Calgary built a home for a family within the Treaty 7 Native Peoples in Southern Alberta. The shape of the house was done to resemble a teepee, and a team member said the goal is for the house to "increase the health, safety, quality of life and native identity" of its recipient.





Tidewater Virginia, Unit 6 Unplugged:

Old Dominion and Hampton University teamed up to build a six-unit modular building. The home was designed to "fit into a historic center-city neighborhood" and has a central porch area that when closed off in winter still feels semi outdoors.




Appalachian State, Solar Homestead:

Appalachian State University created a "Great Porch" around its home, which was inspired by "the traditional homestead" of early settlers in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.




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