Saturday, July 24, 2010

Historic Shaw Residential Project One Step Closer

The chances of a Shaw townhouse and neighboring empty lot becoming a small residential project are higher now that the project team has cleared the hurdles of Historic Preservation. Recently, the Historic Preservation Review Board approved the recommendation of the HPO to accept plans for the renovation of a "contributing" building within the Shaw historic district and construction of a five-story addition. The current site is two stories of decrepit red brick, far from inhabitable or appealing. Rubble, weedy overgrowth, and trash fill the back lot.

But that may change soon if developer Paul Robertson and architect Brandon Walsh of Robertson + Walsh Design continue with their plans for the renovation and construction project at 1431 11th St. NW. The recent report filed by the Review Board describes the current building as "modest," "Italianate," and "dating from the 1870's."

The Review Board is clearly also mindful of the discrepancy in this part of the Shaw historic district, writing in their recent report that: "the Board has acknowledged that 11th Street is somewhat more compromised than the rest of the historic district in containing numerous vacant lots, a relatively large percentage of non-contributing buildings and a fractured historic context that lacks a strong sense of history of place." For these reasons the Board has been instructed to be more liberal in their review of projects for 11th street, so to encourage redevelopment that respects the current history but allows for greater density and subsequent improvement.

The partnership with architect Brandon Walsh is a fresh one, but they do have a few other projects in the works, including a single family home in Arlington, a vacation home in West Virginia, and a rooftop terrace addition at the Dancebotique. The team has still found time to finalize the schematic design drawings and plans for their project at 1431 11th St. NW. A courtyard will replace the rubble in the back lot, separating the current building from the new five story structure, designed for condos, which will approach the back alley and stand roughly fifty feet higher. Robertson and Walsh say that the simple and clean industrial feel of the design is in keeping with and inspired by the traditional warehouse buildings that often abut alleys, side streets, and back lots of federal style townhouses in the area.

When probed about the inspiration for the design of the planned condominium, Brandon Walsh explains that although no particular building was specifically referenced, the general body of work of McKim, Meade & White guided the styling decisions of their project. McKim, Meade & White were a prolific architectural firm at the turn of the century, regularly contracted for all sorts of buildings, big and small, up and down the eastern seaboard. "McKim, Meade & White seemed like an appropriate reference when Steve Calcott of the HPRB suggested an early 1900s warehouse look." Walsh went on to say "there are plenty of steel and glass curtain wall designs going up around town, so it's refreshing to see something with a little historical context." The few notable buildings of MM&W in the District include both the East and West Wings of the White House, Roosevelt Hall of the National War College, and the National Museum of American History, as well as the Boston Public Library (pictured, left). Walsh wouldn't commit to many style specifics, details of the units, or building materials, as he wants to allow for flexibility as they wade the tricky waters of financing. He did confirm that they are leaning towards large iron, industrial-style windows, and are always looking to experiment with unique materials.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development news


IMGoph on Jul 26, 2010, 8:34:00 AM said...

awesome to finally see something moving forward on that spot. pretty soon, all of the developable spots on 11th will be filled, and the edge of the wave will push further east...

Anonymous said...

McKim, Meade, & White were the inspiration for this bland pablum?!?! Is this opposite world now?

Anonymous said...

If it's conceptual you can see the accentuated verticals, inset horizontals- and the beginnings of some detailing that would be in line with buildings of the time period. I don't think it seems like it's literally trying to be a McKim bldg. I think it's fine to be inspired by (whatever or whom ever). As long as it fits into context somehow. It's a nice modest design. that's all it needs to be if you ask me.

Unknown on Jul 31, 2010, 1:18:00 PM said...

Very good project.........

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