28 Comment

  • As cool as it is to save old buildings (I definitely applaud saving vs wrecking), are they going to do something with these boarded up buildings?

    • I had read they were going to incorporate them into the new building’s facade.

    • There are a few examples of this around town if you’re curious. One is over at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. The net effect is that you walk into the building through facades of these buildings, but pretty instantly you know you’re in an office/commercial building. From the street, however, it’s much more attractive than just a standard-issue big office building. The depth of the preserved rowhouses offsets the office building behind, so there’s some minimal loss of vertical space, but it creates a much more attractive street-level, in my humble.

      • saf

        I started at GW the year they completed the building at 2000 Penn. One of the funnier things I have ever read was the architecture review in the Post that described it as looking like a battleship that had run into the back of a row of houses.

  • I was a bit skeptical at first. Individually I didn’t think these building contributed to the landscape. However, seeing them togeher is a different story. I believe there are still a few more to be moved.

    I would love to see them do this with with the property at 11th and K Sts next to the youth hostel, i.e. move the existing building forward to the curb then build the new structure behind/around it.

    • logandavid – 11th & K is a much harder scenario for moving buildings. From the building facade to the curb is public space. The developer doesn’t have the option of shifting them forward. Instead, DCPL has been working with Douglas Development to come up with a plan to rehab them in place and build a compatible building in the vacant lot to the east.

  • I think it looks really weird.

  • To what end? What purpose does 100 feet of old buildings do to that block? I like the idea, and I love old architecture and style more than a glass wall, but this is asinine.

    We should be focused on encouraging better architecture and more adaptive use of the space (this tiny street feeding into 7th/NY/Mass mess) could really be developed into something cool. Plus with all the development taking place along it you could integrate a lot of streetscape improvements.

    Instead we have these four tiny old brick walls – which is all they will be when the project is done, a brick facade – shoved into a glass modern building. It does nothing for the block or the residents of the larger area. The city/community spent a lot of time, money and effort getting the developer to protect these little facades when it could have used them as leverage over the design of the building to make it nicer and a benefit to the community.

    Also, while the developer ultimately paid to preserve them those costs are most certainly being passed on to the building residents and city through higher rents and fees.

    Again, love the buildings but they are wholly out of context now, dwarfed by everything around them and the effort that went into this is a total waste. My two cents.

    • It’s all about scale. Large monolithic buildings don’t foster the same accessible feel as the smaller buildings in the photo. It’s all about getting people to walk around in the area, explore (and subsequently spend money in all the street level establishments).

      • Agreed, but couldn’t we have required scale be built into the new building rather than created a wholly out-of-place facade in between two glass towers?

        I’m not asking for anything half-assed but rather something that actually works for the community versus an awkward wedging in of these facades on a block that will be entirely glass walls. Forcing these buildings to be included doesn’t achieve anything other than a protection at all costs mentality.

        It’s not like this is 19th street and this is holding back some massive hole in the streetscape – this is, by it’s very nature, the hole in the streetscape.

    • your perspective makes me very sad. i wish i hadn’t read it.

      • Right on, Anonymous @ 10:01am! I got the same shiver when I read Styglan1dc’s perspective. Since this town has ZERO chance (apparently) at better architecture, the positioning and retention of these buildings is our best shot at delivering us from a downtown street grid made up of nothing but glass block canyons. Further, “(w)e should be focused on encouraging better architecture and more adaptive use of the space” is an interesting comment to make while at the same time arguing that doing so is a “total waste”….

        • I’m sorry, but I don’t know how I argue against myself with requesting better architecture and adaptive use of the space.

          In this city we (via the government) have only a few levers for encouraging good architecture and not just glass boxes. And by “encouraging” I really mean forcing, because developers will build whatever they want if not told to do anything.

          One of these levers is historic preservation requirements, review and negotiations. These buildings for some reason were designated a historic piece of the street and thus were required to be preserved at all costs.

          My argument is why not, instead of forcing them to preserve these wholly unremarkable buildings, require the developer to create a much more interesting, visually distinct and useful for the neighborhood piece of architecture IN RETURN FOR permission to remove these little buildings from the site.

          We (the city/government) give them a raze (or just a “move them somewhere else”) permit in return for a better end product.

          • You know….I will concede to the extent that you do make a good point – we really, definitely, absolutely should demand more and better. I suppose my reaction to your post was really a reflection of the ‘lawd, can’t we PLEASE just have the ‘lesser version of the best that we can get’ attitude that this government has forced me to submit to as ‘normal’…. Need a ‘stick built’ (or whatever the term of art happens to be) apartment/condo building built? Quick…get Eric Colbert on the phone. Offices? Shalom Baranes. ‘Hey…but these design presentations look exactly like the last ones.’ Yup. Check, please! So, when I see even the tiniest effort to break from the norm (AKA the monied interests and their constituents) I do draw some comfort. Shame on me!

      • Sorry I make you sad. Out of curiosity, why does my perspective IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE make you sad? It isn’t like I am advocating for whole-hog disregard for historical preservation. Just where it makes no sense.

  • It’s not. The Gold Leaf building is 2 blocks away and still standing.

  • Jackie O started this when they Built Markey Courthouse and it’s sister the new executive office building off of Lafayette Square. This has really helped to keep the character of DC while still upgrading. #sustainability

  • KSB

    Reminds me of the book “The Little House” before they picked up the house and moved it out into the country…

  • I really like this, and am imagining it when it is all spruced up. Some downtown blocks that do this look fantastic, and really have a nice feel walking down them. Granted, this looks a little off because of the perspective across the vacant lot, but obviously that will end up filled in.

  • Its a fake save. Those buildings where not in that configuration when built and have been moved together.

    I’m for historic conservation in areas where it makes sense; where there is solid, stunning old architecture that accurately reflects a period.

    What’s happened here is 4 or 5 rather blah buildings being bandied together to give a Disney-esque historic feel. Mt Vernon Triangle was originally meant to be built as modern architecture. It would have been better had that been the case.

    (It is a cool photo thought)

  • It’s really sad that these were the handful of buildings that were chosen to be saved from that block. Although 2 or 3 of them are beautiful, about a dozen other great houses were completely demolished. I watched them start to preserve a number of them in late 2011 when this work started, and then they must have been able to convince the city to allow them to be destroyed. All of the work that had been started to hold them together and board them up was undone, and a day later they were all in a pile of rubble…

  • Facade-ectomies like this (and at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave NW) are pretty much discredited within historic preservation circles, or at most, are very much a last resort to save at least a hint of the earlier era. If the buildings are important, then you need more than just a sliver of the facade, and if you are trying to maintain the scale of the neighborhood, the photo makes it clear that that has not happened here. All in all, this is a huge failure; it probably would have been better to just eliminate the old structures. Put them out of their misery.

  • This looks silly.

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