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Imagining What New Buildings Could Look Like – 3600 Block of Rock Creek Church Rd, NW

by Prince Of Petworth — November 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm 30 Comments

Last week we looked at a controversial (see photo below) new row house going up near the Petworth metro. You can see the variety of opinions here. Of course we’ll revisit when the entire project is completed.

But I thought I’d share the thoughts and sketch (above) sent in by David B.

“A few ideas on how to place nice with your neighbors:

-Set back the top floor to maintain consistent roofline along the street.
-Reduce the depth of the entry niche on the left side to allow for
more daylight and recover additional area lost due to third floor
-Larger windows
-I assume this is already the case, but add wood trellis at first floor.
-Different material at cellar floor to better define the base.”

  • mj

    Looks like a prison.

    • annon

      i was going to say the same thing.

      much prefer David’s sketch to the reality. too bad the builder didn’t consult with him first!

      • mj

        Yeah, that would have been nicer by a long shot. Plus, change the materials and the color – make a (even token) effort to fit in with the rest of the block.

        • victoria

          You don’t have to fit in – you just have to be good. Good modern – good experimental – good whatever. This is just bad. But I do think David B. has some good ideas. The most objectionable and ugly element is the tiny prison windows.

          • Brian Kraft

            The Good Neighbor list is spot on and the prison windows are unquestionably unfriendly. The design benefits from sitting among one of the ugliest rows you’ll see in NW. Moreover, the prison windows make sense from inside the house, since they look out onto the backs of the row facing NH Ave. The occupants do not want to see the big picture. It is an unfortunate situation.

    • ET

      For me it is the residential equivalent of the HUD building in SW.


      • Anonymous

        As a HUD employee, I agree that our building is terrible. The only flaw in your comparison is that the HUD building actual kind of fits in with the other mid-20th century ugly buildings down here, whereas this house does not match its surroundings at all.

        PS: The inside of HUD is just as ugly and oppressive feeling as the outside.

        • Anonymous

          I just realized that I actually haven’t seen the other houses on this street (I was imagining it on my street). So, maybe your analogy is perfect.

        • Anonymous

          Nothing quite like 10 floors of basement!

        • ET

          I have been in it and wondered if any suicides could be attributed to the painful feel of both inside and outside of the place. I was only there for a few hours for a few days and felt depressed.

  • Emily

    I personally dig it but I also like Brutalist architecture. I was sad to hear the church on 16th street days are numbered and this is reminiscence of that particular style. Its not for anyone but it is for someone.

    • victoria

      “Its not for anyone but it is for someone.” This made me laugh & think of that TV show of people with weird eating obsessions like eating 3 boxes of cornstarch a day. “Everything” after all, is for “someone.”

    • textdoc

      Which church on 16th Street? (Just wondering.)

      • Emily

        The one at I and 16th, 3rd Church of Christ, Scientist. And sorry for my wording snafu yesterday, I meant to say “it isn’t for everyone, but it is for someone”. I am in the camp that unless you are building/remodeling in a historical district and/or have a homeowners association situation that has strict rules I think you should be able to do what you want with the property. I think the whole idea that your neighbors won’t like how how it looks and should be changed is naive and a bit passive-aggressive. I think any sort of home improvements are better than leaving a building in a derelict state. I doubt very much that this type of architecture is going to lower the value of the neighboring properties.

  • Kev29

    “A few ideas on how to place {sic} nice with your neighbors”

    So basically it needs to be designed to the specifications of some people who are *not* paying for the project? Give me a break. If there are historical/zoning regulations in place, so be it, but not everyone should be required to have the same tastes.

    And the new house is actually much nicer looking than the piece of crap to the right.

    • Denizen of Tenallytown

      +100. Do a Google Street View of that block and review the other examples of fine architecture. This house may be something different but in this case, that’s a good thing.

    • David B

      A building is not required to meet other people’s specifications, but a house is a piece of the larger architectural fabric of the street, and how it interacts with its neighbors is important.

      Should a facade have a defensive or open posture? Should a house strive to improve the neighborhood or stand apart from it? An owner must make these decisions.

      I do not believe a successful design must mimic the styles of the past or that since the adjacent houses next door are “crap”, one is free to disregard how the impact of the new design.

      • GloverGuy

        I am allowed to hate this house without being against new architecture in general. The area north of U by Cordozo has some great examples of modern architecture that may be somewhat incongruent with the neighboring properties, but nonethless “work”. I’m thinking of the house at the intersection of W and 12th in particular.

        I guess it’s all a matter of taste…

        • GloverGuy

          Did not mean this as a reply to David B. I liked his suggestions.

  • textdoc

    Good ideas from David B.

  • Anonymous

    I hate brutalist architecture but this looks more modern, FLW leaning. I like it from the photos.

  • JL

    I don’t think it needs to “play nice” with the neighbors houses’. Contrast is interesting.

  • Anonymous

    this is so passive aggressive. who cares what david b or any of you think it should look like. it doesn’t. it won’t, because you don’t own it and the people who do clearly want to live in a prison, so stop wasting your time drawing up sketches that will never happen.

    • Anonymous

      “who cares what david b or any of you think it should look like.” this is a blog. A place where people can voice and discuss opinions.

  • Flee

    Oh baker. That’s an improvement!

  • Reminds me of the place Hitler shot himself.

  • Harland Pelligrino

    It isn’t even finished and everyone is already judging it even though they have no idea what the finished product will look like. I love this place.

  • andy

    Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!


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