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Rendering for the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center Redevelopment on 14th Street

by Prince Of Petworth April 28, 2016 at 3:00 pm 23 Comments

rendering courtesy whitman-walker

From Whitman-Walker:

“As we announced in January, we have selected Selldorf Architects for this project.

We will have more details to announce regarding this project following our presentation to the Historical Presentation Review Board in late May. Here is the most current information on the development:

  • Whitman-Walker Health is now embarking on its joint venture redevelopment of the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center site located between R and Riggs Street NW on 14th Street NW.  We have partnered with Fivesquares Development, a DC-based firm, on this mission-critical project.  Whitman-Walker Health retains majority ownership interest of the joint venture project to ensure that this redevelopment meets our long-term mission and financial interests.  We have retained Selldorf Architects of New York City, led by Annabelle Selldorf, an internationally renowned architect, to design the project.
    • The project will contribute to Whitman-Walker Health’s overall sustainability by providing financial value to support our mission of caring for many years to come.
  • The project design will provide for approximately 155,000 gross square feet of mixed used development.  A key design element is the preservation of the two contributing buildings—including the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center– that are currently located on the site.  The project design includes the following major elements:

    • Below Grade: Parking
    • Ground Floor: Retail and community space
    • 2nd-3rd Floors: Program/commercial office space for Whitman-Walker Health and others
    • 4th-6th Floors: Residential space.
  • Whitman-Walker Health will be the anchor for the proposed redevelopment and will occupy a minimum of 30,000 square feet of space, thus ensuring a long-term physical and programmatic presence in the community.
  • The two contributing buildings to the Greater Fourteenth Street Historic District, 1701 14th Street (the “Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center”) and 1711 14th Street (the “Belmont Garage”) are both being retained and rehabilitated. While they have both — in varying degrees — lost key aspects of their historic integrity, particularly 1701 14th Street, we believed it was in the best interest of the community to commit the resources and effort to rehabilitate these buildings as best as possible to their original elegance and authenticity. This also results in the scale of redevelopment being varied.
  • We believe in exemplary, high quality and beautiful architecture that will make a distinctive contribution to the corridor. To that end, we engaged world-renowned architect Annabelle Selldorf who is known for producing elegant yet restrained buildings that are “contemporary and timeless.” She has had extensive experience blending modern buildings in historic contexts. This will be her first project in Washington, DC.
  • In response to community aspirations to bring more activity to the corridor during the day to support local businesses, in addition to the commitment of Whitman-Walker space, there will be another floor of commercial office space, thus ensuring that a significant proportion of the building is non-residential. “

  • Timebomb

    Ehh. Do these historic district developments look good to anyone? They always look like tall modern buildings riding awkwardly on the back of small fronts. Definitely better than letting the historic district stop development entirely, but I find it hard to imagine it’s actually satisfying to preservationists either.

    • DM

      I think they look okay from street level, which is how 90% of people will see it. But is the old building even worth preserving? It’s not exactly the Sistine Chapel.

      • Loganish

        It isn’t being saved so much for its architectural significance as its historical significance. The fact so many that live in that neighborhood wouldn’t know that is precisely why it should be saved.

      • Jerry Grundle

        Historic means different things to different people. This site is historic because the services it offered those in need were unprecedented and groundbreaking in the District when it first opened. The building itself is unremarkable.

    • U neighbor

      I think that having a 2-3 story historic brick building directly along the street is still nice, even with a modern building towering behind it. It may be a subtle difference, but the accumulation of these subtle differences is what preserves the “feel” of the neighborhood as you walk down the sidewalk. Look around, you’ll notice that design in a few places (like the SW corner of 14&U). I kinda like it.
      “Elegant yet restrained” is the part that raised my eyebrow. Read: Clarendon-style?

    • ExWalbridgeGuy

      Yeah, I like it. A mix of old and new, different densities, different uses. Textbook Jane Jacobs. The only thing that looks bad to me is all the nonsense bureaucracy the developers have to go through. Let ’em build, baby, build!

    • ***

      The problem, IMO, is that the new buildings are not different enough. They all have a DC-bland, self-similar look that’s trying to be “historically friendly” which just makes the buildings they preserved somewhat less remarkable because they don’t have something in which to contrast against. That said, this building, while having a historic function, is not at all remarkable and I would question if there is a better use of the site that isn’t a slave to preservation for the sake of preservation.

  • Dan


    I don’t know, I think it can be done well. I’m rather partial to the AAMC building in Mt. Vernon Triangle: http://douglasdevelopment.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/DD_655K_005-1024×808.jpg

  • JohnH

    Is the parking only for staff/residents? I’m telling you, anyone who builds a parking garage in this area will make a lot of money. I’ve lived in this area for over 8 years and the demand for parking is up there with Dupont on a Friday/Saturday night. If it weren’t for the neighborhood parking zones, it’d probably be a lot worse.
    Not to mention, this area will only sustain so long as it becomes more dense and impossible to find parking. A lot of 14th Street, particularly the lower half, isn’t easily (yes, keyword easily) accessible via Metro like Dupont/Gallery Place. The amount of retail/restaurants will be hard to sustain without visitors and right now those visitors are parking on neighborhood streets. When those become harder and harder to park…it will be like Georgetown where people don’t want to deal with the pain (and I know, the walk from Mt Vernon or Dupont is not the same as Rosslyn/Foggy Bottom to M St…but people these days).

    • Matthew Greeson

      Do you know how expensive it is to build underground parking? No way that’s a money-making venture.

      • Timebomb

        I dunno. There would probably be people willing to pay the rates necessary to make it worth it because people have a lot of money and are obsessed with their cars. But those people can also afford to Uber or have their butlers circle for street parking.

    • petworthian

      so you’re saying it’ll be so crowded, no one will go there?

      • JohnH

        The more and more condos and apartments that open up…the more crowded it will be. Thus, people will find it a pain to go there. The people living on 14th Street are not going to sustain 20 restaurants themselves over several years.
        14th Street isn’t going to be a “hot spot” forever. If you want to shelter yourself and make it a pain for anyone outside the neighborhood to come…so be it. But don’t expect your property values to stay where they are at when the hipness transitions to the next neighborhood.

        • petworthian

          i understood your point. i was just being snarky bc i disagree. hot spots move over the years, this is true. but when they leave, they don’t always leave behind emptiness and desolation and property values don’t necessarily drop. in short, just because it’s not trendy doesn’t mean people and restaurants won’t be there.

        • Is It Worth It

          Not being the hot spot forever is an argument for not building commercial parking. As noted elsewhere, underground parking is hugely expensive to build; maybe there’s a demand for it right now, but once the hot spot has moved on, the owner is stuck with the investment, but less and less demand for it.

    • duh

      fortunately there are things called “taxis” and companies called “uber” and “lyft” that have solved this problem without cluttering our city with parking garages.

      • Timebomb

        Not to mention buses. The other metro.

      • JohnH

        As someone who lives in the area, the number of Virginia and Maryland license plates flocking to the area to come to the “hip” restaurants they jsut discovered is out of control. Whenever I am driving to or from my house, it seems every time I get stuck behind someone not from the area looking for parking that has no idea what they are doing. Yes, a 25 year old living in Adams Morgan knows how to Uber there. Someone living in Georgetown, Arlington, Potomac, etc. coming to these hip restaurants….yeah, no.
        These replies sound like Georgetown residents.

        • Timebomb

          So the solution to that is building parking garages? They’re going to fill up immediately and be a cesspool of enclosed exhaust from those cars circling and failing to find parking. And/or it’s going to cost $100/hr to park there to cool demand to a manageable level. And/or people are going to keep circling the neighborhood to avoid paying the exorbitant rates.
          Cars don’t scale. They aren’t a solution to anything. You can bury comically high amounts of money into catering to them and barely make a dent in the goal of getting people to a place they want to congregate when that place looks like 14th St. If the neighborhood dies because some bubble pops, then street parking will be plentiful again and every block will be an identical selection of chain stores, just like the characterless car-dependent caricatures the people you’re referring to traveled from; it’s a self-correcting problem.
          Also, how do we sound like Georgetown residents when you just claimed that people from Georgetown are physically incapable of traveling five miles without a personal vehicle with them at all times? How is that internally consistent?

          • JohnH

            Yes, because I inquired about ONE parking garage I suddenly want to build them up and down 14th Street. Ok…
            All I’m saying is that if this neighborhood wants to REMAIN thriving, it can’t remain in a bubble. The hype will move on to another neighborhood in DC eventually. I’m not saying we need this area to be the national mall here packed with tourists, but more and easier access would certainly help to remain as bustling as it is.
            Didn’t realize suggesting a parking garage would be so nerve-wracking.

    • logandude

      Actually, as a resident of 12th Street NW who hates dealing with the crowds on 14th St, I would love it if this 14th Street bubble deflated back to Georgetown levels.

  • Timebomb

    Yeah, re-read my above post since it’s a response to everything you just said. One garage won’t solve anything. Neither would 10.
    Car-centric thinking touches a nerve with people who realize how stupid it is. I guess you didn’t know.

    • Timebomb

      Er, this was in response to JohnH’s “Yes, because I inquired about ONE parking garage…” comment.


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