Old Georgetown Board Approves Post Office Concept
At the Dec. 2 meeting, the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) reviewed almost 20 projects in Georgetown. The Georgetown Post Office concept plan earned high marks and approval in its first go-around.
At the Dec. 2 meeting, the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) weighed-in on nearly 20 projects in Georgetown ranging from solar panels on a residential property to the concept plan for the Georgetown Post Office.
The first agenda item, the C&O Canal visitor's center signage received a swift approval from the OGB Thursday. Park service officers were asked to keep the presentation short; in a matter of minutes the OGB approved the plan.
The board spent significantly more time reviewing the Georgetown Post Office plans presented by CORE Architect's project architect, Guy Martin. The OGB took comments from Tim Denee of the D.C. Historic Preservation Office (HPO) who raised concerns about removing the current addition. Commissioner Tom Birch from the ANC was on-hand to relay the opinion of the neighborhood, which was generally positive. The EastBanc, Inc. project received approval at the ANC-2E meeting Monday and followed with an approval Thursday with the OGB.
During the discussion the board consistently expressed concern about the view of the property from M St. and the Old Stone House. Anne Lewis encouraged the architect to strengthen the horizontal appearance with better articulation to avoid the appearance of a wall structure. Lewis suggested a green screen as an option to "soften" the view of the base of the building from M St.
David Cox said he was concerned also about the east elevation facing the Old Stone House, saying it has a "set of different conditions from the front," which is designed to compliment and not overpower the old Post Office building. Cox said the east elevation "bears more study" as the architect moves beyond the concept phase.
Overall, though, the board members gave the architect and developer glowing reviews. Stephen Vanze, said his initial impression when looking at that plan was "this is perfect." Cox said he appreciated the architect's "genuine attempt" to insert contemporary work in an historic context, adding that the two buildings had a "sympathetic harmony." Lewis said the design was "elegantly done" and the plan is the "right thing to do here."
With those resounding compliments, the Board approved the plan in concept.
The board quickly changed its tone for the next project at 1238 Wisconsin Ave. (a.k.a. 3203 Prospect St.). Architect Don Hawkins had been before the board with his project several times, as recently as last month. Cox told Hawkins he was "pretty close this time" and that the project just needed a little more "tweaking."
The board was concerned about the proposed windows. The center window, said Cox, needed more definition, something to make it "different" and create a middle line. Additionally, board members felt that the propsed square window openings were out of place as Georgetown generally has more elongated, rectangular windows.
After receiving concept approval Hawkins took a few moments to plea to the board for some wiggle room. Hawkins said he has disagreed with some of the board's decisions on this and other structures in Georgetown, saying their efforts to create a conforming structure resulted in "absence" without making a statement. Hawkins said he wanted to make something interesting for both his own tastes and his client's expectations.
Cox bristled at Hawkins's suggestion that the board was limiting the potential of the structure, saying the architect talked about the building in "glowing terms" as if people would "flock to it." Cox suggested to Hawkins that he could find interesting ways to define the building by choosing elegant details. Lewis agreed that the architect should work within the boundaries set, but seek creative ways to express creativity within the "box."
Hawkins will return to the OGB for review before permitting.