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Dumbarton Oaks Must Reconsider Massing of Proposed Wisconsin Avenue Project

The Old Georgetown Board shared concerns that were raised by neighbors about the proposed massing of the building at 1700 Wisconsin Avenue.

will have to reconsider the massing and proposed height of the planned addition for its property at 1700 Wisconsin Avenue after the Old Georgetown Board meeting Thursday.

The 1950s-era building, built in the Colonial style, has been purchased by Dumbarton Oaks to house its fellows.

The redesign plan for 1700 Wisconsin Ave. calls for a "comprehensive modernization," including window replacements, a brand-new geo-thermal heating and cooling system, and 25 residential units to house fellows. A fourth floor would be added to the existing structure, as well as another side addition, and a tall, modern glass window would run up the center of the building. A vertical garden is planned for the west facade.

At the OGB meeting Thursday, board member Anne Lewis said she was "shocked" when she saw the drawing with the proposed mass and thought “that’s much bigger than it was last time.”

The architect had brought a model of the building and the surrounding structures for comparison. But Lewis and other board members had questions about the scale, which appeared to make the new structure the same height as a neighboring building of unequal height.

Architect Ralph Cunningham, of D.C.-based Cunningham-Quill Architects, quickly responded to concerns about the mass and said he could make adjustments to reduce the scale of the addition, such as decreasing proposed parapets.

Lewis however, said "my fundamental problem is still with mass...I am not convinced we have the mass right here."

A Georgetown resident and architect, Robert Bell, brought his own renderings to demonstrate what he considered to be the overwhelming mass of the proposed addition and to add his expertise to the concerns of neighboring property owners. 

Bell said the plan "introduces an international style floating building" whose mass and window in the current design are driven by motel-like parking.

"It's inappropriate" for Georgetown said Bell.

Lewis, who lives nearby, was inclined to agree. The building is "too imposing" on the "friendly street."

Cunningham agreed to rework the design, taking into account the concerns of neighbors and the OGB.

The next OGB meeting is September 1.

R Stanley July 10, 2011 at 09:00 PM
I LIVED IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD FOR 25 YEARS. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT ANYONE THAT LIVES IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS PROJECT. ONE QUESTION... ARE PROPERTY TAXES GOING TO BE PAID?

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