Cleveland Park Historical Society Architectural Review Committee
Monday, April 8, 2019
Cleveland Park Congregational Church, 3400 Lowell Street, NW
ARC members attending: Win Brown, Phil Eagleburger, Ana Evans, Stefan Hurray, Danny Ince, David Kay, Tina Mead, Lois Orr. CPHS Executive Director Carin Ruff also attended.
3401 Lowell St., NW
Concept: 2 ½ story side and rear addition; alterations to three sides of house; moving curb cut and adding new driveway to parking in basement of addition.
Agent: Chris Saenger, Ballard+Mensua Architecture, & Chris Cahill, owner and contributing designer.
3401 Lowell is on the northwest corner of the intersection of 34th Street & Lowell Street, directly across the street from the Cleveland Park Congregational Church to the south and also directly across from the John Eaton School to the east. The existing house is an eclectic Greek Revival-influenced, front-gabled (front to rear) side-hall building, 2 ½ stories with east-facing, full-depth (front to rear) side porch. It was designed by B.F. Meyers for W.C. & A. N. Miller in 1915, and is a contributing resource in the historic district.
The applicant presented two proposals: an earlier scheme, and a later scheme incorporating recent feedback from HPO. There was a missing existing west elevation, since provided by the applicant. Since the later scheme incorporates very late decisions, a full presentation of the later scheme was not provided, with 3D representation notably absent. It should be noted, however, that the applicant took very great strides in the late revisions at addressing the particular concerns of HPO, which would also have been concerns of the ARC. This review will focus on the later proposal. Proposed site work includes significant construction of retaining walls along 34th Street that facilitate the proposed driveway into parking underneath the addition. The existing odd, L-shaped lot with linear swimming pool and related walls, is not part of this proposal and will not be reviewed here.
The ARC is particularly concerned that the proposed addition as seen from the 34th Street side is not subservient to the original house. The changes from the earlier to the later scheme seem to have addressed similar concerns but only on the rear and on the west side of the house. Note that houses on corner lots invite scrutiny on two primary public facades, though the facade on the “side” elevation may have more leeway in resolving the design challenge. The ARC makes the following observations:
- The proposed east-facing, gabled, 2 ½ story + fully exposed basement (garage), addition effectively presents itself as the primary volume of the resulting mass of the entire house. This effectively alters the reading of the historic narrative of the house, obscuring the original. What appears to be missing in the current proposal is a clean break from the original, such as a setback or hyphen or some other way of preserving/exposing the existing northeast corner of the house.
- The proposed addition also appears quite large, and that perception is exacerbated by the full story drop-off in grade at that point along 34th Street. This raises concerns about the use of a gable on top of this “ell”, instead of some other roof form.
- The extensive fenestration on the addition also contributes to the large-scale perception. However, further changes to the massing and the way it attaches to the house may ameliorate such concerns. The fenestration is effective in helping make distinctive the appearance of new vs. old.
- Though the ARC has no objection to the addition extending east of the existing primary east plane of the existing house, per se, that feature of the addition does seem to complicate addressing the above concerns about massing and proportion.
- The ARC supports the preservation of the existing east-facing open porch, but the proposed juncture between the addition and the existing house undermines the dual open-ended nature of that porch. Further, the juncture compromises the integrity of one character-defining detail on the house, which is the existing first floor bay window. If the proposed addition were not an “ell” at this juncture, then the integrity of both porch and bay window would be better preserved.
- As an illustration of ARC’s intent regarding the above concerns, one possible concept would be to have the addition simply match the profile, roof line, and alignment of the existing primary volume of the house, and be spaced away from the rear of the existing house, and connected back to the rear of the house by a slightly inset “hyphen” motif (like a dogtrot perhaps), all aligned along a single axis. This is not a directed instruction but is only cited here as a means to help explain ARC’s concerns.
The motion passed 8-0.
3219 Wisconsin Avenue, HPA 19-041
Concept/reposition existing foursquare house and build 6-storey apartment building on lot.
See the updated plans for this project at this link.
Architect: Charles Warren, Teass/Warren Architects
This is the 2nd presentation and a revised proposal for this property, following an initial proposal in November 2018. The existing house is a Foursquare located at the corner of Wisconsin and Macomb, built in 1901, and is a contributing resource in the Cleveland Park Historic District. The house currently faces Wisconsin Avenue. The concept presented includes moving the house to the rear of its lot and rotating it so that it faces Macomb Street. A six story apartment building (seven stories in the previous iteration) facing Wisconsin Avenue would be constructed on the corner of the lot. The proposal includes removing the now-enclosed rear porches of the existing house but fully preserving the entire front porch, which would now face Macomb Street. The original house would now stand alone (it was attached to the “addition” in the previous iteration) and would be a single family home. The now detached apartment building would contain a total of eight units (vs. thirteen units in the previous iteration).
The ARC notes that the applicant has taken significant steps to address the ARC’s concerns from the previous iteration, including preserving more of the original elements of the existing house, most significantly the full four bays of the wrap-around porch. Sun studies have also been provided, as requested by ARC.
The ARC has the following recommendations:
- As noted in ARC’s previous review, the ARC does not object to moving and rotating the house as proposed, along with the placement of a freestanding apartment building at the corner.
- The ARC understands that its previous requests concerning the alignments of the buildings along Macomb Street present a great challenge, given the modest footprints of the lot and proposed building. Therefore the ARC has no objection to the current massing and siting proposal.
- The ARC does have concerns about the final resolution of materials and colors on the building and would like the opportunity for further review of the proposal in that regard. 1. The ARC requests a more tangible presentation (samples + detailed drawings) of proposed materials and colors. 2. Of concern is a portion of the upper east elevation of the apartment building (facing Macomb) that has an unwelcoming “party-wall” presence.
The motion passed 8-0.