Architectural Review Committee Report: June 2016

Cleveland Park Historical Society Architectural Review Committee

Monday June 13, 2016

ARC Members attending: Christine Hobbs, Win Brown, Phil Eagleburger, Danny Ince, Lois Orr, David Kay and Anne Weir.

Also attending was Carin Ruff, CPHS Executive Director


3406 Rodman Street N.W.

Agent: Catarina Ferreira, archi-TEXTUAL

The proposal includes the conversion of the existing 2-car garage into living space; a 7-foot fence; and a trash can enclosure. The garage faces the alley.

As part of the ARC review of this project, it came to our attention that there was presented to the ANC planning and zoning committee, as well as to HPO staff, an earlier version of the project than that which was presented to the ARC on June 13th. The earlier version was distributed to all ARC members in the week prior to its June 13th meeting, then swapped out a few hours prior to the ARC meeting. The ARC members took the opportunity (and the time) to thoroughly review the earlier version, since this was expected to be presented. Several ARC members were surprised to be presented with a scheme entirely different from what was first distributed to them. We then learned that the design changes were a result of the earlier consultations with the ANC committee and with the HPO staff.

Being familiar with both versions of the design puts the ARC in a good position to understand the specifics of the guidance provided by the ANC committee and the HPO staff. The ARC disagrees with that guidance and is of the opinion that the revised version of the design is a less appealing result and, more importantly, is not in concert with the goals and aspirations of the Cleveland Park Historic District. One of the most important tenets of the Historic District is to not stifle the type of exuberance that created the district to begin with. Of course that does not mean that anything goes, but it does firmly suggest that there is room for change and innovation within the historic context. As Kathy Wood wrote to the neighborhood when the ARC and the Historic District were new, “We want [the historic preservation review process] to encourage rather than discourage innovative architectural design.” (Voices 1.1, Spring 1987)

Many factors come into play when evaluating the possibility of such change: “contributing” vs. “noncontributing” status, visibility, size of lot, scope of changes, impact on context, etc. On the one hand, a proposal affecting a large, contributing, highly-visible property would rightfully receive great scrutiny. On the other hand, a proposal affecting a small, noncontributing structure, fairly well concealed from public view, should be given greater leeway and opportunity for creative expression. This proposed accessory structure falls within the latter category. The existing structure is small relative to nearby houses, on a back alley, amongst a mishmash of garages and fences of seemingly ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, pedigree – some well done, some not. The existing accessory structure, a 25 foot square, 2-car garage, with a simple, low-slope gable roof is not a particularly distinguished building type.

The original proposal called for breaking up the structure’s mass and altering its orientation, so that it would relate directly to its lot in a scaled and well-proportioned manner. It would animate and enliven the back alley to some degree. A small gesture, perhaps, but then that is precisely the point. We prefer not to stifle the “exuberance” exhibited by the original proposal and cause it to revert back to a tired, classic, poorly proportioned, model.

The neighbors have been contacted. The ARC neighbor consultation form is still outstanding.

The ARC has no objection to the proposal presented; however, the ARC urges approval and acceptance of the original design.

The motion passed 7-0


3056 Porter Street, N.W.

HPA #16-251

Agent: Ralph Cunningham, Cunningham|Quill

The proposal includes a side addition to the 1928 brick house. The addition would be brick and stucco. The house sits on a large, steeply-sloping lot, in the Ordway/Porter Street ravine. The side addition is placed in order to retain a portion of the rear yard that is flat and to avoid intruding into the ravine. The front porch would also be rebuilt and the basement floor would be lowered to create an 8 foot ceiling height. Another version of this project was scheduled for the March ARC meeting but was postponed. The neighbors reviewed these prior plans. The ARC neighbor consultation form for the current proposal is still outstanding.

The ARC has no objection to the proposal but has the following concern. The connector piece, part of the original house presents itself as part of the addition, due to the setback of the addition, the configuration of the roof across the second floor and the mud room door. The ARC suggests pulling the addition forward of the existing house in order to avoid this confusion.

The motion passed 7-0


3101 35th Street, N.W.

HPA #16-452

Agent: Ralph Cunningham, Cunningham|Quill

The proposal includes a two-story side addition and garage conversion. The 1923 brick house sits prominently at the northeast corner of 35th Street and Woodley Road. The front porch and steps would be redesigned and rebuilt, the garage would be converted into a studio and a swimming pool would be added in the rear. The side addition, 27 feet x 20 feet, 6 inches, would be smaller and subservient to the existing house with brick to coordinate with the existing house and a standing seam metal roof. There would be a new brick chimney on the north side and two new dormers on the east side (rear) of the house. New windows and doors would also be added in the rear.

The ARC neighbor comments form was submitted.

The ARC has no objection to the proposal but recommends that the original portico be reconstructed if documentation can be found. The motion passed 6-1.