Architectural Review Committee Report, July 2018

Cleveland Park Historical Society Architectural Review Committee

Monday, July 9, 2018

Cleveland Park Congregational Church, 3400 Lowell Street, NW

REPORT

 

ARC Members attending: Christine Hobbs, Stefan Hurray, Ron Ngiam, and Lois Orr.

Carin Ruff, CPHS Executive Director, also attended.

 

3300 Newark Street, NW

Owners: Sean Ruppert, OPaL, LLC, and Whitestone Property Group, LLC, Laine Shakerdge

This property was presented in an advisory capacity. It has not yet been submitted to HPRB and is not on the current ANC calendar. It is anticipated that it will be presented to the ARC, the ANC and HPRB in September.

The proposal includes a rear addition and deck on a 1920 Dutch Colonial Revival house. The addition would be 1,100 square feet of finished space and 780 square feet of unfinished space, the latter being primarily a two-car garage. In addition, there would be a deck across the rear of the house. The rear addition would extend six feet from the east side of the existing house and 19 feet from the west side of the house. No changes are proposed for the front, with the possible exception of opening the front portico. A landscaping plan and a list of materials have not yet been developed.

The ARC has the following comments:

  • The rear addition should be subservient to the original historic house. Of particular concern is the tower in the southeast corner.
  • The deck should be made smaller and lower, so that it does not appear to tower above the ravine.
  • The ARC notes that there are other additions and decks on nearby houses that extend further into the ravine than this current proposal. We do not know when each of these was constructed and they should not be taken as precedent. The scale of the proposed deck and addition should respond to the original historical scale of the house as well as its setting on the ravine.
  • The September presentation should include a complete package, including existing and proposed elevations, as outlined on the CPHS website. (https://www.clevelandparkhistoricalsociety.org/historic-district/preservation-design-review/) Additionally, a rendering of how the proposed addition will look when viewed uphill from the rear yards on Macomb Street would be helpful.
  • A more detailed presentation of the ravine including the run of the stream would be helpful in order to evaluate the impact of the addition on the ravine.

 

3414 Porter Street, NW, HPA 18-512

Owner: Nicolas Durand

The proposal includes the installation of solar panels on a 1925 semidetached house. The panels would be a total of four inches high, two inches of panel and two inches of clearance above the roof. The panels would have a black rim and be located on the west and south sides of the house.

The ARC had no objection to the proposal as presented. The motion passed 4-0.

 

Uptown Theatre, 3426 Connecticut Avenue, NW, HPA 18-384

Agent: Brenda Merritt, MC Sign Company; Hossein Hamed, Econosign Inc.

The proposal is to replace the existing “UPTOWN” neon sign with a sign lit with LED lighting. The sign would have the same color and warmth as the existing sign and be the same four feet in height. A dimmer would be used to facilitate this effect. The current neon sign is beyond repair, according to the representative of the company that would replace the sign. Also, the state of disrepair of the current sign is creating an environmental issue with the presence of mercury.

Also proposed is the addition of three two-foot high signs that read “AMC”. These signs would be placed on the front and sides of the marquee.

The ARC encourages the creation of a physical mock up. It is our understanding that such a mockup will be presented at the upcoming ANC meeting on July 16.

The ARC has no objection to the replacement of the “UPTOWN” sign as presented. The ARC thinks that only one “AMC” sign should be added on the front marquee.

The motion passed 3-1, with the 1 proposing that there be no “AMC” sign on the front marquee.

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Architectural Review Committee Report, June 2018

Cleveland Park Historical Society Architectural Review Committee

Monday, June 11, 2018

REPORT

ARC Members attending: Christine Hobbs, Danny Ince, David Kay, and Ana Evans. Also in attendance: Carin Ruff, CPHS Executive Director.

                                                                             

3419 30th Street, N.W., HPA 18-129

Owner: Emily Woglom

Agent: Evelyn Pierce Smith, Evelyn Pierce Design Studio

The house was built in 1924 and is a contributing structure to the historic district. The proposed alternations include a one-story rear addition, repairing and replacing in kind the front walk way, landing and steps, and replacing the front door. The front landing would increase in size from 3 feet to 6 feet. The new rear addition would measure approximately 15 feet by 13 feet, 6 inches. The roof would be subordinate to the existing house and the siding would match the existing siding. The existing rear bump-out would remain but with an enlarged landing and new wood stairs.

The ARC has no objection to the proposal as presented.

The motion passed 4-0.

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Architectural Review Committee Report, May 2018

Cleveland Park Historical Society Architectural Review Committee

Monday, May 14, 2018

REPORT

ARC Members in attendance: Phil Eagleburger, Lois Orr, Stefan Hurray, Anne Weir, Danny Ince, Tina Mead, Ana Evans, David Kay, and Ron Ngiam. Also in attendance: Carin Ruff, CPHS Executive Director.

 

3512 Lowell Street, NW, HPA 18-366

Agent in attendance: Amanda Mosher, Anne Decker Architects.

Designed by Davis Palmer for owner and builder Charles H. Taylor, 3512 Lowell Street was constructed in 1916, and is an important contributing property within the Cleveland Park Historic District. The subject property is a two-story stucco-clad house with a tiled, hipped roof with projecting eaves. Off the east and west ends of the house are two-story, hip-roofed wings, dates unknown, but which have the appearance of original porch wings that have been altered and enclosed over time. A free-standing two-bay garage with a tile and standing seam metal roof is located at the rear of the property. The fenestration throughout the house consists of a mix of window styles and sizes, the result of multiple alterations over time.

The proposed work is primarily interior work, with modest exterior changes, window changes, and shallow porch additions on the rear and sides of the house. The interior work essentially removes all vestiges of interior character-defining features of the main floor of the house. However, interior changes are not the purview of the ARC. The exterior changes go a long way to regularizing and “quieting” the cacophony of fenestration that has evolved over the years. The proposed porches however, use a design motif that essentially mimics the existing front porch, and this has the effect of essentially disguising distinction between old and new work, which is not in keeping with goals of the Historic District. The ARC recommends taking a distinctive approach for the porch motifs.

That said, the ARC has no objection to the proposal as presented.

The motion passed 9-0.

 

3415 Porter Street, NW, HPRB 18-129 (Revised proposal)

Owner: Etienne Yehoue; agents in attendance: Jonas Carnemark and Michael Gillen of Carnemark Design Build.

The existing frame and siding-clad house was built in 1920 and is a contributing structure in the Historic District. The existing house has survived cosmetic changes over the years and still maintains its essential, modest, two-story, hipped-roof, box form of about 24’ x 34’ footprint. Existing rear attachments and alterations appear to be of no critical value. There are two very modest dormers on the long sides of the roof, also seemingly of limited value.

The current proposal has addressed some of the concerns raised in the previous ARC review, including importantly, providing an accurate, coherent set of drawings describing the proposed work and how it relates to the existing house.

The proposal adds a three-story addition to the rear of the existing two-story house, after removal of the existing rear additions. This is achieved by: 1. Extruding the existing length of primary mass of the house by about 14 feet (40% longer), and 2. adding a modest roof pop-up of about 30 inches higher than the existing roof (eaves raised by 30”). Other changes include the removal of an existing one-car garage on the alley and the corresponding addition of a new one-car garage attached to the rear of the house. Finally, even though the existing original material (under the existing cladding) is wood siding, the proposal calls for an all-new stucco finish.

The ARC does not object to the concept of an addition to rear of this house nor to the reasonable changing of fenestration proposed. However, there is a significant issue that did not get addressed from the previous iteration. From the previous ARC write-up, “…The new mass should be subordinate to and distinct from the original house, not dominant.” This proposal significantly alters the existing primary mass by extruding it without any clear break and also by popping up the entire existing roof along with the overall height of the existing house. The integrity of the original primary mass should be retained. Additional living space can be achieved in a couple of ways:

  • Adding a two-story addition to the rear while also providing a clear break between the existing primary mass and the addition.
  • Adding attic level space (3rd floor) through the use of new shed dormers. This would be more easily done by NOT also adding ceiling height to the existing 2nd floor, as shown in the current proposal.

The ARC also is not in support of removing the existing garage and recommends that any work done to the garage be done in its existing location, in keeping with the pattern set by the existing garages arrayed along the same alley.

Finally, as previously stated, the type of finish extant on the original (clapboard, concealed under the existing siding), should be either restored or replaced in kind. Paintable, decay-resistant cementitious clapboard is an acceptable, practical substitute.

The motion passed 9-0.

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Architectural Review Committee Report, April 2018

Cleveland Park Historical Society Architectural Review Committee

Monday, April 9, 2018

Cleveland Park Congregational Church, 3400 Lowell Street, NW

REPORT

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

 

3552 Quebec St., NW, HPRB 18-305

Architect: Lucrecia Laudi, Hunt Laudi Studio

New rear dormer on noncontributing property (1960).

The house was built in 1960 and is a semi-detached, brick townhouse with cooper detailing in the front and rear. The house is classified as a noncontributing property in the Historic District. The proposal includes a new rear dormer on the third floor which would not be visible from the front of the house and the addition of a window on the east-facing third floor. The materials are yet to be determined, but may include cooper to reflect the existing detailing.

The ARC has no objection to proposal as presented. The motion passed 9-0. However, the ARC suggests that the new dormer be set back one foot. This motion passed 7-2.

 

3415 Porter Street NW, HPRB 18-129

Owner: Etienne Yehoue

Three–storey addition/roof alterations at rear of contributing property (Sonnemann & Justement, 1920.)

The frame and siding-clad house was built in 1920 and is a contributing structure in the Historic District. The proposal presented includes a three–storey addition and roof alterations at the rear of the building. Construction would involve removing the existing rear of the house and rebuilding the first two floors and adding a third floor. The entire existing slate roof would also be removed and replaced with materials to be determined. The existing rear dormers would be removed and replaced with a flat roof. The shutters would also be removed and the siding replaced with stucco. Various windows would be removed or moved. The existing garage, which is in the rear of the property, would be moved to the rear of the house so that it joins the house and creates a deck on the first floor.

The materials presented to the ARC for review were incomplete and inconsistent both internally and with the oral presentation. The ARC was therefore unable to support the proposal as presented. The motion passed 9-0.

In anticipation of receiving a revised presentation, the ARC has the following comments on the proposal as presented:

  • Since the building is a contributing structure, it is important that the historic character and elements of the building be retained. The change of materials from siding to stucco, the removal of the existing slate roof, the removal of the shutters, the removal and moving of various windows and dormers all impact the historic character of the building. The applicant should determine the original siding of the structure and also whether the garage was contemporaneous to the house.
  • It is important how the mass of the new addition relates to the existing house. The new mass should be subordinate to and distinct from the original house, not dominant. This is not accomplished in this proposal.

The future presentations to the ARC should include existing and proposed elevations of all four sides of the house; photographs of all sides of the house; before and after site plans; and existing and proposed floor plans. These should be presented side-by-side with the scale consistent across drawings. The ARC provides guidance on the elements of a complete presentation on the Cleveland Park Historical Society web site. (https://www.clevelandparkhistoricalsociety.org/historic-district/preservation-design-review/ – presentingtothearc)

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Architectural Review Committee Report, February 2018

Cleveland Park Historical Society Architectural Review Committee

Monday, February 12, 2018

REPORT

ARC Members attending: Christine Hobbs, Lois Orr, Stefan Hurray, Phil Eagleburger, Tina Mead, Win Brown, David Kay and Ron Ngiam.

Also attending was Carin Ruff, CPHS Executive Director.

 

3505 34th Street, N.W.

Owners: Rivera-Kicker

Agent: Jeffery Broadhurst, Broadhurst Architects

The house was originally built in 1929 and is constructed of masonry and stucco with half timbering detail. The proposal includes a rear addition and new window openings on the south side elevation. The front door, which is not original to the house, and several non-historic windows in the front will also be replaced with divided light wood windows. The existing rear frame enclosed porches will be removed prior to the construction of the new two-story plus basement and roof deck rear addition which will add an additional 150 square feet to the house. The new rear addition will consist of a brick foundation and glass and cement board walls on the upper levels. This addition protrudes approximately 9 inches past the side façade of the house.

The ARC is concerned about the dominance and boxiness of the addition. The ARC suggests that the addition, rather than protruding beyond the plane of the south wall of the house, be inset in keeping with the usual practice for additions in the historic district so that it appears to be a subservient rather than a dominant attachment to the original house.

The ARC appreciates the completeness of the package submitted.

The motion passed 8-0.

 

3410 Macomb Street, N.W.

Owner: Menkes

Agent: Alex Smith, Hamilton Snowber Architects

The frame and stucco house was constructed in 1920. The proposal includes a new one-story rear addition with basement and the replacement of the aluminum siding with cedar shingles on the upper floors. The existing 9 foot deep, two-story rear addition will be removed and replaced by a 19 foot, plus 6 foot bay one-story addition. The new rear addition will be stucco with a stone veneer foundation. The existing windows will also be replaced and the front columns will be repaired as necessary. On the south side, a new larger window will be installed on the second floor.

While the ARC has no basic objection to the proposal, the ARC is concerned about the short, flattened, significant footprint of the proposed one story first floor addition in conjunction with the entire removal of the historic rear sleeping porch (subsequently enclosed). Retention of the second floor sleeping porch is recommended as a means to soften the abrupt stepping down of the proposed mass.

The motion passed 6-1.

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The UPTOWN Sign *UPDATE 7/31: AMC will keep the sign!*

Uptown Theater opening night, October 1936AMC Theaters spokesman Ryan Noonan issued this statement this afternoon: In response to community feedback, AMC will maintain the Uptown signage, with an upgrade to LED lighting for better energy efficiency and to ensure the sign remains in good working order. We continue to evaluate additional exterior signage plans, including the addition of the AMC brand on the theatre. We appreciate the passion and feedback from the community, and look forward to serving moviegoers at AMC Uptown 1 for years to come.”

The DC Historic Preservation Office (HPO) has canceled AMC’s application and will require a new application from them for any further signage they may propose, as well as for the proposed change to LED for the Uptown sign. Once HPO has received an application with the specifics of the proposed change, if they determine that a change in lighting technology would not alter the character of the sign, they will approve it administratively. If they believe there would be a change to the character of the sign, they will send it to the neighborhood (ARC and ANC) for review. We will update when we know more.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to AMC, contacted them via social media, and expressed concern to us and love for the Uptown’s iconic sign. And special thanks to ANC Commissioner Emma Hersh for being out in front on this issue all weekend. [Read more…]

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Architectural Review Committee Report: July 2017

Cleveland Park Historical Society Architectural Review Committee

Monday, July 10, 2017

REPORT

ARC Members attending: Christine Hobbs, Lois Orr, David Kay, Stefan Hurray, Phil Eagleburger, Ana Evans, and Ron Ngiam.

Also attending was Carin Ruff, CPHS Executive Director.

 

3618 Ordway Street, N.W.

Owner: Pamela Steele

The house, constructed in 1924 (or 1922) in a farmhouse or vernacular style, is currently undergoing a rehabilitation and rear addition. In connection with this project, the owner presented a front porch design for concept review. The concept porch is nine feet square covered with a shallow hipped roof and not centered on the front door. Materials for the porch would match the existing materials.

The ARC finds the concept to be an inappropriate solution because the proposed roof shape and decorative detailing do not relate sufficiently to the existing house and because the proportions of the proposed porch break up the historic façade of the house rather than complementing it. The ARC recommends that the front porch be either a smaller structure, presenting as a portico that would echo the design of the existing door surround, or a full front porch that would echo the design of the main roof.

The motion passed 6-1

 

3610 Macomb Street, N.W., HPA 17-485, concept/rear addition

Owner: Martin

Agent: David Jones, Jones & Boer Architects

The proposal for this foursquare house includes a two-story and a one-story rear addition as well as a small one-story addition on the east side of the house. The existing two-story rear sleeping porch addition would be removed. Several existing windows would also be removed and new window openings added on the east, west and south sides of the house. Materials for the roof, stucco and windows would match the existing materials.

The ARC recommends that the two-story addition at the rear (southwest) corner of the house be treated in such a way that the distinction between the house’s main volume and the original sleeping porches is not erased. The addition should be differentiated and acknowledge the original form of the house.

The motion passed 7-0.

 

3031 Macomb Street, NW

Owner: Bronwyn Bruton

The proposal for the Sherman cottage built in 1906 incudes the construction of two dormers in the rear of the house and the repositioning of a third-story rear window. While the address of the house is Macomb Street, the front of the house faces Ross Place and one of the proposed dormers would be visible from Macomb street. The materials would match the existing materials.

Since the proposal is consistent with the original style of the house, the ARC had no objection to the proposal as presented.

The motion passed 7-0.

 

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Connecticut Avenue Issues: Resources and Studies

The CPHS board and staff have been following closely the conversations taking place in the neighborhood about the stresses on our Connecticut Avenue commercial district. We have been attending, and will continue to participate in, meetings with neighborhood organizations and merchants to explore ways to support neighborhood businesses and revitalize Connecticut Avenue.

Our Preservation Task Force (PTF), a newly-formed committee of the board, is studying the issues involved from a historic preservation perspective. The PTF’s mandate is to make recommendations to the board on preservation-related policies and advocacy. The PTF includes five members of the board, including two ARC members. Contact the PTF by email. 

While discussions are ongoing, we wanted to share as much useful information as we can to help inform the conversation, including historical, historic preservation, and zoning information, and studies commissioned by neighborhood and DC organizations. We will continue to update this post with more resources.

MARKET STUDIES

The 2017 Neighborhood Profiles directory by the Washington, DC Economic Partnership provides demographic and economic data for 54 neighborhood commercial areas, including Cleveland Park, with a focus on population in the half-mile walkshed for each.

This Commercial Market Analysis and Enhancement Strategy for Cleveland Park (October 2016) was commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and shared with us by the Cleveland Park Business Association.

ZONING

The Neighborhood Mixed Use Zones subtitle of the current (2016) zoning code, which includes the Cleveland Park zone NC-3.

HISTORIC PRESERVATION

Understanding the Cleveland Park Historic District

This page has a map of the historic district showing contributing and noncontributing buildings, and links to our National Register of Historic Places nomination, which provides a detailed history of the Park & Shop and the Connecticut Avenue business district and the arguments for their significance on which our historic status is based.

This 1991 issue of our newsletter reports on the addition to the Park & Shop that was reviewed by HRPB and built that year. Other early issues of Voices provide perspective on 1980s activism to preserve the neighborhood-serving retail district on Connecticut Avenue.

DC Historic Preservation Law

DC’s preservation law and regulations are posted here: https://planning.dc.gov/page/hp-laws-and-regulations .

This Georgetown Law Library site (which originated with Tersh Boasberg’s preservation law seminar) aggregates all kinds of useful resources on DC preservation law: https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/handle/10822/761426

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Architectural Review Committee Report: June 2017

ARC Members attending: Christine Hobbs, Lois Orr, David Kay, Stefan Hurray, Danny Ince, Phil Eagleburger, Anne Weir, and Ron Ngiam.

 

3030 Macomb Street, NW

Owners: Robert Welp and Carmel Martin

Agent: Robin McGrew, Cunningham|Quill

Located on Macomb Street, facing Ross Place, the property is adjacent to the Tregaron Conservancy on the south. The original house was built in 1906 with a major addition added in 1999. The proposal includes the enclosure of a smaller side front porch which was added during the 1999 renovation and is located on the east side of the house. The proposal also includes the replacement of windows on the east, south and west sides of the house on the first floor, the addition of a rear screened porch on the lower level and new landscaping. The neighbors have been contacted.

The ARC has no objection to the proposal but suggests that horizontal elements be added to the new fixed glass panels particularly on the east side which is visible from the street.

The motion passed 8-0.

 

2938 Newark Street, NW

Owner: Judy Hubbard

Agent: Jane Treacy, Treacy Eagleburger

The house was built in 1923. The proposal includes the construction of an extension of the front porch roof on the front and east side of the house in order to extend the roof to the entry vestibule. Materials would match the existing materials. The neighbors have been contacted.

The ARC has no objection to the proposal.

The motion passed 7-0 with one recusal.

 

3225 33rd Place, NW

Owner: Matthew Offen

Agent: Henry Chuang, Thomson & Cooke

The proposal includes the construction of a new garage off the public alley that runs from 33rd Place between Macomb and Lowell and is parallel to both 33rd Place and Macomb Street. The proposed garage is 20 feet in height with the garage door being 9 feet in height and the structure would be 647 square feet in area. The prior garage was heavily damaged by a fallen tree. The proposed garage is significantly larger than the neighboring garages. Materials include brick and hardiplank. The neighbors have been contacted.

While the proposed garage is not visible from the street, the ARC finds the proposed structure to be too massive in size and height and encourages the owners to redesign a smaller structure more in scale with the existing alley structures.

The motion passed 8-0.

 

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Architectural Review Committee Report: May 2017

ARC Members attending: Phil Eagleburger, Tina Mead, Danny Ince, Anne Weir, Ron Ngiam, Win Brown, Stefan Hurray, and David Kay. Also attending were Carin Ruff, CPHS Executive Director and Nick Netchvolodoff, CPHS Board President.


HPA 17-247: 3035 Rodman Street, NW

Concept/two-story rear addition (revised)

Owners: Federico Asch and Ana Barac

Agent: KUBE architecture

The house is a Sears kit house built in 1921. The proposal includes the demolition of several previous rear additions, the construction of new rear additions and deck, and new dormer on the east side. The siding on the front of the new second story dormer would match the existing siding. In the rear, hardieplank would be used. The neighbors have been contacted. This the second presentation of the proposal, which has been revised reflecting feedback.

The ARC commends the breaking up of the massing of the rear addition into stepped components of rear dormer, first floor addition, and base (basement) addition. Aligning the sides of the upper two components and having those placed symmetrically in plan on the rear massing of the house are also improvements.

The new east dormer, however, should precisely mirror the size, length, and profile of the existing west dormer. Its prominence and visibility from the front require deference to the pronounced symmetry of the Sears house’s original façade. As presented it extends too far to the east. (See note.) Although an argument could be made that the two dormers should be differentiated to distinguish new work from old, if the difference is too subtle, the ill-proportion dormer (the longer one) will be perceived as a “mistake” or bastardization of the original dormer. The better option is simply to match the original, if a dormer is to be added at all. The ARC feels that deferring to the symmetry of the original house is the overriding concern.

The motion passed 6-2.

Note: The previous ARC recommendation that the east dormer “be indented two feet to reflect the existing dormer,” was intended to do just that: literally reflect the existing dormer and it was expected that the two feet cited would achieve that. Somehow this did not achieve that intent but regardless, and as a possible clue to the confusion, it should be noted that there are numerous drafting errors on the current drawing package (4/28/17): Dwg#2 on A-117 incorrectly shows the intersection of the line of the NE roof hip, and the side of the proposed rear dormer; Conversely Dwg#2 on A-119 incorrectly shows the same condition (NW roof hip and side of rear dormer); Additionally on Dwg#2 on A-118 the existing west dormer (shown in the distance to the right of the rear dormer) is not consistent with what is shown on the west and south elevations – It appears to be shown too short in length, which may have lent to the “two feet” instruction noted above.


HPA 16-053: Tregaron, 3100 Macomb Street NW

Revised concept/construction of new classroom building and site alterations at Washington International School

Agents: Clayton Lewis, Head of School and Doug Bothner, Ziger/Snead

Several previous proposals have been presented by the school. (Please see previous ARC reports for brief background and proposal descriptions). The current proposal, Revision #4 (April 28, 2017), responds to previous criticism by reducing the footprint by ~30%; reducing the height from 31’ to 28’; reducing the building length by 39%, for a total length of 81’; and preserving most of the woodland slope behind the existing gym.

Approximately twenty concerned neighbors attended the meeting, primarily those who border the north side of the property, on Macomb Street. Those who spoke expressed various concerns, from disagreement with the style of the design, to disagreement with placement of any building in the proposed location. Several who spoke raised issues that are not within the ARC’s purview, such as construction management and parking demand management. ARC also received three letters, one supporting the project, and two against the project.

The ARC reviewed the project within the context of four major categories: siting, campus effect, massing, and materials.

Siting:

Within the context of the historic house, landscape, and property, the ARC concludes that the placement of the proposed building on the edge of the north slope neatly conceals the addition from the important viewsheds of and about the historic house while at the same time addressing the haphazardness of the “backside” of the academic campus that has evolved over the years. The several iterations of the proposal have resulted in several reductions in size, to a point that the size of the current proposal is more in keeping with existing buildings on the campus.

One attendee pointed out that the current proposal no longer wraps the backside of the existing gym, leaving its haphazard side exposed. The ARC considered this, but concluded that the dense foliage that would remain under the current proposal mitigates the exposure of the existing gym. As noted in a previous review, the ARC thought that the insertion of the building in the proposed location was acceptable relative to the total acreage of the property and felt that the project represented a reasonable evolution in the usage of the property that was sufficiently respectful of the historic landscape.

Campus effect:

The ARC feels that the proposed building would lend unity and focus to the ensemble of historic buildings and help define them as a campus. It would improve the hierarchy of buildings and connections, both internal and external, producing a pleasing, thriving amenity that complements the Cleveland Park neighborhood as a whole.

Massing:

The reductions in size and massing over the several iterations of the design have been notable. The ARC believes that the current massing is now quite comparable to that of the adjacent carriage house. The roof profile also fits with the existing higher buildings on the campus. Therefore, the proposed building appears to fit well with the existing group.

The ARC has one concern, however: the prominence of the tallest corner of the addition that is physically situated closest to Macomb Street. The removal of the previously-proposed portion of the building that was to have wrapped the existing gym exposed and made more prominent that remaining corner of the addition. This may or may not be a problem but it should be noted as an issue of concern to be addressed in the course of further development of the design.

Materials:

The ARC agrees with the concept of reducing the variety of materials used to render the building. There is also general agreement among ARC members on the mix of glass planes, steel verticals, and silvery masonry base, and with the notion of a “pleated” look to the façade, and a contemporary character to the style of the building. Several public attendees registered negative views of these features, some preferring more receding or a more traditional style.

Additionally, there was some discussion at the public meeting about the path of the sun and whether it would or would not shine directly on the north façade. The proposed building does not face precisely due north (it is rotated somewhat to the east). Nevertheless, the ARC concludes that the low angle of the rising summer sun coupled with dense foliage of mid-summer would mitigate direct reflections.

The ARC concluded that the state of the design of the materials at this point is as yet not clearly resolved, and perhaps teeters between being terrific or being not good at all. One public attendee likened the look to a “shipping container.” Careful execution of the particulars of the exterior rendering of the building will be essential to avoiding too boxy an appearance and to the success of the intention to make the building disappear in the surrounding woods.

Related to the materials discussion is the question of whether foliage will completely conceal the building or not. There are differing opinions on what is possible or desirable in this regard. Some public attendees thought that the building should be totally concealed and believed that the collateral damage to trees from construction, coupled with the time required for new growth, was an untenable prospect.

The ARC acknowledges the concerns about limiting loss of trees and encouraging speedy new growth. However, in keeping with its architectural review mandate, the ARC is evaluating the proposal as a permanent addition to the ensemble of buildings within the landmark, in the context of a natural landscape that will be continually growing and changing around it. By that standard, the proposed building is a compatible addition to the historic estate and to the Cleveland Park Historic District.

The motion passed 8-0.

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