Monday, October 9, 2023
ARC Members attending: Christine Hobbs, Ron Ngiam, David Kay, Danny Ince, Ana Evans, and Stefan Hurray. Also attending was Stephen Hansen, Executive Director, Cleveland Park Historical Society.
This meeting was held via ZOOM.
3427 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Owner: Sunil Chhabra, One Street
Agent: Rich Marcus, Rich Marcus Architect
The proposal for 3427 Wisconsin includes the construction of a new 23-unit apartment building on a to-be-vacant lot. Currently, two houses (3427 Wisconsin and 3433 Wisconsin) and two garages sit on the lot; all are contributing structures in the Cleveland Park Historic District. These houses will be relocated to Norton Place and Ordway Street. A version of the proposal was presented to the ARC on September 11, 2023. And prior to that, a similar project for the site was reviewed by the ARC in January 2022 and April 2022. In 2022, the ARC supported relocating the houses and garages but had concerns about the design presented. The ARC also noted the significance of the site as one of the entrances to the Historic District; the importance of aligning the mass of the apartment building and the relocated houses with the facades of the other houses on Norton Place and Ordway Street; and the importance of the design of the new building as it faces other contributing structures.
The current proposal again includes a linear building fronting on Wisconsin Avenue with four stories, a penthouse level, and a lower level. The front façade has four bays and a mix of materials with the bays distinguished from the building by a darker shade of finish. The primary material is a beige brick with the bays a gray cement board. The roof of the penthouse will be metal. The window design has not yet been finalized. The new building and the two relocated houses will sit on common property with no fencing between them.
In reviewing the September 2023 proposal, the ARC was encouraged by the suggestion of a townhouse- like façade in the front of the new building but had concerns about the massing of the building at the corners of Norton Place and Ordway Street and the alignment of the building with the façade of the houses on Norton and Ordway. The ARC also expressed concerns about the window design.
In reviewing the October presentation, the ARC appreciated the fact that the building was pulled back from the property line on Norton Place so that it will align with the houses on Norton Place and the addition of some details such as sills and cornices. The use of bays is an appropriate design element, as is the addition of a stone wall on Norton Place to match the existing walls along the street.
In reviewing this project, the ARC again notes the importance of this site. This site is at the intersection of a major urban street, Wisconsin Avenue, and an historic residential neighborhood. The site itself has an interesting geometry with the diagonal created by Idaho Ave and it presents an opportunity to create a significant building.
The ARC has the following concerns and suggestions.
- In addition to pulling the building back from Norton Place, the building should also align with the houses on Ordway with the relocated mass perhaps moved to the rear of the proposed apartment building.
- The bays, particularly the sides of the bays, should have finer detailing. The bays are presented as having brick sides and cement fronts. Typically, the front and sides of bays are a single material. Rather than gray, another color choice should be considered.
- The scale of the proposed windows does not read as residential. Placement and materials should receive more careful consideration.
- The building entrance facing Wisconsin Avenue should have more prominence.
- The Penthouse level should have more detailing.
Additional information including 3 D renderings from the east/rear side to the building as seen from Norton Place and Ordway Street will facilitate this review and provide contextual information concerning the relative heights and sizes as well as the setbacks and footprint of the building. The Wisconsin Avenue façade is important but so are the facades facing the contributing structures in the Historic District. This is prominent site, spanning an entire Wisconsin Avenue block and referencing the Historic District is an important consideration, an opportunity to make a significant statement.
The ARC would like to review this project again. The design is still being developed with additional drawing and information to be submitted after the ARC meeting.
The motion passed 6-0