Archive for the ‘Architecture’ category

Fossils at Park View School

August 17, 2017

A while ago I found a website that explores fossils in the architecture of Washington, D.C. by Christopher Barr. The site is organized by geological periods and shows examples of fossils that are in stone used in local buildings. I was immediate drawn to the sections on Sacred Heart Church and the Unification Church on 16th Street.

But as I reviewed the site, I suspected that we would also have fossils in the limestone used at the Park View School — and after inspecting the school, my hunch was right. As near as I can tell, the limestone appears to be Indiana Limestone from the Mississippian period. Below are photos of some of the fossils I found at the school.

(An area of trace fossils or, more technically, “ichnofossils”. These are located on the north side of the entry doors on Warder Street.)

(The structures that resemble netting are typically fenestrate bryozoans.)

Overview of Pepco’s Capital Grid Project

May 2, 2017

Diagram showing existing (green) and new (yellow) substations that will be involved in Pepco’s Capital Grid Project.

On the evening of May 1st, Pepco hosted Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners to brief them on their upcoming Capital Grid Project. The project’s goal is to build an underground transmission route through the District from the north to the south. This is necessary to create multiple pathways of power supply to connect multiple substations in the Capital area with higher electrical load capacity. In short, this creates a “networked system” that improves reliability and resiliency.

The underground transmission lines will be constructed from the Takoma Substation in Prince George’s County through the District to the Waterfront Substation. The feeders will travel approximately 10 miles, connecting five substations: Takoma, Harvard, Champlain, Mount Vernon (proposed) and Waterfront. The flexibility this will create will support faster service restoration and reduce the potential impact of major unforeseen event.

In our area, work will begin around Fall 2018/Winter 2019 in the area of New Hampshire and Georgia avenues and move south along Georgia Avenue through the Spring/Summer of 2019. On Georgia Avenue, the scope of work will close two of the four lanes as new transmission cables are put underground via trenching. Each night steel plates will cover the trenches. Work will continue down Georgia to Harvard or Gresham, before turning west to the Harvard Street substation.

The Havard Street Substation will also be upgraded and expanded as part of this project, with work commencing as early as 2019 and estimated to be completed around 2022 or 2023.

I will continue to share more information about the construction aspect of this project as we get nearer to the start date. Pepco will also be sharing information directly to the community.

Progress on the Old Arcade Sunshine/Linens of the Week Housing Project

April 14, 2017

The project to convert the old industrial laundry plant is progressing well. As you can see from the photos below, the foundation is being poured and the forms are starting to go in for the first floor. To see photos from February showing the excavation work, go here.

Work Continues with Park Road Church Project

March 15, 2017

Rowhouse at 633 Park Rd in process of being razed.

The project to redevelop the old church at 625 Park Road, the surface parking lot, and the rowhouse at 633 Park Road appears to be moving again. While work appeared to stall in mid-February, by the end of the month new fencing went up and over the past week the rowhouse at 633 has been razed. The approved plans are for new construction connected to the historic church to create 38 new housing units in the neighborhood.

Below are views of the property with the house razed.

 

Then and Now: Lithuanian Embassy on 16th Street

January 26, 2017

Recently I found a glass magic lantern slide showing the “Norwegian Ligation” located on 16th Street in 1912 (see below). The Norwegian embassy moved to a new building on Massachusetts Avenue in 1931, where it remains today.

1912-norway-lithuania-embassies(Lithuanian Embassy building on 16th Street in 1912)

Anyone familiar with the building will know instantly that the building in the photo is actually two buildings. the northern half is the Lithuanian Embassy, and the southern half was razed and replaced with a tall apartment building in 1965 which is jarringly incompatible with the surrounding architectural character of the area. However, I think it is easy to miss that the Lithuanian embassy building itself has also had an addition — not just in the rear but also on top. In this way, I think the expansion of the 1907 building was accomplished successfully. It is also good to see that Lithuania is a good steward of its building, and undertook a restoration of the limestone and terracotta facades in 2008, which can be seen here.

lithuanian-embassy-2017(View of Lithuanian Embassy and abutting apartment building as it appears today)

Raze Application Filed for 503 Park Road, NW

December 20, 2016

503 Park Rd NW(503 Park Rd. (center) may be razed in the near future.)

I was recent alerted that the neighborhood will likely lose one of Middaugh and Shannon’s original Park View houses, namely the duplex at 503 Park Road, NW. The single family house was constructed in 1907 and last sold on August 18, 2016, for $855,000 (see listing here).

Presuming that a raze permit is approved for the existing house, the following conditions would need to be met for a by-right project on the lot which is Zoned RF-1.

  • A new building, in the form of a single family rowhouse that is three stories and 35 feet high, may be constructed. There would be no side yard setback requirements and there would be a minimum 20 foot rear yard setback requirement.
  • A new apartment building would not be able to be constructed on the site as a matter of right. If this is proposed, a use variance would need to be approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment.
  • The new building could be constructed as a flat — or two dwelling unit building — as a matter of right.
I’m not aware of any other permit applications for this property at this time, but will post a follow up when more is know about this potential project.

 

Zoning Commission Hears Park Morton/Bruce Monroe Cases

December 9, 2016
The Zoning Commission heard testimony on the effort to redevelop Park Morton this week, with an outcome likely at the end of January.

The Zoning Commission heard testimony on the effort to redevelop Park Morton this week, with an outcome likely at the end of January.

This week, the Zoning Commission heard testimony on the related Planned Unit Development cases for the Park Morton “Build First” site at the Bruce Monroe site (ZC16-11) and for the existing Park Morton site (ZC16-12). The hearings occurred on  Monday, December 5th and Thursday, December 8th, respectively with hearings on both nights beginning at 6:30 pm and running 4-5+ hours. In addition to the applicant and ANC1A, the Bruce Monroe Park Neighbors and Park Morton Residents Council were granted party status in Case 16-11 and the Park Morton Residents Council was granted party status in Case 16-12.

No votes were taken at either hearing. Testimony for ZC16-11 is closed, and submission for ZC16-12 will close at the end of business on December 12th. Additional details/information requested by the Zoning Commission needs to be filed by January 10th, parties will have until January 18th to respond, and January 30th has been scheduled for the Commission to take action on both cases.

While both cases are discrete, it was well understood that the two cases are closely linked and often times testimony in one case referenced the other. The testimony for both the Bruce Monroe case and the Park Morton case was strongly in favor. While there was no notable opposition to the redevelopment of the site on Morton Street, there was notable testimony in opposition to the development planned for the Bruce Monroe site including the aforementioned Bruce Monroe Park Neighbors which has party status in the case. Those wishing to watch the testimony in both cases can do so. Video for both cases is available (ZC16-11 opening statements and testimony here; closing arguments hereZC16-12 here). Prior to the Commission making a decision on the Bruce Monroe site, they’ve requested that the development team meet with the Bruce Monroe Park Neighbors group and attempt to address their concerns.

Questions from Commissioners were encouraging, and seemed to drill down into details that would improve the project or provide better documentation so that the expected amenities would actually be provided. Perhaps the most important questions along these lines for community members had to do with the creation of the new 1 acre park at the Bruce Monroe site. While there was recognition that the park would be a significant amenity, the park itself is not included in the PUD application. To this end, the Commission has requested that appropriate language be included that documents as much detail as possible about the park such as size, location, and any other decisions that have been made. One Commissioner also suggested that perhaps language could be included that would require that the park be constructed and completed prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the buildings. There was also a request for more details on which entities would be responsible for creating and maintaining the park. At this time, the thoughts on this are that it would be a shared responsibility between the Department of General Services, the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the developer.

Commissioner May, in particular, drilled down into the architectural details of both applications. Notably, May and other commissioners commented that they would like a different brick used at the Bruce Monroe site, as white brick tends to get dirty quickly and didn’t really relate to the surrounding community. Commissioner Miller suggested that red brick be considered instead. There was also a sense that the rowhouses planned for the Bruce Monroe site could be more architecturally compatible with the neighborhood, and requested that the developer respond to that.

Testimony in opposition to the development at the Bruce Monroe site ranged from requesting that the buildings be shorter, expressing dissatisfaction with the community engagement process, claiming a lack of ANC representation (Commissioners Brown and Nguyen recused themselves due to conflicts of interest), and advocating to use the entire site as a permanent park.

While the long term use of the Bruce Monroe site has been a hot button issue in the community since the Bruce Monroe School was razed in 2010, Zoning Commission Chair Anthony Hood summed it up succinctly. While questioning Buwa Binitie of Dantes Partners early in the evening on Monday, Hood stated:

I believe when Bruce Monroe [school] was torn down, that I think everyone in this city knew that there was some type of development [that] was going to happen there. So that’s no surprise. I’m sure that even the new neighbors, I think when you bought into the neighborhood you knew there was going to be some type of development in the area.


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