CHRS Criticizes Stanton-Eastbanc’s Hine Proposal – Urges Reconsideration of Major Features

CHRS Criticizes Stanton-Eastbanc’s Hine Proposal – Urges Reconsideration of Major Features

by Larry Janezich

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society issued a report to the city’s Historic Preservation Office (HPO) today that was strongly critical of the latest design proposal for the Hine Project.

Regarding the project’s Pennsylvania Avenue streetscape, the report states,   “[a]t this point, we do not think the proposed Pennsylvania Avenue streetscape is successful.  The buildings are not compatible additions to the Historic District, and the side-by-side massing of the two very large structures only emphasizes the problem.  We would welcome a ‘signature building’ but neither of these meet that criteria.”

The report goes on to say that the proposal submitted in 2009 which won the nod from the city, as well as a version put forward by Stanton-Eastbanc in February 2011, provided plans with more appropriate massing and or width.  “We are not sure why that concept was not pursued;”CHRS notes, adding, “[w]e recommend that the massing of both of these proposed buildings be re-studied.”

With respect to the office building at Seventh and Pennsylvania Avenues, the report states that the “building volume is simply too tall and large to blend gracefully with its Capitol Hill neighbors.  A significant reduction in height is necessary to achieve compatibility.”

The Board was also critical of the large amount of glass and the rotated corbelled columns on the office building:  “it is very difficult to assess and understand how this complex design would relate to the historic district …. It is a building and design that is better suited for new offices in a historic warehouse or industrial area where the scale would be in keeping with nearby buildings.”

As for the residential building at Eighth which faces Pennsylvania Avenue/D Street, the CHRS said it, too, “fails to be convincing as a Capitol Hill Building.”

It wasn’t all bad news for Stanton-Eastbanc.  The CHRS did like the restoration of the 700 block of C Streetto the L’Enfant grid, the triangle shaped plaza next to the 7th and C Streets intersection, the C Street entrances to the new North residential building, and the four story height of the Eighth Street residential building.

But they went on to criticize the redundant presence of the existing alley parallel to the newly to-be-reopened C Street, hinting, perhaps, that the north/south alley behind the restaurants and retail opposite Eastern Market should connect with the reopened C Street.

This notion received support from comments filed separately with HPO by CHRS Board member Monte Edwards, who said, “The plan should also include removal of the east-west alley (that largely duplicates the function of the reopened C Street) and restoration of the original alley connecting Independence and the restored C  Street.”

Other changes called for in the report included the following:

Eighth Street residential building:  Vary the roof line and style references (more balconies, articulated cornices and trim)

C Street facades:  Design architecture for theC Street facades with a “stronger identification with its location” in relation to Eastern Market and the adjacent commercial corridor.

North residential building:  (“building seems uncomfortably large for the location”), reconfigure the use of space (closing the alley would allow lowering the height – ed.), break up the façade on C street and consider store front bays for first floor retail there and on 7th Street, vary the roofline.

South Side of C residential building:  (“Severe, sharply angled, could be overpowering”), reduction in height of one story, other comments on architectural expression deferred until next review.

Seventh Street Office Buildings:  Reduce height to 58 feet – the height of the existing Hine School, other comments on architectural expression deferred until next review

Finally, the CHRS report urged developers to incorporate street trees and garden spaces so that this feature of Capitol Hill is maintained on all of the site’s streets.

It was unclear what process CHRS followed to generate these recommendations, since most of that process took place in private conversations or correspondence among the Historic Preservation Committee members or CHRS Board members.  It did seem, however, that the views of the Historic Preservation Committee held sway without much revision or comment.

ANC6b meets next Tuesday night to finalize its recommendations to the Historic Preservation Review Board.  A preliminary draft of their resolution appears in an earlier post to this blog.  The Special Call Meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. at Brent School.  The agenda includes an update from Stanton-Eastbanc, questions/comments from Commissioners, questions/comments from community, and commission deliberation on recommendations to the HPRB.

HPRB is scheduled to meet on Stanton-Eastbanc’s Historic Preservation application on Thursday, April 28.  #1 Judiciary Square, 441 Fourth Street, NW, Room 220 South.  It is the first of what is likely to be several reviews.  EMMCA will be among those groups to present recommendations to the HPRB.   The Hine project will be the last case of the day, scheduled for the afternoon.  Live or delayed video coverage of the meeting will be available at the following link:  (http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/Historic+Preservation)

5 Comments

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5 responses to “CHRS Criticizes Stanton-Eastbanc’s Hine Proposal – Urges Reconsideration of Major Features

  1. Thom

    Of course, what CHRS refers to as “the Pennsylvania Avenue” streetscape is actually the 700 block of Pennsylvania AND the 700 block of D Street north of Pennsylvania….two different streets.

    I don’t understand why CHRS insists on referring to a “Residential Building at Eighth, facing Pennsylvania,” which is essentially on the footprint of the Hine auditorium building. It’s on D Street, at the intersection of 8th and D Street, east of the intersection of D Street and Pennsylvania. Thinking about the street geography accurately helps in understanding what’s wrong with a 6 story building at that site.

    Generally, I thought the CHRS letter was extremely well thought out and deserves study by everyone. It’s now up on their website:

    http://www.chrs.org/

  2. Christine McCoy

    Couldn’t have said it better myself! Well done!

  3. Pingback: Morning Links: Restorations - Housing Complex - Washington City Paper

  4. Maggie Hall

    CHRS is to be commended for picking-up on all the disquiet…. its statement is tantamount to telling Stanton to go back to the drawing-board.

  5. John Hughes

    This posting at a popular blog has an important commentary related to the massing of the Hines site redevelopment:
    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2011/04/nobody-will-take-mass-transit-to-work-unless-you-build-tall-buildings-near-the-stations/