Capitol Hill Restoration Society Rips Hine’s Signature Building Design – “We …Ask That This Building Not Be Given Conceptual Approval”
by Larry Janezich
The Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) today filed its recommendations regarding the conceptual design for Stanton/Eastbanc’s latest drawings on the Hine development, and took particular exception to the design of the project’s signature 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue building, calling it “the most problematic and controversial aspect of the buildings being considered at this time…. The report states, “[w]e do not find it compatible with the Capitol Hill Historic District and ask that this building not be given conceptual approval.
The report took issue with the building’s 90 foot height, noting it would be a third taller than neighboring buildings. At last month’s Historic Preservation Review Board Hearing, the staff suggested than a decrease in height could be accomplished by a top floor setback. That idea was employed by projet architect Amy Weinstein, but the committee deemed that approach insufficient for historic district compatibility, recommending instead dropping the seventh floor and setting back the sixth.
The CHRS also took issue with the architectural expression which “seems to build on (an)…industrial sensitivity as if it should be the main office in a warehouse or manufacturing facility.” The report singled out the rotating brick columns, saying they seemed to “compress and expand and appear to lean in different directions, totally confusing many viewers and negating the sense of firmness and apparent strength one expects…”
The report was slightly less critical of the project’s second building fronting Pennsylvania Avenue, that one at 8th and D Streets, noting that while the architect has improved the design, “it still retains a completely different identity than the rest of the 8th Street (residential) building in both materials and style.”
One of the CHRS’s concerns is that the “materials, color and design do not seem to relate to the Capitol Hill Historic District.” The Society again states flatly, “we do not think it is yet compatible with the Capitol Hill Historic District.” The report criticizes the 55 foot high building for its blockiness which lacks the traditional base-middle-top pattern evident in the Haines Building across the street.
With respect to the color and design of the patterns of brick panels the architect uses to provide texture to the façade, CHRS felt that” too many patterns in irregular placements” could be visually confusing, and urged continued study of this aspect.
CHRS had fewer issues with the residential portion of the building facing 8th Street and running from D to C Streets, generally approving the redesigned facade.
The Historic Preservation Review Board will meet next Thursday, June 30, to continue consideration of Stanton/Eastbanc’s historic preservation application for the project, focusing on the 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue office building and the 8th Street building. The HPRB will put off reviewing the project’s 7th Street office building, the C Street residential building until the July meeting.
The entire text of the CHRS Historic Preservation Committee will be available shortly on its website at: http://www.chrs.org/
The latest Stanton/Eastbanc drawings on the Hine project can be found here: http://hineschool.com