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A New Look Unveiled For Georgetown West Heating Plant Residential Project

by Nena Perry-Brown

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The latest design for the West Heating Plant development.

Another new look for the proposed redevelopment of the West Heating Plant in Georgetown was presented on Thursday night.

The Georgetown Companies and the Levy Group have partnered with the Four Seasons to redevelop the plant site at 1051-1055 29th Street NW (map) into a 60-unit Four Seasons Residences Washington; the adjacent coal yard and oil storage area will be transformed into a one-acre public park with connectivity to the C and O Canal and area bike paths.

In what is the fourth design presented for the project, architect Sir David Adjaye presented a building that is an “interpretation rather than a preservation”, echoing the current building more closely. The west facade will be preserved because, unlike the remainder of the building, it has supportive concrete slabs; the other three facades will need to be demolished and reconstructed.

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A new rendering of the planned park.

The windows on the current building, which Adjaye described as “exclamation points”, will be replicated and increased in number, with ten each on the north and south faces. The east side will be similar to the current design in its symmetry while still distinguishable from the west side. There will also be a series of horizontal window strips along the penthouse level with hydraulic brick shutters that provide privacy and alter the exterior aesthetic of the building. Prior iterations alternated between more referential and preservationist designs and a more modernist style.

In landscape architect Laurie Olin’s latest design of the elevated triangular park, each corner will be an access point with stairs and pathways; there will also be an elevator for accessibility at the 29th Street entrance. A pedestrian bridge will be constructed at the most narrow point of where the Canal meets the creek.

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A previous design for the West Heating Plant.

Citing Adjaye’s other architectural work in the District such as the Hillcrest Library and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, those in attendance on Thursday night responded positively to the latest design, seeing it as a fitting transformation of a key site in the neighborhood.

The plant’s status as a contributing structure (and not a landmark) in a historic district, as well as inconsistent support from the community and reviewing agencies, many of whom appreciated the architecture of the building as-is, led to a series of conversations with the Office of Planning and Historic Preservation Office.

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Rendering of last year’s design option as seen from originally-designed public park.

The plan will now move forward into the historic preservation review phase, starting with a presentation to the ANC on April 3rd. The design will then be reviewed by the Old Georgetown Board on April 6th and, later this year, the Mayor’s agent. Afterward, the proposal will go before the zoning boards to seek a planned-unit development; more intensive environmental and traffic studies will also be done at this time.

Overall, the development will likely take at least four years: one year in historic preservation review, one year in zoning review, and 24 months of construction.

West Heating Plant development

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_new_look_for_the_georgetown_west_heating_plant/12319

4 Comments

  1. Brett said at 11:36 am on Friday March 10, 2017:

    Ugly. It’s a shame that the eastern gateway to beautiful Georgetown will be flanked by 3 ugly buildings: the Four Seasons, the Eastbanc gas station project, and this.

  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 2:00 pm on Friday March 10, 2017:

    I’m not hating on the design presented, but this development group continues to regard itself as above the law.  In the purchase contract, they agreed to specific provisions regarding the preservation of the existing building.  These provisions make conversion to luxury condos effectively impossible, but apparently they banked on their own ability to persuade review authorities at multiple agencies and levels to ignore their legal agreement. Also to ignore preservation law and standards, in which the demolition of over 3/4 of the building “fabric” would be a non-starter.

    As bad as that is, even worse is the consideration of what a rational adaptive reuse of the building—one that follows the rules and contract agreements—would be. A spectacular Eataly, somewhat like the one in Rome carved from a 1980’s train station.  An RFI store with the most spectacular rock-climbing gym on the East Coast. A multilevel specialty retail/restaurant emporium, perhaps (in general terms) like the Arenas in Barcelona, the adaptive reuse of an disused bullfighting ring.  And so forth.  Point is, taking the preservation seriously would give the city a unique, and possibly wonderful, venue of some sort.  I.e. the exact opposite of condos for the 1% of the 1%.

  1. kwillkat said at 6:14 pm on Friday March 10, 2017:

    It looks like…a heating plant.

  1. revitalizer said at 9:33 pm on Friday March 10, 2017:

    I say that the provisions put on this building is what is unreasonable.

Comments are closed.

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