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McMillan: Before and After on North Capitol

by UrbanTurf Staff

Vision McMillan Partners, the team behind the redevelopment plan of 25-acre filtration site on the northern edge of Bloomingdale (map), recently released before and after renderings illustrating the proposed North Capitol streetscape. The before and after images seen below were created by Interface Media and Shalom Baranes Architects.

In a Zoning Commission hearing a couple weeks ago to develop the site, commissioners delayed a decision on the massive project until late September. The development team will go before the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation on October 6th.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/mcmillan_before_and_after_on_north_capitol/8859

14 Comments

  1. tistis said at 3:11 pm on Tuesday August 12, 2014:

    Images 3 are inaccurate.  That’s the corner of Channing and North Cap.  Those buildings should be 1 block up.  The park should be illustrated instead.  Way to go on the details VML!

  1. tistis said at 3:13 pm on Tuesday August 12, 2014:

    oops, VMP!

  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 4:00 pm on Tuesday August 12, 2014:

    So the “vision” is a rehash of post-war rebuilding of German and Dutch cities?  Honestly, can’t we do better?!  Haven’t we learned any lessons from that era?

    These renderings look more like the hard-to-love midcentury buildings than 21st century buildings. Moreover, the only way the styling seems remotely place-specific would be the use of the “K Street Box” typology and the general preponderance of the color gray.  Both of these fulfill negative stereotypes of Washington, and for good reason.

    Especially given that a park is being created, and that many of these buildings will have health-care uses (related to the Hospital Center across the street), why are there no nods to current “evidence-based” design or sustainability elements?  These buildings should embrace plants and water, they should have screens to shield the sun (varying by exposure), they should use materials that healthcare design research has found to be healing, and so forth.  They should have some discernible relationship to the silos being preserved—material, form, something.  (“Contrast” by using completely different forms and materials is not a discernible relationship: it’s the repudiation of a relationship. Would it kill them to put in a brick, or a curve, both of which could also relate to the adjacent Bloomingdale rowhouses?)  These are the things that make architecture current, not a skin-deep adaptation of mid-century buildings and urbanism.

  1. Shaw Henry said at 4:12 pm on Tuesday August 12, 2014:

    Image 3 is from the corner of Evarts St NE and North Capitol, so the future buildings are accurately placed.  The location map is on our website, which Urban Turf did not include in the article.  The project architects, in addition to Shalom Baranes, include mv+a and David Jameson.

  1. Daniel Wolkoff said at 11:27 pm on Tuesday August 12, 2014:

    The DC community plan for sustainable agriculture and Saving McMillan Park is a project of Special Merit, not this pedestrian 3000 parking sspace, McDonalds development. Renee, NE landscape architect says, VMP has followed the most coercive, corrupt, forced and unethical process. the Sole source no bid contract, the paid PR firm, Jamie Fontaine Company from Baltimore to subvert community opposition, Trammel Crow paying Carmen Group $10,000 a month to lobby the corrupt city council. Your plan could not stand without this illegal, corrupt process. You are an embarrassment to your profession. 
    As a landscape architect that specializes in park design, the wonderful underground caverns of the McMillan sand filtration plant provide unique opportunity to create a truly creative and innovative destination worthy of the Nation’s Capital. In contrast, he VMP plan, although it has elements of good design, reads like a contrived suburban “town center”. The proposed Vision McMillan development will aggravate existing parking issues, increase traffic and overall congestion which will affect the ability of ambulances getting to hospital complex. The city has ignored the overwhelming opposition to the development of the McMillan site in favor of revenue during a time when the coffers are overflowing. There is ample underutilized privately owned industrial land in nearby NE DC. Why not develop there as opposed to this publicly held historic site? At a time when the density of the city is increasing dramatically, an existing historic public open space is proposed to be developed for a profit. The area does not have a large park. Let’s create one with 25 contiguous acres.

  1. Daniel Wolkoff said at 11:40 pm on Tuesday August 12, 2014:

    Brookland Landscape architect testifies to DC City Council Chair of Committee on Economic Development Muriel Bowser on Deputy Mayor and Vision McMillan Partners hiring Baltimore PR firm Jamie Fontaine Company to subvert “neutralize opposition”, and “create appearance of community support”. A hideous development forced down the throat of the community by unethical, illegal corrupt underhanded methods , atrocious DC corruption
      live City Council testimony,,click on this link to see the video
      http://youtu.be/uXkOgHV7Lhw
      We need this 25 acre park for sustainable “vertical agriculture, food and water security. Do not let this corporate atrocity destroy the park,
    PROUD? ANNE CORBET, cry , your so proud!Too bad you have nothing to be proud of!

  1. Jerry Peloquin said at 2:55 am on Wednesday August 13, 2014:

    In addition to the previous comments, note the loss of 20+ acres ... that’s almost a million square feet of usable space in the voluminous caverns used for actual water filtration.  (still an environmentally sound water purification method) These eminently adaptive caverns are going to be destroyed by this unimaginative and greedy development.  In addition, in order to justify destruction (so they can build multi storied office buildings) a developer paid engineer rendered a questionable analysis.  Contradicted by a previous city administrations findings.

    This is not smart development it is greedy, environmentally degrading exploitation, plain and simple.  It is one of the most egregious examples of The Growth Machine run rampant.

  1. Eric Schultz said at 8:59 am on Wednesday August 13, 2014:

    The proposed view includes a grocery store. The developer has not been able to find a grocery store for this site and if the plans submitted to the zoning commission are approved, no grocery store will be required. The developer specifically requested that the space could be any retail store.

  1. Joe on Flagler said at 9:56 am on Wednesday August 13, 2014:

    Daniel Wolkoff why revert to personal attacks?  It seems to be FOM’s modus operandi.  I really just don’t get it.  It is not helping your cause.

  1. JQH3 said at 10:12 am on Wednesday August 13, 2014:

    Renderings look great, let’s get this approved and built.

  1. Dobs said at 2:51 pm on Wednesday August 13, 2014:

    ^Seconded.  Enough of this “Save McMillan Brownfield” nonsense.

  1. Sherman Circle said at 3:58 pm on Wednesday August 13, 2014:

    The developer/arch. firm needs to copy-cat designs if they can’t manage to get out of their rut. It is incredibly difficult, even for folks that love new/contemporary design, to deal with this. I am dying to get this project started too but get the design right so that it would make me want to visit.

    There ARE better designed spaces out there. A few websites they can use for inspiration:

    http://www.dpz.com/Projects/All
    http://www.sethharry.com/tc_seatac_3.html
    http://www.globaldesignworkshop.com/portfolio/aphae-retail-and-entertainment-center/#mixed-use

  1. bikerindc said at 6:23 pm on Thursday August 14, 2014:

    What a travesty!  We’re trading a landmark of urban design and civil engineering, which was intended to serve the public with water and green space, for a drab and depressing row of office spaces and a few acres of corporate lawn, in which any of the original character of the space and structures is completely lost.  This is a missed opportunity in every respect to create a heritage for our city, especially this part of town that has no real green amenities at all.  Freidrich Law Olmstead is probably turning in his grave.  This, to say nothing of the disaster that will come with the additional influx of traffic to our residential neighborhoods.

  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 1:18 pm on Friday August 15, 2014:

    Just to be clear, my previous comments are aimed at the images & designs shown, not at the idea of developing this site.

    I’m in accord with Sherman Circle’s comment: These designs put supporters of densification in general and 21st-century design in particular on the defensive. These are not images that make one excited.  They are images that make one understand why most of the American public hates modern architecture. 

    It’s just so disappointing, in particular because the design team mentioned—Shalom Baranes, David Jameson, and mv+a, have substantial portfolios of excellent local projects.  That much talent should be able to make a 5-acre park function almost as well as a 25-acre park, silencing the greedy NIMBY opposition.  Stylistically, they should be able find marvelous riffs on the distinctive silos and underground vaults, demonstrating the ability of modern design to make great places.  But we’re sure not there now, if these “visions” are any indication.

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