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How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park

by Nena Perry-Brown

How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 1
New rendering of Ladybird as viewed from alley

As the arduous application process for the SuperFresh redevelopment in AU Park commences, Valor Development has added renderings and perspectives to the record in response to concerns raised by the community and Zoning Commissioners alike. 

The Ladybird development would deliver two buildings at 4330 48th Street NW with a total of 239 residential units, a nearly 14,000 square-foot Balducci's and 2,300 additional square feet of retail.

How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 2
New rendering of Ladybird from Yuma Street

Architect Torti Gallas Urban has added windows to the south and west façades of the larger building in accordance with the Office of Planning's request for an improved pedestrian experience. Images have also been provided to illustrate how signage may appear on the buildings, although flexibility on the final design is still being requested.

How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 3
New rendering of Ladybird as seen from Massachusetts Avenue

The most interesting aspect to the application debate may be Citizens for Reasonable Development's (CRD) claim that the perspective renderings from Valor misrepresent the pedestrian vantage of the new massing. CRD commissioned renderings by Digital Design + Imaging that offer a significantly different interpretation of how the buildings would fit into the neighborhood.

As was discussed during a zoning hearing last month, Valor's previous renderings were prepared based on photos taken with an iPhone 7, which CRD contended (and the applicant has since researched and conceded) employs a wide-angle lens. Valor has since responded with new renderings from multiple vantage points created based on images from an iPhone 6, which the developer identifies as having a standard lens camera.

How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 4
Valor's previous rendering of Ladybird as seen down Windom; using iPhone 7
How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 5
CRD's newer rendering of Ladybird as seen down Windom
How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 6
Valor's newer rendering of Ladybird as seen down Windom; using iPhone 6

However, it is Valor's position that the only difference between the lenses is whether additional peripheral context is in view or not. The applicant has also stated that CRD's renderings serve to exaggerate the height of the new construction because they didn't include setbacks and façade articulations that influence the actual perception of height and imposition.

CRD has since submitted a new Visual Impact Study that has more nuanced renderings. It is CRD's position that the applicant's renderings were created using an inaccurate line of sight that misplaces where the new buildings would be positioned relative to the existing Spring Valley Shopping Center. CRD also asserts that the renderings may have been edited to misrepresent the height of the Shopping Center buildings.

How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 7
Previous rendering of Ladybird as seen from Massachusetts; using iPhone 7
How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 8
CRD's newer rendering of Ladybird as seen from Massachusetts
How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 9
Newer rendering of Ladybird as seen from Massachusetts; using iPhone 6

"The analysis shows that, through the use of a camera phone’s wide angle lens and image manipulation, the representation of the Ladybird building is distorted, and undersized by at least 19 percent," CRD's study states. "In addition, the Valor image of the proposed building is incorrectly located, further distorting the scale of the Ladybird building and its relationship with its surroundings."

The ZC will continue to hear the case on February 26th. Additional new renderings (based on iPhone 6 images) from the applicant are below.

How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 10
Newer rendering of Ladybird from 48th Street
How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 11
Newer rendering of Ladybird from southeast
How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 12
Newer rendering of Ladybird from Yuma Street
How the iPhone Impacts the Approval of a Contentious New Development in AU Park: Figure 13
Newer rendering of Ladybird from northwest

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the iPhone 6 has a standard lens camera; this statement is one made by the developer.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dueling-perspectives-may-determine-the-fate-of-lady-bird-application/13581

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