OG 08-225

HPA number
HPA 08-343

Apple (retail store)
1229 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, (Square 1208, Lot 59)
United States

D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Apple (retail store)
Demolish existing structure and construct new building
Review Type


Dear Mr. Fay:

In its meeting of 19 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed concept design for the new structure to be located at 1229 Wisconsin Avenue, NW (case number OG 08-225, HPA 08-343). The Commission expressed appreciation for the level of detail developed for the street elevation, adopted the enclosed report and recommendation of the Old Georgetown Board to approve the concept design, and delegated final review to the Board.

We look forward to the final submission and, as always, the staff is available to assist you.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA

Benjamin Fay
Retail Development
Apple Inc.
1 Infinite Loop, MS 52-RD
Cupertino, CA 95014

cc: George Gordon, George Gordon Architects


OG 08-225 (HPA 08-343)
1229 Wisconsin Avenue, NW (Square 1208, Lot 59)
Apple Inc.
Demolition, New Construction

REPORT: The existing three-story building at 1229 Wisconsin Avenue was built in 1984 on two consolidated historic lots, with a total street frontage of 37 feet. The lot widths in this section of Wisconsin Avenue in the block north of M Street are typically in the range of 20 to 30 feet. The site is located in a highly intact historic group of buildings with a consistency of scale and age.

Numerous proposals have been filed for this property in the past two years, beginning with a concept application (OG 07-201) by George Gordon Architects on behalf of an unnamed client for the July 2007 meeting for a schematic three-story building elevation; the application was removed from that agenda by written request from the applicant. Under the same application, a revised design was submitted for review in September 2007. The Old Georgetown Board (OGB) was unanimous in its rejection of the concept design, specifically objecting to the unarticulated glass storefront and the incongruous scale of the proposal compared to the adjacent historic buildings. The board members encouraged the development of a modern, rather than traditional, design and said that the issue of scale was paramount; the chairman noted that if the openings were large, the scale of the glazing would need to be much smaller. Alternate design schemes were requested. Due to inactivity, staff returned the concept application to the District government in March 2008.

A series of submissions were filed under case number OG 08-225 (listing Apple as the owner) for new concept designs developed by the California office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson for review in the July 2008, December 2008, and February 2009 OGB meetings. The proposed designs continued to present large planes of unarticulated glazing or masonry across the full frontage of the property. At each review, the Board acknowledged the existing building could be replaced and repeated its support for a modern aesthetic but reiterated its concern about scale in relationship to the particular historic context; the members requested alternate design schemes and full documentation of the proposed building. In February 2009, the OGB indicated its support of the general concept proposed, incorporating a seamless glass storefront and four clerestory windows at the second level, provided the expanse of butt-glazed panels were modulated to address the Board's concern with the need for compatible scale.

Current Proposal: At the meeting of 5 March 2009, the OGB approved the concept design as revised, which includes: the modulation of the front plane of storefront with a custom steel frame system; a recessed entry; subdivided transom lights; and an adjustment of all the fenestration according to a unifying design module. The building height has been reduced; the applied cornice of earlier schemes has been revised as corbelling; the glazing has been reorganized and subdivided according to an eight-foot module. The proposed storefront frame is made of painted built-up steel bar stock extrusions on a low steel base and divides the glazing into sections flanking a central entrance recess; the top frame at the pair of doors continues across the entire storefront and suggests a transom subdivided by narrow mullions. An internally illuminated pendant Apple logo is suspended above the entrance. Documentation of the proposed design of the rear elevation and roof are also included. The rear of the building incorporates a ramp for below grade parking and brick walls with metal coping.

RECOMMENDATION: No objection to concept design for new building as shown in supplemental drawings received 10 March 2009 as presented and reviewed in the public meeting of 5 March 2009. File new submission of working drawings, including details and dimensions, with permit application for review by the Commission when ready.