3401 Water Street, NW
Dear Mr. Lavin:
In its public meeting of 21 April conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed concept design for a new hotel at 3401 Water Street, NW (case number OG 22-069). The Commission approved the concept submission, adopting the report of the Old Georgetown Board and providing the following comments.
The Commission members expressed strong support for the new building addition, which they characterized as simple and elegant, and they emphasized that careful specification of the brick will be essential to realizing this thoughtful concept. For the development of the design, they advised reconsidering the treatment of the narrow space between the existing warehouse facade and the new building, as this area would likely not be viable for plants other than moss.
The Commission and the Old Georgetown Board look forward to further review of this project. Please coordinate the next submission with the staff, which is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
148 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
cc: Maarten de Geus, Concrete Architectural Associates
Encl.: Report of the Old Georgetown Board, 21 April 2022
OG 22-069 (HPA 22-070)
3401 Water Street, NW
(Square 1183, Lot 813)
Construct five-story plus penthouse addition atop existing two-story building
(Reviewed in concept as OG 22-070: Dec 21, Feb 22, Apr 22)
REPORT: The applicant, Washington Georgetown Properties, LLC, represented by EHT Traceries and Concrete Amsterdam, proposes a new five-story building plus penthouse within an existing two-story, masonry commercial building in the Old Georgetown Historic District. The site is located on the north side of Water Street, NW, with the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge to its west and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park’s canal and towpath abutting the north property line. The proposed building will be visible from many vantage points, including the Key Bridge and Potomac River.
The existing commercial building consists of a brick eastern portion that was constructed in 1939 and a concrete-block portion on the west, constructed in 1946, as garages for the Crystal Ice Company. The building has seen considerable alterations over the years, including changes to the fenestration and the introduction of steel supports for the Whitehurst Freeway that were notched into the Water Street facade around 1949. The proposed scope of work will necessitate partial demolition of the existing warehouse at the site, but the existing exterior walls will be largely retained, with the second-floor windows replaced with open metal grids reminiscent of the original metal casements.
This property has seen considerable redevelopment interest in the past decade, with the Old Georgetown Board (OGB) having reviewed redevelopment projects on this site going back to October 2016. In February 2020, the OGB recommended approval of a concept design application for a residential project by a different applicant and architect, with an addition of similar scale on the existing warehouse; this project was reviewed and approved by the Commission in March 2020. That project did not progress into permit review and development. For both proposals, however, the OGB discussed many of the same design issues in the review of this project, including: preservation of the existing building; the scale and articulation of the project along the C&O Canal; the views to and from Key Bridge; and the overall scale and massing within the context of Water Street, NW. The OGB reviewed the current submission three times since late 2021 as the concept design was refined.
At its meeting of 7 April 2022, the OGB approved the concept design, consisting of a composition of three masonry volumes above the renovated two-story masonry base. The OGB found the proposed design responsive to the issues of scale and massing, particularly in the revision of the massing to step down on the western end, exposing a wider view of Key Bridge and to impose less obstruction when looking into Georgetown from the bridge. The applicant has also lowered the secondary volumes fronting the C&O Canal while maintaining a reasonable height at the eastern end. The OGB commended the penthouse material and design, finding the change in panel design helps to break down the apparent height and that the proposed patina green color is complementary to the red brick and fits within the tradition of using green-painted and patinated metal elements in the historic district. Overall, the proposed building is compositionally balanced and contextually appropriate.
RECOMMENDATION: NO OBJECTION to the concept design for a new five-story building and penthouse, set atop an existing two-story building per materials received 16 April 2022.