Making Woodies Pop

A reader and fellow Madrigal Lofts resident (Scott R) tipped me off last Thursday that the Woodies building in Penn Quarter was undergoing a paint job to it’s old iron trim. This is the building that was formerly anchored by West Elm and is now home to Forever 21.

I was out of town over the weekend but stopped by tonight after work on my way to District of Pi. As luck would have it Paul Millstein and Douglas Jemal, of Douglas Development, were outside the building and asked me for feedback on the in-progress work while I was snapping the photos below. Millstein explained that the previous solid green and gold scheme wasn’t doing the ornate details justice. He suggested the old craftsmanship had a story to tell and the right color scheme could display it more prominently. At present they are experimenting with color combinations and haven’t settled on a scheme.

I told them it was a little too busy with all those colors together. I think I would focus on Green, Gold and Red with a few of the smaller details in either black or white. Blue is my favorite color – but it isn’t working in this context for me. I told Millstein I would post my photo to the blog and that it might be a good forum for feedback. What are your thoughts on colors?

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    I also love blue, and do like it above the window, much better than the maroon. I will look forward to seeing what they come up with. Now if they can just find a better tenant. Such a waste with Forever21 in that amazing space.

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    Si Kailian says

    It does look a little busy & gets into pastel territory. I like a couple strong colors with metallic gold and good contrast.

  3. 3

    Grouper says

    The blue/gold feels cool and modernish with the white. I’m not a fan of the green and red together, but i’m not sure whether I’d hate either of them on their own.

    I work in this building & see it every day, so I hope they settle on something hip and attention-grabbing but not so color-crazy it hurts to the back of the eyes. They’re right that the detail deserves more attention.

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    Tony says

    This is going to sound strange, but I’ve always assocated certain department stores with certain colors. I don’t know if it’s the shopping bags or something else. Although I like the blue, when combined with the white, I am reminded of Garfinckel’s, which was at 14th & F for years. The Garfinckel’s blue, though, was more navy. That green & gold is forever cemented in my mind and represents woodies AND Marshal Field’s. I could go on with my color analagies, but I think the one color they should keep is the gold and definitely get rid of the green. The gold gives a more treasured feeling/look to the building. Hopefully, Jemal will pull out his color wheel and choose the right color combo.

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    FourthandEye says

    I suppose it isn’t that the blue is bad per se… but you can’t have the red, green and blue. I have a hard time envisioning all 3 of those coexisting together. I think I agree with what Si succinctly states: “couple strong colors with metallic gold and good contrast.”

    Millstein and Jemal did have an associate with them that was directing the painting effort. But I’m not good with names and had already forgot hers shortly after the introductions :(

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    Linda says

    It’s a beautiful color scheme and must require a lot of exacting brushwork, but I don’t think that it is historically appropriate. I believe that cast iron was typically painted one color, mainly for protection. Polychrome color schemes were usually done in terra cotta.

    Even though they are not required to get approval for paint colors, I think the owners ought to check with the Historic Preservation Office for advice and suggestions.

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    M says

    I work in the Woodies building and a few years ago when I was leaving work I saw Douglas Jemal and some associates positioning a giant bronze sculpture of an eagle in the front lobby. It looked like one of those things you see for sale in souvenir shops around Ford’s Theater, just blown up about a thousand times. It was truly ugly and didn’t fit with the decor of the lobby. As I walked by, Jemal gestured for me to come over and asked what I thought about the sculpture. Not wanting to be too insulting, I told him it looked very patriotic but didn’t seem to fit well in its surroundings. He thanked me for my feedback and I left. I’ve never seen it again.

    I give him credit for soliciting random feedback on this type of stuff.