Is a great face enough or does the entire body have to match?

Walking back to the Triangle from a brunch by Union Station a fellow Madrigal resident shared that she was not impressed by the new Ashton Judiciary (750 3rd St NW). “They invested money into a nice facade on the front of the building then went cheap on the sides and back” she said, and continued “that would irritate me if I lived there.

Ashton Judiciary; click to enlarge

I think the Ashton Judiciary looks fairly good. I appreciate that The Hanover Company didn’t settle for a bland 3rd street facade. I had rather than have an architecturally distinctive contribution to the public space than a building that has a consistent yet bland look on all sides.

The Mather Studios; click to enlarge

Pictured above, the Mather Studios at 916 G Street NW, is another example of a building with a distinctive street facing facade that lacks the same detailing on the sides. Again, I think this is perfectly acceptable, but I do think a small mural or Trompe-l’œil on the bare concrete side would be an appealing improvement. This building has several artist studio residences – has beautifying the first 20-30 feet of the alley ever been proposed?

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Chinese Community Church exterior upgrade complete

The Chinese Community Church at 500 I Street NW has completed it’s exterior remodeling in time for Easter. The upgrade returned the building to it’s roots by discarding a Formstone exterior for the elegant look of brick and sandstone. These improvements to the facade and roof were made possible by a $600,000 donation from the Gould Property Co which will be developing an office building at 600 Mass Ave NW.

1906 image from the Washington Times

July 2007 photo from flickr user Kyle Walton

2008 image from Google Streetview

2009 image taken on Easter

The building has a 155 year history and currently serves as the only Chinese house of worship in the district.

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Kojo Nnamdi show on building height limits inside the district

Washington Post columnist and architect Roger K. Lewis joined Kojo Nnamdi (WAMU 88.5) to dispel common misconceptions about Washington’s height rules and discuss how it’s shaped the city and it’s surrounding areas.

Among the topics discussed: how height limits are linked to width of streets, the myth that limits are tied to the height of the U.S. Capitol Dome, The Cairo Apartment Building, impact on the commerical market, and the effect on the environment. Lewis advocates keeping downtown DC limits sacrosanct but relaxing the height limits in selected areas outside the L’Enfant portion of the city. The UMD professor reiterated many times that relaxing limits is more about picking specific strategic locations in the city to increase height limits by 25-30 feet and not about doubling or tripling limits to allow skyscrapers.

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Starchitecture in the District?

I was reading the NYT and came across this interesting article about big name architects being featured prominently in new developments across the city. There are many exotic, beautiful, and sometimes groundbreaking new designs going up in Manhattan and many of them in the residential sector. Now why is it that we seem to not have ANY of these headed our way? What little “starchitecture” we do have is woefully diluted and dated. Where are the hot young talents of today? Wouldn’t you like to see them flourish in our fair city?

Architect Jean Nouvel stands in one of the apartments at 40 Mercer courtesy of New York Magazine

Why not put DC developments on the map?

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Brick (expected) clean contemporary lines (not expected): Eye St. Lofts, WSD Development
This is a new segment that will hopefully run every week discussing architecture in the Triangle and its surroundings. Note: Mediocre Bad Guy is himself an architect, woohoo!

I’ve been curious for quite some time about this new development on Eye street, Eye St. Lofts by Walnut Street Development. As the months pass there seems to be more and more talk yet equal amounts of ambiguity regarding the details. If you google Eye St. Lofts you’ll find that there’s been much talk for quite some time now (At least a year?); The developers were originally going to build condos and when the market turned out to not be as favorable as they had hoped, converted the project to apartments. That said, I’m not completely convinced that they won’t change their minds by the time they top off the building.

Architecturally speaking this building is pretty hot for DC standards. The fact that it’s not just preserving the facade but whole buildings is a little something that we need more of. Obviously I realize the insides will be most likely gutted etc. But according to the proposal they have on file the three historic structures they maintain on the site will actually be 3 independent units, likely having 2 possibly 3 different uses (residential, retail).

This building like the Ventana on F street, manages to bring energy to the streetscape without overwhelming it. This is no Frank Ghery, it won’t be an IN YOUR FACE piece of revolutionary architecture. Instead, it will be a pleasant, well designed piece of architecture. A beautiful background building if you will. Now if only we had more beautiful background buildings…(Don’t mistake beautiful for bland).

A March 2007 post in Penn Quarter Living shows some beautiful pieces of the proposal not found on Walnut Street Developments website , Check it out.

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The sexiest gym in the Triangle

Ok so we all know that our swanky new buildings come with fitness centers which are fine for most (Definitely enough to maintain my 3 crunches a week routine) but for some of the more hardcore folk the new Results gym at CityVista promises to be a sexy place to work out.

The newest Results location is being designed by STUDIOS architecture who have developed the new brand strategy and design for all new Results locations. They have a few pictures posted on their site, one of which I linked to below.

Check out the STUDIOS website yourself here

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Downtown Condo Update

I was last in the triangle about a week or so ago and I took some pictures of what seems to be a fairly on schedule Dumont. I want to apologize for taking way too many pictures of the north side of the building but it also happens to be the side my unit is on ; )

I’m fairly happy with the exterior architecture to date. While still very conservative, Phil Esocoff has managed to update DC’s stale architectural vocabulary into something a little more palatable. If only the triangle started to go in the direction of high end Manhattan developments like this…

One Jackson Square
50 Gramercy Park North
1 York Tribeca
40 bond

Maybe there’s hope for the future?

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