HPRB Follow Up
Yesterday VMP returned to the Historic Preservation Review Board, formally presenting our Design Guidelines (rules we created to govern how the components get designed) and the current evolution of the site’s Master Plan (retooling the park system with a stronger sense of the site’s history).
On hand to present the new park system was Warren Byrd, who walked the board through his drawings and talked about opportunities to develop water capture systems, restore the Olmsted Walk and create new ways for visitors to experience the history of the site. Emily Eig shared her recommendations for the preservation approach given the criteria in the landmark application focuses on the engineering function and its association with Senator McMillan and the city beautiful movement.
The meeting concluded with comments from each of the board, who aren’t actually tasked with voting on the masterplan. They emphasized that their interest is in the memorialization of site especially the plinth even as doing so conflicts with good urban design principles or community preferences. “I don’t know how you do that…,” one member lamented. They did acknowledge the useful tool of ANC 5C’s resolution, which carefully documents key historic issues, the community process and the expectations the neighborhood has as the plan goes forward. They lauded the clear hard work and continued effort on addressing the complexity of the project, but asked about ways to increase the sense of the plinth, and actually talking about importance of McMillan as a separate entity as opposed to one needing to be integrated into the surrounding community context. Because of their interest in its history and unique position, the comments in many ways ran contrary to what VMP has heard from other DC agencies AND community stakeholders on all sides — most especially the principle of integration into the city fabric. AS examples, removing the Channing Street berm and increasing permeability by restoring street connections.
VMP and its design team will weigh these comments as we further develop the plan and its components. We look to share a further refined Central Park and Community Center along with building designs in the coming months.
Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator