In the weeks following our January 29th presentation to the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board (“HPRB”), the development team facilitated a work session with board members while studying alternative design concepts for JAIR LYNCH’s proposed mixed-use building on Parcel 2. In an earlier post, we illustrated major thematic elements of the proposed design. Visioned as a unique architectural expression honoring the site’s historic legacy, while complementing the vertical design of adjacent buildings in order to read as a cohesive place. While our overall conceptual vision was well received by the HPRB in January, it was requested that we review alternative treatments for some design elements, including the proposed Three Quarter Street span, reading of the elevated plinth and detailing of the masonry and metal panel treatments.
The team is proud to present our evolved design concept for McMillan Parcel 2. The mixed-use program for the building remains the same, with just over 15,000 sf of neighborhood serving retail on the ground floor and apartments throughout the seven-story building, including affordable units at 80% of AMI.
In this perspective from First Street NW, five major design changes are evidenced:
- Simplified and consistent treatment of the four bar volumes
- Edited Three Quarter Street span reduces scale and strengthens diagram
- Metal profile enhanced to strengthen diagram
- Strengthened masonry base reading helps transition to rowhome scale
- Simplified masonry cornices
Correspondingly, in this north perspective across the Service Court, major changes in the expression of the vertical design include:
- Retail plinth reading strengthened with end treatment integrated within rhythm of facade above
- Balcony cutout similar proportion to sand bins
- Vertical rhythm strengthened with wood colored mullion
- Edited Three Quarter Street span setback and design creating opportunity for art feature on rear corridor wall and ceiling
- Banded pattern previously used only in white metal now used throughout
The team looks forward to presenting our revised design concept to the HPRB at their upcoming April 23rd Meeting. For a more detailed synopsis of changes to each design element, please continue reading.
Three Quarter Street Span
In a working session with members of the HPRB, removal of the span across Three Quarter Street was reviewed; however, it was articulated that eliminating the connection between the buildings would have the unfavorable result of creating an interior focused residential project with front entrances to both buildings along Three Quarter Street. Consequently, the buildings would turn their backs on First and Half Streets, placing both loading and parking entrances on Half street. The span across Three Quarter Street consents the building to maintain its front entrance on the more prominent Half Street with secondary entrances, vehicular access and loading on the tertiary Three Quarter Street.
To moderate the prominence of the span along the North Service Court, units on the north face of the bridge have been removed. The benefits of this change are numerous. Now with over a 40’ inset from the north plan of the building, the angled form of the span reads an even further recession from the vertical façade along the Service Court. The new setback places the span out of view when looking east or west across the Service Court, resulting in a more pronounced reading of the masterplan’s four-block orientation. Reduced to a width of 33’ underneath, the redesigned span pitches up at its center creating a greater volume of space, thus allowing stronger reciprocal views between historic resources in the North and South Service Courts.
The sides of the span are primarily glass, giving it a light and transparent quality setting it apart from the building it connects. The horizontals connections are detailed to minimize their thickness, allowing for larger expanses of glass. The mullion detailing of the glass wall recalls the diagonal pattern of the manhole covers above the underground vaults and further reduces the scale of the span. In addition, it further relates to the window pattern of the larger building it connects, while still maintaining the identity of a single element.
Overall Diagram and Form
Changes to the span element connecting the two structures drove changes in the overall diagram of the building. With the bridge now receding from the North Service Court, the building reads as four identical linear bars of simple geometry. This replicates the massing strategy applied in other planned buildings, as well as the simple and regular geometries common on the historic site. Further amplifying this concept is the consistent treatment of the dark masonry and draped white element central to the design theory of the structure. On each of the four bars, peeled back in an identical nature at the northeast and southwest corners, the draped white screen recalls the landscape as it drapes over the site’s underground filtration vaults. This treatment creates a pleasing visual balance and regularity across the building. The simple diagrammatic treatment adapts the south elevation of the building to its context and appreciates the scale reduction to the row homes, as the white element folds lower across the elevation. On the primarily white north and south elevations, wood balconies are inset within a cut in the screen, taking on a proportion comparable to the facing sand bins.
Accepting the importance of a clear and strong reading of the abstracted plinth wall, the retail plinth design has been edited. Previously glass projections passed across the vertical piers of the stone plinth wall. Now the regular rhythm of the vertical piers is clearly read, with simple projecting retail storefronts infilling the space between. Openings in the sides of the plinth walls draping the building on First Street, Three Quarter Street and Half Street are now integrated into the regulating grid of the masonry form above.
Masonry and Panel Detailing
Though a divergent treatment to the style of the dark masonry and white metal panel elements is central to the design concept, efforts were made to closer relate these two elements in order for a unified building read. Treatment of the dark masonry architecture is amended to closer mimic the level of articulation and detail found in the historic regulator houses and plinth walls. This reduces the overly jarring connection found previously between the modern detailed white screen and the more neoclassical detailing formerly shown in the brick masonry. Cornices and brick articulation are simplified in order to cultivate a treatment of familiar masonry detailing that relates closer to the contemporary approach of the white screen.
Previously, the gridded and banded element illustrated in McMillan’s Design Guidelines was addressed only in the building’s white metal element. Horizontal lines from the element are now pulled into the black masonry architecture through grey cast stone and brick bands. Parallel bands now pass around the entirety of the facade through the metal, brick and glass bridge elements, effectively relating the complete building to the horizontal bands on the formed concrete sand bins. These bands on the masonry element cross the strong vertical pilasters fashioning a gridded pattern that connects to the prominent grid of the historic groin vaults, analogous to the clear gridded nature of the white metal element and glass bridge.
A stronger impression of a two-story base is developed within the masonry architecture. This reading is clearly observable on the First, Three Quarter and Half Street facades. The scale and height of this base narrates closely to the scale and height of the neighboring row homes, while the pronounced cornice of the base visually joins with the roofline, facilitating the overall transition in height from the row homes, to the taller Parcel 2 mixed-use building and medical office buildings beyond.
Further relating the façade to patterns within the site, the white metal panel element now features a detailed wood colored mullion piercing vertically through the windows, forming a regular vertical rhythm similar to the vertical pilasters of the dark masonry element. A clear cadence of vertical elements is now established throughout the design in the white metal, dark brick and glass bridge elements. Finally, an elegant profile highlights all edges of the white metal element, accentuating its reading of a thin screen draped over the masonry element, effectuating and enhancing interaction between the two.