Two new projects have appeared on the 3200 block of M St. over the past month: All Saints, and Calvin Klein Underwear. In both cases, the design choices seem potentially troublesome. Did the OGB drop the ball by approving these projects?
All Saints is actually a pretty nice renovation. Between the old billboard-style type in the name across the top of the building and the repeating rows of sewing machines in the window, the building has a vaguely steam punk feel.
And that’s all great and definitely a step up from the generic look it had before. But doesn’t that black building paint give this tall building a rather looming feeling over the block. It has the potential to be a giant black hole in the middle of the streetscape.
The Calvin Klein Underwear store is troubling for a different reason. While Carol Joynt has complained about the anatomy lesson in the window, GM is concerned about the architectural features. The bay window was built to replace the faux-historic bay window that served the Body Shop.
GM remembers seeing the modern design come before the ANC for review. And on paper, the idea of a modern replacement of the old design didn’t seem so bad. Whether the design was good or not, though, the biggest failing of the actual project is the poor execution. Despite the fact that a modern design needs clean lines to succeed, the roof line of this project is already marred by jagged roofing material. And the metal features just seem poorly constructed. All in all, it’s a terrible addition.
Should the Old Georgetown Board have approved them? Maybe not, but both these projects point to limits in OGB’s power. Generally, OGB doesn’t get involved with paint color decisions (unless the decision is to paint over unpainted historic brick). Additionally, OGB can’t require that the project actually be performed to any particular level of quality. The hacksawed job that Serendipity did to its first floor facade is a testament to that.
What do you think?