Big Projects on the ANC Agenda for Next Week

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Two huge projects are on the agenda for next week’s ANC meeting (and the subsequent Old Georgetown Board meeting that Thursday): the new MedStar Georgetown Hospital building and the West Heating Plant.

The hospital is planning a new building (seen above) which will have a hugely transformative impact on the larger Georgetown campus, particularly the northern end. Where now there’s an ugly and pedestrian-unfriendly surface parking lot will (hopefully) be replaced by a tree lined L-shaped quad. The new building (seen in blue in the picture) will run north-south partially over where the parking lot now stands. The surface parking lot would be replaced by an underground one.

It should be said that GM once confidently predicted that the hospital would move. It was decision widely discussed among various planning committees at the time. But they changed their mind. (Some will say GM wrong along. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

This is the first time these plans have been before the commission. GM predicts that the project will have general support, although certain issues, like traffic management, will get closer attention.

The West Heating Plant is the other big project. It actually has two items on the agenda: the application to raze the existing building and the design review for a new building. These two issues overlap, though, since once of the criteria to get the raze permit is that the new building is of “special merit” and two of the examples of what constitutes “special merit” are community benefits and exemplary architecture. The Levy Group is trying for both by proposing a public park on the south part of the property and a building designed by the world-renowned architect, David Adjaye.

GM has long expressed dismay over the quickness that the community has raced to support the demolition plans. It calls into question the integrity of the entire historical preservation project for Georgetown when apparently whether we care about saving a building boils down to whether we can be bought off with a new park and whether we think the old building is ugly or not. That’s not what historical preservation is or should be about. The more it’s used this way, the more it becomes clear that historical preservation as it’s practiced in Georgetown is nothing more than a cudgel to keep out things (and people) we don’t like.

Anyway, the meeting is at 6:30 pm at Georgetown Visitation next Monday.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Big Projects on the ANC Agenda for Next Week

  1. Georgetown is NOT in a rush to demolish the “Heating Plant.” It has wanted the demolition of that ugly structure for over 20 years. Historic preservation should mean preserving beauty (whether or not that beauty is in current fashion). It should not mean preserving ugliness just because of its calendar date. Mistakes were made in the past which should be corrected. And that is exactly what the “Heating Plant” represents. The sooner it is torn down, the better.

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