Since January, 2003
            
 Sliding from Before to After

Posted on Friday was the Staff Report from the Historic Preservation Review Board on the design for the proposed Bier Garden at 8th and L, SE, as the owners of the site at 720 L continue to work toward constructing a one-story building with an accompanying summer garden and roof deck. (You can look to the left, or see a slightly larger version of the design, as it was presented to ANC 6B last week; 6B voted to support the design.)
If you're not up for reading all six pages yourself, here's my Zagat-style report on the report:
It makes for good reading if you're interested in how new buildings in historic districts are evaluated; you might be surprised (I was!) that design guidelines actually "discourage the exact duplication of historic styles," opting instead to encourage applicants to consider a new building as an "enhancement" to the district "while respecting the historic context." The report discusses how the decision to go with a one-story structure could draw on "the vernacular of Washington's modest industrial buildings and alley warehouses," and in fact the report includes a photo of the Bier Garden lot in 1949, when a one-story building housing a laundry/tailor stood on the site.
The report finds that the proposed massing of the new building does reflect the character of the historic district and "references recognizable attributes" of both industrial buildings and traditional beer gardens. The report also sees the rain screen and other more contemporary design choices as reflecting the "whimsy, casualness and somewhat ad-hoc nature of many outdoor beer gardens."
However, there are concerns that there are so many finishes applied "in so many different directions" that the result is a "somewhat chaotic and unfinished appearance," and suggests selecting one or two key ideas that would allow the building "to be showcased in a less hectic manner." Other major issues cited include choices on the roof deck (and the lack of any lighting or shade up there in the current design), the proportions of the doors, and the designs of the rain screens, as well as how the building's "streetscape presence" along both 8th and L.
The report ends with a recommendation that the applicants "restudy the issues outlined [...] as they pertain to the principles of design cohesiveness, proportion and scale, and streetscape presence." It's also recommended that the board delegate final approval of the design to the board staff once the comments from staff and the board are addressed in the revisions.
The hearing begins at 10 am on Thursday, and can be watched live, or on demand starting the next day. (And this will actually be the first HPRB hearing I'll have ever watched!) You can read my previous Bier Garden posts if you're needing to get caught up.
UPDATE: And now we return back to "Beer Garden" from "Bier Garden," as Mark Brody informs me that it was a typo on the plans.
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Trulee Pist says: (2/21/11 3:24 PM)
From reading the HPRB staff report by the estimable Amanda Molson, I get the sense HPRB staff took a more professional approach to criticisms and endorsements of the concept than that taken by critics of the Beer Garden at the ANC6B hearing. I am glad ANC6B as well recommends HPRB approve this concept.

1. HPRB staff recommends approval of the site plan, endorsing as well the plan to "mush together" the two lots in question and the massing of the proposed buildings on the newly subdivided lot, and praises the developer and architect for being on the "right track" regarding the design of the rooftop deck. The JDLand/Zagat precis failed to mention those endorsements.

2. The HPRB staff likes the solid wall that screens off the rooftop deck, only they'd like to see the familiar "double cornice" projected molding that you see on the top of most CH buildings to define better where the first story ends and the roof deck wall begins. Also, HPRB staff finds the front door at the corner too big in height and width (on the contrary, misguided ANC6B critics went on and on and on about how they thought the door was "too stubby"), and would like to see a transom window over the 8th Street SE door (something the owner and architect already told ANC6B they'd be happy to add to the plans.)

3. HPRB staff would like to see more openings along the L Street SE wall, so passers-by can see that people in the ground level beer garden are drinking beer, swaying to the oompah music and generally having good, clean fun. That's a suggestion not made by ANC6B, but one I bet the developer will embrace.

4. HPRB staff would like the developer and architect to chill out with all the different materials and what HPRB felt was the excessive height over the 8th and L Street corner and at the northeast corner of the building and in the roofing over the outside staircase to the roof deck. Those are good suggestions and will require some work by the architect and developer to meet those objections. HPRB staff also objects that specific design plans for lighting and for sunscreening the roof deck should be included in the plans. I hope the architect and developer do make changes to meet those objections.

5. No silly talk about drunks falling off the roof, or dropping their drinks off the roof, or jumping up on the counters that hold patrons' drinks set up around the inside edge of the roof deck and also falling off the roof that way, like we heard at ANC6B's hearing. Will it be raining oompah-music-and-beer fans if this get built? Not likely.

I hope HPRB approves these concept drawings with few contingencies, and the project moves forward expeditiously.


Caphilldel says: (2/25/11 9:24 AM)
I heard from a reliable source yesterday that 720 L ST was sold & the bier/beer garden is a no go- (Please) Say it isn't so!!


JD says: (2/25/11 10:17 AM)
It's possible the rumor you're hearing is in reference to the two brown "apartment" buildings just to the west of 720 L, on the other side of the driveway curb cut, which I'm hearing (but haven't confirmed) have changed hands. Guess we'll see when the video from yesterday's HPRB meeting gets posted, since I imagine if the site was sold then the application would have been withdrawn. (I kind of doubt it, but we'll see.)

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