Ever since a development company bought Georgetown’s old
West Heating Plant from the
intending to turn it into a Four Seasons Residences and a park,
there has been curiosity
about the project, mainly what the end product would look like.
On Tuesday evening,
Richard Levy and landscape architect
Ignacio Buster provided a glimpse in the form of renderings, and talked about their “vision” for
the property. This much can be said: If they get their way, Georgetown’s last large
tract of real estate will be transformed.
The session, the first of two to reveal project plans to the public, featured a video
address by architect
David Adjaye and a verbal walk-through of the park with Buster, who also designed the Georgetown
Waterfront Park. Having Buster involved eases the way toward one of Levy’s goals:
to have the existing waterfront park connect with the new project. The word “connectivity”
was used more than once.
In his video presentation, Adjaye explained that his design for the Art Deco building
will take away most of the inside, leaving the facade, which will be enhanced with
a new ceramic “skin” technology. In the rendering of the design, the building looked
lighter, freer, and more open to the outdoors than in its life as a heating plant.
In place of the old coalyard, Buster showed images of an elevated garden reminiscent
of New York’s High Line. At about 10 to 20 feet above ground, it will sit above the
parking lot for the Four Seasons Residences. It will have a water feature, what Buster
called “a playful fountain,” and access to parts of the C&O Canal that are not now
easily accessed. There will be a new bridge and bike path crossing the canal. Both
Levy and Buster said they felt it was imperative to have historical references in
the project, harking back to Georgetown’s 19th-century role as a port.
The audience comprised mostly community leaders and residents who live near the complex,
including the head of the Citizens Association of Georgetown,
Pam Moore, and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners
Tom Burch and
Bill Starrels. One of the first questions asked was who would manage the park. Buster replied that
“discussions are underway with NPS [the National Park Service] about managing the
park,” which seemed to please the small group gathered in the room.
Adjaye said that “architecture is part of social change” and that he we wants to “bring
life” to the building and help the public to “look at it in a new way.” Again and
again, references were made to history and public access, and to the relationship
of the apartment building and park to Georgetown and Washington as a whole. Buster
called it “an amazing gateway from the city to Georgetown.”
Adjaye will attend the next meeting, on October 22 at 5 PM at the Four Seasons Hotel.
In addition to the Four Seasons project, he has designed two DC public libraries and
the African-American Museum, which is currently under construction on the Mall.