Architectural Wasteland – Can it be Avoided?

As everyone has probably read by now on every newspaper or blog, the fourth proposed design for the Apple store on Wisconsin Avenue was rejected yesterday (Post story here). While the Old Georgetown Board told Apple’s architect that it is eager for the store to open on Wisconsin Avenue, it is sad to me that time and again architectural review boards or the U. S. Fine Arts Commission reject designs because they don’t appear to fit in with their surroundings.


I, for one, am sick and tired of such defenders of style and taste insisting that we live in a 19th century theme park. This is a living, breathing city. People live here, work here, and transact commerce here. People change. Styles change. Technology changes. One of the things that makes a city enjoyable and unique is the juxtaposition of different materials, forms, shapes, and designs. Yes, sometimes questionable designs are executed, but I’d be willing to bet controversy surrounds every superior design. There was heated debate on both the Lincoln and Vietnam memorials when they were constructed. Both are superb.

I’ve always believed in architectural honesty. There should be a balance in the city. Preserve what merits preservation. Permit innovation where innovation is possible. Do not let the style of new construction be dictated by its surrounds – but also insist that new construction be harmonious with its surroundings (notice I didn’t say homogeneous). By respecting scale, form, and color, two completely different buildings can play nice with each other.


4 Responses to “Architectural Wasteland – Can it be Avoided?”

  1. I couldn’t disagree more in the case of Apple. It’s Georgetown- one of the best-preserved examples of 19th century architecture we have in this country. I agree to an extent if they were looking to build this elsewhere, but for god’s sake, not Georgetown. They have to play by the same rules that everyone else does- even if they are everyone’s favorite obsession as a company. They didn’t think the rules applied to them, and they’re finding out how wrong they are.

  2. I’ll agree that everyone in a historic district must play by the same rules, and have no problem with Georgetown being preserved … but on the grander scheme, this city tends to treat everything as if its historic and needs to be saved. Age alone doesn’t make something noteworthy. Due to all the hoops that people have to go through just to break ground has allowed a lot of boring buildings to be erected. Again, its just my opinion.

  3. Hear hear, good to see someone has similar attitude to mine. Also, nothing more disgusting that badly executed, almost desperate attempts to look old by some/too many new houses and buildings.

  4. I hate Georgetown.

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