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Slicing Up Apple's Georgetown Designs

Is Apple just too cool for Georgetown?

We might find out Thursday morning, when the architects on the Old Georgetown Board of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts meets to discuss a number of potential projects -- including a proposed Apple store at 1229 Wisconsin Ave. in Northwest. (Read Paul Schwarzman's article for the full story.)

As Marc Fisher mentioned in January, the back-and-forth between Apple -- which currently owns the old FCUK property -- the Old Georgetown Board and Georgetown's Advisory Neighborhood Commission is ongoing.

So how far is Apple willing to go to satisfy Washington's historic preservationalists? Take a look at their designs and decide for yourself.

Here's the first, from Sept. 2007.

Design 1. (U.S. Fine Arts Commission.)

Questions -- primarily about the large glass panel at street level -- were raised about that one; Apple suggested another in June 2008.

Design 2. (U.S. Fine Arts Commission.)

Asked for a third, it submitted this one in December.

Design 3. (U.S. Fine Arts Commission.)

The Apple logo on that one was adjudged to be too big. In January, Apple tried a fourth time. Here's the one to be discussed on Thursday.

Design 4. (U.S. Fine Arts Commission.)

Look familiar?

You decide.

By Washington Post Editors  |  February 4, 2009; 1:34 PM ET
City Life , Economic Development  
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I like number 2! But Georgetown would never approve it, because it doesn't look like it was built for old people.

Posted by: kszimmerman | February 4, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

come on OGB, get 'em in there already!

Posted by: kgwp | February 4, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Apple is behaving like a spoiled child over this. Georgetown said they don't want an all-glass front three times now. Apple has two options. One, they can cut maybe 10% of the glass, so that the building is in line with the other glass-front buildings in Georgetown, like Urban Outfitters. Or two, they can locate their DC branch in one of the many, other shopping districts in DC that would be totally fine with an all-glass front, like U St, Columbia Heights, or I St.

Posted by: tomveiltomveil | February 4, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

To paraphrase an old saying, "It's about the history, stupid."
Georgetown is living proof that retail commerce and historic preservation can co-exist (if not always peacefully). Those who object to the period-appropriate architecture model are welcome to get their kicks (and slurp their Starbucks) elsewhere.

Posted by: niceFLguy | February 4, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure when the last time you walked by Urban Outfitters was but I believe that their entire glass store front display (disregarding the small gray frames) is larger than the one apple appears to be proposing in the latest sample. Also I wouldn't be so quick to say that Apple is the only one behaving badly in this process. It seems to me that OGB is very biased against Apple. Perhaps OGB and I could walk around Georgetown so that I can point out stores that are more 'out of line' than Apples latest proposal.

Posted by: albinosquirrel | February 4, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I am glad that there are people out there protecting the unique historic character of places like Georgetown. Just think if every Apple came along and did what they wanted to Georgetown over the decades. You would have something that resembles every mall in America. It would be nice to think that people had the good design sense that they did back in the day Georgetown was originally built, but alas, they don't and we need the good people at the OGB to protect us from ourselves.

Posted by: CNY-DC | February 4, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

The all-glass design (number 2) is elegant and, in my view, completely appropriate. I am very pro-preservation, but I think that making new buildings that look like old buildings actually diminishes the character of the REAL old buildings. The glass design is sympathetic in scale and maintains the street frontage, which is good form. The logo design (number 3) is certainly inappropriate, since it's just a big sign, but numbers 1 and 4 are just pathetic. Number 2 would bring some life to Georgetown without compromising its historic character!

Posted by: delempicka | February 4, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

It's extraordinary, and sad, that the character of our 200 year old city has to be embalmed, while TRULY historic cities, like Paris, Rome and Amsterdam have, architecturally, embraced the character of each period in their history. As a result, you can actually SEE history. The passage of time, as seen in the various architectural styles that have been built over hundreds of years, is clearly visible, so the historic character of the city is validated--you can see that it is hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of years old. What if the government in those places had decided in, say, 1750, that all future buildings had to reflect the architectural character of a hundred years previous? Imagine how impoverished the streets of those cities would seem now. Further, if all buildings in the city, or even in a neighborhood of the city, were forced to conform to a particular, historic architectural style over a period of years, one would never know which of the buildings were actually of historic value and which ones were ersatz. This is not to say that beautiful buildings of the past should not be preserved--of course they should. But to insist that architectural culture should be forever stuck in the late 19th century? What a darn shame that would be.

Posted by: lingle873333 | February 4, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I just returned from a trip to Chicago. One of the many aspects of Chicago that make it a great city is its architectural diversity. The willingness of the powers that be in Chicago and the city's citizens to mix these various styles brings out the beauty of each movement. While I enjoy every trip back to Chicago, I regret that such an ability is absent in our city's leadership, generally and in the architectural field.

I also regret that the D.C. population seems to have concluded the only acceptable architectural styles are Colonial and glass-and-steel cube office buildings.

Posted by: shsths99 | February 5, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

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