Today’s McMillan SFS testimony to HPRB

[Testimony given to the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board this afternoon, in response to the recent HPRB staff report regarding architecture at the McMillan Sand Filtration Site.]

My name is Payton Chung, LEED AP ND, and I am a homeowner in Ward 6.

Thank you for providing this opportunity to comment on the revised master plan for the McMillan Sand Filtration Site. Moving forward with new buildings on this site, in a growing city with a housing shortage and a structural deficit, is the only realistic and financially feasible way to ensure public enjoyment of and education about the historic structures on the site. The proposal will not only, at great cost, stabilize the structure and thus open the site to the public for the first time in a century as a safe and usable park. It will also retain all of the above-ground and substantial portions of the below-ground structure interiors — in addition to the filtration cells that will remain within the park and reservoir lands to the west — while also reconstructing historic landscape elements like the Olmsted walk around the site perimeter, retain the site’s distinctive topography, and weave together the historic neighborhoods that surround the site.

The staff report’s recommendation that the buildings achieve greater architectural unity has merit, given the multiple programs and contexts present within and around the site. Greater architectural unity of the building bases could define the two maintenance corridors as urban rooms, while respectfully framing the sand silos. Similarly, though, it is entirely appropriate that the medical office buildings create an urban space from the auto dominated highway that is Michigan Avenue, and that requires a different architectural context.

Ensuring architectural unity for a site of this scale and complexity is a tall order, but the architects have made a good start and should be allowed to proceed to the Mayors Agent’s review with further guidance from the board.

Again, thank you for your time and consideration.