A proposal to revisit new construction in Old&Historic districts

06/01/2008 7:54 AM by

Laura Daab is proposing that the Commission of Architectural Review (CAR) change their guidelines concerning new construction in Old & Historic Districts (PDF) so that new homes would much more closely replicate historic existing structures on the block. Saying that CAR does a fairly good job with rulings on existing buildings, Daab states, “I think that they have a lot to learn (or should I say, unlearn) about in-fill and new construction.”

The current CAR design review guidelines (PDF) state that new construction should look new and not mimic existing historic structures.  At the same time, new structures must co-exist harmoniously and compliment the surrounding area. Where new structures incorporate a historic design, they also must display elements of modernity. Saying that, “In theory, this seems to make some sense, but in practice, it’s a nightmare,” Daab is calling for reforms on the current guidelines.

Pointing out that “everyone wants to live in O&H’s because of the existing historic character”, Daab is proposing that CAR change their guidelines concerning new construction so that look of new houses much more closely match the look of the still-existing houses in the immediate area.

Towards accomplishing these changes, Daab would like the residents of O&H’s in the city to organize and present the CAR with their opinions, concerns, complaints and suggestions and on how the CAR conducts their business.

In support of this proposal, she points to the work that Better Housing Coalition has done across the city and the recent work by RRHA in Carver – work outside of O&H districts and with designs that match and complement the historic housing. Further bolstering her argument is last year’s Golden Hammer for Best Infill Construction awarded by ACORN to 610 Idlewood in Oregon Hill, a house that “instantly blends with the surrounding character of the historic neighborhood”.

Contact Laura at if you would like to participate.




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