District recommends Science and Engineering Complex for approval

The District’s Office of Planning recommended last week that the Zoning Commission approve the plan for the Science and Engineering Complex, but encouraged GW to revise its design to accommodate another Foggy Bottom Metro entrance.

The approval is conditional and will be reevaluated if GW fails to provide a detailed drawing illustrating the streetscape before the Zoning Commission’s final approval Thursday.

Foggy Bottom resident Barbara Kahlow referenced the report at last week’s Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, noting the agency’s strong encouragement for GW to include removable panels in its design to accommodate a future Foggy Bottom Metro entrance.

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said the University has coordinated with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to ensure the SEC won’t interfere with a planned second entrance.

In its 2007 Campus Plan, GW agreed to work with WMATA to accommodate the second entrance when the University redevelops Square 77, which is located on the corner of 22nd and I streets, across from the University Parking Garage. “To date, WMATA has not formalized plans for a second entrance and, at this time, the University does not have current plans to develop [Square 77],” Sherrard said.

ANC Chair Rebecca Coder said in an e-mail that the Office of Planning’s recommendation was welcome news, noting that the recommendation could “probably could go further, but it is a start.”

“Both the neighborhood and the city are making this recommendation so I am hopeful GW will incorporate [the second Metro entrance] into the design,” Coder said.

Last month the ANC passed a resolution objecting to GW’s SEC proposal, also citing concern about the project tearing down Building K, which commissioners said had significance in relation to African-American history in Foggy Bottom.

Eric Duyck, a graduate student in GW’s Museum Studies Program, informed the ANC about Building K’s history as part of a class project. He said the building was built in 1914 as a church for an African-American congregation, but was bought in 1960 by the University when the church moved to Southeast D.C.

Duyck explained that the area experienced a “dramatic transformation” between the 1930s and late 1950s. New development, including construction of whites-only housing, pushed much of Foggy Bottom’s African-American population out.

“It was no longer a black neighborhood,” he said.

After GW’s purchase of the building it became a gymnasium, and additions were made to include offices, Duyck said.

Coder said the ANC received a response from the University saying it was willing to recognize Building K’s historical importance with a plaque, but she said GW had “really no change in its position” from February’s meeting.

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