University officials will take the next step Thursday toward transforming the historic Woodhull House into the GW Museum by presenting a city board with revised designs.
D.C.’s Historic Preservation Review Board must green-light plans for the $22 million project to ensure its integrity and significance is preserved before the University can renovate the building to unite the cross-town Textile Museum with GW’s collection of city artifacts.
The Woodhull House, home to the University Police Department, was marked in the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 for its Italian villa-style architecture and its importance in GW’s history. Maxwell Woodhull, a former Board of Trustees member who had a hand in making Foggy Bottom the University’s main campus, donated the structure to GW in 1921.
Like all historic landmarks and districts in the city, changes to the house’s design must be reviewed by the preservation board.
After a $5 million donation by collector and real estate developer Albert H. Small last February, construction for the dual museum is expected to begin by late summer. The main entrance to the four-story museum with two underground floors will be on 21st Street, with a second entrance on G Street.
Steve Callcott, senior preservation planner for the Historic Preservation Office, said the board is pleased overall with the University’s plans for the Woodhull House.
GW gained approval from the preservation board in November for its general project blueprints but was asked to make small adjustments to the designs, like narrowing a bridge connecting the Woodhull House and the additional building where textiles will be showcased.
The revised sketches would lighten the load the bridge places on the Woodhull House and switch the construction material from glass to limestone to match the building’s façade.
The bridge changes would open up the breezeway between 21st Street and University Yard, creating a more “inviting” space as recommended by the preservation board at the November meeting.
Director of Community Relations Britany Waddell said the design process for projects always involves a back and forth and “GW takes seriously its responsibility to develop projects that are either historic or located in historic districts with a view that is sensitive to the historic context.”
The board also asked that GW make the building’s façade more appealing, Lee Becker, one of the architects for the project, said Wednesday at a Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting. He said hardware to place promotional banners across the structure would be added.
This article appeared in the February 21, 2012 issue of the Hatchet.