7-Eleven Designs for Wisconsin & O Store Criticized


Oh, thank heaven for . . . on second thought, go to . . . or, at least, design school, say critics of the proposed look of the 7-Eleven retail store slated for the vacant store at Wisconsin Avenue and O Street. It will occupy the space which housed Doc Dalinsky’s Pharmacy, a Georgetown history lesson in itself. O Street businessman and architect Robert Bell was one of the harshest critics of the 7-Eleven designs, when they were discussed at the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting April 1.

“The concerns of myself and the merchants whom I have talked to on this block and on Wisconsin Avenue are both architectural and functional,” Bell told the Georgetowner after the Old Georgetown Board met last week, when it voted against 7-Eleven designs and ordered the store to have unobstructed windows.
“Many of the context architectural issues were addressed at the Old Georgetown Board,” Bell said. “Window design is critical to a vital Georgetown. OGB member Steve Muse was very succinct about the “dead space” created by many businesses on Wisconsin. He pointed out that the street should be a shopping street where the urban goal is to encourage ‘window shopping’ where the pleasures of walking in a historic district are enriched with shopping and eating.  The design by 7-Eleven eliminates that pleasure on a large section of the building by blanking off the windows and introduces a door design from a strip shopping center.  Most of the most onerous elements were rejected by the OGB which requested that 7-Eleven redesign the interior to place people instead of machines at the first and second floor windows.  We want the principles of eyes on the street from  ‘The Life and Death of American Cities’ by Jane Jacobs to be applied by 7-Eleven and all stores in Georgetown.   Every window in Georgetown is gift to the vitality of the community. Proper design inside and out is crucial to making this a great town.”   
Bell offered more design criticism for the town and its shopkeepers: “I was disappointed that the Old Georgetown Board and ANC approved back-lit aluminum signage.  Imagine if every building — the ones across the street and up and down Wisconsin Avenue — adopted this standard. It would completely change the character of Georgetown.  This type of signage is anathema to historical areas and their character.  The ANC and OGB should change their policy regarding this signage.  As an owner of buildings on O street, I have gone to a good deal of effort to integrate signage in the shop windows, Why would the board allow this degrading of the texture of existing brick buildings on this street while they would never think of doing the same for the other buildings on O Street?  The signs should be integrated in the windows.”

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