Gateways 101 for Georgetown

The Georgetown Business Improvement District held a community meeting April 5 to introduce representatives from Beyer Blinder Belle, designers for the Georgetown Gateways project, developed through the BID’s Georgetown 2028 planning process. The project’s goal, according to the BID, “is to enhance the major entry points into the Georgetown commercial district in a way that creates a sense of arrival for visitors, a sense of return for residents and employees and is appropriate for the character of Georgetown.” Jamie Scott of the BID led the meeting at the Georgetown Public Library.

The primary entry points are: K Street, M Street and Pennsylvania Avenue from the east; Key Bridge from the south and west; and Wisconsin Avenue from the north. Secondary spots look to be 35th Street and Reservoir Road, the Washington Harbour and the Crescent Trail.

Discussed were which kinds of gateways people might prefer: a wall, an arch, a pylon or a frame. Other questions: Should the scale be monumental or intimate? How legible might any signage be? Is there a clear view of where the commercial district is when coming from the east along K Street with the Whitehurst Freeway above? What about when arriving from the north along Wisconsin Avenue with the library at the top of the hill?

Symbolic choices of identity abounded: spires and smokestacks, brick and stone, water and bridges. Most agreed that the look should be grounded in history but of our time — the underlying question being: “What is the most important message for each gateway?” It remains to be seen whether there will be simple signage or elaborate artwork.

Based in New York and well known for its historic preservation work, Beyer Blinder Belle has an office on M Street and has been involved in such local projects as the 1055 High condos, Thurgood Marshall Courthouse and the Kennedy Center. The BID has created a Gateways Committee with residential, business and government representatives to work with the architects on the designs.


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