In a special meeting Thursday evening, April 19, urban designers from the Beyer Blinder Belle architectural firm and the Georgetown Business Improvement District shared designs in progress for three of the four gateways to Georgetown: at K and 19th Streets, M and 28th Streets, the Georgetown side of Key Bridge and R Street and Wisconsin Avenue.
“Each gateway is designed to be distinctive and contemporary, but also respectful of the character of each particular neighborhood,” said Jamie Scott, the BID’s director of planning and economic development. “Each gateway site has unique challenges. This is not a uniform community, even though there is an integral sense of the community.”
Each had similarities as well as great differences. The word “Georgetown” is present in large block letters at each entrance, but in different styles, made out of contrasting materials and placed in unique ways according to the public space available and distinct environment.
At the K Street entrance, which passes under and is roofed by the Whitehurst Freeway, the large Georgetown sign is affixed high above on a steel girder of the freeway. The girder frames along the length of K Street are illuminated (either alternatively or each one, depending on the final decision), giving a perspective of a long arched entrance along the waterfront. The walkway up the hill on K Street will be landscaped for more of a Georgetown-sidewalk feel and less of a freeway-entrance look.
Crosswalks and sidewalks will have different kinds of surfacing, from textured cement tiles and gravel to bricks. “Many light elements have been added, as we’ve had many requests for better lighting in that area,” said Scott. Gateways at Key Bridge and at M and 28th Streets will also highlight large vertical frames of different materials and sizes as a kind of thematic element. All will use contrasting materials for visible and safe crosswalks and all will include small islands and pop-up parks for relaxation — some with tables, chairs and umbrellas — as well as safety.
“Each gateway is meant to inform and orient those coming into Georgetown,” Scott said.
The designs will be presented at the next meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E on Monday, April 30, and are expected to have a preliminary review by the Old Georgetown Board soon after. Comments and ideas from the public are encouraged.