The West Heating Plant is again to be the subject of a D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board hearing on Nov. 2. In 2015, the DC Preservation League sought to designate the plant as a District landmark. The board rejected that designation in 2015, but the DC Preservation League has submitted a new application seeking landmark status. There is no basis, however, for the DC Preservation League to get a second bite at the apple. For one thing, the architect for the original heating plant, William Dewey Foster, was not someone “whose works have influenced the evolution of their fields of endeavor.”
Since 2011, there have been three structural engineering firms that agreed that partial facade demolition will be needed for the heating plant, with only the west facade a candidate for partial preservation. For that reason, a determination on whether a demolition permit should be issued will be made by the Mayor’s Agent for Historic Preservation. The Mayor’s Agent is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Jan. 25 and 26 on the permit application. The design for the facility’s replacement should qualify as an “exemplary design,” one of the legal thresholds for approving demolition. The development would also include a significant community benefit in the form of a public park to the south of the building with a pathway along Rock Creek Park and a bridge permitting access across Lock 1 of the C&O Canal.
— Bob vom Eigen