Tuesday, October 5, 2021

JP Morgan Chase rep trashes renowned Rockville architect in presentation to Mayor & Council

Rockville's Mayor and Council received testimony regarding whether or not the former Meixin Supermarket building at 460 Hungerford Drive should be designated historic last night. They ultimately decided to leave the public record open for another week to receive further comments, meaning a final decision won't come before next Monday at the earliest. While those representing JP Morgan Chase, N.A. in the matter were expected to argue against historic designation, preservation advocates were taken aback when Chase's expert witness went beyond the building at hand, to trash the entire career of renowned Rockville architect James "Jack" Sullivan.

Sullivan has been lauded locally for his many landmark buildings in the city and elsewhere in Montgomery County. Structures like the Rockville Swim Center and Aspen Hill Library remain prime examples of midcentury modern architecture, and the post-World War II growth of our suburban area. The late Sullivan was featured alongside fellow architect Jack Samperton in a documentary for Rockville's Channel 11, A Pair of Jacks. His work, such as 900 Spring Street in Silver Spring, won awards.

But in the words of JP Morgan Chase's expert, Sullivan "was not a master architect," and was "never recognized by his peers." Really? She dismissed Sullivan as "a workaday architect," and said only the Aspen Hill Library qualified as an exceptional building. 

Anyone with a passing knowledge of, or interest in, midcentury modern architecture would find such a critique laughable on its face. Much of Sullivan's work is indeed exceptional, and today's newer buildings most often pale in comparison. While 460 Hungerford Drive may not represent the summit of Sullivan's portfolio, such a savage ravaging of the man's work is farcical when it is proposed to be replaced with a box of a bank branch. No Rockville hearts were won by JP Morgan Chase last night.


  1. Arguing about the "architectural merits" of a 1960s one-story beige brick building in a suburban strip shopping center?

    Is this what they call "inside baseball"?

  2. The prevailing trend is to denigrate the suburbs,and do away with suburbs if possible. Make everything a big city where everyone can live happily with everyone else. Lol!

  3. The “editorializing” in the last Paragraph Against the Chevy Chase “expert” is Totally out-of-line. Save YOUR personal opinion for some other forum. IMO, it’ s laughable that this particular building would be considered as architecturally significant in any way.
    I’ve it go thru many tenants and never ever thought there was Anything noteworthy
    about it.