Showing posts with label Jessica Reynolds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jessica Reynolds. Show all posts

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rockville Historic District Commission still on for meeting with Twinbrook Citizens Association

A plan for representatives of the Rockville Historic District Commission to attend the April 28 meeting of the Twinbrook Citizens Association meeting was confirmed at last night's commission meeting. No details of the format or agenda were given last evening. Confirmed to attend so far are Commissioner Jessica Reynolds and the commission's Staff Liaison, Sheila Bashiri.

In a previous discussion, it was said to be an opportunity for residents to learn about their options for historic preservation or designation for their homes or neighborhood. The meeting will be held at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, April 28, at the Twinbrook Community Recreation Center at 12920 Twinbrook Parkway.

The commission also declined to endorse a proposal to allow construction of a new home with an attached garage at 102 South Van Buren Street last night. Commissioner Rob Achtmeyer expressed concern that approval would set a precedent for how infill development is handled within historic districts. Reynolds agreed, saying it would start the city down a "slippery slope." Achtmeyer said a house with a front-facing attached garage was not appropriate in the historic district the site is located within.

This was a courtesy review, and no formal vote was taken.

Friday, February 20, 2015


The demolition reprieve the Sullivan and Associates-designed building at 5 Choke Cherry Road received from Rockville's Historic District Commission was short-lived. Last night, the commissioners voted unanimously that the structure did not merit historic designation by the city. Jack Sullivan has been recognized as one of the most significant architects in the history of Rockville.

The motion was made by Commissioner Anita Neal Powell, and seconded by Commissioner Craig Moloney.

Commissioner Jessica Reynolds urged the city to begin considering which of Sullivan's buildings in Rockville should receive such designation, to be preserved from demolition in the future. Moloney said he concurred.

The vote removes one of the last hurdles for developer JBG's planned Upper Rock retail project to proceed.

Friday, December 19, 2014


The Rockville Historic District Commission wants more information before rendering its decision on whether or not the office building at 5 Choke Cherry Road merits historic designation. At the outset of last night's meeting, Commission Chair Robert Achtmeyer asked if this matter was essentially a rubber stamp action for the body (the property is part of The JBG Companies' Upper Rock development, which received initial approval from the Mayor and Council, and a housing component has already been constructed). It quickly became apparent that that would not be the case.

Ironically, the commercial structure in question had previously been slated for a retrofitting by JBG, to transform it into a mixed-use, live-work housing development. That would have preserved the arguably-historic exterior. More recently, JBG determined that there was no market for additional housing in that immediate area, and has now asked for permission to demolish 5 Choke Cherry Road to make way for a retail development.

The building was designed by highly-regarded local architect John "Jack" Sullivan, who was responsible for many notable buildings in Rockville, including the County Council building. Now many of them are threatened with demolition, which concerned Commissioners Craig Maloney and Jessica Reynolds. Reynolds said she was still lamenting the demolition of the Suburban Trust Building (a.k.a. The Pink Bank), and the commission's decision last month to allow demolition of the Gillette Building.

Nancy Pickard, speaking on behalf of Peerless Rockville, testified that the building deserves consideration for historic designation on several of the criteria required to meet current preservation standards. 

While the staff report found 5 Choke Cherry Road did not meet any of the criteria for historic designation, Reynolds and Maloney disagreed. Maloney noted that the Brutalist architecture element of the 1973 structure predated the height of that style's popularity, making it an early example ahead of its time. There was also a sense during the discussion that the importance and prominence of Sullivan's work in Rockville met the criteria for having been designed by a master architect.

Ultimately, the commission voted to postpone the question. Reynolds asked city staff to provide more information on Sullivan's buildings, how many remain in unaltered form and which ones have been demolished already. She said that information would help the commission begin to reckon with which Sullivan buildings it should prioritize preservation of. The commission also felt that it would help to discuss the matter with JBG at a future meeting, to determine if there is any viable way for the developer to utilize the existing building, such as removing floors to allow higher ceilings for contemporary retail.

Given that the ground floor currently houses individual retail such as a credit union, it seems that retrofitting this building for retail would be possible. It also has prime placement along Shady Grove Road, giving it - and future tenants - high visibility.

The two single-family homes, whose owners were seeking a finding to allow demolition last night, were both found to not meet historic designation criteria by the commission.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


The post-World War II and modern architecture of three Rockville neighborhoods will be the focus of Peerless Rockville's spring "Modern Living for a Modern City" series. Rockcrest, Hungerford and College Gardens will each take a turn in the spotlight as warmer weather finally begins to reach Rockville.

On March 29, Rockville Historic District Commissioner Jessica Reynolds will discuss the Rockcrest neighborhood at the Twinbrook Recreation Center, beginning at 10:00 AM.

Hungerford will be the subject on April 12, as historian Teresa Lachin makes a presentation at the Elwood Smith Community Center, also at 10:00 AM.

Finally, Nancy Pickard of Peerless Rockville will host an examination of architecture in College Gardens on April 26 at the Rockville Senior Center, again at 10:00 AM.

Peerless Rockville is a non-profit concerned with historic preservation and preserving Rockville's heritage.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Jessica Reynolds, a member of the Rockville Historic District Commission, is speaking out on the recent 3-2 decision by the Mayor and Council to allow demolition of a historic bank building at 255 N. Washington Street.

In a letter published in this week's Gazette, Reynolds accused city leaders of preserving only those buildings with "architectural styles that meet their own tastes." The decision to not allow a historic designation process for the "Pink Bank" "has implications for how the public's voice will be heard in Rockville in the future," she wrote.

The building's distinctive design, Reynolds argued, not only serves as an important reminder of the city's blunder of demolishing its original, historic town center during the 60s, but also reinforces a sense of place in a time of what she has previously called "cookie cutter" buildings.

Reynolds predicted that the modern town center itself will be replaced again in only 30 years.

The HDC had recommended the city allow a historic designation process to begin for the structure. Supporters of demolition argued that historic designation had already been dismissed previously (however, according to preservationists, the building only recently has qualified by age for designation), and pointed to the developer's years of planning - and work with residents in the adjacent West End - as arguments for allowing the new development to proceed. Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio added that she strongly supported property rights by landowners in the city, and therefore was voting on principle to allow demolition.