Church exemption from historic designation?
While I was debating parking zoning regulations, Councilmember Jack Evans announced a new bill that would exempt religious institutions from being designated as historic sites against their will. This is clearly aimed at the Third Church landmarking.
I oppose protecting that building, because I see the role of historic preservation as retaining the character of neighborhoods, not about protecting a set of standalone pieces of art by various famous architects despite their impact on the street fabric. However, I also recoil at laws that prescribe favored treatment for religious buildings. The HPRB decision was wrong not because Third Church is a church, but because it is a bad building that deadens a street corner. Its treatment should be the same whether it is a hotel, a house, or a church. Richard Layman hates the bill too.
Historic preservation has been great for DC, preventing this from turning into this. But if we already have this, should we really use law to keep it the way it is? Is it more important to maintain a variety of buildings that make DC's architecture more interesting, or preserve neighborhood fabric that also fosters a lively streetscape?
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