2345 MLK Avenue almost complete, and it's quite the eyesore. Designed by Höweler + Yoon Architecture of Boston, the building is an awkward mess of what appears to be the cheapest materials out there. I know that in development situations, the architects are at the mercy of their client's budget, but there are always creative ways to make buildings look good.
Why have I titled this The Emperor Has No Clothes? Because Höweler + Yoon is the partnership of a Harvard architecture professor and an MIT architecture professor. These should be the experts in their field. This is what happens when architecture becomes too much about lofty classroom ideals and theories and not enough about real life context, character, and permanence. I'm a huge fan of contemporary design, but not of design that ignores its surroundings and doesn't add anything to the block.
From the cheap light fixtures to the bubble skylight used as the second story window, to the harsh-looking sliding security gates attached to the storefront, this building screams straight utility without adding any whimsy or depth to the streetscape.
I'm not in the camp of adding buildings and blocks to the historic district simply as a way to get some design review, but buildings like this unfortunately push me that way. We need another solution. A "design review district" perhaps, with regulation as buildings progress to ensure quality craftmanship.
We simply cannot afford to have crap buildings go up if there is any expectation that Anacostia will one day be a much more desirable place to live and work.