Old Town aesthetics matter

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Old Town aesthetics matter
(Graphic/Jessica Kim)
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To the editor: 

My wife and I have lived in the heart of Old Town for 18 years, having moved here from Connecticut. We are continuously charmed by the architecture and the visual character of our neighborhood. 

I am a creative director – I worked on Madison Avenue for 20 years. Admittedly, I bring a professional visual sense to my surroundings. The human eye – the brain actually – is attracted to balance and harmony. But it doesn’t want everything to be identical. What is most pleasing is variations on a theme, which is what makes Old Town so precious. The buildings may span 200 years of architecture, but for the most part, they comprise a whole. 

The planned new building at 301 N. Fairfax is incongruous with the neighborhood. Aesthetically, on its own merit, it is not displeasing and would fit in well in a new development: Potomac Yard for example. But it does not fit, in any sense, Old Town. 

The city – not the government and developers – deserve and should demand that the gift of Old Town not be chipped away one building at a time. This building is wrong on many levels, which all have been raised elsewhere. I appeal to everyone’s sense of aesthetics, that little control panel that lives in each of our heads that says subconsciously: “this is beautiful, this brings me pleasure.” The planned development says, overtly: “This does not belong here.” 

Let’s add to Old Town’s charm and appeal instead of creating incongruity and putting up yet another monument to the needs of developers to enhance their pocketbooks – to say nothing of a city government that seeks ever more development and density to fill the coffers with tax revenue. 

I thought, perhaps mistakenly, we were better than this. 

-Barry Kessel, 

Alexandria 

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