D.C. Area To Lose Midcentury Modern Car Dealership
By Stephanie Smith | Online Only | May 14, 2008
A whimsical, midcentury modern building that Arlington, Va., residents have used for decades as a navigational marker will soon disappear.
Known for its flying-saucer-like canopy, Bob Peck Chevrolet, built 1964, will be demolished in the coming weeks, according to Maryland-based owner JGB Companies. Arlington County approved its plans for a mixed-use development on the site in February, and work is set to begin early next year.
Because the building is not yet 50 years old, it is not considered historic and is not an official landmark. Yet preservationists and community members urged JGB Companies to save the circular, glass showroom and reuse it as a restaurant or retail space.
"It's not just a preservation issue, it's a community issue," says Michael Levanthal, historic preservation planner for Arlington County. "It took on a character greater than itself, being a modest building."
According to Lisa Maher, a site planner for the project, the developer determined that the materials used in the building were not durable enough for reuse. Instead, they agreed to build a replica of the showroom as part of their new development.
"We agreed that the showroom had a nostalgic place [in the city]," says Lisa Marier, JBG spokeswoman. Marier says that JBG has salvaged materials from the building, including the diamond-shaped panels that spelled the name of the dealership.
The showroom was an instant icon when it was first built, and it is said that original owner Bob Peck paid architect Anthony Musolino for his design with two new Chevrolets. The dealership closed two years ago, when Donald Peck, Bob's son, sold the 2.3-acre property to JBG.
Though Leventhal says that the developer was very responsive to the community's concerns, he hopes that the loss will make city planners more aware of preservation issues. "You want to move people philosophically towards preservation."
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