Sunday, March 30, 2008


29.03.2008 14:02 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ In a public hearing convened on March 27, the
Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), which is charged with
responsibility for the protection, enhancement and perpetuation of
properties of historical, cultural and aesthetic merit in the District
of Columbia, in a unanimous vote gave concept approval for the Armenian
Genocide Museum of America (AGMA). The plans call for restoring the
exterior of the historical bank building, modifying the interior to
accommodate the museum exhibits, and building a new glass structure
next to the historic bank, which will be surfaced with native Armenian
stone to complement the bank building, AGMA told PanARMENIAN.Net.

HPRB Chairman Tersh Boasberg complimented AGMA and its team for their
care in developing a project, "that~Rs what historic preservation is
all about," adding that AGMA~Rs plans for the structure to deal with
the Armenian Genocide were "exciting."

Van Krikorian, chairman of the museum building and operations
committee, opened by thanking HPRB members for the interest they have
taken in the project. He stated that AGMA is excited about the project,
and is moving forward with special "sensitivity to the history of the
building," and stressed that AGMA wanted to preserve the historical
building in which it will be housed, especially considering our
experience from the Genocide and Armenians~R own sensitivity to
preserving important historical structures. He thanked the HPRB and
those who had contributed for their involvement and assistance.

Upon hearing principal architect Gary Martinez present in detail
the proposed museum and the restoration plans for the former bank
building located two blocks from the White House, HPRB also commended
AGMA for the team assembled to create what it described as a "highly
imaginative project." HPRB described the museum plans as "dramatic"
use of the historically-designated building. Details of some sensitive
interior issues remain to be worked out as the development progresses,
and AGMA indicated its flexibility in working with the HPRB in that
process. HPRB Commission members and staff had several questions
and constructive comments.

Earlier in the week, the AGMA planning team made presentations to
the DC Preservation League and the Advisory Neighborhood Committee~Rs
Community Development Committee (ANC-CDC). The DC Preservation League,
a community-based organization, strongly endorsed the project and
its representative Patrick Burkhardt called the proposal to locate
a museum in the historic building a "textbook marriage." The ANC-CDC
also endorsed the project.

Following the unanimous vote, Krikorian again thanked the HPRB, the
AGMA staff, architects, exhibit planners, and project managers, adding
"this is a great day for all of us committed to opening a first class
Armenian Genocide Museum in Washington." HPRB Chairman Boasberg closed
the hearing by saying that the Armenian Genocide Museum project will
"add to the kind of vitality that historic preservation can provide"
in the heart of downtown Washington, with a benefit for the District
of Columbia as well as national and international audiences.

The former National Bank of Washington has interior and exterior
designations on the National Register of Historic Places. Only a
dozen privately-owned structures in the capital city have such a
high level of historic designation. The bank building is slated for
complete restoration and renovation, as well as application as the
exhibit space for AGMA. HPRB concept approval and enlistment of local
community support registered two certified milestones in opening the
museum on schedule.

HPRB commissioners are appointed by the mayor of the District of
Columbia. The presentation they heard was prepared by the firm of
Martinez & Johnson Architecture, whose talents and experience in
rehabilitating especially ornate historic buildings was noted. The
architectural team was supported by representatives from Gallagher &
Associates contracted by AGMA as its exhibit design firm, the Armenian
National Institute serving as the research arm of the museum project,
and by the project management firm of Regan Associates.

Martinez & Johnson Architecture and Gallagher & Associates have been
working on the development of the museum project since mid-2007. Regan
Associates joined the planning team in February of this year. Among
several museum and other projects led by the firm, most recently
Regan Associates completed the Orientation Center, Education Center,
and Museum at Mount Vernon Estates, the home of President George

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