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Ballston Building Adds ‘Bob Peck’ Historical Marker

by Aaron Kraut | August 1, 2012 at 9:52 am | 4,142 views | 44 Comments

Developers of a new office building in Ballston have added another historical touch to commemorate the old Bob Peck Chevrolet dealership that for decades served as a neighborhood landmark on the same site.

Alexandria-based Bowman Consulting, the landscape architecture firm on developer JBG’s 10-story office building at 800 N. Glebe Road, recently designed and installed a historical marker to honor the dealership’s iconic Googie architecture style.

In January, builders added a diamond-shaped facade to the front of the building to mimic the style. Bob Peck Chevrolet was demolished in 2008.

From the text of the historical marker:

Bob Peck opened his first Chevrolet dealership in 1939 on Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon. In 1964, he moved the dealership west to Ballston to the very prominent corner of North Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard, 300 feet south of this marker. Taking advantage of the site’s unique location and visibility, local architect Anthony Musolino designed a transparent circular showroom of glass and chrome, with a butterfly roofline whose frieze of diamond-shaped blue panels spelled out “Chevrolet.” The building was an excellent example of Googie architecture, reflecting the era’s prevailing interest in the future — space travel, nuclear energy, rockets — through the use of upward slanting and cantilevered roofs, geometric patterns, acute angles and large sheets of glass.

Musolino’s design evoked thoughts of flight and movement, with its walls of transparent glass and a roof that appeared to float skyward. The transparent showroom was a living billboard. Motorists could see the chrome-trimmed vehicles from the street. Peck Chevrolet became a community icon and a landmark for motorists traveling to and through Arlington. The showroom’s design is represented in the new diamond-shaped frieze of the office building now located at the former Bob Peck site.

 

Photos courtesy Bowman Consulting

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  • novasteve

    I bet you they will have sightings of Bob Peck’s ghost juggling.

  • Chris B

    Major kudos to the developer for this.

  • Don

    We saw that last week. Nice, but it’s a shame it explains the look of the diamond shapes over the entry of the building… around the corner.

  • JamesE

    Making the marker shaped like the back of an old chevy, nice touch.

  • Mike

    Love this.

  • South Awwlington

    This is awesome. We need more of this as the new replaces the old.

  • Josh S

    This demonstrates creativity and a sense of place/ history, two things that are so often lacking in commercial building development. Kudos to the development team.

  • YTK

    LIKE

  • Id

    Developers guilt for destroying something beautiful.

  • Ballstonia

    This is really cool, but the 9 blue panels on the new building are dying to get filled in with text. Something like

    A-R-L-I-N-G-T-O-N

    or

    8-0-0-N-G-L-E-B-E

    • OldYeller

      S-T-E-A-K-N-C-H-Z

    • Not Me

      S-T-R-E-E-T-C-A-R

      Sorry, couldn’t resist.

      • 1RLI

        C-H-I-C-K-F-I-L-A!!

        • Bob

          I am just waiting for the county board to issue a statement encouraging Chick-fil-A to shut down in Arlington and leave and never come back.

          • 1RLI

            Hmmm… we should start a threat about that.

          • Huh

            Dillon Rule would probably prevent that.

            But they’d better be sure to pay their taxes on time and have zero code violations ever.

          • Courthouse Diva

            We certainly don’t want to encourage free speech in the People’s Republic of Arlington.

    • Novanglus

      The building’s tenant is A-C-C-E-N-T-U-R-E. I wouldn’t be surprise to see that soon..

    • Jay

      F-A-G-G-O-T-S

  • BoredHouseWife

    Love it.

  • wreckingball

    Instead of leveling everything in site, maybe developers in Arlington (and DC) should try to preserve some of the history (…oh yeah, its already too late for that.)

    • U ROY

      You got that right.

    • Chief Powhatan

      Where the hell were you in 1607 when I needed you?

  • Arlanon

    That is my favorite building in Ballston.

  • JohnB

    Like

  • jan

    Brilliant!

  • Elmer

    I remember the opening of the dealership in 1964. They gave away toy models of Chevys to kids. Mr. Peck always wore a bow tie, had a crew cut and a big smile.
    I often thought his wearing the bow tie was to connect him with and remind you of the bow tie look of the Chevy emblem.

  • LZZ

    Nice! Bob Peck Chevrolet was truly an Arlington Landmark.

  • Clarendon

    Did they “Check with Peck” ?

  • Mike

    I think the building’s blue diamond facade, and the historical marker are a great ideas.

    I wonder if we could get the same developer to replace the Marymount building in Ballston with a more modern structure, but preserving a few panels of blue glass and putting up a marker explaining that “for decades, the ‘Blue Goose’ that stood at this site was an iconic example of bad taste.”

    • Elmer

      They should have done this for the Pla-Mor duck pin bowling alley that was next to the Blue Goose. I think that was the last duck pin alley in Arlington.
      A monument to the Putt-Putt miniature golf course that was in the intersection of Wilson Blvd. and N. Glebe across from Bob Peck would be nice also. Give the motorists something more to aim at other than pedestrians.

      • YTK

        Aaaah Flaaack! Oh…sorry, my mistake…..

      • YTK

        The monument to Putt Putt should emphasize the last hole, where if you got a hole in one, the ball would disappear. Only this time the offending car would.

      • wreckingball

        I remember playing Putt-Putt there as a kid, and having the balls end up at the Bob Peck dealership (or close to it)….Fun times!

  • (another) Greg

    Great job by the developer!

    …but reading the marker, it looks like it calls the old Bob Peck showroom, “an excellent example of Google architecture.” It then goes on to describe the building in terms commonly associated with “Jet Age Architecture.”

    I’ve never heard of “Google architecture” and wonder if the person who wrote asked what type of building it was and took the response, “google architecture,” a bit too literally.

    • Elmer

      Meet George Jetson!

    • nom de guerre
      • (another) Greg

        I stand corrected and accept the FAIL label for my post.

        Thanks for the info!

    • Novanglus

      I don’t know what “Google architecture” is. If only there were some way I could find out….

  • YTK

    Those geometric designs always reminded me of the rear end of a 1959 Chevy.

  • Leslie

    I interviewed Bob Peck once for a story I was writing for the Washington Business Journal (I think. Either that or the Arlington Journal). He was a lovely man. I smile whenever I drive by the new building.

  • http://leslieinadamsmorgan.blogspot.com Leslie

    I’ve been wondering about the diamond-shaped entrance for some time now. Very happy to know the history behind it.

  • LZZ

    So what year do you think that photo of the showroom was taken??

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