Ballston Building Adds ‘Bob Peck’ Awning

by ARLnow.com January 30, 2012 at 11:43 am 12,644 100 Comments


A new office building under construction in Ballston has added an architectural feature that should look familiar to many locals: a triangular awning that pays tribute to the old Bob Peck Chevrolet dealership.

The building at 800 N. Glebe Road replaced the dealership, which was a neighborhood fixture for several decades. The under-construction awning isn’t the only homage to the dealership, however. The completed building will eventually feature “an artist’s replica of a ’55 Chevrolet tail fin” in an outdoor plaza, according to CityBiz Real Estate.

Construction is expected to wrap up on the 10-story 800 N. Glebe Road building within a few months. The building will house more than 300,000 square feet of office space and some 28,000 square feet of retail space.

Photo via Flickr user aldenjewell

  • Richard Cranium

    “Check with Peck!”

    • Clarendude

      Bob’s voice is still inside my head saying that.

      • Richard Cranium

        Isn’t it though? It was sad to see him get to the “Dick Clark” stage – I would rather have seen vintage commercials of him doing the tag line than the (then) current-day versions.

        OK – enough of that. I’ll go back to primarily snarky comments now.

  • TG30A

    We used to launch golf balls from the putt putt into that car dealership.

    Good times.

    • WFY

      When did the Putt Putt close? I went there once as a kid and remember Ballston mostly being a construction site.

      • brendan

        i think it closed around 86 or 87…

      • Lou

        I believe it closed at the end of the 1989 season.

      • Tom M.

        Still have an orange golf ball from there, picked it up off the street when stopped for the light at Glebe.

        • JamesE

          Need to bring it back, and serve beer.

      • I believe it was at the end of the 1990 season – I recall playing there Summer 1990 and it was gone right afterwards.

      • Tater Salad

        I remember many happy nights at the Putt-Putt course, either preceded or followed by raucous dinners at the tiki bar on Columbia Pike…ah the old days!

    • North A-Town Snob

      Had what I think was my 8th or 9th birthday party at that putt-putt course. That would have been around 1984 or 1985. Good memories of that place.

    • Arlingtonian

      Can you tell me where the Putt Putt was exactly? No one I’ve spoken to seems to recall. I used to visit Arlington a lot as a child but while I remember the Peck dealership I don’t remember Putt Putt for some reason … go figure 🙂

    • P. Monroe

      TG30A: I wonder if I ever saw you there: My friends and I did exactly the same thing! I think the putt-putt course closed in 1989.
      Good times, indeed. Retro!

  • Any idea on what/who is going to fill the retail space?

  • novasteve

    Will they have juggler out in front? Oh Richard Cranium, it’s pointless, this area is full of transients and they have no idea that you are referring to those commericals from so long ago.

    • LP

      I know exactly what he’s talking about – “Check with Peck before you buy.”

    • Tim

      How about a Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Man?

      • ArLater


      • billj

        One would need to go to Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman Emporium and Warehouse in Weekapaug to get one of those!

    • P. Monroe

      When I lived in Woodbridge/Lake Ridge back in the mid-’80s, based on the radio ads I would hear, it seemed that Arlington (and to a certain extent Alexandria) was an area comprised solely of car dealerships. (“Come see our showrooms in Arlington/Alexandria!”) And Bob Peck Chevrolet was a main player!
      Here’s to Bob P.

  • charlie

    you can’t go home.

  • zzzzz

    Does this mean they will finally open the damn sidewalk? I’m so sick of the construction on this lot. They need to finish it already.

    • Rick

      They had to wait for the precious affordable housing project to finish behind it

      • drax

        Nope, that project is done but the main building isn’t yet.

        • Rick

          That was my point. The work on the Peck building didn’t begin to go full time until the housing was done. Sidewalk can’t open til the Peck building is done.

          • zzzzz

            The Jordan replaced an affordable housing apartment building that used to be on the other side of Wakefield St. It filled up pretty much as soon as they opened it, even before 9th St was finished. I’d say it makes sense to finish the residential building that could be filled right away before they finish a commercial building that doesn’t have any tenants yet.

            They also finished the Virginia Tech building, which had a tenant before they broke ground, before the one on the corner.

          • drax

            We shouldn’t have affordable housing if a sidewalk will be closed too long!

          • zzzzz

            And by the way there was a covered sidewalk available while the Jordan and Va Tech buildings were being built. It was taken down fairly recently.

            The issue is that the developer doesn’t give a crap about the people who live and work around the entire site. They block roads and then tell you to f*** off when you ask them when they will move. They spray paint “Sidewalk closed – cross here” on plywood and put it up mid-block, expecting pedestrians to run across 6 lanes of Glebe Rd. They didn’t bother to finish 9th St when the Jordan and Va Tech buildings opened, even though it was the only way to get into the garages for both buildings. They park large trucks in a no-parking zone on Wilson, endangering drivers coming from Wakefield St who can’t see if there’s any traffic coming from the left. They’ve been this way since before the Staples and Peck buildings were torn down. So they will take their sweet time re-opening the sidewalk on Glebe and Wilson after it is safe to do so.

          • Annie

            The Jordan IS an affordable housing community!!

          • drax

            The Peck building started work long before the housing building was done.

          • Lou

            There was a fairly lenghty pause in the office building construction because financing got a little shaky. I think that was around the time Northrop decided not to relocate there. The VPI building went through quickly probably because it is state money, or at least had a committed tenant.

            No telling what the original construction schedule and phasing was.

          • speonjosh

            Of course, he’s long gone now.

            And will be back tomorrow, still unwilling to accept anything which might disturb his worldview.

  • Rick

    It was nice seeing that, as that was actually one of the first parts done on the structure. I wonder what logo they will fill each diamond with

    • barry


      • Rick

        I hope you’re right, that’ll look nice especially if they keep with the old font and colors

    • jan

      why would they need to fill the diamonds?

      Nice to see they preserved the concept.

      • Rick

        Well something has to cover up those ugly fluorescent lights now doesn’t it?

  • Architecture Fan

    This is great. And i think the building is really cool, too.

    • Justice

      I agree. The triangular polygons of the awning structure compliments (by way of contrast) the protruding curved structure above it.

      The extreme terraced shape of the building’s backside also deserves a compliments. Terraced structures are timeless, but it takes money from the developer (boring cube structures more efficiently pack in paying tenants).

      Here’s are some portraits of the structure.


      • Clarendon

        Those renderings make the glass look a lot more transparent than it looks in real life which is more reflective.

        • Arlington, Northside

          The reflective properties of any glass will change with the time of day as the angle of the sun shifts.

    • Tre


  • WJ

    I gotta say, this building is U-G-L-Y. I remember seeing the renderings when it was originally proposed, and the glass is way too reflective. It hides what could be that cool curve of the facade. And while I’m all for paying tribute to the old Peck dealership, it just seems way out of place with the rest of the building. It’s not even finished and this building looks like it is straight out of the 80’s (not a compliment) with an awning from the 50’s.

    • huh?

      You are on crack, this building looks nothing like something out of the 80’s. The building looks pretty elegant and is unlike anything in Arlington. Did you want another brick and concrete mixed building to look like everything else in Arlington?

      • WJ

        I happen to know something about office building construction and architecture and I can tell you that the reflectivity of the glass ruins what could be a cool, wavy curtain wall system. It hides the curve. Reflective glass was a common material in 80’s era office buildings. Just because it’s different, doesn’t make it attractive.

        • huh?

          I don’t think the glass hides the curve at all, in fact the curve is very prominent and what makes it so interesting.

    • Lou

      One of my professors used to refer to these little add-ons as “potato chips”. I guess this one is kind of like the edge of a Ruffles. They usually look out of scale or tacked on. This one looks like both.

    • charlie

      gratuitous architectural feature that is not relevant.
      we want to celebrate the car dealership that was there. cuz someday we will have no car dealers, no repair shops and no gas stations.
      the car free board of supervisors wanted to memorialize the car dealer.

    • weird

      I don’t think this building looks anything like a building from the 80’s. The stretch on Glebe looks rather unique and almost elegant. Would you rather the building look like everything else in Arlington, a brick and concrete mixed cookie cutter?

      • speonjosh

        Yes, this stretch now is quite dramatic. It’s kinda neat, actually.

    • art


  • bob

    Amazing — arlington will preserve some lousy drug store if if gets affordable housing credits, but preserving a real landmark…..

  • huh?
  • Juanita de Talmas

    Didn’t this developer agree to add another entrance to the Metro when this building was approved? Where is that?

    • John B

      My understanding is the other entrance to the metro was supposed to be in the eventual replacement for the short building around 4400 Fairfax, the one across from the Fish & Wildlife building.

      • Juanita de Talmas

        My bad. You are correct.

  • Sunny617

    You should get
    a Bob Peck Chevy.
    Check with Peck
    before you buy!

    Second only to:
    Jerry’s Ford makes it clear:
    Let the Competition Beware!
    Let the Comp-e-ti-tion Beware!

    • Crystal Koons

      We’re gonna wow ya.

      • CrystalMikey

        With your crazy eyes.

        • Michelle Bachmann

          Someone looking for me?

      • jackson

        “When you’re talking cars, you’re talking Koons.”

    • Dum Dum Guy at the Gates of Dawn
    • weird

      Although the best ever commercial slogan of all time is…

      • Dum Dum Guy at the Gates of Dawn

        Written by Nils Lofgren.

  • weird

    That none of my posts show up.

    • Dum Dum Guy at the Gates of Dawn

      Just pretend that you didn’t see this, then.

  • AbeFroman

    Those 2 new building right there on Glebe are like a death ray reflecting the sun in the mornings at southbound traffic on Glebe.

    • Arlingtron

      While watching the building go up I was wondering if the curve of glass would make some sort of Archimedes’ death ray where multiple mirrors are focused on one spot. In ancient times they wanted to burn attacking ships. Now it will set passing cars on fire if they happen to enter the wrong place at the wrong time?

      • TJLinBallston

        Frank Gehry’s wavy steel and glass Concert Hall in Los Angeles was zapping drivers and HAD to be toned-down.

  • thecharlesriver

    I like it.

  • R

    I personally think that looks pretty tacky. I don’t know if paying homage to a not so great piece of 1950’s architecture is that great of a thing. While I grew up here and bought a Chevy from there back in the day, all and all I don’t think the Bob Peck building was that attractive of a building. Once the generation of people who have any idea what that design pays homage to are gone, those living here are going to be wondering what the hell that ugly facade is all about. It will join the blue Marymount building as head scratchers compared to the design of everything else in Ballston.Some architectural features have stood the test of time…columns for example…and outside of nostalgia for those who remember it or grew up here, the Bob Peck Chevy building really didn’t warrant that kind of respect.

    • speonjosh

      I think it goes beyond just paying tribute to what was once an ARlington landmark, but also to Bob Peck himself, who was a figure of some local importance.

      The presence of the awning will be a visible and tangible connection to what Arlington used to be.

      These things are fairly rare and valuable in a throw-away culture such as ours…..

      • Plum


        • Arlington, Northside

          I think it looks great, particularly when you compare it to some of the other recent buildings in the R-B-C corridor.

    • Lou

      The building was a pretty solid example of a particular architectural style of the mid-20th century inspired by cars, car design and general technological improvements in travel.

      But I do agree that lifting the canopy detail and sticking it on a new building is pretty much missing the point of the original style.

      • Burger

        Exactly. Of course, many people in Arlington just assume it is old it is gold or should be preserved most of the time it should be just torn down. otherwise, you get instances of this…a crap design shoehorned onto what is an interest building but now with a crap motiff that sticks out like a sore thumb.

        • ArlScoutDad

          Bob Peck will always be part of my memories tied to getting my first new car. Sad to see all the old buildings go, but I have to agree, from the picture, it looks like a cupcake wrapper stuck on to the building.
          I bet the new Overlee Clubhouse will be the same. Knocked down a beautiful old farmhouse and replace it with a new McClubhouse. We still don’t know what caused their delay.

    • Hmmm

      Is there a story behind the blue Marymount building? Can’t wrap my head around the rationale there. What am I missing?

      • Lou

        There is a little historic significance to the “Blue Goose” building because of its metal panel exterior. I believe it is a type of curtain wall technology that was new at the time but never really became widely used.

        I assume Marymount owns it outright, and they will probably use it until it falls down, or sell it.

        • Arlingtonian

          I have a friend who’s an MU alumnus and says that building was originally the CIA building.

          • Arlington, Northside

            DIA, not CIA, I think.

  • CourthouseChris

    I’d rather see architecture attempt imaginitive and fun, and fall short, than be successfully bland.

    • Lou

      I think the new building, overall, is really great. I love the volumes and the curves. It’s one of the best looking buildings in that area. Maybe the best. Not a big fan of the Wilson Blvd side with the punched windows and terracing, though.

      But the applied canopy looks ridiculous on this building.

      I loved the Peck building. Played little league for Bob Peck sponsored teams. But the canopy is silly.

    • Arlingtonian


  • I bet the American Pickers have the original awning back in their shop in Iowa.

    • TJLinBallston

      The original Peck flagpole is now in front of a private home in Bluemont. Shortly before demolition, the pole’s new owner simply asked for it and was given it for free. He borrowed a truck for a half-hour and it’s now on his front lawn.

      • truth be told

        Nice. The Pallone Chevrolet off of I95 near Springfield has also been torn down to make way for a new building. That was the dealer with the massive US flag flying. I’d love to have that flag pole.

  • Wakefield Dad

    55 Chevy’s didn’t have tail fins. Pronounced tail fins debuted with the ’57 Chevy.

  • TJLinBallston

    800 North Glebe Road looks like no other in Ballston, if not the entire DC area…and that’s a good thing.

  • Arlingtron

    I noticed the awning taking shape on Sunday. I think it’s great to work in historical architectural elements.

  • Restonian

    A large portion of the building is going to be Accenture. They are moving their DC office from Reston to this building.

    • Clarendon

      They also have offices downtown, correct ? Is this confrmed ? It seems like it would be kind of significant news.

  • TJLinBallston

    As the fine, finishing details are being applied to 800 North Glebe, it’s good to recall that architectural criticism is best applied to completed structures.

    Stainless steel detailing and inset aluminum (?) panels give the curved glass curtain-wall a solid but really elegant facade. And it’s only going to get better. Even now, it’s monthly away until we can finally “see” it.

  • The Putt Putt course was the best place we ever held my mom’s birthday at. I guess that was more than a couple of decades ago. I had my cutest and vintage golf ball from there (a green one). I still have it though and it’s been my lucky charm whenever I go golfing.

  • Before the common usage of air conditioning systems, the homeowners
    prefer to install residential awnings to keep their houses both stylish and
    cool. With the innovative awnings like design, the office building will sport a
    classic and retro architecture. But the design cannot achieve the green
    benefits offered by window and patio awnings.


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