Stop the Billboard!

Photo courtesy of
‘Friendship Arch’
courtesy of ‘Rolenz’

The DC facade has undergone a few too many facelifts in the past decade or so, turning some neighborhoods – ahem, Gallery Place, Chinatown – into something reminiscent of a once (it’s getting a bit better thanks to NYC finally getting their act together) over-commercialized Times Square.

However, a few key residents of the Gallery Place neighborhood have joined together to stage an intervention.  Stop the Billboard, a website made public yesterday, hopes to raise awareness and gain support in order to “keep DC beautiful and free of outdoor color video advertisements“.  The residents behind the website are specifically outraged by the newest proposal by Gallery Place Partners LLC to install two, 12-ft by 40-ft ‘interactive’ billboards on the corner of 7th and G Street NW – which as the website states, “violates numerous District ordinances“.

If you want to learn more about this cause, keep DC architecture billboard free, or show your support – visit Stop the Billboard!

Samantha can often be found daydreaming by the Rothkos of the East Gallery, sketching store facades along 14th, and snapping photos with her vintage polaroid at 9:30 club concerts. Since moving to DC in 2007 to get an MFA in Interior Design, her eyes can’t seem to be peeled away from the beautiful things in this city. Send any visual art, architecture, or design related news her way via Samantha (at)

12 thoughts on “Stop the Billboard!

  1. What if we kinda like the billboards? Perhaps a few in the city center isn’t unheard of. It’s not historic Georgetown or sleepy Eastern Market, its our downtown.

  2. I think it doesn’t hurt to share your opinion with those running the site – perhaps a contrasting view could be enlightening and something for future consideration.

  3. I’m with Patrick. Heck, 7th St. NW is the closest thing we actually have right now, to a “real” city.

  4. I think residents of Gallery Place would disagree Kevin/Patrick. When we purchased homes at Gallery Place this type of signage was illegal. Now they are attempting to change the nature of our neighborhood. Can you imagine what Dupont Circle or Foggy Bottom residents would do if someone proposed something just 5% as obnoxious as this?

  5. Why on earth would we want to emulate NYC when we have far more elegance? This attempt to vulgarize the neighborhood is strictly a commercial effort to degrade the quality of our city and architectural integrity of our downtown neighborhoods. For heaven’s sake, this is a few blocks from all the marvelous museums and other delights of our national mall.

  6. The proposed oversize vidboards are not about enlivening Gallery Place or bringing more people to buy stuff…in fact, some days/nights you could not FIT one more person in the entire neighborhood because it’s gotten so polular. Folks, this is about $$$MONEY$$$ for the developers who lease the space to the billboard companies. These giant vidboard monstrosities are INCREDIBLY lucrative. Follow the money!

  7. Hi Everyone, I wanted to take a moment to respond to this discussion, as I think I can shed some light on some of the excellent comments being made. I am with Orange Barrel Media, the company handling the proposed screens at Gallery Place. Thank you for the opportunity to respond. The website,, is riddled with inaccurate information. It was started by a few residents (more on this below) that made demands for excessive compensation, beyond our already very generous offer.
    1. We are not putting up any signs without building permits. We have just begun discussions with Office of Planning regarding our proposed signs. We have spent more than a year working with the community on the design of our signs, and have secured the endorsement of the Chinatown Community Cultural Center, as well as the Gallery Place Residents Association. At the request of Residents’, we have made a variety of significant revisions to the proposed signs, including decreasing their size, removing audio features, reducing their hours of operation, and changing some of the mediums. We obtained approval and support from 98% of the condominium residents, with four residents opposed to the signs unless we agree to meet their excessive demands for compensation. In some cases the compensation the have requested would exceed the value of their condos. All condominium owners were aware that signage would be installed, as it is explicitly stated in their purchase contracts and declarations that were given to all purchasers of the units, including the publisher of the website in question.
    2. We are not attempting to change city code to allow these type of signs – city code was already modified specifically to allow the signs we are proposing, and is codified under section 3107.18 “Rules for Gallery Place Project Graphics.” Our goal has been to bring unique and high quality signage to the Gallery Place project to add vitality and energy to the project. The Gallery Place Signage Regulations were created by the City for the same reason. We believe our signage proposal is the embodiment of what was intended under the Regulations. We also believe that the proposal is in accordance with the planning goals of the Comprehensive Plan, Gallery Place and Chinatown Area. For instance, the “Five Goals of Chinatown” by the Office of Planning discusses exactly the type of vibrant and creative signs we are proposing. The signs also embody much of the testimony and reasoning provided to and by the DC Council’s Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Further, these type of signs are consistent (although much smaller than) other signage in the neighborhood, such as the video screens on the Verizon Center.
    3. The image and size of the sign shown on the website is completely inaccurate. We have proposed a 45’ tall sign, not a 75’ sign. The rendering makes the sign way larger than we have proposed. Our sign will be 1’ narrower than the existing Regal sign, not twice as wide as shown in the rendering. The website publisher knows this is inaccurate, as he has been at meetings when we discussed the reduced size of the sign.
    4. The signs on the corner of 7th and H were installed in accordance with the law, and are fully permitted. They are also operated legally, under the guidelines of the signage code. The website states that we are illegally advertising liquor. This is untrue. The Gallery Place Regulations support our ability to advertise any product, service or tenant available on the property.

    Thanks for your time. Please let me know if I can address any additional questions. I can be reached at 614.294.4898

  8. Please do not turn downtown DC into an advertisement. Preserve one of the most historic places on the planet.

  9. Haha– deleted my comment on this topic & then closed the comments as they don’t want to be called out anymore as liars or respond to spot on Orange’s rebuttal. The signs are not illegal & Orange has the right to put them up.

  10. I live in the Condo at issue.

    Pete Scantland is spreading mistruths for his own pecuniary interests.

    First, the billboards have no where near 98% approval from the residents, in fact, that number is upside down – probably 98% are in opposition. Declarations are currently being collected from angry residents who were not informed about the sign before the Board made a deal with Orange Barrel. I can tell you everyone in the building I’ve spoke with is red hot mad about it.

    Mr. Scantland, how would you like it if you had a four story blinking video billboard advertising hard liquor, etc. RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR BEDROOM WINDOW going everyday/night until 1am without any restriction on noise, brightness, advertising content, etc? You probably wouldn’t.

    Also, your statement about “demands for excessive compensation” is another lie. I know I wasn’t offered any money (nor would i accept any money in exchange your billboards to be hung on the side of my home).

    Also, what abour your 7th and H sign that burst into flames in Aug 2009? Would you be comfortable with a similar video billboard hanging on the side of your home, next to your kids bedroom? I thought not.