m the top floor of the renovated garage that is his Georgetown office, Arthur Cotton Moore surveys his changing neighborhood. The name of his architecture firm is on building efforts all over the city these days -- including expansion work at the Treasury Department, restoration at the Capitol and renovation of the Old Post Office.

But what's happening in Georgetown makes him bubble with joy.

"See that tower over there," he says, pointing to an obelisk atop the "Corcoran at Georgetown," one of his "work-and-live" layouts at 28th and M streets NW that includes condominiums with terraces overlooking Rock Creek Park and street-level office space. He moves his hand across the skyline to another peak, also his.

"The change is so remarkable -- from a small town to a legitimate capital city," Moore says. "The problems that we are having in Georgetown are simply problems of success."

Others say, of course, that success is the architect's, and the problems are those of Georgetown residents who lost their quaint little village to his pencils of change.

"He's probably a capable architect," former Georgetown Civic Association president Grosvenor Chapman said in March 1980. "But I don't think his metier is Georgetown. I don't think he's sympathetic to Georgetown at all."

Today, it does seem like all hell has broken loose in Georgetown.

Midge Baldrige, wife of the secretary of commerce, complained recently to the civic association before the couple put their $200,000 Georgetown home up for sale: "Alas, the dirt and the drunks, who wake us up every weekend at 2 a.m., are driving us out."

Mayor Marion Barry walked the streets of Georgetown recently, assuring residents that police would crack down on vandals, loiterers and illegally parked cars.

Arrests were made and hundreds of cars towed, as they were again this weekend.

"Spasms," says Moore. "We've had them before, like when the Hari Krishnas would protest in front of the Riggs Bank. Unfortunately, some people think this is Fort Lauderdale-on-the Potomac."

Moore figured the solution was in a unique waterfront development, a six-city-block-long complex of shops, offices and luxury apartments that is scheduled to open for business this summer.

Moore says his design will siphon traffic away from the historic district of Georgetown and make it the most vital, urbane neighborhood in the city again.

"One of the problems you get when you control an area the way Georgetown has been controlled is that you make it such a nice place that everybody wants to be there," Moore says.

"It's like a club and everybody is trying to get in before the door closes."

The waterfront development, with plans for 400 condominiums priced from $130,000 to $500,000, would crack the door, and also reestablish Georgetown's links with the Potomac River.

"The river is the reason Georgetown exists," says Moore. "I often say that you can't forget what organically caused a city to develop where it did and the way it did."

As a separate city, predating the founding of the nation's capital, Georgetown had been a vibrant tobacco and liquor port.

But after it was incorporated into the city of Washington, the riverfront was neglected, left for use by concrete mixers and renderers who boiled dead animals for fat.

And the size of Georgetown proper was cut down to a tiny and congested historic district.

The fight to reopen the waterfront began 24 years ago, one year after Moore moved to Georgetown and started as an architect.

Now 49, Moore is a sixth-generation Washingtonian with roots that go back to the days when George Washington and Thomas Jefferson met at Georgetown's Marbury House to lay out plans for a capital city.

Like those two, he sees himself as a pioneer.

"Essentially, people don't like change," Moore says. "But we are in the change business, and it's great to see this city come of age. Washington is a city of longevity, so complex and intricate. Persistence is your best designer."