Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
18 November 2004
The meeting was convened at 9:08 a.m. in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 2000l.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
A. Approval of the minutes of the 21 October meeting. The minutes were approved without objection.
B. Dates of next meetings, approved as:
The Acting Secretary noted that, traditionally, the Commission did not meet in December, but that was up to the members to decide; he said the staff was prepared to have a meeting if it was deemed necessary. The Chairman asked the members to hold the December date until he could assess the situation and communicate with them. Mr. Lindstrom then commented on the change of the January date from the customary third Thursday in the month to the following Tuesday, so as not to conflict with the inauguration and related events. He also noted that the Commission offices would remain closed on the day after Thanksgiving.
C. Confirmation of the actions and recommendations from last month's meeting after the loss of a quorum. Mr. Lindstrom noted that two of the submissions, the District library projects, and the appeal by Clydes's at Old Ebbitt Grill, were on the agenda again at this meeting, so a decision could be made at the time of review. The third item was an appeal for a Georgetown case, 04–288, 1417 28th Street, and had been withdrawn from the Appendix. The Chairman said that in that case, the Commission would not have to take up any of these matters at this time.
The fourth item was for additions and landscape changes to Knollwood, the Army's distaff retirement facility, Shipstead–Luce case 05–004, 6200 Oregon Avenue, NW. Mr. Lindstrom said there were no objections expressed to it, only Ms. Balmori's suggestion that the landscaping around the parking lot might be loosened up a bit. Ms. Balmori made a motion that with that recommendation the concept design be approved; the motion was seconded by Mrs. Nelson and carried unanimously.
The last item was the Shipstead–Luce Appendix. Ms. Zimmerman moved that it be approved; her motion was seconded by Mrs. Nelson and carried unanimously.
D. Report on the reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. Mr. Lindstrom reported that he and the Chairman had attended a ceremony on the 9th of this month when Mrs. Bush formally opened the avenue to the public. Mr. Childs commented that Mrs. Bush gave a very nice presentation and that the landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburgh, was also present. He said everyone was waiting for the spring, when the trees would be planted, and he commented that the members had said the same thing when they walked along the avenue during their pre–meeting inspection tour the previous evening.
E. Report on the site inspection of the color samples for the Mall food service kiosks. Ms. Zimmerman said the members had all agreed that the color scheme in which the walls were painted a dark green was the better of the two. They thought the light– colored panel at the base should be a greyish–green, rather than the sand color shown, and that the off–white color of the soffit was appropriate . The Chairman added that the preference for the window frames was that they should be dark green rather than the dark red as shown.
F. Report on the site inspection of a mockup of a new lighting scheme for the Washington Monument. Mr. Lindstrom asked the Chairman to comment on the previous evening's inspection of the proposed new lighting scheme. Mr. Childs said the members had been especially pleased with what they saw. He said he had been concerned that the whiteness might be too bright, but as the sky got darker the color became warmer, and the evenness was remarkable. The lighting of the top of the obelisk was especially gratifying, as was the way the crispness of the edge was brought out. He commented on the uplighting and how the shadows formed brought out the details of the stone construction, noting that the landscape architect, Laurie Olin, was present and had said that this was done to make clear how the obelisk was built, its material, and the phases of construction. Mr. Childs mentioned also that the members were able to sit on the newly– erected seat walls placed on the grounds as part of the security system, but because of the darkness could not yet judge their color. He mentioned Ms. Balmori's questioning of the necessity for the flashing red lights at the top of the monument, since the monument was so brilliantly lit. The suggestion was made that the FAA might accept the idea that they be turned off and lit only when the circuitry of the monument lighting failed. John Parsons from the Park Service, who was present at the meeting, thought that was an excellent suggestion, and he asked that the Commission recommend it in the letter to be written to the Park Service in regard to the lighting.
G. Report on the site inspection of the new globes on the city street lights. Mr. Lindstrom reported on the inspection of the city's installation of three different types of prismatic globes on the standard Washington street lights, set up on 9th Street NW on the three blocks between E Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. He said the consensus was that the group just north of Pennsylvania Avenue was better than the rest because it provided a more uniform lighting of the entire globe, whereas the others produced a sharp cutoff of the light, confining it to the middle of the globe only. The Chairman did not find any of them satisfactory, quoting Mr. Rybczynski's statement that they "denied the shape of the globe", and adding that the use of the prisms formed an unpleasant pattern. He noted also that the orange glow of the type of light source used by the District still remained.
As a separate matter, he reported to Mr. Parsons that Pennsylvania Avenue looked very dark, that some of the "mushroom" lights were out, and the effect, especially when juxtaposed with some of the overly– bright streets in the area, was not good.
Returning to the mockup, Ms. Zimmerman said that although the members had expressed a preference for the group nearest Pennsylvania Avenue, she thought the optimum solution had not been reached and asked if the Commission could request that the District to go back and do further research on the problem. Mr. Lindstrom suggested that they could try placing the prismatic lens inside rather than on the globe.
The Chairman closed the discussion by saying that the Commission's letter should indicate that there was a preference for certain installations over others, but the feeling was that there should be more investigation, with the help of the Commission, and then further inspections.
H. Report on the modifications to the lighting on the National World War II Memorial. Mr. Lindstrom said he had been invited by Barry Owenby, project manager for the memorial, to look at the changes that had been made to the lighting as a follow–up to the inspection made by the Commission several months ago. Several suggestions had been made at that time, including one in regard to the lighting of the Wall of Stars, particularly the fixtures in the pool, which gave off a lot of back light. To remedy this, small shields had been added to the lights which solved the problem. The other item that had been modified was the small lights embedded in the bronze wreaths within the baldachinos, which were intended to light the eagles. Previously, they were sticking out of the wreaths and shining in the viewer's eyes. As modified, by using new fixtures which were about 3–3 inches shorter, the glare had been reduced significantly. Mr. Lindstrom said a third item that had been adjusted was the lenses on the fixtures that provided uplighting for the reliefs along the walls enclosing the 17th Street entrance stairway. Originally the light had been very harsh, but with the frosting of the glass in random, wavy lines, the harshness had been reduced. The Chairman suggested that the next time the Commission inspected the Washington Monument lighting, it might be worthwhile to walk over to the memorial and look at that lighting also. He asked Mr. Lindstrom to convey to Mr. Owenby the Commission's thanks for taking their concerns seriously.
Mr. Lindstrom brought up one other aspect of the memorial design that might benefit from modification–the extreme narrowness of the walkway on the outer perimeter of the memorial structure. He said it was heavily traveled, and as a result was ringed with muddy, dead grass. The Chairman asked Mr. Parsons for his comments on this situation, and he replied that the width had to do with protecting the roots of the surrounding trees, and they had spent a lot of time trying to solve the problem. Mr. Childs suggested extending the width with an area of gravel, and Mr. Parsons thought that might work. The final comment came from Ms. Balmori, who said that in order for it to work, the gravel would have to be extended up to the planting so there would be a wide swath.
II. Submissions and Reviews
A. Department of State
CFA 18/NOV/04–1, Main Headquarters Building, 23rd and C streets, NW. Perimeter security barriers. Concept. Ms. Penhoet introduced Mark Butowsky from the State Department to begin the presentation, to be followed by architect Enrique Bellini from Karn Charuhas Chapman & Twohey, and landscape architect Faye Harwell from Rhodeside & Harwell.
Mr. Butowsky gave the members some statistics on the Truman Building, the State Department's headquarters building, saying that it housed 8,000 people, had 1,000 visitors per day, and was a "24–7" operation facility. He noted that after the Oklahoma City bombing, the Department of Justice had given the Truman Building a Level 5 security rating, shared only by the Pentagon and the CIA Headquarters. He pointed out, however, that the Truman Building did not share the ample setbacks from the streets that the other two facilities enjoyed; the State Department also had specific security guidelines to comply with: the interagency security criteria, the diplomatic security requirements and the Inspector General's recommendations for providing protection against terrorist attack at all five of the building's entrances. He said several studies had supported the plan that had been developed, and NCPC had recognized the building's unique requirements. He added that the plan also conformed to the majority of the recommendations in NCPC's Urban Design and Security Plan. Mr. Butowsky said they had tried to respond to the concerns of various groups, and that the plan could actually be reversed on C and D streets if security conditions improved in the future. He summed up the various aspects of the plan: "We have placed significant emphasis on improving vehicle flow and the pedestrian experience, adding green space, maintaining the historic integrity, and enhancing the general appearance around the building." Mr. Butowsky then turned the presentation over to Mr. Bellini.
Mr. Bellini showed a site plan of existing conditions, describing them street by street. Beginning with 21st Street and its two lanes of traffic, he pointed out first the old State Department building, with its main entrance and plaza, , a truck inspection area on the east side of the street, near the Federal Reserve property, a subsidiary entrance farther south toward C Street and a parking and loading dock entrance/exit and guard booth in the middle of the block.
Proceeding to C Street, Mr. Bellini recalled that it was restricted to State Department traffic only. He pointed out the main diplomatic entrance at 22nd Street with a canopy over it, the congressional parking area, another parking entrance with a guard booth.
Turning to 23rd Street, he said there were five lanes of traffic, and an entrance to the auditorium. There was a short segment of D Street at the northern boundary of the property, and for many years it had been restricted to State Department traffic only; there was a guard booth at the entrance off 23rd Street. There was an entrance into the building on D Street with a canopy over it which was used mainly by employees, especially those arriving by shuttle bus. There was also a parking exit and a rather complicated intersection with the E Street Expressway exit. Mr. Bellini also pointed out the existing security barriers in all these locations.
The proposed plan was then explained. Mr. Belini said it was based on three levels of protection: the reinforcement of the walls and windows, which was already in progress; and then the two projects being presented to the Commission at this meeting, which were to extend the perimeter as much as possible to increase the stand–off distance, and to take the existing security functions now happening within the existing lobbies and place them in exterior pavilions which would take the place of the existing canopies, so that if there should be a blast, it would not take place inside the building. This would allow them to restore the historic lobbies to their original condition. He pointed out the locations for the five new pavilions: on 21st Street at the Old State main entrance and at the secondary entrance further south; at the main diplomatic entrance on C Street; at the auditorium entrance on 23rd Street , and at the employee entrance on D Street. The landscaping and streetscape on C Street would be redone following the precedent set by the Federal Reserve and the NCPC guidelines, constructing a 6–foot median in the center and landscaping both sides of the street. Mr. Bellini then turned the presentation over to Faye Harwell to discuss the landscaping, security elements, and materials.
Ms. Harwell spoke first about the design of the bollards. She said that considering the modernist design of New State, the bollards would be very simple, with a stainless steel skin, probably having a brushed, omnidirectional finish; there would be a polished notch in the bollards. She said that in some cases they would become part of a fencing system where they were connected with a thin series of steel elements, the idea being that they were trying to avoid a relentless line of single bollards, particularly along 23rd Street. In front of Old State, on 21st Street, they were thinking of using some bronze components, since the window mullions and other metal work on that building were bronze. The Chairman asked about the 8–foot square elements shown at the corners of C Street, 23rd and 21st streets; he was told they were there to indicate an entrance to the building and also to take the place of three additional bollards for crash resistance at those points without adding additional elements to the landscape. Four–foot square elements joined by a curved wall would be placed at the corner of Virginia Avenue and 21st Street, to follow the curve of the Avenue. Ms. Balmori asked for more detail on the changes to C Street. Ms. Harwell said that because of the guard posts with delta barriers, and two series of existing retractable bollards, there would not be a need for stationary bollards as on the other streets. She said the delta barrier had not been designed yet. The width of the street would be adjusted so that it would align with what the Federal Reserve had done on the other side of 21st Street and rows of street trees would be planted in the same configuration. Street trees being considered for the boundary streets included London plane for 23rd Street, since some were already there; and willow oak, Marshall seedless ash, and red maple for other locations. On C Street there would be flowering trees at the entrance, shade trees in the median strip with low plantings of ground cover, and a bosque of small flowering trees at either side of the entrance in the canopy location. There would be a paved plaza, about 25–feet deep, in front of the entrance, probably of granite, although the color, size of module, etc. had not yet been decided. Two low retaining walls, beginning at each side of the entrance, would be used to adjust the steep slope coming up to the building. The walls would enclose two existing flagpoles with polished black granite bases and bronze sculptural elements, and would then continue to the square corner markers. Ms. Balmori asked specifically about the width of the sidewalks; Ms. Harwell replied that they were at present about 6–feet wide, but would be made wider, probably 2 to 4 feet wider, depending on the location. Both the sidewalks and the street would be adjusted to match the same situation at the Federal Reserve. She said the goal was to make the street more friendly to pedestrians and to calm down the effect of so many curb cuts and intrusions into the streetscape. She mentioned again the complexity of the grading at the entrance approach and said they hoped to make the slope meet the ADA guidelines more closely than it did at present.
Turning to 23rd Street, she said the situation there was quite different; there were few pedestrians and a lot of rapid traffic. The sidewalk would remain the same–6 to 8 feet; there would be a bollard fence running along the street near the curb line, with a narrow strip of low planting at the curb and a wider strip between the fence and the sidewalk. The trees within the wider planting area would be London plane. There would be a slight rise in grade in the planting area to minimize the height of the fence from the pedestrian's point of view. The Chairman questioned the use of plants at the curb edge because of the damaging effect of the salt spread on the streets during the winter. Ms. Harwell said she realized the problem, but they were planning on using lirope, which had been used successfully in similar situations. Ms. Zimmerman suggested using stone, not as paving but in a more decorative, three dimensional application. Ms. Harwell said they would be happy to look into that. On D Street a small park would be developed, where people could wait for the bus–there would be a bus drop–off point at the D Street entrance–or use the tables, chairs and benches in two gravel areas provided. In answer to a question, she noted that street lights throughout would be the District standard, inserted in the fencing system as needed.
On 21st Street the security elements used had been kept to a minimum because of the very fragmented nature of the street due to the many curb cuts required by both the State Department and the Federal Reserve. Essentially, it would resemble C Street with the use of simple walls with seating behind plus the bollard fence in other areas.
Ms. Harwell then commented on a separate issue that had to be resolved: the location of the equestrian statue of Bernardo de Galvez, at present sited in an obscure park area just north of D Street. She said there had been some discussion with the Park Service about moving it, possibly facing Virginia Avenue on a triangular piece of ground between two access roads, so that it would no longer have its back to the State Department. She said there had not been much enthusiasm for this location. The Chairman said this was another reason why the Commission should have a tour of the entire site; Ms. Harwell agreed and said she would be happy to accompany the members.
The Chairman said he had been very pleased with the quality of the submission and the thoroughness of the documentation, considering it was only a concept submission. His only comment was in regard to the 8–foot square corner pieces; he thought they would be an impediment to walking and needed to have a vertical element. He liked the modernist character of the guard booths and the respectful attitude toward the architecture of the building. The other members were in agreement, with Ms. Zimmerman asking for more information on the character of the proposed pavilions. Mr. Childs asked Mr. Bellini to go into a little more detail on them.
Mr. Bellini said the program called for different size pavilions depending on the entrance. He said they wanted to retain the vocabulary of the existing building, particularly the stainless steel columns and fascia, with a very light and floating roof. He showed drawings, pointing out that the underside of the exterior portion would be clad in tile, as in the existing canopies, and would retain the round skylights seen in the portion of the canopy extending over the sidewalk. Mr. Rybczynski asked if they were under any constraints as far as the preservation of the historical building was concerned. Mr. Bellini said they had to consider it as a historical building, and it was now eligible to be listed in the National Register–both old and new sections–but had not yet been nominated. Mr. Rybczynski observed that if it were listed, they couldn't do what they were planning to do, although he added that he fully agreed with Mr. Bellini's proposal. Mr. Bellini said that in discussions with the Commission staff and with the SHPO, they had tried to develop a scheme in which the existing canopies could be saved, but they were just too small for what they needed to fit under them.
The Chairman commented that being eligible for listing really did put into place all the protections as if it were listed; nevertheless, he thought the architects were doing the right thing, and it was really the attention to scale that counted. He said he would like to work with them on the Delta barriers, and he thought full–scale mockups of sections of what was being proposed would be helpful. He added that it would also be good for the Commission to see what the original lobbies looked like when they made their site inspection. Mr. Childs then congratulated Mr. Bellini and Ms. Harwell on the thoroughness of their presentation and said he looked forward to the site visit.
B. Department of Defense/Department of the Navy
CFA 18/NOV/04–2 Potomac Annex, 23rd and E streets, NW. Perimeter security upgrades at the North and South gates. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/SEP/04–7) Staff member Jose Martínez noted that this project was just across 23rd Street from the State Department, and that during the previous presentation, the Commission had asked that the Navy consider something more appropriate for Washington and this location, rather than applying the universal standards for naval base security elements. He said the Commission and NCPC staffs had met with the applicants between meetings to look at the next step, and to report on the outcome, he introduced Melissa Devnich from the Navy.
Ms. Devnich said they had looked at the aesthetics of replacing the existing chain–link gates and also adding security elements at both gates. She noted that the North Gate was the main one, open 24/7; therefore, the barriers were always down and the gates open except in emergency situations. The South Gate was open for egress during the afternoon rush hour. She asked architect Mark Rengel to discuss what had been accomplished.
Mr. Rengel showed photos of the existing chain–link gates and an elevation drawing of the proposed ornamental metal fence with dual gates with each leaf approximately 13 feet wide. Then he turned to the pedestrian turnstile, which had caused some concern during the previous submission. He said they had relocated the turnstile behind a tree about 40 feet off the front curb of 23rd Street. Drawings were also shown of the sections of ornamental fence and vehicle impasse fence that would run along 23rd Street. The gate design showed a very pronounced curve at the top, and the recommendation was that it should be shallower. Mr. Rengel pointed out the perforated metal screen mesh that would be added to the lower portion which would enable the officers in the guardhouse to see through the gate but would screen the Delta barriers from the street. He said they had worked with Mr. Lindstrom on the color of the barriers and were suggesting a two–tone grey with reflective striping. Mr. Rybczynski asked if there was any way of camouflaging the heavy vehicle impasse fence, which contrasted so markedly with the ornamental fence. Mr. Rengel said they had originally planned an ornamental fence with bollards to serve as the vehicle impasse fence, but the cost was too great. The Chairman suggested that the gates might be made heavier so the contrast was not so apparent. In any case, he thought much improvement had been made and suggested that they meet with State Department representatives and get their feeling on the design. He also said the Commission would like to take a look at the situation when they were on the site visit to the State Department.
C. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Shipstead–Luce Act
a. S.L. 05–009, 51 Louisiana Avenue, NW (The Acacia Building). New 12–story office building to replace existing 4–level parking garage. Concept. (Previous: S.L. 94–98, 14 September 1994) Ms. Penhoet introduced this project, saying that it was for the replacement of an existing 4–story parking garage with a 12–story office building. She asked Lord Richard Rogers to make the presentation. The Chairman welcomed Britain's esteemed architect and said the Commission looked forward to his presentation of this new project.
Lord Rogers first described the site, between Union Station and the Capitol, and the building, erected in 1935 for the Acacia Insurance Company, with an addition facing 1st Street, built in 1953. He commented on the beauty of the original building, especially the entrance on Louisiana Avenue, and the quality of the interiors, noting that the addition, while continuing the exterior lines of the original, was not of the same quality. He said the two buildings comprised about 200,000 square feet; the new construction would add 330,000 more, including a 7–story triangular section within the existing courtyard and a larger, 12–story rectangular structure on the site of the existing parking garage; in a way, he said, the constraints of the site really designed the building, adding that the existing open courtyard space provided a wonderful opportunity to build a 12– story high entrance space with a flying atrium. He said this had yet to be worked out; transparency would be very important, and he noted also that they were considering two different roof heights. The large open area inside would be semi–public, with a reception area and public dining space. The floor above, reached by escalators, would be the primary circulation space, with elevators to the upper floors. There would be connectors from the triangle building to the old building and to the new main office building. The monumental Louisiana Avenue entrance would be retained as would the 1st Street entrance. To get an idea of the scale, the Chairman asked for the length of the diagonals of the triangle section. Dennis Austin, from the Rogers's office, said the shorter ones were about 80 feet, with Lord Rogers adding that the longer one was 100 feet. He noted that the floor levels in the triangle building would be aligned to those in the old buildings, which were hierarchal; that is, the upper floors had higher ceilings because they contained the offices of the principals of the firm, conference rooms, etc. He said the project was still very much a work in progress, but he thought the preceding comments would give the Commission an idea of the basic concept and organization.
Mr. Austin then continued the presentation, showing drawings that set the building in its context. He pointed out the precedence along New Jersey Avenue and D Street for a building of this type–"a crystalline box" with a non–hierarchal floor height of 11feet–2 inches–and he stressed the importance of a welcoming–type opening into the whole complex from New Jersey Avenue, as well as the view from the atrium to the park across the street. He said they had been concerned about three things as they developed the project: the integration of the existing 1935 and 1953 buildings, the way they would address their neighbors, and of primary importance, the view to the Capitol and the scale relationships.
Don Hawkins, representing the Committee of 100, asked to speak. He said his organization found the preservation aspects of the project and the entrance sequence to be very good; he noted that security elements had not been addressed, and he stressed that views to and from the Capitol should be a primary consideration. He said they had taken no position on the height yet, considering that zoning would determine that. Attorney Richard Nettler asked to comment on the height question. He said matter–of–right zoning for D Street was 110 feet, but they were applying for 130, and expected it would be granted because the width of New Jersey and Louisiana Avenues, also bordering the site, would allow that height.
The Chairman complimented Lord Rogers on the extremely clear diagrams and said the Commission was now looking forward to seeing further development of the facades and the roof configuration. He said he would encourage a strong statement of bold, contemporary architecture, and the environmental design for which Lord Rogers was known. He added that the view from the Capitol was as important as the view to it. Ms. Balmori expressed her preference for the taller of the two roof designs shown, and Mrs. Nelson asked if the connectors would be transparent; she was told that they would be. Ms. Zimmerman said she was very pleased with the conceptual design; she considered it one of the few projects she had seen since being appointed to the Commission that really represented "brand–new" architecture.
D. CFA 18/NOV/04–3, Fort McNair. National Defense University, new building: Lincoln Hall. Concept. (The Chairman recused himself during the discussion of this project, as it was designed by the Washington office of his firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. He turned the gavel over to Ms. Balmori.) Ms. Penhoet introduced the project, an extension to Marshall Hall on the Fort McNair campus. She recalled that the government had been negotiating the purchase of a large piece of private property on the east perimeter of the campus which had now gone through. This building, and others to follow, would be built on this new piece of land. She introduced Rod Garrett, from SOM, to discuss the proposal.
Mr. Garrett began with a PowerPoint presentation, reviewing the organization of the campus and pointing out the location of the new building, which would be an extension of Marshall Hall, the main academic building, built in 1989. He noted the central position of Marshall Hall, at the east end of the cross axis of the parade ground. He commented on the requirements of designing for a military installation–the attention to symmetry, axial considerations, permanence, and discipline–as well as the particular requirements of building at Fort McNair, expressed in its formal Installation Guidelines. He commented on the original McKim, Mead & White site plan and architecture, especially the great Army War College at the end of the parade ground axis. On a site plan he pointed out the private development to the east, at present low and medium height residential to the north and industrial and commercial to the east, noting, however, that the area was in a state of flux and this all could change. He pointed out the old brick wall that defined the edge of the original campus, saying that Marshall Hall had been erected behind this wall, as would be the addition, and he noted the parking lot to the north of the proposed expansion, and the new physical fitness center beyond that.
Mr. Garrett then digressed into a discussion of the efforts that his firm had made to be responsible stewards of the property. He pointed out the parking lot next to the expansion site and described how runoff would be avoided by directing it to recharge beds that would allow storing the water until it could soak into the soil below. The use of bioswales, moving and replanting existing trees in the path of construction, and management of heat and light in the design of the building were other ways that the project would be responsible in matters of the environment and conservation of energy.
Mr. Garrett then described the design of the new building. It would have a simple, rectangular footprint with two entrances–one directly into Marshall Hall to the south, and the main ceremonial entrance at the north end, in the form of an open circular structure, known as the Lincoln Drum. This would also be a space for ceremonies and would be decorated with a display of flags and the inscription of military core values in the stone. The facade facing the parade ground would align with that of Marshall Hall and would conform to the required security setback; site perimeter walls would also meet security requirements. Facade elements–windows, doors, building base, roof line, etc. would follow the Fort McNair Guidelines and complement these elements as seen on Marshall Hall and the other major campus buildings. The basic material would be a red brick compatible with that used for Marshall Hall.
Mr. Garrett then turned to the plan. The building would have two components: an academic center and a conference center. The conference center would be at the north end, entered through the Lincoln Drum. The academic center would adjoin Marshall Hall. In the middle of the building would be an open courtyard and garden space, with an interior atrium to the south. The courtyard and atrium would allow natural light to penetrate this very large building and greatly increase the number of rooms with exterior views. Each of these open spaces would be heavily planted. The required auditorium for the conference center had been taken out of the central space and moved to the north, where it could be easily entered from the parking lot via the ceremonial entrance. Mr. Garrett noted that the conference center and the academic center were two separate zones, essentially closed off from one another except for access to main entrances and fire egress exits.
The members had several questions for Mr. Garrett. Mr. Rybczynski's concerned the exterior, particularly the long facade facing the parade ground. He thought the attempt to break it up was not successful, that nothing happened functionally at those breaking points, and it would be better just to let it continue. He asked how it compared to the facade of Eisenhower Hall in length and was told that the Eisenhower facade was only about two–thirds the length of this building's facade. Mr. Rybczynski said he would not be worried about that since it was not a building on a street, and it was also behind a wall, plus it was juxtaposed to the great expanse of the parade ground. Ms. Balmori agreed, noting that the continuity of the brick was what gave strength to the building . It was generally agreed that the scale of the building and its context demanded a boldness in the facade; Mrs. Nelson commented that its elements lined up like the soldiers. There was also appreciation expressed for the inclusion of the interior courtyards, without which the building would be nothing more than a warehouse. Ms. Zimmerman asked why the circular entrance was not roofed and was told that it would then count as square footage. She had another question for Mr. Garrett, and that was whether there was a possibility of opening up some of the glass–enclosed spaces facing the courtyard on the upper floors and providing actual outdoor patios or walkways. Mr. Garrett said he would look into that.
With the comments made, Ms. Zimmerman moved that the concept design be approved; her motion was seconded by Mrs. Nelson and carried unanimously.
E. General Services Administration
CFA 18/NOV/04–4, E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, Constitution Avenuie and 3rd Street, NW. Exterior public art installations. Concept. (Previous: CFA 15/JUL/04–2; security barriers and CFA 18/MAY/00–3, exterior sculpture.) (The Chairman resumed the gavel at this time.) Mr. Martínez recalled that there was a proposal in May 2000 to place sculptures in the barrel vault tympanums facing 3rd Street that was not well received, and the architects had now returned with another design. The Chairman commented that he did not think any of the present members were on the Commission at that time. Mr. Martínez then introduced architect Mike Crackel from Michael Graves & Associates to discuss the new proposal.
Mr. Crackel said the sculpture would be placed on the four vaults on 3rd Street, as well as the one near C Street and another on the one near Constitution Avenue. He said the new sculpture was intended to make the imagery simpler and more intelligible to the public, and also to be compatible and fully integrated with the architecture. The sculpture would consist of open books, placed on lecterns, each with a quotation placed over the pages. The books represented the rule of law, the statutes through which justice was dispensed; the quotations represented the timeless nature of the principles of the law; placing the quotations over the open pages rather than having them written on the pages emphasized the primacy of the ideas expressed in the quotations. The quotations had been selected by District and Appellate judges. Mr,. Crakel showed simulated photographs of each of the sculptures as they would look in place, both daytime and nighttime views. He said they would be arranged in chronological order around the building, beginning with a quotation from Aristotle. Other quotations were from Francis Bacon, John Locke, John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and Roscoe Pound.
The members thought the idea was good, but the sculptural interpretation was not. It was not integrated with the architecture and the sculptures had a cartoon–like or billboard character which was not helped by the downlighting and the frame that held it. Comments were also made that the lettering going across two pages was disconcerting, and the names of the authors of the quotations were scarcely visible. The Chairman asked Mr. Crackel to make another submission based on these comments so that the building could be completed.
F. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Mint
CFA 18/NOV/04–5, 2006 nickel. Obverse and reverse designs. (Previous: CFA 15/APR/04–1, 2005 nickel) Staff member Sue Kohler recalled that the members had received these designs in their pre–meeting packages; she then introduced Barbara Bradford and Stacie Anderson from the Mint and asked Ms. Anderson to make the presentation.
Ms. Anderson said these designs were the ones that would be used for the nickel "in perpetuity" and depicted, as required by law, a portrait of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and an image of his home, Monticello, on the reverse. She showed the proposed designs, noting that they included the present ones, designed by Felix Schlag in 1938, as well as the approved portrait of Jefferson used on the 2005 nickel.
After a brief discussion, and the original inclination to request the retention of both the existing obverse and reverse, the decision was made to recommend keeping the present version of Monticello on the reverse, but opting for a new portrait of Jefferson, a strong profile view, looking left. The only change suggested was a slightly less stylized rendition of the scarf and coat collar.
G. National Park Service
CFA 18/NOV/04–6, Reservation 72, Chinatown, bounded by Massachusetts Avenue, I, 6th and 5th streets, NW. Park rehabilitation and new sidewalks. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom noted that this submission was in cooperation with the Downtown D.C. BID (Business Incentive District) and then introduced John Parsons from the Park Service to make the presentation. Mr. Parsons located this triangular reservation on a map and noted that, like many other small reservations throughout the city, it had fallen into disrepair. He showed pictures of several in better condition, noting that they had been designed in the 1930s, and the signature elements were a quarter round concrete curb, to keep people from waking on the grass, a standard bench, and an iron fence with some shrubbery. He showed the existing conditions, noting that only part of the quarter round curb remained, and there was nothing but an unkempt lawn beyond the city sidewalk. The proposal was to add an interior sidewalk, separated from the city sidewalk by a planting strip with trees, along I Street and 6th Street, keep the lawn space, but plant trees within it along Massachusetts Avenue. The apex of the triangle, at 5th Street, would be treated as an entrance to the park directly from the city sidewalk to the park walk system. Benches would be placed at the outer edge of the walk, facing the lawn area. A question was asked about the kind of tree to be used, and architect Cy Paumier, who had assisted the Park Service in developing the design, said they would be American lindens.
Ms. Balmori questioned the placing of the benches, recalling that recent studies had stressed the importance of grouping them in some way so that people could sit and talk. She also thought it would be a good idea to plant trees on the other side of the walk on I Street, making it a tree walk. Mr. Parsons said the proposed location of the trees was to provide shade for the benches along the walk, but if they were placed on the other side also, he was afraid they would shade the lawn and it would not grow well. Ms. Balmori then asked what kind of paving would be used for the walk and was told that it would be the standard concrete used in all city parks, surrounded by the city's brick sidewalk, specified for Chinatown. She asked if crushed stone could be used instead of concrete to facilitate water drainage, and Mr. Parsons answered that this had been discouraged because of accessibility problems.
Ms. Zimmerman thought additional planting might make the park more interesting, and perhaps there might even be a seating area that protruded into the lawn, so that there could be benches facing each other in several places. Mr. Parsons said they did not want to do anything elaborate because this reservation was very likely to have a memorial in it at some time and would have to be completely redone; however, he said they could look at some planting beds and a cluster of benches. The Chairman said he actually did not mind keeping some of these small parks very simple; his concern was that the quarter round concrete pieces be up to the standard set in the 1930s, noting that he had seen some that were not. He commented on these reservations , most of them part of the L'Enfant Plan, formed when the intersection of the diagonal avenues with the grid plan of the streets created small triangular areas designated for parks. He recalled that some of them had been given to the District government when home rule came into effect, and he observed that because of budgetary problems the District was having a hard time keeping them up. He complimented Mr. Parsons on the Park Service's attention to this and other reservations, saying he wished more of them had remained under federal jurisdiction. He asked for a motion on the project, which was made by Ms. Zimmerman. She moved that, understanding that the area was not to be improved in an expensive or elaborate way, the Commission approve the design with the suggestions made: to try to include additional planting and concrete areas adjoining the walkways where benches could be arranged in conversational groupings. The motion was seconded by Ms. Balmori and approved unanimously.
H. Department of Defense
CFA 18/NOV/04–7, The Pentagon, Boundary Channel Drive, Arlington, Virginia. River Terrace and Corridor 8 Pedestrian Bridge. Entrance pavilion for new library and conference center. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/OCT/04–6) Mr. Lindstrom introduced Robert Osborne from BBGM to present the revisions to this project. Mr. Osborne first thanked the Commission for the comments made during the October meeting and said he thought the changes they had made had really improved this addition to the historic River Terrace.
He showed photographs of the context first and of the design proposed in October, noting that the new entrance pavilion would be 8–10 feet lower than the terrace itself, and the new skylights would be partially shielded from view by hedges 10–15 feet high. The principal change that had been made was to raise the roof of the guardhouse element so that it matched that of the entrance pavilion, making it all appear to be one structure. The detailing of the stone had been extended around the whole building and light fixtures had been added to the pedestrian entrance into the guardhouse structure. The design of the fencing had been completely revised. The 3–foot–high utilitarian gates had been raised to 6 feet and would have a more traditional detailing. They would be wrought iron with an insertion of a symbol of some kind–perhaps a Pentagon shape. The same ironwork would be used at the pedestrian entrance into the guardhouse area.
The Chairman asked for comments. Ms. Balmori recalled that the Commission's concern with the guardhouse had been that it appeared as something stuck on to the entrance pavilion; the thought was that either it should be completely integrated or appear as something quite separate. She agreed that it was now more integrated, but it still seemed to be an afterthought. The Chairman said he could see it as a metal, gazebo–type structure, added to the main structure as they were to the main house in earlier days. There was further discussion, and clarification that the guardhouse structure was there to control all access from the north parking lot and child day–care center, not primarily to serve the library/conference center which had its own internal guard station. Mr. Rybczynski suggested that the formality of the pavilion design might be the problem; if it were less symmetrical the guardhouse might be seen as just another element in a more informal composition.
The Chairman told Mr. Osborne that it was evident that there was still no consensus as to a solution. He thought either Mr. Rybczynski's suggestion could be explored or the guardhouse could be designed as a completely different element; if these failed to convince, it could be left as they had it. He suggested that the architects make rough sketches of these alternates and bring them to the next meeting, and Mr. Osborne agreed to do so. Mrs. Nelson suggested that it might also be good to see the further development of the ironwork pattern.
(The Commission adjourned for lunch at 12:30 p.m. and reconvened at 1:00 p.m. The agenda order was changed and items II.O.2.e and 1.b discussed next.)
O. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
2. Shipstead–Luce Act
e. Appendix II. Ms. Penhoet singled out several items for clarification, and in answer to Mrs. Nelson's question about the residential part of the Newseum project, said that it had not changed and was still in the concept stage. The Appendix was then approved without objection.
1. Old Georgetown Act
b. Appendix I. The Appendix was approved without objection. (The Commission returned to the printed agenda order.)
I. District of Columbia Area Water and Sewer Authority
CFA 18/NOV/04–8, Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, 5000 Overlook Avenue, SW. New egg–shaped digester facility. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom located the Blue Plains Treatment Plant on an aerial photograph and described the project as an anaerobic facility used to break down solid waste for the treatment plant. He said that at present the site was an empty pit about 30 feet deep into which these large digesters would be sunk, thus reducing their considerable height and their effect on the skyline. He introduced architect Suman Sorg to make the presentation.
Before beginning her presentation, Ms. Sorg introduced Cynthia Giordano from the law firm of Arnold & Porter to say a few words. Ms. Giordano said she just wanted to say that there were two officials from WASA present , as well as the chief engineers for the project if there were any technical questions. She added that upon completion, the project would achieve several goals: it would reduce the sludge output by nearly half, bring about a significant reduction in the truck traffic carrying the sludge out to the Virginia landfills, and produce a higher quality product.
Ms. Sorg opened her presentation by noting that the facility was about five miles from the Capitol and two–and one–half miles from Reagan National Airport, and it would have a significant impact on the skyline; she said she would show drawings made from the airport and from Alexandria. The facility would serve Montgomery County, Prince Georges County, and Loudon County as well as the District. She said the site occupied eight acres and, in addition to the eight egg–shaped digesters, would include four sludge silos, gas holding tanks, excess gas "flares", numerous other buildings, old and new, required for the operation, and in the future a cogeneration plant which would use the methane to produce electricity. Then she turned to the existing buildings, showing photos and describing them as buff brick buildings in the industrial Art Deco style of the 1930s with metal door trim. She also showed examples of egg–shaped digesters in different parts of the country and in Germany, saying that they were usually concrete or steel drums with an outside cladding.
For Blue Plains, Ms. Sorg said there would be a perimeter walkway connecting the eggs; she said she hope to design the bridges in a style reminiscent of the 19th century steel bridges seen in Washington, and she noted that the trusses would be structural as well as decorative. The walkway would be accessed by two stair towers which would repeat the kind and color of brickwork and metalwork seen in the older buildings. She showed a plan, noting two diamond–shaped buildings between the groupings of four digesters; one would be used for electrical equipment and the other would contain a visitors center where people could come and look as the operations. She also commented on the large, new Digester Gas Building, the stair tower and elevator design and showed drawings.
Turning specifically to the egg–shaped digesters, she asked engineer Tom Sadik from the Program Management Office to give the members some background information on the digesters. He said this method of dealing with solid waste had been understood for many hundreds of years, but it had evolved with time, and these digesters were state–of–the–art, a form that had been developed in Germany and widely used there. Ms. Sorg then described the concrete eggs, saying the concrete would be covered with insulation and waterproofing and finally with stainless steel in such a way that water would be able to penetrate the steel and drain down. The stainless steel panels would be diamond–shaped, since this shape could be bent to accommodate the double curve shape of the eggs. She showed samples of two different shades of grey steel that would be used to emphasize the pattern on the eggs, which recalled the Art Deco style of the old buildings. She also showed samples and colors to be used on the other buildings, including the brick and the aluminum trim, which also related to the old buildings. Ms. Sorg noted that the silos would also be clad in steel, like the eggs, but they would not be patterned.
The Chairman and the other members complimented Ms. Sorg on her design, but there was unanimous agreement that the bridges, in spite of the sophisticated design of the splayed trusses, were too reminiscent of 19th century Victorian design, and should instead recall the 1930s industrial design of the existing buildings at Blue Plains. The pattern on the eggs might also be simplified and the elevators clad in steel rather than buff brick, like the silos, to give the effect of one piece of sculpture. The Chairman suggested that she look at such examples as Hoover Dam and the rear area of the Newark train station, often called the "Dragon's Belly", and he said the Commission was looking forward to seeing the project again soon.
J. American Battle Monuments Commission
CFA 18/NOV/04–9, World War II Normandy Amerian Cemetery and Memorial. Omaha Beach, Colleville–sur–Mer, France. New visitors center. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 19/FEB/04–1) Ms. Penhoet introduced General John P. Herrling (Ret), secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, to begin the presentation. General Herrling said the ABMC had returned to present a revised concept for the visitors center, based on the comments made during the previous presentation, which included further study of the orientation pavilion, the parking lot, and the overall landscape design. Before introducing the architect, General Herrling reviewed the intent of Congress when the Normandy Intrepretive Center was established: He said it was "to complement and enhance the visitor's experience at the cemetery. It would relate the global significance of Operation Overlord, provide the visitor with a greater appreciation of the competence, courage and sacrifice of those participating in the Normandy invasion and in recognizing the achievements of America and her allies through conducting the greatest amphibious operation in history." General Herrling then introduced architect David Greenbaum to continue the presentation.
Mr. Greenbaum began by asking Doug Hayes, from the office of Michael Vergason, Landscape Architects, to discuss how they had developed the landscaping in general. He showed slides, observing that the building had been developed in a linear fashion, set between a typical Normandy hedgerow (and following that grid) and a heavily wooded area adjoining the cemetery, which had been planted to shield the area from the harsh westerly winds coming off the channel. He said they would do everything possible to preserve and augment the existing landscape. He talked about the parking lot, which in its new configuration would increase parking spaces from 196 to 430, doubling the number of bus and R.V. spaces. He noted that the current exchange rate might prohibit completion of the entire lot at this time. The planting within the lot had been simplified; there were now four major parking areas subdivided by low hedges. Mr. Hayes ended by showing slides of the existing walks and the intended plantings, and the way vistas of the sea and the First Division Memorial had been opened up.
Mr. Greenbaum then showed slides of the new siting of the orientation pavilion, noting that the former axial approach to the building had been modified so that it was a more lateral one, making it easier to "slide" into the building; it was now part of an important path overlooking the primary entrance. Covered areas in the entrance area had also been provided to keep visitors out of the rain. He noted the long stone walls running the length of the building, broken up by large expanses of glass, and the reflecting pool at the end with the sea in the distance.
The members then looked at a model, and the Chairman commented that the procession from the parking lot had been improved and was now clear and straight. The Sacrifice Gallery, a separate area with a glass, double–cube structure within an open, empty courtyard framed in Corten steel, seemed strangely incongruent with the rest of the building; it was thought that it would not evoke the emotions associated with sacrifice; Ms. Balmori commented that the water really performed that function. The tall cube shape also seemed out of scale, even though it was actually only 12 by 12 by 12 feet in size. It seemed to some that it would compete with the memorial, although Mr. Greenbaum said they had been aware that it should not look like a chapel.
The Chairman brought the discussion to a close by saying that great progress had been made; the only element that still needed to be rethought was the Sacrifice Gallery. Mr. Greenbaum said he would do that and appreciated the Commission's comments. Mr. Hayes added that he would like to bring more information on plant materials, if it would be helpful; Ms. Balmori said it would, and she would like to have it.
K. District of Columbia Office of Planning
1. CFA 18/NOV/04–10 Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. Informational presentation. Ms. Penhoet said that there would be a number of projects related to the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative before the Commission in the future. One of these projects would concern Washington Canal Park. As an introduction to the waterfront initiative and the park project, Ms. Penhoet introduced Uwe Brandes from the District Office of Planning, to make two informational presentations.
Mr. Brandes said that, in the interest of brevity, his presentation would focus on the general overall goals of the initiative. He acknowledged the work of the fifteen different Federal and local agencies who had been involved with the project, and especially the over 5,000 citizens who had taken part in workshops and briefings connected to the initiative.
The primary focus of the initiative would be the Anacostia River; specifically, transforming its image from a line of division within the city to a great common ground, symbolic of bringing both sides of the river together. Mr. Brandes pointed out the areas along the river were underutilized and economically depressed. There was an opportunity to expand downtown to the south and east and also to create neighborhoods where none previously existed. The first step would be to clean up the river, as it was polluted to such an extent that there was a public health advisory against any contact with the water. The restoration of the river would lead to such an increase in the quality of life there, that economic development would follow.
Mr. Brandes explained that there were five chapters in the framework plan and that each chapter set out a series a broad goals. The chapter themes were environment, transportation, parks, culture and neighborhoods. He emphasized that the first four themes would all serve the fifth, the strengthening of neighborhoods in proximity to the river. The real estate market was still strong enough that the potential for significant development existed.
The Chairman thanked Mr. Brandes for his presentation and said, on behalf of the Commission, that they were pleased with the direction the initiative was taking.
2. CFA 18/NOV/04–11 Washington Canal Park, Design Competition. Informational presentation. Moving onto the Washington Canal Park Design Competition, Mr. Brandes said that the competition was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. One of the requirements in the competition was a strong water–management approach. He indicated the location as a neighborhood known as Near Southeast, which was close to the Washington Navy Yard and the Capper Carrollsburg Hope VI Project. The three block area that comprised the remnants of the old Washington Canal had been used as a parking lot. It was now being envisioned as a park for a neighborhood of approximately 10,000 residences.
Four finalists were selected from over 35 entries. Mr. Brandes showed the boards from the competition. The first finalist was Walter Hood. His scheme was a sort of metaphor for filling in the canal, but with program elements designed to bring the community together. The next design Sasaki Associates and Duke Rider. Theirs was a linear design that recognized that 2nd Street connected directly to Garfield Park and that a connection through and under the freeway as important for knitting both sides of the freeway back together. Herbert Dreisitl of Germany submitted a design that was symbolic and interpretive of water. It culminated in a fountain where water would evaporate into the sky. The final design was by Gustafson Guthrie Nichols. Their linear scheme would divide the site into three elements; a boardwalk element of wood to recall the canal, a green lawn to catch water filtering through the site and a brick element to provide a gateway to the site from the residential areas.
The presentation was well received by the Commission and the Chairman commended Mr. Brandes and the city for their work. Mr. Brandes said that the city hoped to announce the final selection soon, and would return with that design in the near future.
L. Federal Highway Administration / District Department of Transportation
CFA 18/NOV/04–12, Southern Avenue bridge over Suitland Parkway, SE. Replacement bridge. Revised design, final. (Previous: CFA 21/OCT/04–13). Mr. Martínez introduced Jack Van Dop, of the Federal Highway Administration, to present a revised design for the Southern Avenue bridge. Mr. Van Dop directly addressed the concerns voiced by the Commission the previous month, when they last reviewed the design. He recalled to the Commission that they had taken issue with the piers, lighting and fencing. Based on their comments, Mr. Van Dop said that existing bridges were examined and that the Natchez Trace Memorial Parkway bridge in Mississippi seemed to embody more of traits the Commission wished for in the Suitland Parkway bridge.
Mr. Van Dop presented images of the Natchez Trace bridge along with a rendering of the revised design for the Suitland Parkway bridge. The piers would have a more curved and flared appearance at the top and the bridge would rest atop the piers in such a way that it would appear to "float." The lower horizontal element of the bridge would also have a slight curve. The fence would be a vertical–barred light colored metal fence rather than chain link, as proposed previously. The lighting on the existing bridge was cobrahead and Washington globe lights had been proposed previously. The revised design included the District Department of Transportation' teardrop lights, a hybrid of the cobra and Washington globe lights.
The Commission agreed that this proposal was a great improvement and that the design was a very handsome one. A motion to approve the revised design was made and carried unanimously.
M. District of Columbia Department of Property Management
CFA 18/NOV/04–13, District of Columbia Government Center, Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road, NE. New government center, including three office buildings and a Metro parking garage. Concept–master plan and design of the office building for the DC Department of Employment Services / Final–garage. Peter May, Deputy Director of Operations for the Office of Property Management, made a few brief remarks before turning the presentation over to the project architect, Paul Devrouax. Mr. May said that the District's government center projects were an important part of revitalizing neighborhoods, in case, an area within Ward 7. Of the four structures planned for the site, two were being presented, an office building to house the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) and a parking garage. There was a master plan designed to make the site more transit–friendly, hence the placement of government buildings in proximity to Metro. Future improvements would include widening the road and reconfiguring the intersection to be more functional.
Mr. Devrouax said that the site was originally owned by Metro and the agreement between Metro and the District included the restoration of 333 parking spaces that would be lost to the new center. This was the reason why design and construction priority was given to the proposed parking garage. In addition to the Metro's restored spaces, the garage would have additional parking for the public and employees of the government center. Mr. Devrouax explained that design of the garage was intended to fit into the overall design concept for the whole complex. Materials such as glass and precast elements would be duplicated from the proposed office building. The garage's glass towers for the stairs and elevators, for example, would help create the relationship between the garage and office building.
The proposed office building would be constructed of limestone, glass and aluminum. Its contour would follow the subtle curve of the street, making its front elevation visible from several points along Minnesota Avenue. Showing several boards with elevations renderings, Mr. Devrouax said that only the rear elevation, that faced the garage, would use precast rather than limestone. As mentioned earlier, the use of precast here complement the garage. The building would also would have two levels of below grade parking for employees.
The Commission were generally favorable towards the proposed garage and office building, though they asked that the next review of the office building be a revised concept rather than a final proposal. A motion to approve the garage as final and the office building as concept was made and carried.
N. District of Columbia Public Library
1. CFA 18/NOV/04–14, Anacostia Branch Library, 1800 Good Hope Road at 18th Street, SE. New replacement building. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/OCT/04–9). Melanie Hennigan, of Grimm and Parker, presented the revised concepts for three new library buildings, starting with the Anacostia Branch Library. In her presentation, Ms. Hennigan addressed concerns raised by the Commission when they last reviewed the project in October 2004.
The Commission had asked if were possible to have parking on the side of the building rather than in the rear. Ms. Hennigan showed site sections and a site plan to illustrate that the sloping and contours of the site were such that placing parking on the side would be very challenging. Landscaping was added to the garden area at the rear of the building. An arc of trees with canopies were proposed so that the site lines underneath would be open enough to help allay the community's concerns about safety.
Changes were also made to the designs of the front porch and the windows. Ms. Hennigan recalled that the Commission liked the idea of a front porch and per their suggestions, proposed a more modestly scaled porch. Because the porch would face south, louvers and sunshades would used to control the light. The porch would not be able to extend to the street, due to the location of the property line. An arched overhang would announce the porch and draw patrons to the entrance.
Rather than use multicolored glass, the windows would employ just one type of glass. Ms. Hennigan presented a material sample of evergreen glass, which she said was very transparent and had solar properties which would allow for a maximum amount of light while keeping out harmful ultraviolet rays.
Ms. Balmori felt that the applicants had made an intelligent response to the Commission's concerns and Ms. Nelson agreed that there was improvement, though the porch was really no more than a canopy. The Commission concurred that the revised concept was improved enough to warrant an approval, and a motion to approve was carried unanimously.
2. CFA 18/NOV/04–15, Benning Branch Library, 3935 Benning Road near Minnesota Avenue, NE. New replacement building. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/OCT/04–10). Ms. Hennigan noted that the Benning Branch Library stood to the north of a commercial shopping center in a mostly residential neighborhood. At the community's request that a gesture be made to encourage shoppers to visit the library, a porch would run from Benning Road towards the shopping center. Parking would be located on the lower level where there would be an accessible entrance. The parking area would face the shopping center. Ms. Hennigan said that the applicants were working with owners of the shopping center to create an effective egress from Benning Road, through the library site and to the center, as there was currently no safe passage between those two points. The site sloped downward considerably from north to south, so the porch would be accessible from the shopping center by a set of stairs.
Changes from the previous concept consisted mainly of a muted color palette and transparent glass. The checkerboard pattern, a reference to the library's chess program, would remain and the striped accent colors would be a pale red or orange with a cream or limestone color. The glass would be evergreen glass, the same type proposed for the Anacostia Branch Library.
Ms. Zimmerman said that the use of checkerboard pattern would work, but the stripes at the base of the building would not fit with the neighborhood. She said that one color or the other should be used, but not both. Ms. Nelson added that a darker base was needed to add weight. There was a brief discussion about the outdoor chess table idea suggested at the last meeting. Ms. Hennigan said that the library staff might entertain the idea of chess tables elsewhere on the site, but their preference was not to encourage outdoor facilities as it may invite loitering.
Once again, the Commission felt that the design had improved and a motion to approve was made and carried.
3. CFA 18/NOV/04–16, Tenley–Friendship Branch Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue at Albemarle Street, NW. New replacement building. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/OCT/04–12). The Tenley–Friendship Branch Library was located on a busy corner of Wisconsin Avenue across from a Metro station. Ms. Hennigan indicated that the architects wished to celebrate the corner, though it posed some concerns about motorist and pedestrian safety. The pedestrian entrance would be located roughly in the center of the Wisconsin Avenue facade while vehicular traffic would be directed in a one–way pattern off Wisconsin Avenue to a parking area at the rear. Vehicles would exit onto Albemarle Street.
Addressing the Commission's previous concerns, Ms. Hennigan showed three versions of elevation concepts. A common element to all the proposed elevations was the glazing at the southeast corner of the building. The multicolored glass would be replaced with transparent glass, though the window treatment would vary with the elevations. The windows would wrap around the corner in order to call attention to the reading rooms located at both levels. The idea was to invite people into the spaces. One elevation concept would retain the basic masonry and fenestration seen previously, with irregular window patterns and flared corners. Another version would have more regular window patterns with masonry on the upper level and stonework on the lower level. The third version would use more patterned masonry and a more geometrically consistent window treatment.
Ms. Balmori thought that the concepts proposed for Tenley–Friendship Branch were less successful in responding to the Commission's concerns, and the designs were still too busy. Ms. Nelson said that the library would look more like a store and that one of the columns would need more weight and substance. Ms. Zimmerman said that if an irregular window pattern were to be used, then it should be consistently straight or angled, but not both. Ms. Hennigan said that the community took a vote during one of their public meetings and that the majority favored a more contemporary design, though they preferred darker colors. She also stated that the thickness of the masonry, where it meets the flared glass, was still being studied.
Based on the Commission's comments, the Chairman asked that the applicants return with another revised concept for the Tenley–Friendship Branch.
O. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Old Georgetown Act
a. O.G. 04–094, 1611 Wisconsin Avenue, NW. New two–story commercial building for Commerce Bank. Concept. Mr. Martínez said that the Old Georgetown Board had been working with the applicants on a concept design for a new building to house the Commerce Bank since March 2004. The building currently on the site, a structure built for Reed Electric, would be demolished and replaced with a new structure with a two–story space on front and its second floor towards the rear. As of their November meeting, the Board felt that the design was going in the right direction, though they had additional recommendations. The overall height of the building should be lowered to minimize the space between the windows. The entrance should be simplified as a circular element and should be comprised of a material lighter than the proposed granite. The joints and detailing of the exterior should reflect more traditional limestone construction, and landscaping should be introduced into the parking lot. Mr. Martínez pointed out that the Board was pleased that the design allowed for an eight foot setback from Wisconsin Avenue, which would create a wider sidewalk than presently exists.
Scott Wrasman and Scott Hite, from InterArch, presented the project. Mr. Hite said that, per Board's recommendations, the building's height would be lowered two feet and the limestone detailing would be changed to more of a coursing detail. The granite element would be removed from the entry, though its design was still being studied. Also being studied still was the landscaping. Mr. Hite said that small trees in cutting triangular planters at the edge of the parking lot were being considered. The footprint would actually be smaller than that of the Reed Electric building, due to the eight foot setback.
The Chairman stated frankly that a site as important as this one on a major artery such as Wisconsin Avenue deserved better treatment than the building design and landscaping proposed. While acknowledging the work of the Board with the applicants over the past year, he felt that a fresh approach was in order, and that pursuing the current direction was not desirable. When Mr. Hite asked for direction, the Chairman suggested that alternatives based on the current program and in the context of the site be considered. With agreement from the Commission, the Chairman asked that a revised concept design be presented in the future.
2. Shipstead–Luce Act (continued)
b. S.L. 05–013, 400, 500 and 550 C Street, SW, Federal Center Plaza (Federal Emergency Management Agency, Regional Office). Perimeter security barriers: fencing and bollards. Permit. Ms. Penhoet introduced the next submission as a security project for a privately owned building leased to the regional office of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). She pointed out that there were issues with the District concerning the fire life safety area. Because the rear of the building faced railroad tracks the Fire Department and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs were requiring large fences. She introduced Charles Stover, of Interspec Consulting Services, to make the presentation.
Mr. Stover that the concerns presented by project included vehicle access on C Street and the railroad easement along 6th Street. The proposal for C Street consisted of a series of four retractable and four fixed bollards to control vehicular from C Street. Three retractable bollards would prohibit vehicle access to the rear of the site from 6th Street. The bollards would be painted to match the storefront finish of the building.
There was a thirty–five foot setback in the utilitarian area of the railroad tracks and FEMA wished to prevent pedestrian access to that part of the site. A twelve foot fence would separate the FEMA site from the railroad tracks and two ten foot bi–parting gates would prevent pedestrian access, but not egress from the plaza area of the building complex, in case of emergency. Mr. Stover said this proposal would also allow the Fire Department unhindered access to the plaza.
A motion to approve the proposal was made, seconded and carried unanimously.
(The agenda ordered was changed and S.L. 04–115, Clyde's at the Ebbitt Grill, was discussed prior to S.L. 05–008, the single family dwelling at 7080 Oregon Avenue, NW.)
d. S.L. 04–115, 675 15th Street, NW. Clyde's at the Old Ebbitt Grill. Storefront modifications. Concept. Ms. Penhoet recalled to the Commission that the applicants received a permit for interior work, the expansion of the kitchen, which was not in the purview of the Commission. However, since the kitchen expanded into an area with three large storefront windows and a double door entrance, it was necessary to have some sort of window design, other than the current opaque blank face, to enhance the pedestrian experience from the exterior. The initial proposal had been to use large–scale photographs with a black background. This was changed to a white background. Mike Orling, with Rust, Orling and Neale Architects, added that the concept for the storefront could also include a sort of revolving display, highlighting events that would occur downtown.
The Commission strongly recommended that a glass artist be engaged to create an original piece of art for the windows, rather than relying on photographs and minor art displays. A motion to that effect was made, seconded and carried unanimously.
c. S. L. 05–008, 7080 Oregon Avenue, NW. New single family dwelling. Concept. Ms. Penhoet introduced the final submission, a new construction on a recently subdivided house. She said that the staff had concerns about the size and complexity of the roof, and turned the presentation over to George Meyers of GMT Architects.
Mr. Meyers said that the house was to be built on a speculative basis and that the design reflected the builder's preference for a particular style. He showed elevations and floor plans as well as well as a series of context photos to illustrate the type of houses currently in the neighborhood. Mr. Meyers said that he was concerned that a full two story gutter line would make the roof seem tall compared to other roofs nearby. The roof lines, then, would be adjusted in an attempt to mitigate that perception.
With agreement from the Commission, the Chairman said that the concept of "complicated and interesting," and did not seem out of character within the neighborhood. After concept approval was given, Ms. Penhoet noted that there were a number of houses such as this one, located close to the Maryland border. She asked if the Commission cared to review these homes or if review could be delegated to staff. The Commission agreed that review of this type of submission could be delegated to staff in future.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:52 p.m.
Last Modified: November 18, 2004