Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
21 April 2005
The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 10:00 a.m., after a site inspection at the District of Columbia's Transportation Department warehouse.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Introduction of the new Secretary, Thomas E. Luebke.
The Chairman formally introduced Mr. Luebke as Secretary, recalling that he had attended the March meeting and had been introduced then as Secretary-Elect. He was welcomed by the Commission, and the Chairman assigned him his first duty which was to administer the oath of office to the Commission's new member.
Administration of oath of office to John Belle as a member of the Commission of Fine Arts.
Mr. Luebke then administered the oath of office to John Belle, who was welcomed to the Commission by the members. The Chairman said he was pleased to welcome Mr. Belle, an architect noted particularly for his sensitivity in dealing with landmark buildings.
At this time Mr. Childs commented on the member whose place Mr. Belle had taken, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, and her long period of service. He said he had taken the liberty of writing her a note of appreciation for her dedication and her particular skills, and had wished her well in her future ventures; if the Commission concurred, he would complete the letter and send it on. He asked if there were any other comments, and Mrs. Nelson said she would like to say that Ms. Diamonstein had been a great colleague and had brought a good conscience, integrity, and a real democratic outlook to the table. Mr. Childs thanked Mrs. Nelson for these observations and said he would mention those thoughts in his letter.
Approval of minutes of the 17 March meeting.
The Secretary noted that Ms. Diamonstein had asked for some clarification of her statements on the Lincoln Memorial security barriers submission, but there were no other comments or concerns, and the minutes were approved without objection.
Dates of next meetings were approved as:
The Chairman took the opportunity at this point to say that now that there was a new Secretary and a full complement of members, he would like to return to a discussion of some proactive matters that had been talked about at several meetings about six months ago. He said he and the Vice-Chairman had met with the NCPC the previous evening to discuss coordinating some actions both commissions had to deal with, and he added that there were several things that this commission could do in tandem with other groups. He said he would like to discuss with the members what they wanted to accomplish for the rest of the year.
Report on the members' site inspection of the mockups of the street lights and furniture for the Anacostia Waterfront Transportation Architecture Design Standards.
The Chairman said he wanted the public to know that the Commission had done what it said it would do at the last meeting, and that was to go out and look at and discuss the materials that had been assembled for this project. He said it was a long, complicated discussion which he would not go into at this time, but he had asked Ms. Penhoet to write a letter summarizing it. He said it was a positive meeting, and he thanked everyone for keeping the exhibit open so that the Commission could see it.
Submissions and Reviews
CFA 21/APR/05-1, National Museum of African American History and Culture. Site selection study and site evaluation criteria. Informational presentation. (Previous: CFA 20/FEB/03-2, Informational presentation).
The Secretary introduced the first project, a site selection study and site evaluation criteria for the proposed National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). He recalled to the Commission that they were shown an informational presentation in February 2003 by the National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission. That commission produced a report, dated 2 April 2003, and entitled The Time Has Come: Report to the President and Congress, in which they discussed the five sites then being considered for the museum. He introduced Harry Rombach of the Smithsonian Institution to make the presentation. Mr. Rombach showed a PowerPoint presentation and described the Institution's efforts to produce a site selection study, using The Time Has Come as a starting point. The site selection study would be the basis of a report submitted to the Smithsonian Institution Regents, who, in accordance with Public Law 108-184, were charged with selecting a site for the proposed museum.
Four potential sites would be examined based on specific site evaluation criteria. The four sites were the Smithsonian's Arts & Industries Building, located on the Mall between Jefferson Drive and Independence Avenue at 9th Street SW; the Monument site, located on the Mall between Constitution Avenue, Madison Drive, 14th and 15th Streets NW (immediately west of the National Museum of American History); the Banneker Overlook site, located at the south end of 10th Street, at the end of the L'Enfant Promenade (just south of I-395); and the Liberty Loan site, located at 14th Street SW, at the foot of the 14th Street Bridge (just south of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing). The locations of these four sites were illustrated with a contemporary aerial photograph and within the contexts of the L'Enfant Plan of 1791, the McMillan Plan of 1901, and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) Legacy Plan of 1997. Information on the total area and jurisdiction of each site was provided, as were site photographs.
The Smithsonian Regents had hired Plexus Scientific, a management consulting firm, to perform a technical evaluation of each proposed site and to prepare a final report by October 2005. The purpose of today's presentation was to elicit comments from the Commission which would be included in the final report. Comments received at a subsequent presentation to the Commission, scheduled for 22 September 2005, would also be integrated into the report.
The methodology and approach to site selection study was reviewed. Phase 1, data gathering, would include building upon the work of the NMAAHC Presidential Commission, detailed in The Time Has Come. Canvassing, field work and public meetings would also be employed for data gathering and a Phase 1 report would be produced.
The site data gathered would then be analyzed in Phase 2. The specific site evaluation criteria by which the data would be analyzed would be the proximity to the Mall and/or other relevant cultural institutions, site development possibilities and limitations, opportunities for supporting other urban planning initiatives, costs, economic opportunities (e.g. infrastructure cost-sharing), access and transportation systems, cultural resources, environmental factors, safety, security and risk management factors, utilities, visitation potential, other agency and public support and special considerations, such as existing on-site structures. Based on the analyzed data, two build-out and cost scenarios would be developed for each site. One scenario would be for a comfortable fit to the site, and the other would examine a maximized, or fully built-out, site. Each site would then be given a qualitative rating of positive, negative, or neutral. In summary, the final report would be an objective treatment of each site, without direct comparisons or a final recommendation. It would consist of the consolidated data, scenarios, and site ratings and would become the basis for site selection decision by Smithsonian Regents in January 2006. After a brief discussion of the public comment process and Smithsonian oversight procedures, Mr. Rombach concluded his presentation.
The Chairman noted for the record that the Commission had not specifically endorsed any of the five sites discussed in The Time Has Come, despite an attribution in that report to Commission approval of two of the sites. He also expressed appreciation to Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small for a letter he had received in which Secretary Small said that he looked forward to conferring with the Commission on this project.
The Commission felt that the site selection criteria and site study process were appropriate, and they appreciated being informed about the project's progress at the early stages. However, they cautioned against proceeding too far without a well defined building program. They thanked Mr. Rombach for his presentation and looked forward to future reviews of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
CFA 21/APR/05-2, Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Signs. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/MAY/02-5, Sign Program for the Mall Museums).
CFA 21/APR/05-3, National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE. Signs. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/MAY/02-5, Sign Program for the Mall Museums).
Staff member Kristina Penhoet introduced the next two projects, signs for the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery and National Postal Museum. Ms. Penhoet said that there were concerns about the number of signs. She pointed out the project for the Renwick still needed to be coordinated with the Executive Branch, due to its proximity to the White House. Harry Rombach, from the Smithsonian, was available for the discussion.
Mr. Rombach explained briefly that there were two types of signs, an identification sign and an information sign. He said that the identification sign should contain the logo for "branding" purposes as well as for information about the museum. The banners that announce special exhibits were examples of an information sign. The banners, he said, should not contain the logo as their purpose was to announce the exhibits rather than the museum.
After reviewing the submitted materials, the Commission agreed that the signs would be too numerous and the information provided on the signs would be redundant. The off-Mall locations of the Renwick and Postal Museum necessitated fewer signs in order to avoid clutter of the urban landscape. Additionally, the signs should draw visitors into the museum, rather than be an attraction in and of themselves.
Ms. Balmori made a motion that the signs should be resubmitted to be more appropriate to their function and to the scale of their locations. The signs should also be less numerous. Ms. Zimmerman seconded the motion. The Chairman noted that the Vice-Chairman was abstaining from the vote because of his association with the National Gallery and the Smithsonian. The motion carried unanimously.
Department of Energy
CFA 21/APR/05-4, Forrestal Complex, North Building, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW. Security modifications. Concept.
(The Chairman turned the gavel over to the Vice-Chairman for the first part of the presentation of this project.) Ms. Penhoet introduced Jeffrey Zarkin from the Headquarters Security Operation of the Department of Energy to begin the presentation. Mr. Zarkin noted that the north building, facing Independence Avenue, was a particularly attractive terrorist target because it was erected on tall columns, below which were two public plazas and the roadway of 10th Street. He observed that an explosive device set off in these areas could be particularly devastating, possibly causing collapse, and would affect office space both below and above the open areas, causing large-scale loss of life. He said they had actually considered removing the center section of the building that spanned 10th Street, but it was considered prohibitively expensive and disruptive. A significant increase in the security force presence would also be very expensive. As an alternative, they had decided to re-engineer key elements of the building in six phases.
Architect Gregory Knoop from Oudens + Knoop continued the presentation. He recalled that the three-building complex, arranged in quadrangular form, had been designed in 1965 [by the architect/engineer team of Curtis & Davis, Fordyce & Hamby, and Frank Grad & Sons]. He described the north building as being made of concrete and glass, set atop concrete columns. He showed elevation drawings and a sectional detail of the coffered areas where the columns intersected the body of the building. (The Chairman re-entered the meeting at this point.) Mr. Knoop said the first of the six projects referred to by Mr. Zarkin was the strengthening of the columns to prevent a major progressive collapse. To do this they would wrap the columns in carbon fiber and/or steel to harden them and then encase them in precast concrete. The columns would then be tapered at the top to fit into the coffered spaces above. He thought that the new design might actually be an architectural improvement. In answer to a question, he said the size of the columns would increase from about 5 feet to about 8 feet.
The second project would be to hang a "momentum trap"-an 18-inch thick concrete slab-about 5 feet from the bottom of the coffers to dissipate blast energy; this would be placed over the 10th Street roadway area. It would complement the building in style and would be covered with precast concrete. It would also help to delineate the roadway better than at present.
Projects three and four involved improvements in the roadway area, which would include hardening of the under-surface of the road to protect the basement, installing new curbs and eliminating the taxi lanes, and installing bollards, planters, and benches to protect the columns in accordance with NCPC's security guidelines.
Project five would involve placing hydraulic bollards in 10th Street at strategic places, and project 6 concerned placing a small concrete and glass exit pavilion at Alcove A. A question was asked about the cost, and Mr. Zarkin said his best estimate at this time would be from $10 to 15 million.
The Chairman began the discussion by recalling the time when this building was being proposed and the questions that were raised regarding the blocking of the vista from 10th Street north to the Smithsonian Castle and from the Castle south to the river. An effort was made to lift the building up as much as possible by placing it on columns, but it had never been really successful, and the building remained a barrier to a magnificent view. Also, he said from discussions he had had with GSA years ago, the building was not a very efficient one, and they had had many problems with it. His feeling was that it would never be a very effective deterrent to a major bomb blast, and that the "momentum trap" would result in a substantial reduction in transparency in a building that was already too low as far as maintaining the vista was concerned.
His recommendation, which was wholeheartedly supported by the other members, was that the center section be demolished, removing the danger of a terrorist driving under the building with a bomb. It was noted that some of the office space lost could be recouped by filling in the high open plaza spaces. Mr. Knoop was assured that the Commission was not being critical of his solution; it was just that the concept itself was flawed; architecturally and urbanistically it would be a disaster; and it was also unlikely to be effective against a terrorist attack. Mr. Knoop was concerned about the danger to the employees during the long period of time it would take to implement the Commission's preferred course of action, but it was thought that the answer to that might be to move the employees out of the center section as soon as feasible, since that section was most vulnerable to attack. Mr. Childs also observed that the building was probably not high on any list of those intended for destruction by terrorists. He asked for a motion summarizing the Commission's position, which was made by Mrs. Nelson and stated that the Commission's position was that philosophically the proposal was going in the wrong direction by advocating modifications that would give the building a bunker-like appearance, probably would not be effective against an act of terrorism, and would further compromise the view along the 10th Street axis; the recommendation was that the center section be demolished, since that was the area most vulnerable to attack. The motion was seconded by Mr. Belle and carried unanimously.
Department of Agriculture
CFA 21/APR/05-5, U.S. National Arboretum. New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road, NE. Administration Building. Renovation and alterations. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 15/APR/04-10 and CFA 20/MAY/04-Admin-H.).
Staff member Jose Martinez recalled that the Commission had asked that the Arboretum get a consultant to advise them on the problem of replacing the very large single pane windows with insulated glass, and he said they had done that and also had some options for the Commission to consider for a vestibule at the front entrance. He then introduced Judy Morrison from the Department of Agriculture.
Ms. Morrison said Dr. Elias, the director of the Arboretum, had planned to meet with the Commission but was unable to, and she was taking his place. She said they had developed some options for the windows but also wanted to show the Commission several options for a new vestibule at the front door of the building. She introduced architect Rick Cohen from Merrick & Company and Ken Malenski from RMF Engineering and asked Mr. Cohen to make the presentation.
Using a PowerPoint presentation, Mr. Cohen showed pictures of the large windows as existing and then showed their recommended alternative scheme, using two equal-sized pieces of glass, butt-jointed with a vertical mullion behind on the interior. As there were vertical blinds at these windows, the mullion would be scarcely visible. He said it would be very difficult and expensive to reproduce the existing panels with insulated glass. He was asked why the vertical mullion was necessary and was told it was because of the wind loads. In answer to another question, he said the color of the ne insulated glass units would match that of the existing single-glazed units. Mr. Cohen was then asked about the tall chimney appearing in the drawings at a prominent location, approximately where the main wing and the herbarium wing came together. He said it was the boiler stack, and the architects obviously felt it was an important design element as they had not attempted to minimize it.
Mr. Cohen then turned to the vestibule addition, which was being proposed for the sake of energy conservation. He showed six options, noting that the goal was to keep the framing simple, related to the existing mullion system, and to keep as much glass as possible. The options varied in regard to how much of the structure was inside and how much outside, and how the roof was treated-plain glass or a material and shape which reflected the folded pattern of the roof of the lobby and auditorium section of the building. There was a discussion of whether just a revolving door with a side door for handicapped entrance would work and be minimally disturbing to the architecture, but Mr. Cohen did not think there was room for that; the main request from the members was that it be as simple as possible. In the end, there was agreement that Option 6, which showed the glass structure set behind the columns and going all the way up to the roof, was the least obtrusive. There was no further discussion, and the Arboretum's preferred alternative design for the windows, and Option 6 for the vestibule, were unanimously approved.
Arlington National Cemetery
CFA 21/APR/05-6, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. Administration Building. ADA access ramp at front entrance. Final. This submission was postponed.
Department of the Treasury / Bureau of Engraving and Printing
CFA 21/APR/05-7, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, main building, 14th Street and Raoul Wallenburg Place (15th Street), SW. North Guard Booth on 14th Street, SW. Final. (Previous: CFA 21/OCT/04-5).
Assistant Secretary Frederick Lindstrom recalled that the Commission had reviewed and approved, with some modifications requested, the guard booth at the south end of the building, but the design for the north guard booth, at the entrance to the Holocaust Museum, had been held in abeyance. A revised design was now ready, and he asked Joe Mancuso from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to present it.
Mr. Mancuso explained that at the time the south guard booth (BM12) was presented, the Planning Commission and the Historic Preservation Review Board had already reviewed the north booth (IM13) and requested some changes, specifically, that the booth be changed from a free-standing one to one that was part of a planter. To do this, the existing approximately 100-foot planter was reduced in length to accommodate a guard booth 10 feet long by 9 feet wide. The limestone wall and coping of the planter would be continued around the booth; above that level would be ballistic-proof siding and windows, the siding being a tan-colored metal. The standing-seam metal roof would be the same shape as others and the same grey color. It was noted that the area around the booth had been cleaned up considerably since the Commission last saw it.
There was a discussion about the bollards along the sidewalk, and Mr. Lindstrom noted that the main entrance was going to be moved around to the 15th street side of the building, and when this occurred, the sidewalk bollards on 14th Street might not be needed. The Chairman then said that at this point the final design of the guard booth could be approved, since he had heard no objections, but not the bollards. Ms. Zimmerman made a motion to that effect, which was seconded by Mr. Belle, and carried unanimously.
Department of the Air Force
CFA 21/APR/05-8, Bolling Air Force Base, Giovannoli Street and McGuire Avenue, SW. New one-story building for a U.S. Coast Guard Station. Concept.
Ms. Penhoet said the project had been considered by the staff during a meeting with the Coast Guard and staff representatives from NCPC. She asked to bring up several items that the Coast Guard would be working on, one of which was the relocation of the trash receptacle, presently located at the front entrance to the site, so that it would not be the first thing visitors saw. A second item that had concerned the staff was the prominence of the front entrance itself which seemed to be excessive for such a simple structure. She then introduced Michael Schmidt to make the presentation.
Mr. Schmidt introduced himself as an architect with the Coast Guard, not a consultant. He said this project was being constructed on Bolling Air Force Base with permission from the Air Force for land use and other support facilities. The reason for the building of this facility was to provide security for the capital on the surrounding waterways, and Bolling seemed an appropriate site because of its large amount of land on the waterfront. He said they would be taking a small corner of a block which had two parking lots on it at present but noted that the surrounding area was slated to be developed for housing. There would be changes to the street pattern: Giovannoli Street would be closed for part of its length but would be left open where it provided access to the Coast Guard property; McGuire Avenue would disappear completely. When the master plan was implemented, the Coast Guard would take over the land formerly occupied by the closed streets and use it to provide parking and other amenities.
Mr. Schmidt they were proposing a fence around their property because of the nearby housing area and the concern that children would get onto the site and possibly get hurt. He was proposing an 8-foot-high ornamental metal fence. Mr. Schmidt then showed drawings and described the building, saying that it would operate much like a fire station, open 24 hours a day but with a rotating eight-man crew, so there would be some bedroom space. It would be a one-story building, about 6500 square feet, and in appearance would resemble traditional Coast Guard buildings with white siding, in this case vinyl, and if the Coast Guard got its way, the traditional red roof. However, as Mr. Schmidt noted, the roofs of all other Bolling buildings were grey, and this had become an issue.
The Chairman thanked Mr. Schmidt for his presentation and began the discussion with a comment. He said that, personally, he would prefer to see the Coast Guard do something more modern, but he understood the traditional approach. He thought, however, that if it was to be traditional, it should be the best possible within their very tight budget. For instance, the shutters should be of a size that they would cover the windows, even though he know they would probably not be operable. He agreed with Mr. Schmidt that the building should have a red roof. There was a discussion about other elements that could be simplified to both improve the building and save money; one of these was the rather elaborate front entrance, which everyone agreed should be simplified. The small windows, placed far down on the facade with a large expanse of plain wall above, were also questioned. Mr. Schmidt said there was really nothing above the normal height first floor; the additional height was there just to accommodate the attached boat bay which needed the height. He was asked if the boat bay could be a separate structure, and he said it could be providing there was some kind of covered structure connecting it to the main building. It was suggested that an inexpensive breezeway could solve that problem. Also, the size of the main building could be somewhat reduced. Questions were also asked about the use of brick for the lower part of the building, which looked out of character and certainly would add expense. Mr. Schmidt said that had been requested by the Air Force, to make the building more harmonious with the other buildings on the base. He said he hoped they could get started on the building soon as it was long overdue and they had been held up for several years while Bolling was revising their master plan.
The Chairman summarized the Commission's comments for Mr. Schmidt, telling him that he should look at separating the boat bay and the main part of the building, making the style changes that had been suggested, including reducing the amount of brick, and then submit a revised concept. He had one more request. Noting that the building was already within a highly secure area, he thought the fence should be a light one, designed to pedestrian scale, about 5 to 6 feet high, not 8 feet.
The agenda order was changed and item H.1.a., the Newseum, was discussed next.)
District of Columbia Office of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
S.L. 05-055, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Newseum. Streetscape plan and perimeter security barriers. Concept. (Previous: S.L. 05-014, 18 November 2004).
Ms. Penhoet introduced Tyler Donaldson and Michael Koontz from the Polshek Partnership to present the streetscape plans for the Newseum. Mr. Donaldson began by pointing out that there were two separate streetscape issues-one involving the treatment of Pennsylvania Avenue and the other concerning the treatment of 6th and C streets. He recalled that the building stepped back in three layers, with the Newseum oriented toward Pennsylvania Avenue and the residential section in the upper floors along C Street, with an entrance on 6th Street. Beginning with the avenue, he said it had its own palette, which varied from that of the grid streets of the city. He noted the brick paving material, the special street lights, benches and planters. Beginning with the paving, he said they had introduced, in a black granite paver like that used on the inside of the building, an outline of the first layer of the building, projected to the ground plane, thus interrupting the standard Pennsylvania Avenue red brick sidewalk paving. The next item discussed was the bench; since a hardened bench was not required they had used the standard Pennsylvania Avenue bench and were looking at it only as something that would provide some protection in the case of a traffic accident. Planters were used with the same type of protection in mind.
Comments were made on these items, with the general feeling being that there were too many benches-more than seen elsewhere on the avenue-and since they were not required and would impede watching parades when they occurred, why would they want to use so many? The number of planters was also thought to be excessive. Mr. Donaldson commented at this point that his client felt strongly that he didn't want his building to look like the most inviting target on the avenue. Mr. Peter Pritchard, president of the Newseum, was present at the meeting and asked to comment. He said they had had a security threat analysis done, even though they were not a top-level target, and were told that they really did need some kind of security because they were a news-media building, and they might attract people who wanted to make trouble.
The fragmentation of the avenue's uniform streetscape with this plan was also commented on by the members, particularly in this block, where the Canadian embassy next door was not committed to following the Newseum's plan. The introduction of the black granite in the sidewalk area also drew criticism and was seen as breaking up the pattern of the red brick sidewalk used along this entire section of the avenue.
Turning to 6th Street, Mr. Donaldson said the streetscape would reestablish the typical plan for the city streets. The Pennsylvania Avenue red brick sidewalk would continue around the corner to a building entrance, and then the city's standard grey precast pavers and tree pattern would take over, except that the black granite would be used at building entrances. Because of the irregular outline of the building along 6th Street, two triangular planters had been inserted between the sidewalk and the building line, with a seat wall in front of them; these insertions would follow the normal street line and also take up the rising grade. There was some dissatisfaction with the treatment of the corner, especially with the wall and how far it should come down into that corner space, and if the four round planters should be retained. The Chairman thought it might be a good idea to go out there and take a look at it before the next meeting.
On C Street the District's tree plantings and pavement would continue, with a denser tree planting being used in the area where groups would enter. Two bollards would be placed at the inside corners of the tree pits on both 6th and C streets, and there would be two round planters at the corner of 6th and C streets. At the loading dock and parking entrances bollards would be used; removable ones at the loading dock and retractable ones at the parking entrance. Mr. Donaldson said that, normally, there would be no bollards visible at either entrance. There were no objections to the streetscape plans for C Street.
There was no further discussion, and the Chairman told Mr. Pritchard and the architect's representatives that the Commission looked forward to a revised concept design, based on the comments made.
(Whereupon, the Commission adjourned at 1:19 p.m. for lunch and reconvened at 1:57 p.m.)
(The Chairman left the meeting during lunch and turned the gavel over to the Vice Chairman for the remainder of the meeting. The agenda order was resumed with item G, the Anacostia Gateway Government Center, followed by H.1.b., the Woodward Building.)
District of Columbia Office of Property Management
CFA 21/APR/05-9, District of Columbia Anacostia Gateway Government Center, Anacostia side of the 11th Street bridge at Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Good Hope Road, SE. Two new office buildings for the D.C. Department of Transportation headquarters. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05-13).
Mr. Martinez recalled the previous submission and the Commission's comments and then introduced architect Stephen Alicandro from HEERY to make the presentation.
Mr. Alicandro reviewed the project, saying that it would be a building for the District's Department of Transportation of about 320,000 square feet, six stories in height, with three levels of parking. He noted that there would be another building on the site, which had figured in the site plan for this one. He recalled the Commission's comments on the design at the first review: There was concern about the geometry of the curved front of the building; there was a request to study the feasibility of bringing the atrium to the ground floor, rather than having it start at the second floor; and he was asked to reconsider the cutting off of the southwest corner which exposed the back of the proposed AEDC building to be erected across an alley from his building.
He began with the alignment of the curved front with the traffic circle, noting that this circle did not yet exist, but it was planned to act as a gateway into Anacostia with Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and 13th Street both becoming two-way retail streets and his building being the hub of this development. To bring the entrance more into line with what was expected would be the center line of the circle, he had pivoted the building so that the entrance was basically centered with the southwest corner squared off to be parallel to the alley as the Commission had requested.
Turning to the atrium, he said they had been able to bring it down to the first floor and also to align it with the lobby. More public space and a conference center had been created on that floor, with additional possibilities for retail space.
It was agreed that the design was much improved and that the changes had answered the Commission's previous concerns. Mrs. Nelson made a motion that the revised concept design be approved; it was seconded by Ms. Zimmerman and carried unanimously.
District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affair
Shipstead-Luce Act (cont'd)
S.L. 05-058, 733 15th Street, NW. The Woodward Building. Alterations for conversion to residential use. Concept.
Ms. Penhoet introduced this project, saying that the staff had reviewed the design and had no objection to the restoration of the front facade or the addition of a parking garage door, but was concerned about the approach used for the light well. She asked architect Gary Martinez to make the presentation.
Mr. Martinez said the eleven-story, U-shaped building was built in 1918, with an addition constructed in 1929. It was built for office purposes, but the proposal now was to convert it to 220 apartments. He noted that the building had come before the Commission about ten years ago for approval of a demolition permit, which was not granted. At this time, the current owners were requesting a conversion to residential use. He showed views of the building, with the front entrance on H Street and the west elevation on 15th Street; on the east it abutted another building. He described it as a neoclassical building having architectural significance as part of a composition of a group of buildings built at approximately the same time and comprising the financial district.
Mr. Martinez said the exterior would be carefully restored according to the Secretary of the Interior's standards and would be a tax-credit project. He said the white marble base, tan brick body and terra cotta cornice would be cleaned and restored, and the double-hung windows, which were in bad shape, would be replaced matching the original profiles. The original storefronts would be restored and used as models for others that had been destroyed. A garage entrance would be installed in the 1929 addition to the east, reinserting a spandrel panel like those existing on the building and installing a roll-down garage door, the design of which had not been decided.
Mr. Martinez then turned to the windows on the east courtyard, which abutted another building. He described the courtyard as being 30 by 40 feet and said they wanted to increase the window area to introduce more light into the apartments facing this courtyard, as these windows were their only source of natural light. He showed drawings of his proposal, an all-glass curtain wall that would bring floor-to-ceiling glass to each apartment. He commented that the light well was a completely enclosed space and there would be no views of this window treatment from outside or from any other part of the building.
The only other modification to be made to the building was to the rooftop mechanical penthouses. He showed drawings of his proposals and said they would be set back and would not be visible, except, perhaps, from three to four blocks away.
Vice-Chairman Powell congratulated Mr. Martinez on his careful restoration of the interior, but said he did have questions about the interior light well proposal, particularly about the privacy issue, since the small size of the courtyard meant that people would be looking out of their windows directly at other people. This generated a discussion about this problem, which concerned the other members as well. Mr. Martinez said there would have to be a certain amount of blinds or shades used, and he commented also that there would be sections at the top and bottom that would be frosted or made semi-opaque in some way. In answer to a question, he said there would also be operable sections in these windows, that they were required by law to do this.
Even if the privacy problem could be solved, there was unanimous agreement that the curtain wall solution was an extreme one for this historic building that really wasn't necessary. It was pointed out that the windows could be enlarged, even made into French doors; that would be more compatible with the historic character of the building and would still provide additional light.
The Vice-Chairman noted that this was just a concept submission, and he asked if there was a motion to approve it, with a reconsideration of the treatment of the light well walls. A motion to this effect was made, seconded and unanimously carried.
S.L. 05-047, 15 locations in public space within the jurisdictions of the Shipstead-Luce and Old Georgetown Acts and other areas of the city. Temporary installation of piggybank-shaped sculptures. Capital One Financial Corporation. Permit.
Ms. Penhoet introduced Andrew Becker, Robert Discher, and Eric Lochner representing Capital One to present this project. She said there were to be fifteen locations within the city where these sculptures would be placed; seven of them would be in areas under Commission jurisdiction.
Mr. Becker named the sites the Commission should be concerned with: 400 New Jersey Avenue, NW, the Hyatt Regency site; City Hall, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW; the corner of 17th and K streets, NW; Franklin Square at 13th and I streets, NW; the Cosi restaurant and carry-out at 301 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE:, and Eastern Market Metro, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue. SE.
Mr. Lochner said the program was a cooperative one between Capital One and the Board of Education to promote the financial education and responsibility of Middle School students through art and creativity. The first element involved Capital One associates going into the schools and working with Middle School students to give them some financial education, particularly on budgeting and savings, and an understanding of financial responsibility. The second element involved providing some fun ways to look at these subjects; this is where the piggybank statues would come in. They would be painted by the students themselves and by some local artists, and Capital One would provide maps so that the parents and children could find all the statues; the parents would receive a workbook on financial responsibility and education to go over with their children. In addition to their volunteers, Capital One would contribute money to the District schools. When the six weeks' program was finished, the piggybank statues would be auctioned off and this money also would go to the schools.
The Commission's unanimous opinion was that these statues could not be called art, and children should not be encouraged to think of them as art; they should not be placed in public spaces, especially since the name "Capital One" would appear on them, although discreetly and not in the form of a logo; and they would have little value in educating children about money, placed as they were in high-volume traffic areas scattered around the city. If they were to have any impact at all it would be on the school grounds where they would be related to the teaching Capital One was providing in the school. For these reasons, there was a unanimous recommendation against the proposal as presented. For the record, Ms. Penhoet noted that the paperwork would have to be returned with a recommendation against, and then the applicant could resubmit for new locations if they wanted to.
S.L. 05-032, 400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Building modifications for new CVS Drug Store. Permit.
Ms. Penhoet recalled that this project had been on the Appendix in March with the staff's recommendation for approval. She said the recommendation had not been given wholeheartedly, but was perceived to be a good compromise given the complexity of the situation. She said the staff still maintained the recommendation. She passed out letters regarding the project, one of them from the condomimium association of the building, and noted that the project was postponed at the request of the Commission because the applicant had not been present at the meeting to discuss it, and because the District's Office of Planning had serious objections to the project. She said the applicant had come back to make a full presentation, and the Office of Planning had submitted a second letter outlining their concerns. She introduced Carolyn Brown from Holland & Knight, the attorney representing CVS, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Brown reviewed the history of the project. She said CVS was leasing the condominium space from the owner, and some time ago developed plans for the interior space and also proposed to make some exterior alterations. They received a building permit from the District, which was issued in error, and when CVS learned that, they came to the Commission and received an initial report from the staff recommending against approval. At that point they requested deferment from the February meeting to the March meeting to address the staff's concerns. There was another meeting, to which the Office of Planning was invited. As a result of that meeting, new interior plans were drawn up to address the concerns about transparency-the visibility from outside into the store. Changes were made to the doors, and to the display windows to make them more attractive; shelving that was blocking windows was removed. Ms. Brown said that although what happened on the interior was not technically within the Commission's jurisdiction, she recognized the effect it had on the exterior in this case. Based on these changes, they received a staff recommendation for approval. Then the letter to the Commission from the Office of Planning stating their concerns surfaced, a letter they had not been aware of. They had another meeting with the Office of Planning so as to address their concerns about the interior space, but were unable to accommodate their requests. She explained that the space had originally been configured for a number of retail tenants and so had many doors, making it impossible to control all these points of entry and exit for theft control. There was also the presence of egress stairs running from the top of the building to the bottom, bisecting their space; the change in grade from Massachusetts Avenue down to H Street; and the contractual arrangement CVS had with its vendors to provide fixtures which were difficult to insert into this space. There was also the Office of Planning's concern with the Mount Vernon Triangle Guidelines, which at this point did not apply to this property but were possibly to be amended. Ms. Brown said they had done their best to address the concerns but she agreed with Ms. Penhoet that the solution was not the best for anyone; she thought, however, that it was a good compromise. Finally, she noted that CVS did have a permit at one time and had ordered their fixtures based on that. Ms. Brown then introduced the architect for CVS, Ali Sohrab from GranDesign Studio, Inc.
Mr. Sorhab went through all his attempts to solve the many problems with which he was presented-trying to make a triangular space designed for several small stores work for one large one with very specific requirements, converting doors to windows that exactly matched those on the rest of the building, finding other locations for fixtures that blocked windows, as well as coping with ADA requirements in an area where there was a significant grade change. A question was asked about signs for the building, and Mr. Sohrab said he would come back later with those.
Rosemary Palermo, vice-president of the condo association, was then introduced. She commented that there were wide areas of sidewalk around the building that were separated from the pedestrian sidewalk and were intended to have outdoor seating or some other use that would blend the interior and exterior use of the building. She said the current proposal turned the entire Massachusetts Avenue frontage into what was essentially a blank wall, and signage was another thing that was of concern to the residents. Security was also a problem; Ms. Palermo said there was a door from the pharmacy that opened directly into the building lobby and permitted access to the elevators without being seen by the building's security guard. Hours of operation, unloading of merchandise, especially in the early morning hours by large trucks with their motors running, and disposal of trash were other items of concern.
Patricia Zingsheim, chief of downtown planning for the District's Office of Planning, also asked to speak. She noted that the Commission had received two letters from the acting planning director, Ellen McCarthy. She said their primary concern was for the Massachusetts Avenue frontage, that it would be blocked off by display cases for its entire length. She noted that this was an extremely important emerging neighborhood, a gateway to downtown, and they were requiring new projects to have large areas of clear glass in the street frontages to encourage pedestrian activity and street-related retail activity. She said they had had some productive talks with CVS and encouraged them to place some of their more attractive sales items, such as greeting cards and skin care items, in the window areas where they would attract pedestrians. In answer to a question, she said they would encourage outdoor cafés in this building or others on Massachusetts Avenue.
There was a discussion as to whether a decision on this project should be deferred so that further talks could be held. Ms. Zingsheim said that would be difficult as a permit had already been issued and the applicants had been delayed four months. In view of this situation, the Vice-Chairman said he would propose that the Commission accept the staff's recommendation and hope that all sides would reach an appropriate accommodation to each other's concerns. There was unanimous agreement that this was correct resolution to this situation.
Ms. Penhoet said there had been a few modifications to the Appendix. One was item 2, S.L. 05-036, which should say that it was a recommendation against because the design would affect the building inappropriately; she said the applicant had been asked to submit a new design. There was another recommendation against for lack of information, but nothing else of importance. The Appendix was then approved without objection.
Old Georgetown Act
Mr. Martinez said there was nothing that needed to be called attention to, except perhaps the question of chimneys on the old Addison School. There was a proposal to replace the old ones with false ones, and the Board thought that it would be better just to remove them. The Appendix was then approved without objection.
General Services Administration
CFA 21/APR/05-10, Department of Education Building (FOB 6), 400 Maryland Avenue, SW. Plaza Improvements. Concept.
Mr. Lindstrom said this submission was for the renovation and reconfiguration of the plaza in front of the Department of Education building, directly across Independence Avenue from the Air and Space Museum, and therefore a highly visible space that needed some sprucing up. He introduced Mike McGill from GSA to begin the presentation.
Mr. McGill described the plaza as a roughly triangular space paved with concrete pavers that were not in very good condition, and with some landscaping that was not in good shape, either. The intent of both GSA and the Department of Education was to make it a more vital gathering place for Department of Education employees`and for tourists visiting the Air and Space Museum. He said this proposal was for the center part of the plaza and took into consideration the NCPC Monuments and Memorials Plan that said this area was a site for a major monument; he said adjacent areas of the plaza would be redeveloped in the future. He said architect Jim Clarke from MTFA and landscape architect Lisa Del Place from Oehme, van Sweden would make the presentation, and the project director from GSA, Dilip Chitre, was present to answer any questions.
Mr. Clarke began, noting the parts of the site that were not included in the project and saying that one of the objectives of the program was to reinforce the realignment of Maryland Avenue in the future by adding landscaping. A major objective was to renovate the concrete paving surface, which was in disrepair and leaking into the existing mechanical space below, and then to drastically increase the landscaping to provide shade and make the plaza a more pleasant place. He said the Department of Education building had a very strong symmetrical emphasis toward the middle when seen from the sidewalk, but had an asymmetrical entrance recognized by the paths leading to it. An entrance on the other side was no longer used. Another aspect of the site to be dealt with was the various levels. In order to address ADA issues and avoid railings and formal ramps, a gentle sloping path in a spiral form had been developed to take the visitor from the sidewalk to the center gathering space, to the entry plaza, or to the raised platform in front of the center point of the building. To emphasize the location of the entrance the color of the walkway had been extended to the entry plaza, and three existing flagpoles had been relocated as vertical elements in the landscaping next to the entry plaza to emphasize the entrance. An existing bell from a school had also been relocated from the center of the plaza to a place along the path. He pointed out other elements of the program, including break-out spaces near the building that could be used for informal gatherings for students coming from museums, or for a lunch break site for department employees. Mr. Clarke then asked Ms. Del Place to discuss the landscaping plans.
Ms. Del Place talked first about the strong row of trees that would help reinforce historic Maryland Avenue, if it were ever put back into place. Then she addressed the Department of Education's desire to make the plaza a public space where school children would come, but also visitors to the museums. She commented on the need to provide shade and seating. On a site plan she pointed out the outdoor exhibit space, saying it would be used for rotating exhibits. Plantings would be in raised planters, which would be low at the Maryland Avenue end of the site and then slope up towards the building; she noted that the architecture was "a bit harsh" and she thought this would help soften it. There would also be a large planter along the center front of the building, directly behind the raised platform area. The planting along Maryland Avenue would be relatively transparent, but it would give some sense of protection from the traffic and busyness of the avenue. She pointed out the break-out spaces near the building, saying that they were planned for small groups of people, adding that they had been asked to plan the main gathering space so that it would hold up to 500 people.
Ms. Del Place was questioned about the kind of plantings to be used. Beginning with the street trees, she said these would be whatever the District had specified for that street. Moving into the site, they would use perennials and groundcover with low evergreen shrubs as they moved closer to the building. Understory trees would also be used, and as they got closer to the building, these would probably be amelanchier or serviceberry-something that could take the shade and maintain some transparency while still softening the facade. She was asked if there was basement space underneath the plaza, and she answered that the only basement space occupied about a third of the middle section of the plaza; most of the planting would be done on grade. A question was asked about signs, and Mr. Clarke said there would just be the one sign now existing. He was then asked about the "little red schoolhouses" at the entrances. He said they had been placed there on a temporary basis for protection while the facade was being renovated and would be removed.
There were no objections to the proposed improvements, and the concept design was approved, with materials and plant selection to be seen with the next submission.
CFA 21/APR/05-11, National Capital Region First Impressions Sign Program. Demonstration installations of the new building/agency identification sign program at the EPA headquarters in the Federal Triangle and the Veterans Administration, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW. Concept. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05-7, Master Plan).
Mr. Lindstrom recalled that the Commission had seen the concepts for this sign program in January, and GSA was now returning with revisions to the monument signs and their proposed locations at the Veterans Administration Building and the Environmental Protection Agency in the Federal Triangle. He introduced Michael McGill from GSA to begin the presentation.
Mr. McGill commented that this sign program had actually been in effect for several years in the lobbies of federal buildings; it was intended to ease the clutter and confusion of many signs so that visitors would not get confused. Now they were trying to do the same thing on the exterior. He introduced Beth Ready and Maurice Reid from Gensler to discuss what they had done since the first presentation of this sign program.
Mr. Reid said they had listened to the Commission's comments after the first presentation and made revisions, which they would show at this meeting. If the Commission approved them, a prototype would be made that was moveable and could be placed in front of a building so that the Commission could make a site inspection.
Ms. Ready recalled the Commission's request for simplification and the use of just one design rather than varying the sign according to the architecture. At this meeting they would show installations for the EPA's several buildings and for the Department of Veterans Affairs. She noted on drawings the location of existing signs and the proposed new ones and said that in some cases the placement had been changed and in others the number had been reduced. Then they showed digital renditions of the signs actually in the proposed locations.
A question was asked about the height of the signs. Mr. Reid said they would match the existing "ribbon" signs, which was 9 feet. One member thought this was too high, that they were out of scale and would become an unpleasant experience for people walking by. Mr. Reid said they had to be high enough for people driving by in their cars to see. It was suggested that two heights be tried when they made the mockups, perhaps one at 9 feet and the other at 5 feet. One member suggested that they take all the content that had to be on the sign and make that determine the size, not adding any unneeded blank space. A question was then asked abut the material. Ms. Ready said there were two choices: one was a painted panel, using a very durable epoxy paint on a stainless steel or aluminum base, and the other was brass with etched and paint-filled letters. There was a considerable difference in the cost.
The Vice-Chairman asked if the Commission would be willing to approve the concept, with two mockups to be prepared, one for a 9-foot sign and the other for a shorter, 5-to 6-foot version, which the Commission would inspect when they were ready. Mr. Powell's proposal was unanimously accepted.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:04 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke
Last Modified: May 21, 2005