Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
17 February 2005
The meeting was convened at 9:44 a.m. in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. An Executive Session preceded the public meeting. During the Executive Session, the Acting Secretary gave the members status reports on the Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Request and the 2005 National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Approval of minutes: 25 January 2005.
The minutes were approved without objection.
Dates of next meetings were approved as:
Introduction of a new staff member, Delores B. Davis, Administrative Support Assistant.
Mr. Lindstrom introduced Delores Davis to Commission. He said that Ms. Davis joined the staff in December and was currently working as a sort of acting administrative officer, due to the illness of the present officer. The Chairman commended Ms. Davis on her work, and warmly welcomed her to the Commission staff.
Submissions and Reviews
National Coalition to Save Our Mall
CFA 17/FEB/05-1, The National Mall Third Century Initiative. The Future of The National Mall report. Informational presentation.
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the first item, a visual informational presentation by the National Coalition to Save Our Mall. Based on the Coalition's October 2004 report entitled The Future of The National Mall, the presentation detailed their National Mall Third Century Initiative. Judy Scott Feldman, the Coalition Chair, made the presentation. Coalition member Kent Cooper was also present.
The presentation covered the Mall's history, current conditions and proposals for solutions under the National Mall Third Century Initiative. In its historic context, the Mall has been a gathering place for events such as the March on Washington in 1963 and the display of the AIDS quilt in the 1980s. Civic rituals such as Inaugurations and Fourth of July celebrations have been held on the Mall. The Mall has also served as a public space for other activities, such as informal sporting events, picnics and jogging. The Mall's current condition was illustrated with images of chain link fences, construction fences and Jersey barriers encroaching upon well-known landmarks such as the Washington Monument, the Capitol Dome and the Jefferson Memorial. Also highlighted was the September 2003 National Football League event which lined the Mall with fences and advertisements.
Several items were identified as challenges to the future vitality of the Mall. One of these was the continuing pressure to build new museums and monuments there, despite the designation of the Mall as a "complete work of civic art" in the National Capital Planning Commission's Legacy Framework and the Commemorative Works Act of 2003. Perimeter security measures such as walls and bollards were detractions. A main factor, however, was the lack of unified oversight of the Mall. Currently, parts of the Mall were managed by several different agencies, including the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution and the Architect of the Capitol. As a result there was no agreed upon definition of the National Mall, nor a unified plan or a single vision for future growth.
To begin to answer the question of what solutions could be applied to ensure the vitality of the National Mall into the future, two past visions for the Mall were examined; the L'Enfant Plan of 1791 and the McMillan Plan of 1901-1902. In this vein, the Coalition's proposed solution was the National Mall Third Century Initiative. The Initiative's long-term goal was to help formulate a new vision for the Mall, with a public process for implementing that vision. In the short-term, the Initiative strove to educate and orientate the public, encourage more public activities and amenities and work to ensure that Mall management would become more comprehensive. Because of its divided management, the "haphazard" manner in which it developed in the 19th century and the continuing demand for new structures, the Mall had outgrown the McMillan Plan. The Initiative called for the physical expansion of the Mall, to keep in step with an evolving democracy. They recommended the defined area of the Mall should expand from the Capitol to the river via the South Capitol Street area, southward along the 10th Street Promenade to the Banneker Overlook and the waterfront and across the Potomac to include the Fourteenth Street and Arlington Memorial Bridges. East Potomac Park and Arlington Waterfront from the Memorial Bridge to Gravelly Point should also be included. The Coalition would prevail upon Congress to define the Mall as a unified entity, stop new construction and reinstate parking lots until a vision could be created, conduct a "state of the Mall" hearing to review the state of master planning for the Mall and consider options to replace the moratorium on building with a long-term vision.
Mr. Cooper added that although the Coalition supported the moratorium, referred to in the 2003 Commemorative Works Act, to build further on the Mall, the moratorium was flawed, because it did not take an expansion of the Mall into account. They felt that a review, in the spirit of the McMillan Commission, was needed in order to plan for the future.
The Chairman invited John Parsons, of the National Park Service to comment. Mr. Parsons said that guided by their Legacy Plan, the Park Service would undertake a landscape conservation plan that would address the Mall's sustainability and carrying capacity for special events. In light of all the events and activities on the Mall, the question of how to maintain the integrity of the space and enhance it to bring it up to a higher level of maintenance while ensuring efficient circulation of visitors would be considered. He said that the Park Service looked forward to working with all other relevant agencies and the public on such a plan for the Mall. The Chairman thanked Mr. Parsons and acknowledged all the demands, including political and environmental, placed on the Park Service.
The presentation was well received by the Commission. The Coalition's growing advocacy for improved stewardship of the Mall was acknowledged as was the fact that many of the points raised in the presentation were of great concern to the Commission. With input and agreement from the members, the Chairman suggested that representatives of the Coalition join the Commission on its future site inspection of the Mall, and also that a joint session be held in the near future to discuss the National Mall. This session should include representatives from the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Park Service and the National Capital Planning Commission and the National Coalition to Save Our Mall.
National Park Service
CFA 17/FEB/05-2, Lincoln Memorial Circle. Perimeter security barriers on east side. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 20/NOV/03-1).
Ms. Penhoet recalled to the members that perimeter security for the Lincoln Memorial had been reviewed by them in June 2002 and November 2003. An acceptable bollard design and location at the base and top of the steps closest to the Reflecting Pool had been selected by the Commission. Since then, the proposed location was changed and three schemes were prepared to present to the Commission. Ms. Penhoet introduced John Parsons, for introductory remarks on behalf of the Park Service, and Ron Kessler of McKissack and McKissack for the presentation. Steve Lorenzetti, a resources manager with the Park Service, was also present.
Mr. Parsons noted that the bollard design and location approved by the Commission was not approved by the National Capital Planning Commission. A working group comprised of staff from the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, citizens and an Historic Preservation Officer was formed to work towards a solution. He said that the presentation represented a consensus of the working group. He turned the presentation over to Mr. Kessler.
Three options were presented and all three would have two elements in common. The first common element was that all three schemes would extend from the plinth wall which would encircle the site from the west, north and south sides. The second common element was that all three schemes would enclose the outer edge of the reestablished rectangular east plaza. The plaza would overlay the circular roadway and the easternmost edge of the barrier line would be located slightly beyond the outer edge of the drive, just west of the stairs leading to the Reflecting Pool.
The first proposed scheme was an all-bollard solution, in which the bollard line would extend northeast and southeast, respectively, towards Henry Bacon and Daniel Chester French Drives and continue along the outer edge of the circular drive to ultimately form the barrier line. The second scheme, called the "square layout," would extend the plinth wall more fully around the site, with parallel lines of bollards extending eastward from the plinth wall to the edge of the plaza. The barrier line in this scheme would be a row of bollards in the center, flanked by seating walls. The seating walls would be stone with a decorative metal back. The third scheme, a "radial layout," would be similar to the second, except that the bollard lines extending from the plinth wall would be perpendicular, rather than parallel. Directionally, the bollard lines would be the same as those in the first scheme, but would be located closer to the plaza. The seating walls would also be present in this scheme, but because of the radial orientation, there would be more bollards to the north and south of the walls.
The Commission felt that none of the proposed schemes would be workable, since the defined security perimeters seemed to long in relation to the memorial. The two seating walls in schemes two and three were thought to be too large and too detailed and that they would be too much of an obstruction. However, the Commission acknowledged and appreciated the great effort put forth by the Park Service and requested a site visit, with several mock-ups, to determine the most appropriate location for the bollard lines. The mock-ups should include an option with the barrier line closer to the steps on the west side of the roadway.
(The Chairman turned the gavel over to the Vice-Chairman for the Georgetown Waterfront Park discussion.)
CFA 17/FEB/05-3, Georgetown Waterfront Park, bounded by the Potomac River and Water Street, from the Francis Scott Key Bridge to the terminus of 31st Street. Revised concept for overlook structures, Nos. 1, 2 & 3. (Previous: CFA 21/SEP/04-1). Mr. Martinez introduced the next item, a revised concept for overlook pavilions for the proposed Georgetown Waterfront Park. He briefly recalled the Commission's past reviews of the project, leading up the revised concept for the overlooks. The Old Georgetown Board had no objection to these revisions when they reviewed the project at their December 2004 meeting. Mr. Martinez introduced John Parsons of the National Park Service, Ignacio Bunster-Ossa, the landscape architect and Jody Pinto, the sculptor who designed the overlooks.
Mr. Bunster-Ossa indicated that the overlooks would be placed in three locations between the Key Bridge and the Wisconsin Avenue terminus. The locations were informed by the slight protrusions that occurred along the shoreline. He said that the design for the overlooks would help determine the design for the pergola, which would be presented to the Commission at a later date. For a more detailed discussion of the overlooks, he turned the presentation over to Ms. Pinto.
Ms. Pinto showed three models of the proposed overlooks as she described the changes to the design from what was presented earlier in concept. The shade element would be larger in order to match the trajectory of the masts which would be part of the overall overlook design. There would be one fiberglass mast near each overlook. The masts would be 75 feet long and would taper to 10 inches around at the tip. The shade element would be of a stainless steel mesh material, manufactured by GKD. The material would allow for air circulation and capture the sunlight, yet provide 45 percent shade protection. They would retain their undulating shape and grow in size slightly. The supporting poles would be made of stainless steel and would vary in height to give the feeling of motion. The overlook located nearest the Key Bridge would be 45 feet long by 14 feet wide, the center overlook would be 46 feet long by 14 feet wide and the overlook at the Wisconsin Avenue terminus would be 60 feet long by 14 feet wide. This last overlook would be largest because Wisconsin Avenue would be the gateway to the project.
The seating, like the masts, would be fabricated out of fiberglass. The seating would be 16 inches high and would be lighted from within with fluorescent lights. The lights would be accessed through openings at the bottom of the seats. The masts would be lighted with an incandescent light. They would be supported by a stainless steel pole with circular pieces called spiders, to prevent contact between the steel and the fiberglass.
Stephen Kurzman, former president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown and longtime resident, spoke on behalf of a group of more than thirty Georgetown residents who had sent a letter to the Commission in October 2003 commending their recommendation to simplify the designs then proposed for the park. This group included a number of architects and designers. Mr. Kurzman said that he and his colleagues opposed the use of the overlooks. They felt that since the proposed park would be rather narrow that no embellishments would be necessary. The overlooks would impede the view and be an unneeded distraction. They would not be necessary for shade, because there would be enough tall trees. The group also felt that the overlooks would not be in keeping with the historic nature of Georgetown. Mr. Martinez then acknowledged an email from Frank Schlessinger, a Georgetown architect and resident, who also opposed the proposed overlooks.
The presentation was well received, but the Commission continued to recommend simplifications. Most members agreed that the masts may not be necessary, as they would be out of scale. There was a concern that the mesh roof would not supply sufficient shade. Mr. Rybczynski thought that the mesh may come off as too hard and industrial and hoped that it could be softened. Ms. Zimmerman commented that the stainless steel roofing material would help create a whimsical and uplifting piece since its appearance would change throughout the day with the movement of the sun. Ms. Diamonstein also appreciated the transparency of the overlook structures. She thought that the diffused light of the masts could be very nice, but agreed that they may be too big. She commented, and others agreed, that the paving on the overlooks need not differ greatly than that which was being used elsewhere in the park. A continuation of the paving material, perhaps with variations in color or texture should be studied. Ms. Nelson requested night renderings with views from the bridge and to the entrance of the park. Ms. Zimmerman asked that the rendering illustrate the stainless steel elements. The Vice-Chairman asked for a motion and Ms. Zimmerman made the motion that the design goal be a simplification, the scale of masts be reconsidered and a night rendering be produced. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.
(The Chairman returned during the Georgetown Waterfront Park discussion and resumed chairing the meeting with the discussion of the World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.)
American Battle Monuments Commission
CFA 17/FEB/05-4, World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer, France. New visitor center. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 18/NOV/04-9).
Ms. Penhoet introduced the next item, a revised concept for a new visitor center at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach. General Jack Nicholson, recently appointed Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, made introductory remarks. David Greenbaum, with SmithGroup, and Patrick Gallagher, of Gallagher and Associates, made the presentation.
Mr. Greenbaum invited the members to examine the architectural model, which illustrated the change made to the tower element of the Sacrifice Gallery in response to the Commission's previous concern that it would be too prominent. The tower was essentially eliminated in favor of a skylight located at grade. It was agreed that this design would be an improvement.
Mr. Gallagher introduced himself as an interpretive planner and he briefed the members on the interpretive program being developed for inside the Gallery. He said that visitors with living memories of Normandy were beginning to pass away, and that the interpretive programs would need to frame the story for future generations. After consulting with military historians and with the National Park Service, the focus of the program would be on three primary concepts; competence, courage and sacrifice. There would be less emphasis on artifacts and more on individual stories of participants at Normandy. There would be some multimedia elements, including recordings of the survivors telling their own stories. The idea was to convey what it meant to be a young soldier faced with the dangerous prospect of landing on Omaha Beach.
A motion to approve the concept was made, seconded and carried unanimously.
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
CFA 17/FEB/05-5, National Law Enforcement Museum, Judiciary Square (Federal Reservation #7), E Street between Court Buildings E and C, and north of Old City Hall. Revised concept for skylights. (Previous: CFA 21/OCT/04-2).
Ms. Penhoet introduced this project, recalling that after the October presentation, the Commission had recommended that the skylights be eliminated. She said the architect and the Law Enforcement Memorial were present to petition to include the skylights and would show a number of new schemes. She also noted two letters sent by Judge Wagner, one to Dan Tangherlini from DDOT, and the other to Acting Secretary Frederick Lindstrom, which she distributed to the members.
The Chairman noted Judge Wagner in the audience, wished her well in her recently-announced retirement, and said the Commission would miss seeing her. She thanked him, but said she would continue to be involved in the Old Courthouse renovation and addition project. Architect Davis Buckley was then introduced.
Mr. Buckley introduced lighting engineer Claude Engle, who would be working with him on the problem of getting natural light into the underground museum spaces. Then he made some comments on classical Renaissance space, noting that there were always objects placed within a single long vista to set up a positive tension and shape the user's experience. He compared this to Judiciary Square's classical orientation, and to the central plaza area between the museum's two pavilions, where the skylight placement would continue the idea of placing objects within axial spaces.
Mr. Buckley then showed an animation of the area, pointing out one of several schemes for the skylight, a 6 by 18-foot, 8-inch high structure with water elements at each side; it would be placed in the center of the plaza. Other designs used a different configuration for the raised element, or were square, or consisted of two skylights flanking the center line of the plaza. The second part of the study consisted of illumination studies, showing the amount of light entering the atrium space at different times of the year, using both a one or two skylight scheme, or without any skylight. Mr. Engle compared this situation with that in the underground connecting link between the west building and the east building of the National Gallery of Art. He said that after much study, the consensus had been that the center of the plaza was the right place for the skylight and that a single element would block the plaza less than the multiple elements. Mr. Buckley said what they were looking for at this meeting was just concept approval of the necessity for a skylight to bring some natural light into the central atrium space of the museum; then they would come back with specific details as to how it would be executed.
Ms. Zimmerman asked what was happening in that central space-were there exhibitions, and if so, would they want to have a strong beam of light shining on artifacts? Mr. Buckley said this would not be an exhibition area, but rather a gathering place for people as they came down off the escalators; the exhibitions would be behind the walls. Mr. Engle said that what they didn't want was to have the natural light concentrated on the walls; it should instead be more like a pool of light on the floor. The Chairman said he could see how it could be acceptable if it were done properly, if it were controlled, but the issue at this meeting was whether the Commission wanted to change its recommendation that there should be no skylight at all, a matter that had been debated for a long time. Ms. Diamonstein said she remained unconvinced that the recommendation should be changed. The Vice-Chairman said he was all for natural light, and this was not a fine art museum; the light would not be used to illuminate exhibitions. It was his understanding that it would be used to animate the space below for people, much as it was in the East Building, but not to create a spotlight on the floor. Mr. Rybczynski said the skylights at the National Gallery had been incorporated in an integral way, but he did not see that happening here; he thought the proposals resembled "putting an air conditioner on the plaza". He saw them as functional things with no symbolic quality. Ms. Balmori commented that it must have been known from the beginning, once they were given the underground site, that the problem of bringing in natural light would have to be dealt with. She noted that there were two glass pavilions on the site, and that there were many ways of bringing in light from a roof. She said she was not convinced that any of the solutions shown would work with the public space above. Ms. Zimmerman asked if glass block couldn't be used. Mr. Engle commented on a recent visit to Barcelona and some examples he had seen in a Gaudi building, and he said he would like to have the permission to work with very small pieces of flush glass and see what could be done. The Chairman commented on examples of glass bridges and other things at ground level that could be emulated and used as part of a paving system to get some natural light in.
The Chairman said he would like to bring the discussion to a close and hear a motion to entertain further study along these lines, or a motion to again say no to a skylight. The Vice-Chairman said he would make a motion granting further study as the Chairman suggested. Ms. Zimmerman seconded the motion, and it was carried, with Ms. Diamonstein abstaining.
General Services Administration
CFA 17/FEB/05-6, GSA Headquarters Building. 1800 F Street, NW. Courtyard additions and modifications. Concept. (Postponed from previous meeting: CFA 17/FEB/05-8). Mr. Martinez introduced Michael McGill, of GSA, and architect Shalom Baranes to present additions and modifications to the GSA Headquarters Building. Mr. McGill said that GSA was seeking concept approval for their proposal to make the GSA Building more efficient and to expand the building by enclosing the open-ended wings. He said that in addition to Mr. Baranes, Larry Aitcheson, the project director, was also present and would be available to answer any questions.
With the aid of a visual presentation, Mr. Baranes indicated that the GSA Building was a rather typical federal office building, though with its own unusual characteristics. The building was essentially E-shaped, with two courtyards which themselves contained several structures. The more unusual characteristics were that the courtyards were some 350 feet deep by 130 feet wide, and that they faced south, while the building's main entrance was on the north side. With Rawlins Park located on the south side, the building's "back" was essentially to the park. This was significant, because one the goals of the project was to reorient the building, possibly with entrances from the south.
A series of studies were developed to determine how best to add 100,000 square feet to the building. The concept being pursued was to change the building from a figure E to a figure 8, by constructing infills between the wings, at the south end. All the structures currently in the courtyards, with the exception of the auditorium in the east courtyard and the library in the west, would be demolished. The infills would be constructed of glass and stainless steel, and would be designed in such a way as to give the appearance of floating between the wings. The scheme would include a 20 foot deep atrium which would contain a series a walkways on each floor. The walkways would connect the existing elevator courts and provide a primary circulation path, overlooking the park. Although the transparent materials would contrast with the heavy stone of the existing building, the glass facades would follow the rhythm of the building's fenestration. If the atrium proved to be too expensive, an alternative scheme would bring the walkways right to the edge of the glass.
Finally, there would be an introduction of an entrance to the center wing of the south facade. There was an existing entrance in that location; it would be enlarged by removing the existing second floor in order to create a two-story lobby that would respond to the corresponding entrance on the north side. Three options were presented, the favored one involving three large portals. Another scheme would consist of a larger opening with glass piers and a variation on that would instead use stone piers. A last version would relate to the curtain wall. Variations for a handicapped-accessible ramp were also shown.
The presentation was well received by the Commission and the hope was expressed that the atrium could be retained. A motion to approve the concept was made and carried unanimously.
District of Columbia Area Water and Sewer Authority
CFA 17/FEB/05-7, Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, 5000 Overlook Avenue, SW. New Egg-shaped Digester Facility. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05-12).
Mr. Lindstrom said that Suman Sorg, of Sorg and Associates, would present a revised concept for the egg-shaped digesters, particularly the connecting bridge elements, in response to comments received at their last presentation.
The design for the bridge elements that would support the catwalks between the tops of the digesters was simplified to a bow-truss design. The method for attaching the bridge was being studied, though a bolted connection, rather than a welded one, was currently favored because of the length of the span.
The Commission agreed that this design would be more appropriate to the facility, and approved it unanimously.
(The presentations for the District of Columbia Public Libraries projects were postponed and the remaining submissions were discussed in the following order: the Shipstead-Luce appendix, the Old Georgetown appendix, the American Pharmacist's Association and the National Children's Museum.)
District of Columbia Public Library
CFA 17/FEB/05-8, Tenley-Friendship Branch Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue at Albemarle Street, NW. New replacement building. Final. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05-19).
This presentation was postponed.
CFA 17/FEB/05-9, Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Branch Library, 1701 8th Street at Rhode Island Avenue, NW. New replacement building. Final. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05-22).
This presentation was postponed.
District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
(Ms. Balmori recused herself from the discussion of the National Children's Museum.)
S.L. 05-030, L'Enfant Plaza, 10th Street Promenade, SW. Concept design for three new mixed-used buildings including the National Children's Museum. Concept. (Previous: CFA 21/OCT/04-3).
Ms. Penhoet introduced Fred Clarke from Cesar Pelli Associates to make the presentation. Before Mr. Clarke began, the Chairman noted for the record that Ms. Balmori had recused herself on this project and had left the room.
Mr. Clarke began, using a PowerPoint presentation, by describing the existing buildings in L'Enfant Plaza and noting that there were two clients for the new project-the National Children's Museum and the development company JGB. He said they were putting together a genuine public-private venture, one which would combine exciting commercial aspects as well as the very important public aspects represented by the National Children's Museum, The entrance piece for the museum would be the most "flavorable" aspect of a four-part composition-adjacent to it would be a ten-story office building, the same height as the upper level of the Loew's Hotel on top of the existing east building. In the northeast corner would be another office building of approximately eleven stories , which would sit adjacent to one of the most active Metro stations in the city. In the southeastern corner would be a residential building of approximately 16 stories which would have prominent views toward the waterfront. While Mr. Clarke was explaining the plan, the Chairman asked him how people in cars would get to the residential and northest office building lobbies. He was told that automobile access would be limited to an entrance from L'Enfant Promenade at the south edge of the Plaza, leading to a roundabout for drop-off or to the underground parking; from there motorists would be directed to their destination. The rest of the area would be entirely pedestrian. Mr. Clarke then discussed the model, which was in the room, saying that it responded specifically to comments made by the Commission during the last two presentations. He noted that the center office building formerly had a leading wall that was perpendicular to the property line and advanced 16 feet out toward the street. It was felt that it competed with the iconic nature of the Children's Museum entrance piece and so it had been sloped back 16 feet from where it had been previously. Also, the entrance piece had been elaborated so that its spire elements were clearly in front of the office building, thus calling attention to it.
Mr. Clarke then noted other comments by the Commission that had been addressed. One was that they should be sure that there was enough activity at the Plaza level so that it would continue to draw people, rather than encourage them to go down immediately to the Promenade level. To do this, he pointed out the substantial amount of retail that had been added to the Plaza level. In addition, shops would line nearly the entire length of the walk from the Metro stop or from the office building lobby to L'Enfant Promenade. Also, he noted that the glass-enclosed galleria coming from the Metro that had been seen on the previous drawings had been eliminated, as it had seemed to be neither a galleria nor a shopping mall and too suburban in character. The walk would now be entirely open, but on either side the existing buildings would be retrofitted with fountains, landscaping and canopies to allow outdoor eating and other activities. Also, a new set of escalators on the D Street side would allow easier access to the Plaza level. He then pointed out a new entrance to the complex from D Street which would provide a more welcoming entrance to the retail and to the Children's Museum at the Promenade level; this, of course, would be one level below the street, but it would help ameliorate the sense of being below grade. The last comment addressed concerned the narrowness of the corridor coming from the Metro to the Children's Museum. Mr. Clarke recalled that there had been some fairly large light wells in this location that had been eliminated, thus allowing a much more generous passage.
Mr. Clarke then reviewed the structure of the Children's Museum, beginning with the school bus drop-off at the parking level on 10th Street, progressing up to the Promenade Level, where most of the museum space would be, and then to the Plaza Level with the iconic entrance piece announcing the museum. He pointed out the multi-level character of this glass-enclosed entrance, the central stair and elevator, the ramp system going up to the roof garden at the top, and the metal lattice-type structure enclosing the whole, which had its own ramp system, all of this giving the feeling of a climbing structure, although he explained that there would be no actual climbing on the structure, in the sense of its being a sort of jungle gym. He stressed the importance of lessening the feeling of being in an underground space while attending the museum, pointing out the two-level spaces and the glazed areas at the Plaza level looking down into the museum.
The Chairman told Mr. Clarke that he had been very responsive to the Commission's previous comments, and he commended him on his thoughtful planning which could turn what had always been a large, unappealing space into a lively and attractive one which was easy to access. The principal concerns expressed by the members concerned the character of the entrance piece. Mrs. Nelson was concerned about there being too many ideas put forth-climbing structure, treehouse, roof garden-and perhaps its should be simpler, more focused. She recalled reading that children's museums nationally were not doing too well, and with this one unfortunately having so much of it space underground, it was very important that the centerpiece be an important drawing card. Ms. Diamonstein and Ms. Zimmerman had a similar reaction, with Ms. Diamonstein feeling that it lacked strength, that it seemed a bit thin and needed in some way to be fresher and more innovative.
Mr. Clarke then noted that the director of the museum, Kathy Southern, had asked to speak, and she was then introduced. Ms. Southern said she just wanted to comment on the statement that children's museums were not doing well. She said that, on the contrary, their attendance was continuing to grow, although other parts of the museum community were struggling. She said her museum was an outgrowth of the old Capital Children's Museum, which for thirty years had been located at Union Station, and even then had attracted 150,000 to 200,000 children and parents per year.
There was some further discussion about the museum entrance piece, with Ms. Diamonstein asking the Chairman if granting concept approval at this time would include the design of this element. He said it would include the current placement of the piece, but not its appearance as shown at this meeting. With that, Ms. Diamonstein made a motion that the concept be approved. It was seconded and approved unanimously.
S.L. 05-028, 2215 Constitution Avenue, NW. American Pharmacist's Association. New six-story addition. Final. (Previous: S.L.04-056, reviewed CFA 15 April 2004).
Ms. Penhoet introduced Graham Davidson, of Hartman-Cox, to present changes made to the final design of the American Pharmacist's Association Building since its last review in April 2004.
Mr. Davidson briefly reviewed the site plan and said that the 1930s era John Russell Pope building would remain intact and be restored on the interior. The 1960s era addition would be demolished and the new addition would be built in its place. The Constitution Avenue entrance would remain the main entrance to the building. There would be an entrance from C Street, which would be a screening entrance for employees coming from the Metro and from the parking garage. This entrance would contain all the screening apparatus. Existing parking lots would be removed and replaced with terraces and landscaping. The proposed addition would follow the basic long, low and monumental form not only of the Pope building, but also of all the other buildings located along that part of Constitution Avenue.
To address the Commission's earlier concerns regarding the location of the parking garage, Mr. Davidson turned to the 22nd Street or east elevation. He indicated the originally proposed locations of the parking garage and loading areas and recalled that the Commission had requested that these be moved further north. He then indicated the currently proposed locations and they were, indeed, further north from Constitution Avenue. A cheek wall would be installed northward from the garage entrance to help provide as continuous a landscaping experience as possible. The garage and service areas would have panelized doors that would fold back rather than draw up.
The Chairman said that the applicants had addressed all concerns, and with agreement from the all the members, the submission was approved.
The Shipstead-Luce appendix was approved.
Old Georgetown Act
The Old Georgetown appendix was approved.
After the meeting adjourned, the members went to the Freer Gallery of Art to inspect objects proposed for acquisition. All the objects inspected were approved
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:48 p.m.
Frederick J. Lindstrom
Last Modified: March 17, 2005