Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
17 March 2005
10:00 AM CONVENE, Suite 312, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001-2728
The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 10:00 a.m., after a site inspection at the Lincoln Memorial.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Approval of minutes of 17 February 2005 meeting.
The minutes were approved without objection, after the Chairman had added several comments. He said he had asked Judy Scott Feldman to be present as an observer when the Commission met with the Park Service and the Planning Commission to have a larger look at the whole issue of the Mall, and later extended 17 March 2005 the same invitation to Don Hawkins, who had asked to attend. He observed that the three agencies would be having working sessions among themselves abut would also have sessions where Ms. Feldman and Mr. Hawkins could be present and testify if they so wished. Mr. Childs said he simply wanted to clarify this for the record, not to modify the minutes as written.
Dates of next meetings were approved as:
Confirmation of the approval of the color scheme for the painting of the Mall food service kiosks.
Mr. Lindstrom recalled that after the February meeting the Commission made a site visit and inspected the west wall of the kiosk just to the south of the entrance to the Museum of American History. He showed a photo he had taken a few days before the inspection, noting that the color scheme had remained essentially the same-a putty-grey for the panels and a dark green for the rest, including the window sash. A letter had been sent to the Park Service recommending that it remain that way, and the members confirmed for the record that that had been their decision.
Report on the tour of the Capitol Visitor Center.
Mr. Lindstrom commented on the tour the members had taken the previous afternoon of the not-yet-finished Capitol Visitor Center, and the Chairman said it had been very gracious of the Architect of the Capitol, Alan Hantman, to invite the Commission to do that, as the Center was not under the Commission's purview. He said he would write Mr. Hantman and thank him for the opportunity, noting also that he had asked if the Commission might at some time be allowed to walk between the inner and outer domes of the Capitol, among the cast-iron members, noting that this was a fascinating thing to do. Mr. Hantman said he would be happy to arrange a tour and to give the Commission another tour of the Center when it was completed.
Mr. Childs then commented on his receipt of NCPC's updated copy of the Federal Elements section of the Comprehensive Plan, saying that it would be very helpful as the Mall development discussions took place. Mr. Lindstrom said he would see that all the members received copies.
There were two other administrative items discussed that were not on the printed agenda. They were:
Introduction of the new Secretary, Thomas Luebke. Mr. Lindstrom said that although Mr. Luebke would not formally take office until 21 March, he was present at this meeting, and he would like to introduce him and welcome him to the Commission. The Chairman commented on the national search for a new Secretary, the fine list of candidates, and the particularly important qualifications of Mr. Luebke, because of his broad background, including his most recent post as City Architect of Alexandria. Mr. Childs also commended Mr. Lindstrom for his remarkable success in handling the positions of both Assistant Secretary and Acting Secretary for the past several years.
Report on the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program. Mr. Lindstrom reported that applications were received from twenty-one organizations, the same group that had applied last year. After the Department of Interior had confirmed the calculations for each organization, the panel would give its final approval and payment of the nearly $7 million would be distributed. The Chairman congratulated Mr. Lindstrom for his role in restoring this program to the federal budget after it had been recommended for elimination; Mr. Lindstrom thanked him, commenting that the grants were extremely important for these Washington cultural institutions.
Submissions and Reviews
Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 17/MAR/05-1, Fifty States circulating / commemorative quarter program for 2006. Designs for the Colorado state quarter. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05- 1, Nebraska, Nevada and North Dakota).
Before the designs were shown, the Chairman noted the presence of Henrietta Holsman Fore, director of the Mint, who had arrived early to meet the members and talk to them before the meeting began. Mr. Childs observed that the Mint frequently had projects to bring before the Commission, and he told Ms. Fore that she could be proud of the Mint's representatives and their knowledge of their subject matter. Before the designs were presented, staff member Sue Kohler asked Mrs. Fore if she would like to say a few words to the Commission.
Mrs. Fore began by thanking the Commission for its advice and counsel, and then distributed examples of the 2005 American Bison Nickel, which had a partial face portrait of Jefferson on the obverse and a bison on the reverse. She said this was the first coin designed as a result of the Artistic Infusion Program at the Mint, which was an evolving program using the talents of twenty-four outside artists, composed of both master and student designers. She noted the "bold new look" of the Jefferson portrait and the word "liberty" written in his own hand. She said the public was responding very well to it, and everyone loved the bison. In answer to a question, she said they would be minted for six months only, and from 600 to 650 million would be made. She commented on the popularity of the State Quarters and observed that coins were really public art that could be put in your pocket. They were also a good way for Americans to connect with their history, and she noted the education programs on the Mint's Website, which appealed to children from kindergarten to twelfth grade, as well as to adults. In addition to the artistic and educational value, she noted that the Mint made money on the production of coins, and that all of it went back to the General Treasury, not to any Mint programs. She thanked the Commission again for its interest, and the Chairman thanked her for coming.
Ms. Kohler then turned to the Colorado quarter designs, introducing Barbara Bradford and Stacie Anderson from the Mint and noting that this would be the last of the 2006 quarters. Ms. Anderson then showed the designs, beginning with #1, which featured the Rocky Mountains with a scroll below which read, "Colorful Colorado", reminding the public that "Colorado" meant "colored" in Spanish. Design #2 showed one of the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, with the mountains in the background. The third design paid tribute to the Army's Tenth Mountain Division and showed a skier wearing the military gear of the 1940s. Design #4 again showed the mountains in the background with a large letter C, entwined with a columbine, the state flower, and the inscription, "The Centennial State", as Colorado was the only state admitted to the Union in 1876. The fifth design showed Pike's Peak, the inscription "Pike's Peak or Bust", a miner's crossed pick and shovel, and two snowflakes, representing the state's famous winter weather.
The Chairman asked for comments, and Ms. Balmori began by saying that , as usual, there were too many small images that tended to get lost at quarter size. She thought designs #1 and #5 would best lend themselves to simplification. The first design was compromised by the curvature at the bottom, responding to the scroll, and design #5 was weakened by the miner's pick and shovel, the snowflakes and the legend. She thought that, in either case, the depiction of the mountains should be brought down so that it filled the whole coin, and the other tiny details eliminated. Ms. Zimmerman agreed with Ms. Balmori's comments, as did Mrs. Nelson, who added that she liked the natural edge of the mountains in #5, and thought nothing else was needed. The Chairman thought that in either case, the profile of the mountains needed to be stronger, with Ms. Diamonstein observing that #1 was better in that regard. Mr. Childs told Ms. Anderson those were the recommendations of the Commission, and he thanked her, Ms. Bradford, and again, Mrs. Fore, for coming.
National Park Service
CFA 17/MAR/05-2, Victims of Communism Memorial. Site selection - NPS Reservation #77B at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey avenues, NW. Final.
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the site selection proposed for the Victims of Communism Memorial submitted by the National Park Service on behalf of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Using an aerial photograph, Mr. Lindstrom indicated the site, a triangular traffic island located at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues and G Street NW. John Parsons, of the National Park Service, introduced Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and Mary Kay Lanzollotta, of Hartman-Cox Architects, to make the presentation.
Dr. Edwards began by explaining that the Foundation was authorized, under Public Law 103-199, to build, design and maintain an international memorial to the more than 100 million victims of communism. The proposed site, NPS Reservation 77B and Memorials and Museums Master Plan Site 98A, was deemed appropriate for several reasons. One reason was that the site would be conducive to unifying the themes of liberty and democracy. There was a direct visual connection to the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome via New Jersey Avenue. The statue proposed for the site would be modeled after the Democracy Statue erected in Tiananmen Square, which in turn, had been modeled after the Statue of Liberty. The site's proximity to the National Guard Memorial and Museum was significant, since members of the Guard fought in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Georgetown Law Center across the street would reinforce the importance of the rule of law in a democracy. Ms. Lanzollotta added that views along Massachusetts Avenue to the Law Center and the Government Printing Office would also be studied, should the site be approved. She confirmed that the National Capital Memorial Commission endorsed the site.
The Chairman noted that the site would fit within the Master Plan and said that it would be a good location for the memorial. Ms. Zimmerman asked how much pedestrian versus vehicular traffic occurs at the site. Ms. Lanzollotta replied that pedestrians were mainly students of the Law Center and commuters walking to and from the Union Station Metro. Motorists would see the memorial as they traveled on Massachusetts Avenue mainly. Mr. Lindstrom added that the neighborhood north of Massachusetts Avenue was slated for redevelopment, including housing, and that there would likely be an increase in pedestrian traffic along Massachusetts Avenue. Dr. Edwards said, in response to an inquiry from Ms. Zimmerman, that the memorial was to be privately funded and that the Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously endorsed this site.
A motion made by Ms. Diamonstein to approve the site selection was seconded by Mrs. Nelson. The motion was carried, with Ms. Balmori opposing.
(The agenda order was changed and item C, the Fort Myer barracks was discussed next, followed by item B.2, the Lincoln Memorial Circle.)
Department of the Army
CFA 17/MAR/05-4, Fort Myer, Arlington, Virginia. New three-building barracks complex on Sheridan Avenue. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/JUL/04-11).
Mr. Lindstrom recalled that the Commission had reviewed this project in July 2004, and that it was right on the edge of the historic district of the fort. He said this would be the final submission and introduced Lawrence Young, the project architect, to describe it.
Mr. Young explained first that this was an in-house project, from the Baltimore District Corps of Engineers. He said the Department of Defense was making an effort to revitalize the core of Fort Myer, and he pointed out on a map the parade ground and Sheridan Avenue to orient the members to the site for the barracks. He said the barracks project was Phase I of the revitalization project, and would actually consist of two barracks and a consolidated operations facility, and the pending Phase II would be the redevelopment of this entire section of the base. The primary emphasis would be on developing a new pedestrian spine which would connect to the system of pedestrian walkways throughout the base. He said Fort Myer was not an automobile-friendly place, and he noted that parking facilities would be added elsewhere on the base but not on this site.
Mr. Young recalled that the Commission's concern during the first submission was the scale of the barracks buildings compared to that of the older facilities across the street. He said they could not reduce the number of troops to be housed in the new facilities, but they had succeeded in lowering both the floor-to-floor heights as well as taking one floor off. In answer to the Chairman's question, he said the smaller structures across the road varied in height but were typically three stories high plus a half basement. Mr. Childs then observed that the scale of the new barracks was not objectionable as far as height was concerned; it was the footprint that was causing the scale problem. Mr. Young said that although the length of each barracks building was longer than that of any of the historic buildings, the existing building that would be demolished ran like a wall along Sheridan Avenue, so they would actually be reducing the scale of construction on that side of the street.
Materials were discussed next. Brick would be the principal building material, and it would be as close in color to that of the historic buildings as possible. The bricks would be standard size, laid in a common-bond pattern, with a header course used for every fifth course. To give some variation, a darker color would be used below the water table level. Trim would be a limestone-colored precast concrete, roofs would be an imitation slate, and gutters and downspouts copper. Columns would be a plastic material with a structural steel tube inside. Mr. Young said there was no space for force protection, nor any for foundation plantings.
The Chairman asked for any comments or suggestions. Mr. Rybczynski thought the scale problem might be helped if the facades were broken up in some way. Mr. Young said they had already set the center portion back 4 feet, but Mr. Rybczynski thought it should be deeper if possible. Mr. Young said that would be difficult because it would affect the plan, and they couldn't afford to lose any rooms. There was a discussion as to how, or if, this could be done. Ms. Balmori brought up the lack of any landscaping, and Mr. Young said those plans had not really been completed yet, and he would try to get them to her.
The Chairman said that since the scale of the buildings had been reduced and there was at least some setback of the center section of the west facade, he would be willing to entertain a motion for approval, with the request that Mr. Young make another serious effort to try to increase the depth of the setback. Mr. Young said he would do what he could, and it was suggested that he work with the staff on this matter. With that, Ms. Balmori moved that the final design be approved; the motion was seconded by Ms. Zimmerman and carried unanimously.
National Park Service con't
CFA 17/MAR/05-3, Lincoln Memorial Circle. Perimeter security barriers on east side. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 17/FEB/05-2).
Ms. Penhoet introduced the next submission, perimeter security for the east side of the Lincoln Memorial. She noted that the Commission had reviewed numerous proposals for this project and that their requested site visit at the last review had taken place that morning. John Parsons, of the National Park Service, was present for the discussion.
The Chairman began the discussion by reporting on the site visit. He thanked Mr. Parsons and Sally Blumenthal, also of the National Park Service, for hosting the site visit, and acknowledged the long and often frustrating process by which the Park Service must obtain approval for their security elements. However, every solution offered has been compromised. To cite two examples of proposed solutions, the Chairman indicated, first, the flanking wall that would complete the circle in the front, and second, that the flanking wall that could intersect somehow with the existing wall on the site. The two walls could be of various heights with a single bollard at the intersection. The Chairman felt that there was general consensus on this solution, and that detailed and larger-scale drawings would need to be submitted, perhaps by the April meeting.
As to the bollards and paving for the front of the memorial, the Chairman attempted to summarize the various pertinent ideas and solutions. The paving should be lighter than the standard asphalt in order to prevent emphasizing the bollards. A pool was suggested as a way to trap errant vehicles, but a pool would add elements of maintenance and danger that would not be worth the trouble. The Chairman noted that the Commission itself was divided on the bollard treatment, with some favoring placing the more bollards along the bottom of stairs at the reflecting pool, up the sides of the stairs and to the farther curve where vehicles turn. Others would favor fewer bollards closer to the bottom of the stairs of the memorial itself. The Chairman then asked each member to comment.
Ms. Zimmerman asked if there was a fixed standard for the bollard height and if so, would it be possible to apply for a variance, given the importance of the view to the memorial. Mr. Parsons replied that the bollard standard was fixed, and that since the Lincoln Memorial has been identified as one of the premier targets in the country, it would not be possible to obtain a variance.
Ms. Balmori said none of the solutions proposed so far would be very good and all would be damaging to the memorial in one way or another. However, given the options, she said she would choose to put more bollards at the bottom of the steps, further away from the memorial.
Mr. Rybczynski felt that fewer bollards would be better, and that the most recent proposal for fewer bollards at the bottom of the memorial would be the least intrusive. He said that the memorial was experienced by moving through it as much as by looking at or from it, and fewer bollards do less to impede movement.
Mrs. Nelson commented on the paving as well as the bollards. She said that the tone of the paving should be comparable to that of the bollards and should be light, so that one could move through the plaza and bollards without being overly aware of them. She also suggested that since the bulk of the bollards' strength would be below grade, that the bollards themselves should be lower in height, perhaps 24 inches as opposed to 36 inches. She realized, however, that the height standard was not the Park Service's decision.
Ms. Diamonstein said that what she saw at the site was very distressing, citing the bollards and chain link fences. She wondered what would really be prevented by the presence of the bollards and said that they would look like "fear incarnate." She concluded that the presence of more bollards, walls and fences would look more like an armed camp than a free and open society, and she was opposed, both philosophically and aesthetically, to the current submissions from the National Park Service for the Lincoln Memorial security barriers.
Relative to the paving in front of the memorial, Mr. Parsons recalled to the members that a previous submission detailed the creation of a square plaza, in place of the circular roadway that ran around the memorial. He suggested that bollards that would line the plaza could provide security while defining the plaza and creating a new sense of place.
The discussion turned to the possibility of retractable bollards or some manner of electronic alert system to detect an unauthorized vehicle. These two items could possibly work in conjunction with each other, with bollards raising once the presence of an unauthorized vehicle was detected. Mr. Parsons said that the Park Service had not yet researched that possibility, but that they would do so. He pointed out that provisions must be made for Park Service vehicles to move about freely.
Don Hawkins, representing the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, spoke next. He first read a prepared statement from Judy Feldman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall. The statement expressed concern that every structure on the National Mall would be encircled by individual security elements and urged the Commission to consider the Mall as one entity, rather than a collection of buildings, when reviewing security related submissions. Mr. Hawkins then gave a statement on the behalf of the Committee of 100. He noted that bollards would be likely to prevent 100 percent of one kind of attack while preventing 0 percent of many other kinds of attacks. He cautioned that perimeter security of this type may degrade national symbols while being essentially ineffective, and urged the Commission to take a long view when considering perimeter security issues.
The Chairman reiterated that this has been a difficult project for all involved and that thus far, no solution offered was without problems. He again thanked Mr. Parsons and the Park Service for their patience asked for a motion to recommend the fewest number of bollards, preferably retractable if possible. Mr. Rybczynski made the motion and it was seconded by Ms. Zimmerman. When put a vote, Mr. Childs, Mr. Rybczynski and Ms. Zimmerman voted in favor, Ms. Balmori and Ms. Diamonstein voted against and Mrs. Nelson abstained. The motion carried.
District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
S.L. 05-043, 51 Louisiana Avenue, NW. New 12-story office building to replace existing 4-level parking garage. Revised concept. (Previous: S.L. 05-009, 18 November 2004).
Ms. Penhoet introduced attorney Richard Nettler first, to give the members an update on the zoning issues, and said he would be followed by architect Ivan Harbour from Richard Rogers Partnership to describe the revised concept design.
Mr. Nettler said since the initial presentation, they had met with the D.C. Preservation League and received their comments, which they had been responding to. He then noted that the Board of Zoning Adjustment had approved the height, leaving the Commission's concerns with the roof and the massing to be addressed. He then turned the presentation over to Ivan Harbour to discuss these architectural matters.
Mr. Harbour said he thought they had improved the original concept by two significant adjustments. In November, the scheme shown filled a large part of the central space with an extension of the 1951 building, which would be used for offices, integrated with the Jones-Day existing space. Now they had gone back to their original concept, which was to use that central space to organize the three buildings and remove the usual requirement for office space there. He described what he called a circulation tree in the center, which was a series of platforms which would allow connections between the new and the two existing buildings. The open structure would sit up against the plain brick facade of the 1951 building but pulled away from the stone rear facade of the 1935 with its fine detailing.
In answer to a question, Mr. Harbour said the atrium would be fully enclosed, and he proceeded to describe the clear glass roof and truss and the means of support for this complicated structure; he said the details had not yet been completed. He also said it had not been decided at what level to bring the roof in to the new building, noting the importance at the two top levels of maintaining unimpeded views. He showed a typical office floor, commenting that they had been struggling with how to plan a central core building, something that was new to them. He also talked about the clear overhang on New Jersey Avenue and the open entrance to the building there. Mr. Harbour also noted that on the south, east and west facades the glazing would be of a special kind meant to minimize energy loss or gain. The north side would have a simple double-glazed system.
The Chairman thanked Mr. Harbour for his summary of their proposals for treating the courtyard area and the new building. He said it was a complicated building and site, and he thought that as they had worked on the design it had gotten better in several ways, including the way in which it engaged the existing buildings. He thought the revisions in the courtyard promised to make it a very exciting space, and he commented, too, on the energy-saving aspects of the proposed treatment of the glazed areas. He thought that as the design progressed, attention to the quality of the detailing would be of primary importance.
Mr. Childs asked for comments from the other members. There was unanimous enthusiasm for the project and agreement with his assessment of the design at this stage. Mrs. Nelson commented on the development of the open entrance area on New Jersey Avenue, saying that the addition of such elements as a coffee shop, and the design of the required security elements, needed to meet the same high standards seen elsewhere in the project. Ms. Zimmerman made a motion to approve the revised concept, and it was carried unanimously.
General Services Administration
CFA 17/MAR/05-5, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington Field Office, 601 4th Street, NW. Security guard booth at 3rd and G streets. Final.
(The Chairman recused himself from this project as he had been the architect for the building and turned the gavel over to Ms. Diamonstein.) Mr. Martinez noted that the loading dock entrance for the building was on G Street, and the request was to put an exterior guard booth at this location, replacing a planter, so that security checks would not have to take place inside. He said the design would replicate one already in place on the corner of 3rd and F streets. Greg Dix from GSA was introduced to answer questions.
In answer to a question from Mr. Rybczynski, Mr. Dix agreed that this was a narrower site than the 3rd Street location, and he said the booth would have to be smaller, and that it would be attached to the building at the rear; he added that it would not protrude into the pedestrian or vehicle path. Some of the stone from the existing planter would be used as a finish for the new booth. Ms. Zimmerman, Ms. Diamonstein, and Ms. Balmori all commented on the depressing appearance of the remaining planters, which were very large and contained very small, sick plants. Mr. Dix said he would have his landscape people look at that problem. On that basis, Ms. Zimmerman made a motion that the project be approved; it was seconded by Mrs. Nelson and carried unanimously.
(The agenda order was changed and the two appendices were discussed before breaking for lunch.)
District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs con't
Ms. Penhoet briefly discussed item S.L. 05-032, a CVS store at 400 Massachusetts Avenue NW. She said that while staff stood by their recommendation, the Office of Planning had concerns about visual access to the stores, which were shared with the Commission. Ms. Penhoet said that staff was working with CVS and that their proposed changes would be acceptable, if not necessarily desirable. The Chairman recommended that CVS submit their project for a full review by the Commission.
Old Georgetown Act
The Old Georgetown appendix was approved.
(Whereupon, the Commission adjourned at 12:18 p.m. for lunch and reconvened at 12:48 p.m.)
District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 17/MAR/05-6, Anacostia Waterfront Transportation Architecture Design Standards. Design guidelines for projects in the public right-of-way: Designs for new street lighting and furniture. Concept. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05- 14, draft standards).
Ms. Penhoet introduced John Deatrick from DDOT to make a brief introduction, to be followed by Howard Decker, who would make the presentation. Mr. Deatrick said that what they were trying to do at this point was to test things that had only limited application now but could have a broader use at a later time; he said they would be testing technology as well as aesthetics. Before Mr. Decker began, Kathleen Penney, also from DDOT, asked to comment on the possibility of having the Commission look at a display they had set up in a warehouse of all the prototypes of the architectural elements. The Chairman doubted that this would be possible in the two-week time frame she suggested, but he was highly in favor of the idea, and she said she would see if they could keep the exhibit up long enough so that the inspection could be made just before the next meeting.
Mr. Decker then began his presentation by saying that they had made good progress since January. He said he would like to talk about the paving first, then the furnishings, and lastly the street lights. He said they had made mock-ups of the paving in the warehouse, and he hoped the Commission could see them there. He showed first photos of the city's standard concrete paving and then the standard for historic districts, which was the red brick commonly seen. Then he showed a precast paver in a warmer color, similar to the ones on Pennsylvania Avenue, with a slight, almost sandblasted texture. He said the team's recommendation would be to use a lightly-exposed aggregate cast-in-place, buff-colored concrete sidewalk, but they were hoping that they could combine this color and texture with a precast paver so that they would have the flexibility of using either form of paving.
Mr. Decker then turned to the question of where to use traditional paving patterns, furnishings and street lights, and where to use traditional. He said they had come up with a boundary outside of which contemporary design could-but would not have to be-used. This would be north of K Street, south of M Street, from river to river. This would help with making transitions, which had been difficult when they had been considering a radius as a boundary.
Mr. Decker then showed photographs of the proposed traditional and contemporary furnishings. He showed the preferred traditional bench, which he noted could be used in a contemporary setting if the color or material were changed. For the trash basket, the one now in use would be continued for the traditional areas. He showed the contemporary bench next and the trash can, which had a perforated metal top, repeating the perforated metal on the bench.
Finding a street light for the contemporary areas that could be related in scale and dimensions to the traditional light proved more difficult. He showed examples of pedestrian lighting, which would use a 3-foot diameter disk on a 16-foot pole, noting that the light source would use only one-fifth the electricity that a typical one used today. The Chairman was concerned about the quality of light and was told that it would not be a brilliant light, but would have a soft tone and all the light would shine down; Mr. Childs thought that was a big point in its favor. These pedestrian lights would be interspersed with taller highway-type lights, avoiding the over-bright effect seen in the current 40-foot spacing of the traditional Washington streetlight. The height of both the pedestrian and highway-type lights would remain the same as at present, thus making the transition from contemporary to traditional easier to manage. Mr. Childs was concerned with the source of the light and how visible it would be. Mr. Decker said it would be visible only from certain closeup distances; it would not always be visible, as it was in the traditional street light, which was one of its problems.
There was a discussion of the highway-type light and the provisions for attachment of banners, signs, and even an overhead catenary system in case street car systems were used. Mr. Decker also commented that he did not think these lights would have to be cantilevered out over the street; they could remain simply pole-mounted. In answer to the Chairman's question, he said they had not yet mocked up one of these poles, that they were waiting to see if everyone was comfortable enough with them to proceed.. Mr. Childs said he wanted to commend the effort that was being made, and was happy to have Mr. Decker bring the project in frequently so that the Commission could assess the progress being made; he said he would like to see a mockup when it was ready.
Mr. Childs asked for other comments, and Mr. Rybczynski said his concern was that there really was no transition-even though it was talked about-that there were just two opposing systems. He wondered why there couldn't be more of a blurring, an overlap between the two. For example, a convincing case had been made that the contemporary light fixture would produce better light, but the change in trash cans and benches was just a change in styling; one design did not function any better than the other. Mr. Childs agreed that a rigid street boundary with a completely different system on one side than on the other was not going to work, and that residential areas and special streets, for example, would probably want to retain the traditional elements, particularly the streetlights. Mr. Decker said he realized that, and they were only proposing the contemporary system for mixed-use and commercial areas. Ms. Balmori suggested investigating a system she had used, whereby a standard pole was adopted which could be fitted with different heads, depending on the situation. There was further discussion, and as this was only a continuation of the original concept presentation, the Chairman told Mr. Decker that the Commission looked forward to further developments and to seeing the design mockups and samples before the next meeting.
Washington Convention Center Authority
CFA 17/MAR/05-7, Interim parking lot and landscaping on the former convention center site, bounded by 9th, H, 11th streets and New York Avenue, NW. Final. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05- 23).
Elliott Rhodeside, of Rhodeside and Harwell, presented the final submission for the temporary parking lot on the site of the former Washington Convention Center located at New York Avenue, 8th, 9th and 11th Streets NW. He said that the parking lot would occupy the site temporarily, for about three to five years. At the behest of the District of Columbia Office of Planning (DCOP), the goal was to create not just a utilitarian asphalt parking lot, but a temporary landscape that could accommodate events, particularly arts events, and also "create a very strong contemporary statement about the landscape architecture in a temporary vein."
Addressing the Commission's previous concerns about the boldness of the surface colors at the concept stage, Mr. Rhodeside said that the colors were reconsidered in two ways. First, the painted areas would be shifted to the surfaces where the cars would travel rather than where they would park. The parked cars would provide color on their own, in addition to the painted travel surfaces. Secondly, the colors would demarcate event areas, since there was a desire on the parts of the DCOP, the Convention Center Authority and the Business Improvement District (BID) to move events, such as the Georgetown Weekend Auction for example, from Pennsylvania Avenue. A combination of hot and cool colors would be used to better define the uses of the site. Essentially, the scheme would break down in this way: a hotter color would indicate an event area and also an egress to that event area, purples would define the upper and lower portions of the site, yellow would be pedestrian zones and blue would indicate the moving traffic zones. Recycled glass pavers would be used in the corner entry zones. Synturf, an artificial turf, would be used because of the boldness of its color, easy maintenance and appropriateness to a temporary scheme. The paint for the surfaces would be a durable asphalt paint.
Mr. Rhodeside then described the proposed light sticks and art supports for the 10th Street corridor. The light sticks would be 16 feet high and would be located in two rows at the entrance from H Street. Once inside the corridor, the rows of light sticks would give way to rows of art supports, pairs of tapered steel poles which would support adjustable rectangular screens for artwork.
The submission was generally well received by the Commission and Mr. Rhodeside was complimented on the sense of vibrancy and fun in the design. Mrs. Nelson was concerned that the yellow may not stand up well and that a yellow-green rather than a pure yellow might be better. She was also concerned about the use of artificial turf alongside natural plantings. Mr. Rhodeside said the texture was as important as the green color in that case, because the idea to provide a softer surface to sit on during events. Mr. Rybczynski disliked the art supports and said that the screens would look like large LED screens found in bars. Ms. Zimmerman suggested that they may not be necessary. Mrs. Nelson suggested that seating might be placed there instead, or shading devices, suggested by Ms. Balmori.
Ms. Zimmerman made a motion that the project be approved, though the art supports should be reconsidered. The motion was seconded by Mr. Rybczynski and carried, with Ms. Diamonstein abstaining.
District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs con't
Shipstead-Luce Act con't
S.L. 05-042, 401 3rd Street, SW (Square 537). New 12-story office building. Concept.
Architect Shalom Baranes was introduced and began his presentation with a PowerPoint. He first showed a photograph of the site, saying that it was about a half-mile from the Capitol, and pointed out other buildings on the block, noting that the Commission had reviewed all of them. He noted that his site was the last piece on the east side of the block, and that it was a spit of land between the railroad tracks to the north and the highway to the south. He pointed out the Washington Design Center to the north, across the tracks, and a power plant across 3rd Street. The building would about a section of the wall of the hotel to the west; otherwise it would be free-standing. He commented on the trapezoidal-shaped lot, saying that it was always a temptation to draw a line through such lots and see what it hit. In this case, it came very close to meeting the dome of the Capitol. By shifting it slightly to make this alignment, a triangle could be drawn, offset from the property lines, to form a separate volume on top of the building which would act as the mechanical penthouse. The side of the triangle forming the diagonal line pointing to the Capitol was then extended slightly beyond the orthogonal building walls at the northeast and southwest corners and brought down to the ground, offering an opportunity to develop discreet entries into loading docks, service and garage entries. The diagonal would be expressed on the interior in a two-story lobby space, but would disappear in the office floors above. There would be some retail on the south, or E Street side, with the main entrance on 3rd Street. Materials would be a light-colored granite for the basic building with a darker granite for the diagonal slice, and large areas of glass curtain wall construction. There would be a trellis structure at the penthouse level on the south and east sides and two separate roof terraces.
The Chairman congratulated Mr. Baranes on his design, as did Ms. Diamonstein and Mrs. Nelson. Mr. Rybczynski, however, was not pleased with the concept of the diagonal because it did not really form a block running through the building; it was just a fake. Mr. Baranes said he recognized that, and his purpose in developing it had been primarily to give some interest to the shape of the penthouse; he observed that most of the penthouses in Washington were shaped like shoeboxes and were very visible from a distance.
The Chairman asked for a motion for approval of the concept design. Ms. Diamonstein moved that the design be approved; it was seconded by Mrs. Nelson and approved, with Mr. Rybczynski dissenting.
Old Georgetown Act con't
O.G. 05-099, 1611 Wisconsin Avenue, NW. New two-story commercial building for Commerce Bank. New concept. (Previous: O.G. 04-94, seen 18 November 2004).
Mr. Martinez introduced this project, recalling that the Commission had seen it previously, with a different architect's design, and had disapproved it, asking the applicant to come back with a new approach. An architectural firm from Virginia, MTFA, had been hired and had submitted a design to the Georgetown Board on 3 March. The Board felt the design was proceeding in the right direction, but had some recommendations to make. Three options were then developed, which were sent to the Commission members with their pre-meeting packages, and were shown to the Board outside their public meeting, separately, and without talking to each other. Option C was preferred, with further recommendations, including one on the location of the antenna and another requesting additional depth for the cornice. Mr. Martinez said the Board had not yet seen the architect's response to these recommendations, but they would be shown to the Commission. He then introduced architects Jim Clark and Michael Foster from MTFA to discuss their design.
Mr. Foster began by saying that they had looked carefully at the neighborhood around the site to get some feeling for its characteristics, and he asked Mr. Clark to address these. Mr. Clark commented on the pedestrian nature of Georgetown, on the alley and other small openings between buildings, the layering of the facades from the sidewalk through the landscaping and actually all the way through to the back of the building, the large amount of glass in this particular neighborhood, and the flat cornices. He noted also that their site was considered a corner site, but it would in time not be, as the gas station site would be developed as something else, and the entrance to the bank should be from the front. He commented on the way the side elevations of buildings on alleys differed architecturally from the front facades.
Mr. Foster said these observations had led them to develop several options for a design concept. Scheme A showed a side elevation that he termed ephemeral in nature, using a lot of glass with an emphasis on its transparency. Scheme B brought in more brick by emphasizing the bay structure, and Scheme C had even more brick. He noted that in all the schemes the long parking lot (south) facade had been broken up, similar to what happened in the townhouse alley facades. The front facade was typical of Georgetown, with two brick bays and a center entrance.
Mr. Martinez commented that the variation of Scheme C now being shown was different from the one previously sent to the members, and had been revised in reaction to the Board's comments; he said the Board had not yet seen this version. He said the Board liked the generous glass bay at the corner, as in the original scheme, but did not like the idea of the glass in the bays extending up through the parapet, as that was not a traditional element in Georgetown; thus the continuation of the brick at the cornice level all around the building in Scheme C was seen as an improvement, as was the wider expanse of brick in the south facade bays, which related better to the more solid brick section at the end of this facade (The revised Scheme C, however, which the Board had not seen, went back to the narrow brick piers) Mr. Martinez then noted that there was still a question as to where the antennas were to go. He said the applicants were suggesting that a flagpole be placed at the corner of the parking lot and the antennas attached to that, but this idea had not yet been presented.
The members discussed the drawings. Mr. Rybczynski said he liked Scheme C better than the new proposed variation because there was less glass; he thought the more brick the better. There was a discussion of the glass bays on the parking lot facade and the use of trellises over them-why did they cover only half the glass, and did they in fact tend to obliterate the design by covering it up? It was agreed that the plants shown covering them could be eliminated. Questions were also asked about the proposed signs and lighting. It was noted that these were things that were subject to further design development . Ms. Zimmerman thought that on the whole the architects had taken a major step forward and been responsive to requests from the Board and the ANC . She made a motion that the concept design be approved; it was seconded by Ms. Balmori and carried unanimously.
District of Columbia Public Library
CFA 17/MAR/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).
Ms. Penhoet introduced the next two submissions, final designs for District of Columbia Public Libraries. Melanie Hennigan, of Grimm and Parker Architects, made the presentations, starting with the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Branch Library.
Ms. Hennigan briefly reviewed the details of the Watha T. Daniel Branch Library site plan and design by showing "before and after" photographs and renderings of the elevations and an animation which took the viewer around the exterior of the library. The library site was located within Rhode Island Avenue and 7th, R and 8th Streets in Northwest. Locating the library's entrance on 7th Street would create a more prominent entrance, visible from Rhode Island Avenue and also from Florida Avenue to the northeast and the Shaw/Howard University Metro station. The current concrete structure would be replaced by large glass volumes embraced by brick volumes. The idea was to invite people into the library by revealing much of the interior. The design was intended to mirror the residential scale of the neighborhood, but differ from the residential fabric and have a more civic presence.
CFA 17/MAR/05-8, Tenley-Friendship Branch Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue at Albemarle Street, NW. New replacement building. Final. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05- 19).
Ms. Hennigan said that there had been a meeting with the community since the Commission last reviewed the design for the Tenley-Friendship Branch Library. She said that the design the Commission was about to see was presented at the community meeting and it was very well received. Turning to the site plan and renderings, Ms. Hennigan reviewed the neighborhood context for the library, noting the commercial fabric and a Metro station across Wisconsin Avenue. Vehicular traffic and pedestrian circulation issues necessitated creating a one-way traffic pattern around the building from Wisconsin Avenue and locating the entrance near the center of the Wisconsin Avenue elevation, rather than at the corner. The corners of the building from the Wisconsin Avenue side would be glass, in keeping with the Library's institutional goal to be open and reveal their content. These open corners were present in previous design concepts as well, but in response to community concerns, the lines of the corners were altered to create a building that would be more in keeping with the character of the neighborhood.
Ms. Hennigan presented material samples of the glass, and explained that it was Vericon, a green tinted glass with infrared and U.V. protection. The masonry, for which there were also material samples, would be a medium red with mortar to match and the metal frame elements would be a complementary color. The palette would be neutral and would go well with the green glass. The first color choice for the roof was grey, if the budget allowed; if not, the roof would be black EPDM membrane.
A motion to approve the final designs for both libraries was made by Mrs. Nelson and seconded by Ms. Zimmerman. The motion was carried unanimously.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:39 p.m.
Frederick J. Lindstrom
Last Modified: April 21, 2005