Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
19 January 2006
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 10:06 a.m.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Administration of oath of office. Mr. Luebke introduced Michael McKinnell, newly appointed to the Commission, and administered the oath of office to him. Mr. Luebke noted Mr. McKinnell's work with his firm of Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects in Boston and welcomed him to the Commission.
Approval of the minutes of the 17 November meeting. The November minutes had been circulated to the members in advance of the meeting. The Commission approved the minutes without objection, upon a motion by Ms. Nelson and second by Mr. Rybczynski.
Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: February 16, March 16, and April 20. There were no objections.
Confirmation of December 2005 Recommendations of Old Georgetown Board. Mr. Luebke noted that the Old Georgetown Board had met in early December, but the Commission had not met in mid-December and therefore had not officially acted on the Board's recommendations. Although these recommendations had been circulated to the Commissioners for a write-in vote, he requested that the Commission take a formal approval action. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission confirmed its approval of the Old Georgetown Board's December recommendations.
Submissions and Reviews
Consent Calendars. Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. The appendices had been circulated to the Commissioners in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Direct Submission Consent Calendar: Mr. Luebke noted that Mr. Rybczynski had requested discussion of one item: an access ramp at Arlington National Cemetery's administration building. Mr. Lindstrom summarized the project. He described the existing ramp providing access to the 1970s building through the loading dock at the rear of the building and a temporary wooden ramp at the front steps. The current proposal would provide a permanent replacement for the front wooden ramp. Two schemes had been submitted; staff had recommended the option that placed the ramp at the center of the entrance steps, preserving the building's symmetry and providing an axial entry experience for those using the ramp. The alternative scheme, with a ramp to the side, would result in a more complicated entry route and a weaker relation to the building's architecture. Mr. Lindstrom noted that the proposal would result in modifications to the existing handrails.
Mr. Rybczynski expressed concern that the recommended solution was obtrusive, giving too much prominence to the ramp by placing it at the center of the facade. Mr. Belle noted that the appropriateness of the design would be greatly affected by the choice of materials. Mr. Lindstrom said the ramp would be stone and brushed concrete, matching the materials of the existing building and walkway. Mr. Belle said that the ramp's prominence was appropriate as part of the broad purpose of providing universal access. Mr. Lindstrom pointed out that the building's visitors included a high proportion of elderly and disabled users, since it is the place where funerals are arranged for veterans and their family members. Ms. Nelson commented that the recommended design's simpler linear entrance route was advantageous for wheelchair access. Mr. McKinnell said that the recommended design might be perceived as an integral part of the building design rather than an addition. Mr. Lindstrom pointed out that the central ramp would leave portions of the existing stairs on either side, preserving the overall visual effect of the building floating above a low plinth.
Mr. Rybczynski agreed to support the recommended design, which was then endorsed by the full Commission upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Belle. The Commission then adopted the full Direct Submission Consent Calendar, including the Arlington National Cemetery project and a project from the D.C. Courts, upon a motion by Ms. Nelson.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Penhoet noted that a revised appendix had been distributed, reflecting the resolution of several outstanding issues. (She pointed out that one negative recommendation remained, which concerned a flagpole and antennas on building rooftops in the 1700 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.) She also noted one project that was added, for a new cafe entrance at the Willard Hotel. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez clarified that this appendix concerned the recommendations from the Old Georgetown Board's meeting in early January, separate from the Board's December recommendations that the Commission had just ratified. He noted that a revised version was in the Commissioners' folders, reflecting the resolution of several issues that had been outstanding in the draft appendix that had been distributed in advance of the meeting. He also noted that further changes were still pending for several other projects. The Commission then approved the revised appendix, upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski and second by Ms. Nelson.
CFA 19/JAN/06-1, National Museum of Natural History. Constitution Avenue at 10th Street, NW. Perimeter Security Barriers. (Previous: CFA 17/NOV/05- 4) Mr. Luebke introduced the project, which had last been seen by the Commission in November 2005. He said that the Commission had recommended revision of the security barriers proposed along Constitution Avenue, including a more regular and symmetrical articulation of the fence and a revised design for the sculptural barrier elements at the north entry plaza. He reported that the revised scheme, developed in consultation with the staff, appeared to address the Commission's concerns. He then introduced Harry Rombach from the Smithsonian Institution. Mr. Belle, whose firm is involved in the project design, recused himself and left the room for the discussion of this agenda item.
Mr. Rombach explained that the design revisions responded to the concerns of this Commission as well as to concerns from various other commissions and interested parties. He then introduced the project's architect, Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle, to present the design revisions.
Mr. Hassan showed presentation boards, models, and material samples that illustrated the changes along the Constitution Avenue frontage. The fencing along the east and west lawns would have a regular symmetrical spacing with seven modules to each side, rather than the previous uneven spacing that responded to tree locations. The wall would be composed of stone matching the existing building stone, but with a different finish, with blocks stacked to form a 36-inch high wall that would have steel embedded within to provide the needed perimeter security. He provided a material sample showing the proposed texture and color of the metal detailing, noting that the design would not require extensive maintenance.
Mr. Hassan then discussed the treatment of the north entrance area at the center of the facade. The design was simplified and another tree would be added to balance the existing mature tree. Ms. Nelson urged that the new tree be large; Mr. Hassan concurred, but pointed out that it would inevitably start out much smaller than the existing mature tree. He provided a material sample of the proposed paving stone, which would be set in a complex paving pattern that would avoid conflicts with the various slopes and curving and linear geometries of the plaza.
Mr. Hassan explained the revised design for the bollards at the north entrance area. The design was simplified to a cylinder with a subtle rim and a slightly beveled top to shed water. He noted that the design was appropriate for the retractable bollards, providing a smooth top surface, as well as for the stationary bollards. He showed samples of the two metallic surfaces that would be used for the bollards.
Ms. Nelson inquired about an additional material sample, which Mr. Hassan explained was for the south entrance area, along Madison Drive and the Mall. The granite paver would be used for the proposed elevated crosswalk for a segment of Madison Drive.
The Commission members concurred that the revised design addressed their concerns positively. Mr. McKinnell inquired whether the raised portion of Madison Drive at the crosswalk would be constructed by the Smithsonian as part of this project. Mr. Hassan explained that this proposal was still being coordinated with the National Park Service, which has jurisdiction over the Mall area beyond the Smithsonian sites. He said that the National Park Service had expressed support for this proposal. He also noted that, due to utility locations and other factors, the design had been modified to slightly reduce the extent of the raised roadway. Mr. McKinnell praised the proposal for the crosswalk at the roadway and urged that it be implemented.
The Commission then gave final approval to the project, upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Mr. McKinnell. Subsequently, Mr. Belle returned for the remainder of the meeting.
General Services Administration
CFA 19/JAN/06-2, Robert F. Kennedy Main Justice Building, Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Vehicular security gates. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/OCT/03- 9) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the presentation, noting its relation to the current restoration of the historic gates and a 2003 submission for vehicle barriers. The new proposal would create a second layer of gates to improve security and reduce wear on the historic gates. He then introduced Mike McGill of GSA and Mike Ragan of the Department of Justice facilities staff.
Mr. Ragan noted that the security upgrade for the building was planned and funded in response to the location's sensitive security level. The current project would harden the two vehicular entrances, along 9th and 10th Streets, to keep out unauthorized vehicles and pedestrians. Currently, the heavy historic gates are being opened for each vehicle, rather than being opened and shut once daily. The proposed new gates would be placed within each passageway and would be designed for frequent movement, allowing the historic gates to remain open during business hours. From the sidewalk, the public would still be able to see into the passageways and courtyard to appreciate the building's architecture. The new gates would be aluminum, weighing much less than the historic steel gates, and would be hydraulically operated. The design of the new gates would relate to the style of the historic gates and would also include a wire mesh to prevent projectiles from entering the courtyard. The new gates and other new metallic hardware would be painted a metallic gray. The historic gates would be painted black, which recent research had shown to be their original color.
Mr. Ragan described several other features of the project. A combination of fixed and retractable bollards would be installed along the street in front of each gate; vehicles would be permitted to enter or exit by moving the bollards in sequence with the new gates. The existing pedestrian turnstiles would be replaced by new turnstiles with a more compatible design. Guardrails, handrails, and stanchions would be added where necessary. The existing modern drop-arm gates would remain to guide vehicle movements. The fixed bollards would be granite; all of the other new and existing security features would be gray-painted metal. Other than minor alterations to granite curbing, the project would not affect the historic fabric of the building and all of the new construction would be reversible. Mr. Ragan noted the intention to obtain funding for additional perimeter security at other parts of the building in the future, including bollards to replace the existing planters.
In response to Ms. Nelson, Mr. Ragan explained that the gates would open for the approximately 300 cars that enter the building daily to park, plus additional vehicles arriving for special events. Ms. Nelson questioned the need to keep the existing drop-arm gates, but Mr. Ragan explained that they were functionally necessary, and funding limitations prevented an improved design at this time. He offered to consider replacing these if funding becomes available.
In response to Ms. Nelson, Mr. Ragan explained the proposed lighting. The guard booths would have corner spotlights and fluorescent soffit lighting. The lighting level in the passageways would be slightly increased to benefit pedestrians and improve the visibility of the ceiling mosaics, while remaining low enough to avoid interference with views to the courtyard. The courtyard would be lit with torchieres and ground-level lighting.
In response to Mr. Belle, Mr. Ragan explained that the historic gates would generally be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The new gates would open and close as needed for vehicular movement within these hours. Each opening and closing would take about 15 seconds. Mr. Belle emphasized the importance of the view from the sidewalk into the courtyard and questioned whether the new gates would allow for sufficient visibility, particularly with the inclusion of wire mesh. Mr. Ragan explained the need for the mesh and noted that many gates have screening to deter birds. Mr. Ragan concurred that the courtyard's visibility would be reduced from some viewing angles when both sets of gates are closed. Mr. Belle acknowledged that his concern about the courtyard's visibility could not be further resolved within the desired security requirements.
Mr. Powell and Mr. Belle praised the proposal as being a thoughtful response to the situation. Mr. Rybczynski commented that one alternative would be new gates designed in a more modern style to allow greater visibility, but he agreed that this might not be desirable since the new gates would be highly visible during daytime hours. Mr. McKinnell commented that the pedestrian turnstiles were less successful than the other proposed features. The Commission then gave final approval to the project, upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Ms. Nelson.
CFA 19/JAN/06-3, Federal Office Building #8 (former Food and Drug Administration), 2nd and C Streets SW. Building modernization and renovation. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 20/OCT/05- 3) Mr. Martinez introduced the project which encompasses renovation of the building and site, including a plaza area on the north side. He provided the Commissioners with copies of the letter summarizing their comments from October, when the project was last reviewed. He introduced Mr. McGill of GSA, architect Joe Boggs of Boggs & Partners Architects, and landscape architect Dennis Carmichael of EDAW.
Mr. Boggs described the architectural revisions made in response to the Commission's October comments and meetings with staff. He said that the design was now simplified and more related to the context. Emphasis has been placed on the building's east facade on 2nd Street facing the Capitol and the future American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. For people arriving from the nearby Metro exit on 3rd and D Streets, a sequence of design gestures would draw attention toward the building entrance and atrium, and then toward 2nd Street. New windows would be created to take advantage of views to the Capitol. The view of the building from the east, particularly from the Rayburn House Office Building, was given closer consideration.
Mr. Carmichael described the revisions to the landscape design. Perimeter security continues to be a primary concern, but it is now more fully integrated into the overall design and serves as civic art. The landscape was also designed to express the unusual angles proposed in the new building architecture. In order to maintain permeability at the site corners as well as at the building entrances, many of the perimeter security elements would be relatively small, such as bollards or streetlights. The plaza area would have larger elements such as a raised planter that would also provide a continuous seating edge. The planter would slope to allow sufficient soil depth in some areas to grow trees on top of the below-grade parking structure. The design would encourage people to sit on the lawn as well as on the edges. Angular curbside tree planters along 2nd and D Streets would be 30 inches high along the street, to provide sufficient perimeter security, and would slope to 18 inches high along the sidewalk, providing a comfortable seating edge. Additional angularity in the streetscape would serve to emphasize the views toward the Capitol and disabled veterans memorial. Along D Street, planters would correspond to the placement of the building's areaways, but with fewer planters where more pedestrian traffic is anticipated between the Metro station and the building's D Street entrance. Mr. Carmichael showed several additional design features, such as benches whose ends would serve as perimeter security barriers. Where bollards would be necessary, they would have an angular shape corresponding to the other design elements. He suggested a possible outdoor sculpture near the main entrance, possibly placed on a podium that provided part of the perimeter security for that area.
Mr. Boggs then continued his presentation of the architecture. He showed how light would be brought into the deep floorplates by creating an atrium; the loss of floor area would be offset by the extension of the floorplates around the perimeter of the building. The result would be that approximately 80 percent of the floor area would be within 40 feet of daylight. The atrium would extend down to two below-grade levels. An additional smaller atrium area would mark the building entrance, whose clear glass skin would contrast with the silvery-green tint of other glass areas.
Mr. Boggs then presented several renderings of the design in its context. The staircase windows, a characteristic design feature of the existing building, would be retained on the east and west facades. Limestone from the existing facades would be reused for some of the new design features such as projecting fins. A covered walkway along the north facade would provide protection for those walking from 3rd Street to the C Street building entrance facing the north plaza. Design gestures for the D Street entrance would be more restrained due to the limited space on the south.
Mr. Boggs mentioned that the building is budgeted for energy efficiency that would achieve a silver LEED rating. He reiterated the overall goal of converting the building to first-class office space through complete transformation of the existing laboratory building.
In response to Mr. Belle, Mr. Boggs explained that the atrium's exterior glass would include some spandrel panels but these would not be emphasized. The new mechanical system would run along the periphery of the building partially behind the spandrel glass. Mr. McKinnell inquired about the different usage of the fins on different facades, which appeared to suggest some variety in the site context. Mr. Boggs explained that east of the building would be a park with the future memorial, suggesting the need for a more restrained design that wouldn't compete with the memorial architecture. The highway to the east also suggested that less architectural expression was needed on this facade.
Ms. Nelson praised the revisions to the project, particularly the creative ideas for incorporating perimeter security into the site design. She asked whether other buildings in the area would incorporate similar site improvements. Mr. Carmichael explained that GSA and other agencies are currently developing a C Street precinct plan for the immediate vicinity; the FOB-8 project is proceeding on a faster timetable than the overall precinct plan. He suggested that the FOB-8 proposals would set a standard for the precinct, while acknowledging that the design may be modified in response to ideas developed in the precinct plan. Mr. Luebke said that the precinct plan would address significant security issues and expressed concern that the FOB-8 planning was moving forward too quickly to allow sufficient coordination of security design for the area. He suggested that approval of the site concept could be made contingent on coordination with GSA's overall precinct plan.
Mr. Rybczynski concurred with Ms. Nelson' praise of the perimeter security proposals. However, he expressed concern that the overall design approach seemed more appropriate for a suburban building on a large site rather than an urban building with an orthogonal context. He gave the example of the street trees, which were spaced unevenly in response to the building design but should instead be spaced evenly as a gesture toward the street space. He also questioned the use of unusual angles, which might be an acceptable design choice for the building, but were an unwelcome feature in the streetscape. He urged that this project's site design, like others in the vicinity, be more respectful of the public realm of the street, regardless of the architectural approach used for the building. He noted that there were no angled streets at this site that might justify an angular approach to the site design. Mr. Boggs responded that the design team's guidance from GSA was to enliven the public realm, which currently has relatively little liveliness in this vicinity. Mr. Rybczynski concurred that some gestures, such as the lawn area, would provide a public amenity, but he continued to question whether the more extensive use of angles throughout the site resulted in chaos. Mr. Carmichael observed that this area had a "boring, relentless" street context; Mr. Rybczynski replied that these were defining characteristics of a city. Mr. Rybczynski reiterated that the project should support the city form rather than stand apart from it. Mr. Carmichael acknowledged that the site design could be simplified and modified on the narrower frontages to the west, south, and east, but stressed the importance of creating a special place on the C Street plaza. Mr. Rybczynski concurred that the plaza area could have a special design as long as the outer edges of the site were more respectful of the overall urban context.
Mr. Powell suggested separating the Commission's actions into approval of the building concept while recommending further study of the site concept. Mr. McKinnell concurred with Mr. Rybczynski's concerns, noting that the site design was quite ambitious for a relatively ordinary city block. He noted that the design would call much attention to the site and suggested that very careful design, especially well chosen materials, would be important to its success. He urged that GSA allocate a sufficient budget to the landscaping to allow for successful implementation. Mr. McKinnell also questioned the decision to place the strongest architectural gestures toward the smaller-scaled urban context of the building, rather than on the east facade overlooking the larger scale of the park, memorial, and highway. Mr. Boggs offered to undertake additional study of the east facade to find the appropriate balance between supporting its large-scale context and not overpowering the memorial. He noted that motorists would have only a very brief view of this project from the highway.
Ms. Nelson asked whether the fins would overly constrain views from the windows, particularly those windows that were intended to provide views of the Capitol. Mr. Boggs agreed to study this issue more closely.
Mr. Powell offered a motion to approve the building concept subject to consideration of the Commissioners' comments; and to approve the site concept, including the perimeter security elements, in coordination with GSA's study of the overall precinct. Ms. Nelson seconded the motion, which was adopted.
Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 19/JAN/06-4, Fifty States circulating/commemorative quarter program for 2007. Reverse designs for the Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah state quarters. (Previous: CFA 17/Mar/05-1) Ms. Kohler introduced this project, noting that it was the first time the Commission had reviewed all five annual designs at the same time. She introduced Barbara Bradford, Kaarina Budow, and Jack Warner from the Mint, and asked Ms. Budow to begin the presentation.
Ms. Budow began with the design alternatives for the Montana quarter. The first showed a bull elk poised on a rugged rock formation against a backdrop of the plains of eastern Montana at sunrise, with the sun's rays radiating out and up into the sky. Design #2 featured a bison skull in the center, representing the symbolic power of the bison for the Native American tribes. Design #3 showed the outline of the state infilled with a landscape of mountains tapering into the plains and a big sky with clouds and a rising sun. Design #4 emphasized Montana as the Big Sky Country. It showed a large expanse of sky and clouds and the motto "The Big Sky Country" in the upper part, with a river emerging from a mountain range and snaking down through the plains on either side filling the lower part of the coin.
The members discussed the designs, with the consensus being that #4 would be recommended. The bison skull motif was also considered good, but at quarter size possibly not easy to read; in addition, Mr. Powell said, it was too strongly associated with artist Georgia O'Keeffe, who worked primarily in New Mexico. Ms. Nelson suggested that #4 would benefit from lowering the horizon line just a bit so that the sky was emphasized even more. The motto should be removed from the sky area, and if considered necessary, placed within the landscape using a conventional type in a smaller size. These comments were adopted upon a motion by Mr. Powell, with second by Ms. Nelson.
The designs for the Washington coin were shown next. Design #1 featured a salmon, Mount Rainier, and apples within an outline of the state, with the inscription "The Evergreen State" placed in the center. Design #2 showed a salmon leaping from the water with Mount Rainier in the background and "The Evergreen State" under the forest. Design #3 depicted a northwest Native American West Coast style version of an orca, with some elements from the South Coast style, so that all tribes within the state would be represented. There was agreement that the orca would make an attractive coin and a welcome relief from so many landscape designs. Ms. Nelson commented that it needed to be a little bolder and a little higher in relief; the other members agreed with this assessment. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, the recommendation for #3 was adopted.
There were four designs for the Idaho state coin. Design #1 had a peregrine falcon as its main subject–a profile with head and shoulders on the left side. The state outline was in the lower right quadrant with a star to indicate the capital. The state motto, "Esto perpetua" (May It Be Forever), was placed in the open space to the right. Design #2 depicted the Sawtooth Mountains with a river cutting through them; as the river widened it created an outline of the state. Tall Ponderosa pines framed the view on each side. Design #3 was described as a "farmland tapestry," an aerial view of planted and fallow strips of land. Design #4 was based on the state song. The state outline was centered on the coin, with the first two lines of the song written on either side.
There was consensus that Design #2 would make the best coin, with Mr. Rybczynski feeling that a little less detail would help it. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, the recommendation for #2 was adopted.
There were five designs for Wyoming, four of them based on a bucking horse and its rider. All four had the inscription "The Equality State" to the side, with Design #1 showing the horse and rider in silhouette, #2 showing the horse and rider in relief, #3 with a depiction of the Teton Mountains in the background, and #4 showing a typical Wyoming scene. Design #5 was a rendition of the Old Faithful geyser. The members all thought that Old Faithful could be a strong image for Wyoming, but not as it had been rendered. The horse and rider was an equally powerful theme, and the consensus was that of the four designs, they would prefer #1, the silhouette version. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, the recommendation for #1 was adopted.
The last state was Utah, for which Ms. Budow showed three designs. Design #1 depicted the Golden Spike locomotive, celebrating the joining of the tracks of the first transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah in 1869. Design #2 featured a beehive and the phrase "The Beehive State." It also depicted the state flower, a sego lily. Design #3 showed an airborne snowboarder participating in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, as Utah was the first U.S. city to host the games with snowboarding as an official sport.
Because of its simplicity, the members preferred the beehive, Design #2. Mr. Rybczynski suggested removing the table beneath the beehive, as it did not contribute to the design, and Ms. Nelson thought the state flower should be taken out also as it interfered with the symmetry. She thought just the beehive and a bee–the state insect–would be enough and would make the design more comprehensible. If "The Beehive State" had to be used, the phrase could be placed under the beehive. At the urging of Mr. Powell and Ms. Nelson, the recommendation for #2 was adopted.
CFA 19/JAN/06-5, 2007 Presidential One Dollar Coin Program. Template design for obverse. Ms. Budow said these coins would be the same size, color, metallic content, and weight as the Sacagawea dollar, which would continue to be produced. She said the legislation for the Presidential coins had been passed in December. The law stipulated that the presidential dollars would bear images emblematic of each president in the order they served, with the reverse bearing a dramatic image of the Statue of Liberty. Four coins would be issued each year.
Ms. Budow said the presidential images would be those used for the Mint's Presidential Medal series inserted into one standard template. She said the Mint had developed six alternative designs for the template, which she showed to the Commission. Design #1 had a rope as the decorative element around the edge of the coin; Design #2 used beading as the decorative element; Design #3 had a scroll near the bottom bearing the president's name; Designs #4 and #5 used different versions of laurel leaves; and Design #6 combined both laurel and oak leaves. In the last three designs the decorative elements were confined to the bottom half of the coin. She said the inscriptions to be on the coins had been mandated by the legislation.
The members preferred the simpler decorative elements and decided on the beading as their choice. Ms. Nelson commented on the placing of the dates in this design, saying she thought the dates of their service, appearing on either side of the image, should be on the same horizontal line rather than being staggered; the other members agreed. She made a motion to recommend Design #2, which was seconded by Mr. Powell and carried unanimously.
CFA 19/JAN/06-6, 2006 Buffalo Fifty Dollar Gold Bullion Coin. Reverse and obverse designs. Ms. Budow introduced her colleague, John Warner, to present this coin. Mr. Warner said this coin had been authorized by the same legislation mandating the issuance of the presidential coins. The legislation specified that the design should be identical to the design of the 1913 nickel by sculptor James Earle Fraser. The inscriptions on the original coin would be kept except for "Five Cents" and the law mandated that "50 Dollars" and "1 oz." would be placed on the reverse on the knoll on which the buffalo stands. The law also required the addition of the phrases "In God We Trust" and ".999 fine gold" but no location was specified. Mr. Warner said the Commission was being asked where these two phrases should be placed. He showed five obverse designs and four reverse designs with added inscriptions in different places. The Commission recommended that the obverse should remain as clean as possible, with only "Liberty" and the date; the other inscriptions could go on the reverse. Ms. Nelson made a motion to that effect, saying that the preference was for obverse 24k-O-05 and for reverse 24k-R-01. The motion was seconded by Mr. Powell and carried unanimously.
District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities
(The agenda order was changed and item II.F.1, the first of three D.C. art proposals, was discussed next.)
CFA 19/JAN/06-7, "The Dragon Gate," streetscape gate by artist Andrew T.Crawford. Chinatown, between 602 and 604 H Street, NW. Concept. Ms. Penhoet introduced Rachel Dickerson of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Ms. Dickerson introduced the artist, Andrew Crawford, and several members of her commission: Tony Gittens, executive director; Lionel Thomas, assistant director; and Eugene Thompson, an assistant with the Public Art Program.
Ms. Dickerson described the location for the gate as being between two businesses on H Street in Chinatown. She said it would cover an unsightly alley used for the collection of trash from business owners in the area. She said her group had been working with several District agencies and with the business owners in developing the project. She asked Mr. Crawford to describe his concept and the gate itself.
Mr. Crawford said he had decided, after viewing the condition of the alley, that he would design a solid panel for the bottom of the gate so that the trash would be hidden from view. Another thing he had noticed was that the flanking buildings were drastically different in height so that the left post of the gate was 6-7 feet high and the right post about 12 feet high. The concept of the dragon was to portray an ambiguous Chinese-American image. He had interviewed Wendy Lin from the Smithsonian, who had put together an exhibition of photos about Chinatown, and learned from her the importance to Chinese-Americans of the Transcontinental Railroad, which was built by many early Chinese immigrants; this was symbolized by the line of rivets at the bottom of the gate and another higher up. Lastly, he said the dragon was an opportunity to use very fluid lines, more like Art Nouveau than the traditional ironwork he was used to doing. Non-traditional, too, was the use of a red color for the gate, rather than the more usual black or grey he was used to working with; the color had been suggested by two architects on the panel that reviewed his design.
The Commissioners expressed great enthusiasm for Mr. Crawford's design, and it was unanimously approved.
(The Commission then recessed for lunch from 12:40 to 1:15 p.m. Upon reconvening, the Commission considered several items in a different sequence than shown on the agenda.)
Department of State
CFA 19/JAN/06-11, Embassy of Israel, International Center, Van Ness Street and Reno Road, NW. Addition for the ambassador's residence. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the project, involving an addition to an existing chancery building. He introduced Donna Mavritte from the State Department, who introduced the architect, David Knafo of the Israeli firm Knafo + Klimor Architects, as well as members of the affiliated local architecture firm and representatives of the Israeli government.
Mr. Knafo observed that Washington "is one of the cosmopolitan cities, gathering many cultures and many traditions into a beautiful urban tissue." The proposed building would similarly represent a "cultural encounter" between Israel and the U.S., suggesting a friendly meeting between the two cultures. This would be symbolized by combining references to the palm tree, representing Israel, and the red ash tree that is typical of the eastern U.S. He showed images of the Israeli landscape, emphasizing stones, palm trees, and desert.
Mr. Knafo then presented the site plan, noting that the new addition would help relate the Israeli building more closely to the adjacent streets, in keeping with other chanceries in the vicinity. Near the corner of Van Ness Street and Reno Road, the landscaping would include a replica of the archaeological remains of a synagogue from Galilee. The exterior faces of the building would primarily be concrete walls due to security requirements. These walls would be covered with back-lit glass panels, creating a floating effect. The panels would contain large-scale images of the ash and palm trees. The overall appearance would suggest a continuation of the existing building, but clad in a very different manner.
He described the plan of the addition. The rooms would adjoin several garden and patio areas set within the outer solid walls. A reception hall would be to the west of the main entrance. A dining room and service area would adjoin the existing building on the east, making use of the existing kitchen. The lobby between these spaces would contain four bronze sculptures of palm trees, rising through a wavy roof that would suggest sand dunes. The adjacent garden spaces would be more characteristic of Washington. The residential rooms would be above, and the basement level would contain two staff apartments, each with a patio.
Mr. Powell asked whether the area behind the glass wall would be exposed to the weather, and how this might affect the design of the back-lighting system, protection from rain, and the cleaning of both faces of the glass. Mr. Knafo said the building shell ended at the concrete walls, with the glass and lighting systems hung externally; he was still developing details on whether this system would be enclosed and if the lighting would be on during the daytime. Mr. Luebke clarified that the glass screens would be only on the upper two floors of the building, not at the ground level.
Ms. Nelson asked whether a transparent concrete material had been considered. Mr. Knafo praised this material but said that it would not be sufficiently strong to meet the security needs of this project.
Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, seconded by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the concept.
District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
S.L. 06-038, L'Enfant Plaza, 10th Street Promenade, SW. Revised concept for the National Children's Museum entrance pavilion. (Previous: S.L. 06- 026, 17 November 2005) Ms. Penhoet introduced the project, which had previously been presented for review of various components. The current submission included a revised concept for the museum entrance and a response to the Commission's previous concern about the relation of the project's other two new buildings to the adjacent headquarters of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She introduced Mr. Fred Clarke of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects for the presentation. Mr. Clarke then introduced Kathy Southern, President and CEO of the National Children's Museum, and Roger Lewis, an architect who served as a member of the museum's board of directors and chairman of the building committee.
Ms. Southern gave a presentation with slides providing an overview of the museum, which would be unique in Washington as a museum "solely dedicated to the broad needs and interests of children." The museum evolved from the Capital Children's Museum which had previously operated in Washington. The museum would serve local and visiting children, enriching their minds and taking advantage of Washington's unique attributes. The target audience would range from newborns to 12-year-olds, as well as parents and caregivers. The museum would emphasize partnerships with Washington's many resources, institutions, and organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health and the White House Historical Association. The location, two blocks from the Mall, would help make the museum a major attraction.
Ms. Southern then described the themes of the museum's interior. A Washington-themed exhibit would have activities related to citizenship and current events, including representations of the Oval Office, the Lincoln Memorial statue, a Presidential limousine, and the Supreme Court chamber. A nationally themed exhibit would explore the nation's cultural and natural resources; provide multi-media experiences such as newscasting, performing arts, and correspondence with kids from around the world; address the daily life of children, with an emphasis on health; provide unstructured recreational activities; and explore children's relation to the natural world, including exhibits on several U.S. ecosystems – seashore, desert, swamp, and glacier. Finally, a world-themed exhibit would involve cultures and geography from around the world. The exhibits would involve a partnership with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Ms. Southern then asked Mr. Lewis to introduce the presentation on the building design. Mr. Lewis noted the extensive collaboration involved in the project, including many consultants as well as the project's overall developer. Mr. Clarke then presented the architectural proposal, with the suggestion to discuss the Children's Museum first, and then consider the outstanding questions concerning the other two buildings.
Mr. Clarke reminded the Commission of the museum entrance's location along the 10th Street promenade, sited to emphasize the connection to the Mall. The entrance was designed to be prominently visible to visitors approaching from the Smithsonian Castle on the north, as well as attracting visitors arriving from the L'Enfant Plaza Metrorail station to the east. The entrance pavilion was part of a larger new office building proposed for the center of the plaza area. He noted that the project also included two other buildings and the redesign of the plaza area, as well as renovation of two of the existing buildings that frame the plaza. Along the plaza, the route from the Metro escalator to the museum would be designed as an active area that would be enjoyable for visitors. As visitors approached and entered the museum's main entrance, there would be views of the Washington Monument to the northwest.
The interior of the museum would encompass four main levels. Below the plaza level, the existing shopping center on the promenade level would be renovated, providing much of the museum's floor area including offices, the cafe, and some exhibit space. Further below, at the level of D Street and the roadway beneath L'Enfant Plaza, the extensive existing vehicular area would be refurbished to provide a sheltered bus drop-off area for the museum. A new lower lobby at this level would connect upward to the rest of the museum. The adjacent auditorium for the National Transportation Safety Board, with its own entrance lobby, would remain at this lower street level.
Above the plaza level would be another floor of museum space, including a sculptural structure for children to climb on; above this would be a 5,000-square-foot landscaped roof garden. Mr. Clarke said this roof space had been developed further since previous reviews, and it would be a "secret garden" that would provide views of the Washington Monument and the city.
Mr. Clarke then described the main architectural feature of the entrance – a "nest" form of swirling steel pipes that would surround the pavilion, rising several stories to wrap around the roof garden. He pointed out that the exterior "nest" was a separate structure from the glass building envelope, allowing greater design freedom for the high-visibility nest and simple low-cost detailing of the building skin, which would not be a prominent feature. He noted that the nest had not been presented in detail in previous submissions; it had evolved through a lengthy complex design process and was such a significant feature of the project that it was appropriate to submit it as a special item for the Commission's review.
Mr. Clarke explained that the tallest part of the entrance design would rise to a height of 70 feet, while the adjacent new office building would be 130 feet tall. Nonetheless, the bold design of the nest would make the entrance the most prominent architectural feature. He showed sketches from earlier submissions that showed an external ramp system rising to the roof garden, but explained that this feature had been eliminated as the design was developed. Access to the roof garden would instead be from within the lobby, after paying admission to the museum. He showed how the design of the nest had evolved to separate around the entrance doors, providing a clear path for entering the museum. The nest's pipes had originally been white, but the design now showed them painted in a variety of bright colors. The architects were still exploring the lighting possibilities.
Mr. Clarke described the interior of the entry pavilion. The entrance lobby would provide a large meeting and performance area for the public. After passing the ticketing area and entrance turnstiles, visitors would reach elevators and stairs leading to the levels above and below. A glass floor would bring daylight down to the promenade level. Mr. Clarke also provided further details on the roof garden, which would be heavily landscaped; it would have sufficient soil depth and structural support to allow a wide range of plantings.
Mr. Clarke then showed a comparable project that his firm had designed in Osaka, Japan: the National Museum of Contemporary Art, completed about a year ago. The museum encompassed 250,000 square feet, mostly below grade, with only a 5,000-square-foot lobby at the street level. He showed how the relatively small lobby structure could provide an architecturally strong introduction to the larger museum, similar to the design intent for the National Children's Museum. The projects were also similar in bringing daylight to below-grade areas and separating the architectural embellishment from the building skin. He described the high-quality materials in the Japanese museum, including stainless steel. The night-time lighting effect was also an important part of that project. He noted that the Japanese museum had become very popular with children.
The Commissioners then discussed their reactions to the project. Ms. Nelson praised the design, particularly the climbing structure. She expressed some concern about the visual frailty of the nest structure but acknowledged that it had achieved an appropriate aesthetic balance between lightness and strength. She questioned the use of multiple primary colors for the nest's pipes and suggested that a single color, perhaps white or bright blue, would appeal to children in a more sophisticated way. She observed that red paint tends to fade sooner than other colors, so the balance of colors might alter over time. She predicted that maintenance would be difficult and the nest structure would eventually end up painted a single color. She suggested fabricating the pipes or joints from cast iron or cast glass rather than steel, and she pointed out that the color of cast glass would not fade.
Mr. Powell inquired further about the proposed lighting of the nest. Mr. Clarke said that internal lighting of the pipes was still under consideration, possibly involving LED technology if maintenance concerns could be resolved. He observed that the architectural system was sufficiently complex that it would probably be appropriate to have simple lighting. He pointed out that the Japanese museum used relatively simple lighting, including up-lights and hidden flood-lamps.
Mr. Powell praised the Japanese museum's design. He asked if stainless steel could be used for the nest structure since this material was so successful in Japan. Mr. Clarke explained that this material was very costly and would not be feasible for this project, although he could not provide specific information on the cost difference. He said that the more cost-effective painted steel would benefit from very high-quality detailing.
Mr. Lewis, from the museum's board, confirmed that budgetary constraints were a concern but also explained that the board had been carefully considering the color and lighting of the museum entrance. Ms. Nelson emphasized that her concern wasn't just cost but also maintenance and long-term fading of the colors. She suggested that copper might provide a natural patina, while other finishes might look worse over time if there is insufficient maintenance. Mr. Clarke agreed that these were important issues for further study that could occur after the concept stage that was being presented for approval. Mr. Belle suggested that if budgetary constraints prevented the use of a durable material with stable colors, then it might be necessary to reject the concept and try a different design approach. Mr. Clarke expressed confidence that a cost-effective solution would be found that provided durability and low maintenance.
Mr. McKinnell praised the design of the museum entrance and said that the design had just the right amount of balance between garishness and child-like appeal. He supported the use of multiple colors and observed that the colors were an important part of the complexity that characterizes the design. He suggested that the multiple colors could evolve over time as the colors age, and that the nest be treated as an architectural embellishment that is routinely maintained rather than as a precious work of art.
Mr. Rybczynski said that he preferred the earlier schemes that had an exterior ramp spiraling up to the roof garden, but he recognized the budgetary pressure to simplify the design. He cautioned that too much simplification would make the concept no longer worth pursuing and speculated whether the project had yet reached that threshold. Mr. Clarke noted that the budget for the entry pavilion was $7 million, including the elevators and stairs. He said that the exterior ramp had been removed primarily for budgetary reasons but also because it made the design too visually complex, particularly once the details had been developed for railings and structural support. He offered to restudy whether the exterior had now become too simple. In response to Mr. Belle, Mr. Clarke explained that the ramp had supplemented the internal stairs and elevator, and it was designed to allow the public to have unpaid access to the roof garden – a benefit that was no longer considered desirable.
Mr. Rybczynski noted that the various models being presented showed different versions of the nest, apparently leading to a more equal balance of horizontal and vertical pieces – a result that seemed undesirable. Mr. Clarke said that the refinement of the nest design was ongoing, but he asked for approval of the concept so that the details could be studied more carefully for future submissions.
Ms. Nelson suggested that some sculpture or signage in the promenade level would help to draw visitors to the museum. Mr. Clarke agreed and said this was still under consideration.
Mr. Powell commented that the issue of durable exterior colors had been dealt with in the National Gallery's sculpture garden. He said that special durable fade-resistant paints had been developed, including a red paint.
Upon a motion by Mr. McKinnell, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept for the museum entrance and asked the applicant to consider the Commission's comments, particularly concerning the usage of color.
Mr. Clarke then presented a response to the Commission's previous concern about the relation of the proposed northeast and southeast buildings to the HUD headquarters, a building designed by Marcel Breuer. He noted that the Commission had approved the concept for the various buildings in February 2005, but nonetheless he had restudied the issue in response to the Commission's subsequent concern. He explained that the proposal had included a new ground-level slab for the southeast building that would extend eastward to the HUD building's base area. This new slab, approximately 20 feet wide, was to contain terraces and gardens for the ground-level apartments in the new building. The northeast building had a similar condition but no new slab had been proposed there. Mr. Clarke offered to eliminate the slab from the southeast building, to avoid creating the impression of crowding the HUD building at the ground level. He did not propose any change to the upper levels of the proposed buildings.
Brian Colter, a managing partner of the project's developer, the JBG Companies, offered further comments. He emphasized that the project had proceeded to detailed construction documents based on the Commission's approval of the concept in February 2005, and he noted that the massing had also been seen by the Commission in earlier submissions. He said JBG had agreed to have the architect study the issue further but the team had also been relying on the Commission's prior approvals.
Mr. Colter also reported that JBG had just met with representatives of GSA and HUD, at the Commission's request, resulting in a request for JBG to meet with the Federal Protective Service. Ms. Nelson inquired if this upcoming meeting might affect the proposed building design. Ms. Penhoet said that the most likely security concern would involve the residential balconies overlooking the HUD building, which could conceivably result in design changes. Mr. Colter observed that the city had many design situations that had evolved over time that might not be ideal from a security viewpoint. He noted that zoning regulations allowed the new buildings to extend to the property line but the design provided a setback of approximately 20 feet along the HUD boundary. He therefore concluded that the concerns about the urban context and security had already been reasonably reflected in the design.
Mr. Luebke pointed out that the relationship to the HUD building might be improved through some slight modifications in the apartment building's articulation, such as by modifying the corners, since the overall massing had already been approved. Mr. Clarke said that he had already offered some further refinement of the proposal at the ground level but that more extensive re-design would be a hardship at this stage in the design and review process.
Mr. McKinnell commented that the problem involved programming as much as architectural design. He acknowledged that it was too late in the process to significantly alter the overall program of the project. He observed that smaller architectural solutions, such as inflecting the building corners, would just draw further attention to the situation rather than help to resolve it. Ms. Nelson mentioned that the concern about being too close to the HUD building had been raised in earlier reviews, but concept approval had nonetheless been granted; she regretted this apparent mistake in the review process. This being the consensus, Mr. Powell said there was no need for the Commission to take any further action.
S.L. 06-037, Washington International School, 3100 Macomb Street, NW. New library/academic building. Final. (Previous: S.L.04- 103, 21 September 2004) Ms. Penhoet said that the Commission had first seen this project in September 2004 as part of a larger submission that was given concept approval at the time with some concerns about the stylistic approach. She then introduced architect David Cox from Cox, Graae and Spack to discuss the changes that had been made.
Mr. Cox said the essence of the project was a small in-fill piece that would be attached to the existing Arts and Athletics Building on the far west side of the campus. Before discussing his project, he gave some background on the larger site for those who were not familiar with it. He said the school occupied land that was formerly part of a large estate called Tregaron, on which there is a mansion house designed in 1912 by the prominent architect Charles Platt. The school purchased the house and land west of it, but another 20 acres of the original property is in the hands of another owner.
Mr. Cox said his project consisted of three elements: a new library, a 350-seat auditorium, and ten classrooms. The auditorium would be completely underground, so only the classroom and library piece would be visible. He said his buildings had been conceived in the context of the mansion and the original outbuildings that stretch directly west, clustered around a walkway that the school uses as its primary circulation; he showed a site plan and said the configuration was the same as the Commission had seen in the concept phase. He said the comments he had received during the concept review were concerned mostly with an ancillary piece to the building, which was an extension of the soccer field to the south, and how the edge of that would impact the historic landscape. This part of the project was withdrawn after discussions with the Cleveland Park Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the surrounding property owners, so he was now focusing solely on the building itself. He said the soccer field extension was being studied by EDAW as part of a complete landscape master plan for all of the Tregaron property.
Another part of his project that had been deleted was a two-story parking garage structure. That area would remain in its existing sloping configuration and the required parking would be added by reorganizing an existing parking lot, straightening it out and adding spaces in a subtle way.
Turning to the remaining building project, he presented some computer renderings to show how the building would fit into the context. Because it was really an addition to an existing large gymnasium structure with a flat roof, he had tried to make the new construction seem part of that complex by using the same red brick, slate roof, and cast-stone details. He said there had been constant refinements to the window configuration on the library building and to the trim. He said it was intended to look like a background building for the campus, and he added that it would in no way compete with the Charles Platt mansion. He added that the current design was the result of about two years of work with the community in selecting the site and then making the building actually an addition rather than a free-standing structure.
Mr. Cox then turned to the drawings that showed how he would actually physically add the building to the existing structure. It would be done with a hyphen element made of glass and a cast-stone panel system; its design would follow the existing wood window bay on the gym. There would be a small open courtyard in front of it. The new structure would then come down in scale and height from the gym structure by means of a combination of gable and hip roofs that would tie in with the Neo-Georgian collection of red brick buildings on the campus.
Mr. Belle asked how the redesigned soccer field would work with the connection to the new building and asked if there would have to be some regrading. Mr. Cox said there would be, and the proposal would probably show the soccer field about 8 feet lower than at present. There would be a plan developed for a series of three or more retaining walls, probably of a serpentine form so that they would take on a natural contouring rather than hard edges. He said that his building had been designed so that it could stand alone without any reconfiguration of the land.
When Mr. Cox had finished his presentation, Mr. Powell asked for a motion for approval. Mr. Rybczynski moved that the Commission give final approval to Mr. Cox's project. Ms. Nelson seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.
District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities
(The remaining two Arts and Humanities projects were reviewed out of order from the printed agenda.)
CFA 19/JAN/06-9, "Starburst Intersection: Cornerstones of History," terrazzo wall mural by artist Steven Weitzmann. Starburst Plaza at the intersection of H Street, Bladensburg Road, Benning Road, Maryland Avenue, and 15th Street, NE. Concept. Ms. Dickerson said the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities was partnering with the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) on this project, noting that this intersection had a very high traffic volume and was being reconfigured with a plaza so that pedestrians would have a safe place to catch the bus. The mural being submitted would be installed on a fountain wall. She turned the presentation over to the artist, Steven Weitzmann, to talk about his proposal.
Mr. Weitzmann said the mural concept was created after talking to people living in the neighborhood. Researching the history of the H Street area, he found that it had been a cultural center with jazz performances and nightclubs back in its heyday. After the riots of 1968 the area's commercial life had been disrupted. Today, residents wanted to make this a colorful place to gather and to remind them of their history. He said he hoped to convey this history in his mural which would be made of terrazzo. He said the method he used was his own; he called it "borderless terrazzo," as it was cast concrete in colors with only a hairline registration between them; no metal separation strips would be needed. He mentioned similar projects he had created in terrazzo at Reagan National Airport and in Prince George's County. The H Street design was meant to be seen from a great distance and to be vibrant, fun, and historic. As it was to be on a curvilinear wall, it could be seen from many locations across the intersection. It could be experienced at all times of the year, whether the fountain was off or on. He noted that the people and events portrayed would include the area's history after 1968 as well as before.
Ms. Dickerson was asked whether the water and the material of the wall behind it were part of the submission. She said they were not, that others would be involved in that aspect; only the mural was being presented at this meeting. The Commission members agreed that all aspects should be integrated, noting that the railing shown was not compatible with the mural. At this point, Ms. Penhoet said the staff could request that DDOT return with the entire project so that the Commission would have a better understanding of it as a whole. The Chairman then moved that in that case, the Commission could approve the mural in concept at this meeting and then expect an integrated submission of the whole project at a later date. Mr. Rybczynski seconded the motion, and it was then unanimously carried.
(Chairman Powell left the meeting at this point and handed the gavel to Vice-Chairman Nelson.)
CFA 19/JAN/06-8, "Transit," sculpture installation by artist Wendy Ross. Located at the Mount Vernon Square/Convention Center Metro Station entrance, 7th and M Streets, NW. Ms. Dickerson also introduced this project, showing a photograph of the location beneath an entrance canopy for the Convention Center. Ms. Dickerson said Ms. Ross was unable to attend the meeting, but quoted the artist's description of the concept as: spatial, transparent, and airy, embracing rather than displacing the surrounding environment. The vertical structure is dynamic and uplifting providing an opening where a fractal and scintillating sphere passes through and beyond in energetic lines. The work represents a moment in time captured in transition when something is changing from one state to another–a passage occurring through and from one place to another. The title makes reference to both the function and activity of the site and the surrounding urban context. 'Transit' ...also alludes to the qualities of light during the day that cross over the upper cross beams and cast linear shadows that move across the parapet wall. The sculpture is designed to be at least partially visible from all perspectives approaching the site and fully visible at virtually every point from across the street.
Ms. Dickerson showed four simulated perspective views of the sculpture as it would look in place. She said it would be 26 feet high and 17 feet wide, made of hand-welded stainless steel of a type that would not rust and would not need a coating. The pipe for the armature would have a satin finish; the sphere would have a reflective finish and over 1,500 hand-cut pieces of quarter-inch rod of varying lengths. The sphere would be five feet in diameter; it could be cleaned by hosing or by blowing off dust.
The members thought the sphere was the strongest part of the design, finding that the armature form lacked a three-dimensional quality and was unstable in appearance. Ms. Nelson thought the sphere could be larger and perhaps hung from the ceiling, but Ms. Dickerson said Metro would not allow that. Then it could be on the floor, Ms. Nelson said, or perhaps just a half sphere could be used in that way. She asked Ms. Dickerson if the Commission could get the artist back to talk with them; Ms. Dickerson did not think that would be a problem.
Mr. Luebke added that the detailing of the armature should be consistent in how the pieces join—either deliberately or more randomly with the rods overlapping to imply movement. The discussion ended with Mr. Rybczynski making a motion requesting that the artist come to the next meeting with changes to the way the sphere would be supported. Mr. McKinnell seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.
Arlington National Cemetery
CFA 19/JAN/06-10, Memorial to the World War II Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, Intersection of Porter, Lawton, and McPherson Drives, in Section 21 of Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the cemetery superintendent, John Metzler, to present the project team. Mr. Metzler introduced Stan Wojtusik, a veteran of the battle and president of the veterans group that was sponsoring the memorial; Edith Nowels, whose brother died in the battle and received a Medal of Honor; Jeff Martell, president of Granite Industries of Vermont; designer Charles DeChristopher; Arlington National Cemetery staff; and representatives from the embassies of Belgium and Luxembourg, whose governments would be funding the project.
Mr. Metzler showed the design drawings, explaining that the memorial would be nine feet wide and just over six feet high, with a depth of two feet. He said that the granite material and overall design would be appropriate for the cemetery. Mr. Wojtusik described the memorial's symbolism: columns representing strength; and an eagle facing laurel branches, representing the peace that was achieved several months after the battle. The veterans group's logo, adopted in 1982, would be set within the stone; it would have colors representing infantry (blue), armor (yellow) and artillery (red), with a rifle, helmet, artillery gun, lightning bolt, parachute, airplane, a star representing Christmas 1944, the text "Ardennes" and an abstracted depiction of an evergreen forest. Below the logo would be an inscription: "To World War II American soldiers who fought in the greatest land battle in the history of the United States Army in the Ardennes, December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945, in appreciation by the grateful people of the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg." He noted that 19,000 American soldiers died in the battle.
Mr. Martell then discussed the fabrication of the memorial. It would be made of light Vermont granite, pre-assembled in Vermont using stainless steel pins and epoxies with long-lasting silicon in the joints. The eagle would be depicted in bas-relief, with a depth of one to two inches. The incised lettering would be highlighted with a black lithochrome. The granite surface would be a steeled finish, similar to other recent memorials at Arlington National Cemetery. Mr. DeChristopher explained that the logo would be fabricated from black granite that would be inserted into the lighter base. The polished black surface would provide a better background for the areas of color used in the logo.
Ms. Nelson asked for clarification of the depth of the memorial's various components. Mr. DeChristopher explained that the base was slightly deeper than the upper portion, to give a sense of stability. Ms. Nelson inquired about the process and durability for creating color on the black granite. Mr. Martell explained that a laser process is used, creating a matrix of tiny pores that provide the base for applying a lithochrome agent. The color would effectively be below the surface of the granite. Mr. DeChristopher said this process had been used for other memorials over the past ten to fifteen years. Mr. Wojtusik noted that a 16-year-old memorial near Philadelphia contained this colored logo and did not show any signs of discoloration. In response to Mr. Rybczynski, Mr. Martell explained that the lettering of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was created through a different process, using acid emulsion. He said the laser method was a more modern and more effective process. Mr. DeChristopher clarified that the laser process would only be used for the logo; the lower inscription would be sandblasted to a depth of approximately three-quarters of an inch. Mr. Martell noted that the cemetery's headstones are fabricated with a lithochrome agent to darken the letters, so the proposed memorial would be compatible with the context.
Ms. Nelson said that she preferred the line representation of the logo, without color, as shown on one of the drawings. She thought that this simpler approach, highlighted through relief, would be more dignified. She expressed concern that the colored logo would be overly prominent in the memorial's design.
Mr. Belle suggested that the design be studied further in order to more rigorously follow the principles of classical architecture. He suggested that the columns framing the design be joined to the center panel, or alternatively that the columns be doubled at the ends with the center panel disengaged from the entablature. He also suggested that the design emphasize the durable character of the granite, rather than combine several separate elements. Ms. Nelson, Mr. Rybczynski, and Mr. McKinnell concurred with this guidance.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that the proposed memorial was quite large, and a size reduction should be considered. He also suggested that the classical principles should include entasis and the design of capitals. He questioned the need to include the logo so prominently, since it was designed after the war and was not itself a military insignia. He further urged that the placement and composition of the lettering be studied further. He noted the importance of Arlington National Cemetery and urged that the project achieve the highest standards of design. Mr. McKinnell praised the use of granite material and urged that the qualities of the material be respected, such as by carving rather than inlaying. In response to Mr. Martell, Mr. Rybczynski and Mr. McKinnell suggested that Doric columns would be appropriate.
Ms. Nowels emphasized the symbolism of the logo components. Ms. Nelson agreed but urged that the designers study the project further. She reiterated that the Commission acknowledged the sacrifice of those who fought in the battle and noted that the relatives of some Commissioners were veterans of this battle. Mr. Rybczynski suggested that the designers bring several alternatives for the Commission's consideration. The Commission concluded the discussion without a formal action.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:04 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke
Last Modified: February 21, 2006