Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
27 July 2006
The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, N.W, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 10:18 a.m.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
A. Approval of the minutes of the 15 June meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the June meeting were circulated to the members in advance of the meeting. The Commission approved the minutes without objection, upon a motion by Ms. Balmori with second by Ms. Nelson.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: September 21, October 19, and November 16, with no meeting scheduled for August. There were no objections.
C. Proposed year 2007 schedule of meetings and submission deadlines for the Commission and the Old Georgetown Board. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to approve the proposed schedule for publication. He noted that no Commission meetings were proposed for August and December. In response to Ms. Nelson, Mr. Lindstrom confirmed that there were no apparent conflicts with major federal or religious holidays. Mr. Luebke noted that meeting dates could be adjusted in the future if necessary, as had occurred with today's meeting. The Commission approved the schedule without objection, upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Ms. Zimmerman.
D. Report on the position announcements for hiring a new staff member. Mr. Luebke reported that a staff position was currently available for either an architect or architectural historian whose primary responsibility would be to assist with Old Georgetown cases. He noted that the announcement for the position could be obtained through the websites of the Commission and the Office of Personnel Management with an application deadline of 1 August.
E. Confirmation of recommendations on the revised designs for the five-dollar gold and one-dollar silver coins of the 2006 San Francisco Old Mint Commemorative Coin Program. Mr. Lindstrom explained that designs for these coins had been reviewed at the June meeting but the U.S. Mint had subsequently submitted revised designs, based on the Mint's further consultation with the beneficiary organization in California. The revised designs were circulated to the Commission members in early July for comment in order to meet the Mint's tight schedule. Since there was no clear consensus among the members, the Mint asked for further review.
Images of the Old Mint building were now proposed for the obverse rather than reverse of each coin—an elevation detail for the gold coin as selected by the Commission in June, and a perspective view for the silver as reviewed but not approved in June. Images of eagles, based on historic coin designs, would now be used for the reverses, rather than the historic liberty-head designs previously shown for the obverses. For the obverse of each coin, there was a choice of a plain borderless version or one with a complex edge; the proposed reverse of both coins would have the complex edge.
The Commission members' biggest concern remained the silver coin's perspective view of the Old Mint building. Mr. Rybczynski reiterated his criticism regarding the poor quality of the submitted perspective drawing. All agreed that they would prefer to see a full elevation, as they had requested in June, such as the unused alternative previously proposed for the gold coin. For the edge treatment of the two obverse designs, most of the members preferred the complex border, although Ms. Balmori preferred the simpler design.
Upon a motion by Ms. Zimmerman concerning the silver coin, the Commission repeated its request to place a full elevation of the Old Mint on the obverse, using the complex edge and inscriptions as shown on design SO2-1-B, and approved the reverse as shown on design SR2-1. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson concerning the gold coin, the Commission recommended design GO2-1-B, with the complex edge, and reverse design GR2-1. Ms. Balmori abstained from voting on both motions.
F. Adoption of proposed design guidelines for the proposed Vietnam Veterans Memorial Visitor Center. Mr. Luebke introduced the design guidelines, explaining that the guidelines were developed jointly by the staffs of the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission. The authorizing legislation calls for jointly adopted design guidelines, and NCPC would incorporate these guidelines into its environmental finding for its upcoming review of the proposed site at 23rd Street, Constitution Avenue, and Bacon Drive, N.W. He noted that representatives were present from NCPC and from the National Park Service, which would be the future applicant for the project. Mr. Luebke then read the fourteen guidelines proposed by the staff. At Mr. Powell's invitation, Mr. Parsons of the National Park Service responded by expressing support for the guidelines.
In response to Ms. Balmori, Mr. Parsons explained that the underground visitor center would be two stories with a footprint of approximately 25,000 square feet. Ms. Balmori said this seemed quite large and suggested that the project be made smaller; Mr. Parsons offered to relay the comment to the architect, the Polshek Partnership. Mr. McKinnell commented that his main concern was the extent of the project's intrusion on the landscape, rather than its actual size; Mr. Parsons agreed with this concern. Ms. Nelson mentioned the Commission members' site visit that morning, emphasizing the importance of views to the Lincoln Memorial and from the top of its steps. She expressed concern that the project would have a significant impact on these views and urged that the project be sensitively designed; Mr. Parsons again concurred. Ms. Balmori suggested that another site be considered that would be less intrusive. Mr. Parsons clarified that the 25,000-square-foot area would be below grade, with only a smaller entrance area visible on the surface.
Mr. Powell asked if an underground facility would be prone to flooding at this low-lying site. Mr. Parsons said that this issue could be addressed through pumping; the lowest elevation along Constitution Avenue was actually much further east, toward 7th Street, N.W. Mr. Belle expressed his general support for the project but emphasized that the Commission would look closely at the design for conformance with the authorizing legislation, particularly the requirement that its size be minimized.
Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori, with second by Ms. Zimmerman, the Commission approved the guidelines as recommended by the staff.
II. Submissions and Reviews
A. Appendices. Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commissioners in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Direct Submission Consent Calendar: Ms. Penhoet explained that one set of projects was being added to the draft appendix: a dozen temporary art installations in public space, submitted by the D.C. Department of Transportation. She explained that each artwork would only be installed for a few days. Ms. Nelson and Mr. Powell praised the proposal. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori, with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission adopted the revised appendix.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Penhoet reported that there were several changes to the draft appendix. She said that several negative recommendations had been resolved, either favorably based on further information being provided, or by postponement of the projects at the request of the applicants. Three negative recommendations remained concerning signage design. Several projects had been added with favorable recommendations, including a rowhouse exterior staircase and a temporary sculpture installation for children.
Ms. Nelson and Ms. Zimmerman asked for further information on the children's sculpture. Ms. Penhoet explained that it was sponsored by the Endowment to Promote Quality Early Childhood Education, and their D.C. permit would be limited to a maximum of one year. The sculpture would be located along Pennsylvania Avenue near Freedom Plaza. Ms. Nelson and Ms. Zimmerman asked how the time limit would be enforced; Ms. Penhoet and Mr. Luebke explained that the D.C. government would be responsible for enforcing the terms of the permit. Ms. Penhoet showed drawings of the proposed concrete sculpture, which would be in the form of a child's block measuring two feet six inches per side. Several Commission members questioned the appropriateness of locating this along Pennsylvania Avenue. Mr. Rybczynski suggested that it should be located in a residential neighborhood; Mr. Powell suggested a schoolyard; and Ms. Nelson suggested a park. The members also suggested a location outside a child-care center, and they discouraged placing it on the National Mall.
Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, with second by Ms. Zimmerman, the Commission adopted the revised Shipstead-Luce appendix with the amendment to provide an unfavorable recommendation on the proposed Pennsylvania Avenue location for the children's sculpture.
An additional submission under the Shipstead-Luce Act was considered later on the agenda (item II.L).
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martínez reported that there were minor changes to the draft appendix. Several recommendations were updated based on supplemental drawings; one project was removed and one was added. He noted several projects of special interest.
•Case O.G. 06-234, at 1819 35th Street, N.W., involving temporary trailers for classrooms at the Hardy Middle School while the school is undergoing renovation. The trailers would be used for one year; the D.C. government would enforce their removal at the expiration of the permit.
Mr. MacDonald provided a binder of exhibits to each Commission member, and introduced his family, their architect, and their legal counsel. He also introduced a neighbor who supported the project, and he noted the letters of support from additional neighbors, from the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and from the D.C. historic preservation staff. He said that since acquiring the house in January 2006, he had researched the house's history, including consultation with the architectural historian for the neighboring Evermay estate, and tried to propose a design that was compatible with the historic district. He had presented restoration plans at several meetings of the Old Georgetown Board, modifying some proposals at their suggestion and withdrawing the parking-related proposals to avoid causing a delay in approval of the other components. He described the site, a corner lot at 28th and Q Streets with a total street frontage of 160 feet, and said that driveway access is typical for a Georgetown house having such extensive street frontage.
Mr. MacDonald asked his architect, Dudley Cannada, to provide further details on the project. Mr. Cannada described the context including several large estates and the general green character of the area. He said the proposal would conform to D.C. zoning and public space regulations. The proposed garage addition would generally be concealed behind existing or already-approved walls and fences; only an iron railing above the addition would be visible from across the street. An additional garage space would be located within the existing house.
Mr. MacDonald continued by pointing out the curb cuts for nearby houses, particularly the houses on the other corners of the 28th and Q intersection; while the nearby houses had open driveways, this proposal included a gate so that the parked cars would not be visible from the street. He explained that historic maps showed an earlier curb at the same location. The site also previously had access through a neighboring property using an easement that no longer existed. He noted that there is no curb parking allowed along the site's Q Street frontage, so the proposed curb cut along Q Street would not affect the availability of street parking.
Ms. Nelson asked how the MacDonalds currently dealt with parking at the home; Mr. MacDonald explained that they had not yet moved in. He said that the Old Georgetown Board had commented that street parking was readily available along 28th Street, but his impression was that street parking was actually quite scarce. He noted the parking study he had provided, showing the limited availability of spaces within 300 feet of the home.
Ms. Zimmerman asked for further explanation of the proposal to cut a garage-door opening into the existing wall of the house, since this was a main reason for the Old Georgetown Board's negative recommendation. Mr. MacDonald read portions of the letter from the D.C. historic preservation staff to the Board, including a conclusion that the alteration would be acceptable in this situation because it would be screened by a wall. Mr. Martínez noted that the Board members had visited the site in April and had decided that any alterations should involve only minimal removal of historic fabric. He also noted that the Board rarely approved curb cuts and had come to regret its past approvals. Mr. MacDonald responded that at least six nearby curb cuts were created since the 1950 passage of the Old Georgetown Act.
Mr. Rybczynski, Ms. Nelson, and Mr. Powell expressed a desire to support the recommendation of the Old Georgetown Board. Mr. McKinnell agreed, particularly regarding the recommendation against the curb cut. Ms. Balmori expressed support for the Board's recommendation, with an emphasis on minimizing the proposed changes to the historic building; she and Mr. Belle were less concerned about the proposed curb cut. Ms. Zimmerman supported the curb cut, explaining the need to allow for historic houses and neighborhoods to respond to modern circumstances. She praised the strength and thoroughness of the applicant's argument. Mr. Powell suggested that the Commission focus on the architectural issues, and leave the decision on the curb cut to the D.C. government; Ms. Balmori concurred. Mr. Martínez clarified that the Commission would normally forward a recommendation to the D.C. Department of Transportation concerning the curb cut proposal.
Mr. MacDonald suggested an alternative proposal: approval of the curb cut, driveway, garage addition, and terrace above, along with further study of the proposed garage door within the existing house wall in order to address the Board's concern about the impact of this alteration on the historic fabric. The Commission members supported this suggestion, with the understanding that the details would be worked out through a resubmission to the Old Georgetown Board.
Subject to the change of the recommendation for Case O.G. 06- 216 noted above, the Commission approved the revised appendix upon a motion by Ms. Zimmerman with second by Ms. Nelson.
At this point the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider the Arlington National Cemetery project (item II.D).
D. Arlington National Cemetery
CFA 27/JUL/06-3, Arlington National Cemetery. Millennium Site (Old Warehouse Area and Fort Myer Picnic Grounds), Arlington, Virginia. Landscape design for Millennium Expansion Project and designs for associated structures. Concept. (Previous: CFA 15/JUN/06-3.) Mr. Luebke noted that the discussion was a continuation from the previous month, and he introduced Jack Metzler, superintendent of the cemetery. Mr. Metzler explained that the proposed expansion was an important part of the goal of having sufficient space to continue the cemetery's operations for another hundred years. He described the proposal, which includes terraced columbarium walls as well as traditional burial sites. The site is comprised of a former picnic area transferred from Fort Myer, a former warehouse area being cleared of buildings, and a wooded area that originally belonged to the Cemetery but was later transferred to the National Park Service and recently transferred back. He introduced several members of the design team: Rich Opem of CDM, Joe Sporko of the LA Group, Rick Carter of STV Incorporated, and Frank Cirincione, the project manager from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Mr. Opem explained the further progress since the previous month's review: additional site sections and further study of the committal shelter's concept and design details, the columbarium area, and the proposed perimeter fence and columbarium wall. Mr. Sporko then showed the site's relation to the context of the cemetery, along with detailed aerial photos illustrating the site. He showed images of other parts of the cemetery with graves on sloping land, similar to the intended design for much of the Millennium Site. Mr. Belle and Mr. Rybczynski asked for further information on a historic stone boundary wall that traverses the site. Mr. Sporko explained that it was a red sandstone wall, approximately three and a half feet high, in deteriorated condition and collapsed in some places. A new wall of similar character would be constructed along the new boundary alignment; due to the topography, much of this new wall would be designed as a retaining wall that would be used for columbarium niches. Mr. Belle suggested that part or all of the existing wall be kept; Mr. Sporko explained that the wall would interfere with the layout of gravesites, and since it was deteriorating and hazardous it would need to be reconstructed anyway.
Mr. Sporko said that most of the site would be developed with gravesites in flat to moderately sloping areas, and with terraced columbarium walls in the steeply sloping areas; the total number of gravesites and niches would exceed 36,000. The project would also include a gate from Fort Myer for use by funeral processions, new roads, and a committal shelter where services would be held. Several stands of existing trees would be preserved. He showed site sections illustrating the terrain and the terraced columbarium area, which he noted would be designed to meet handicapped accessibility standards. At the center of the columbarium complex would be a cascading water feature.
Mr. Sporko provided further information on the proposed perimeter wall, including illustrations from other areas of the cemetery currently under construction with various combinations of perimeter walls, fences, and columbaria. He explained that the wall would be three and a half feet high on the Fort Myer side and just over eight feet high on the cemetery side, providing sufficient protection to Fort Myer so that an additional fence might not be necessary. He suggested that the top of the wall could incorporate an additional feature, such as metal strips, to deter people from climbing or sitting on the wall. Ms. Balmori reiterated the Commission's concern from June that the combination of a columbarium wall and security features was inappropriate. Mr. Sporko said that another option was a planting strip along the Fort Myer side of the wall. Mr. McKinnell questioned whether this would be effective; he instead suggested that the top of the wall be designed with a slope and overhang, which would deter people from trying to walk on top of it while also enhancing the aesthetic quality by suggesting the imagery of an inhabited structure. Mr. Sporko offered to study this option but questioned its compatibility with the context of existing cemetery features. Mr. McKinnell pointed out that a columbarium perimeter wall would itself be a relatively new feature in the cemetery, so some new architectural vocabulary would be appropriate. Mr. Metzler clarified that the problem in this location was that the higher grade on the Fort Myer side meant that people could easily climb onto the top of the wall and try to walk on top of it, creating an unsafe condition as well as an uncomfortable view for mourners on the cemetery side. He agreed to have the design team study Mr. McKinnell's suggestion further.
Mr. Carter then described the proposed gate and several alternative designs for the committal shelter, using different surface materials and color schemes. The shelter design had been revised to eliminate the peaked roof and more closely resemble the existing committal shelters elsewhere in the cemetery. Several Commission members commented on the prominent wastebaskets seen at the existing shelters. Mr. Metzler explained that these were added after the shelters were in use, in response to the large number of people who attended services at the shelters. He clarified that all of the supporting features seen in the existing pavilions—wastebaskets, chairs, and bier—were not fixed and were routinely relocated or removed depending on the needs of funeral services. Ms. Nelson urged that these features be considered as part of the overall design, and she supported the gray or darker colors.
Mr. Metzler said that the two existing committal shelters—the first dating from 1980—had required only minimal maintenance. Mr. McKinnell urged that the proposed new pavilion match the design of the existing pavilions, which he praised for their authenticity, elegance, and sturdiness. He expressed support for the flat roof, and he discouraged the introduction of special finishes and veneer materials. Ms. Nelson concurred.
In response to Ms. Balmori, Mr. Sporko confirmed that many trees would be removed, although the only drawing available was a conceptual grading plan that indicated the trees to remain. Ms. Balmori commented that the removal of many trees would make the steep slopes more vulnerable to erosion, and Mr. Sporko agreed to provide additional information with the next submission.
Ms. Zimmerman asked for further discussion of the Commission's previous concern about parking and staging in the vicinity of the committal shelter. Mr. Metzler explained that only cars for the family would be near the shelter, and other parking would be along more distant parts of the road. The area was not open to tourist vehicles, so there would be little usage of the road system other than by those attending services or visiting gravesites. The services could involve anywhere from a few vehicles to hundreds, and the road system and parking arrangements were flexible enough to accommodate this range. The assembly area would be used for the ceremonial military personnel involved in the services; this area was intentionally located within view of the committal shelter while being a slight distance away.
Upon a motion by Ms. Zimmerman, with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the concept with the request that the committal shelter design be developed in a simple manner, that the perimeter columbarium wall be studied further and not include a fence on top, and that a plan be provided illustrating tree retention and removal.
At this point the Commission returned to the order of the agenda.
B. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 27/JUL/06-1, Little Rock Central High School Desegregation 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act. Design for 2007 one-dollar silver coin. Final. Ms. Kohler introduced Kaarina Budow of the U.S. Mint to present the proposal.
Ms. Budow reviewed the inscriptions required for this coin and presented the ten alternative designs for the obverse. Mr. Rybczynski commented that design LR-O-04 made a very powerful statement, although it was a strange design, consisting of a band through the center area of the coin showing just the legs of the students as they walked to school with one soldier, identified by his boots and the butt of his rifle. There was a row of nine stars immediately above the band, and the words "Courage with Dignity" below. Additional wording required for coins was shown toward the top and bottom edges of this obverse design.
Ms. Balmori suggested that the band might be expanded slightly to make it read better and Ms. Zimmerman thought the row of stars could be eliminated to allow for this expansion. Ms. Budow explained that the stars represented the nine students who were escorted into the school, but Ms. Zimmerman and Ms. Nelson did not think that the symbolism would be readily understandable. Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission recommended design LR-O-04 with the modification to remove the stars and slightly expand the band.
Ms. Budow then showed five designs for the reverse; all were depictions of the school building. Ms. Balmori criticized the quality of the drawings and said that the only image that appeared strong enough to read on a coin was design LR-R-05, which showed only the central entrance portion of the school; the other members commented, however, that it looked like a tower rather than a school. Ms. Zimmerman suggested using a closer elevation of the school's entrance arches. Ms. Nelson praised the lettering and layout of design LR-R-05. Upon a motion by Ms. Zimmerman, with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission requested further study of the reverse with the suggestion to use an elevation detail showing the entrance.
C. Department of the Army / Institute of Heraldry
CFA 15/JUL/06-2, Air Force Distinguished Public Service Medal. Obverse, reverse, and ribbon designs. Final. Mr. Simon introduced Charles Mugno, the director of the Army's Institute of Heraldry. Mr. Mugno explained that a public service medal is awarded to people who are neither military members nor civilian employees of the military, but who have performed noteworthy service in support of the military branches. Such medals have previously been awarded by the Army and Navy, and the new proposal was for a medal to be awarded by the Air Force. The medal design was being concurrently reviewed by Air Force officials.
Mr. Mugno described the ribbon colors, including various shades of blue to represent the sky, white symbolizing integrity, and gold for the high level of achievement being recognized. He noted that the color pattern also suggested the markings of an airplane runway. The medal would have a gold finish with a matte background and a polished surface for the raised features. At the center of the obverse, projecting from a concave circle, would be a flying star insignia that was created by Hap Arnold, an early leader of military aviation. This insignia was worn by Army Air Corps members during World War II. Below the insignia would be four stars to indicate that the medal would be awarded by high-level officials: the Air Force's four-star Chief of Staff or the Secretary of the Air Force. Extending from the bottom of the disc on the obverse would be a laurel wreath, a traditional Greek symbol of honesty and integrity. The reverse would have an irregular profile encompassing the circular disc and the reverse side of the laurel wreath, providing sufficient room for additional text and a panel for inscribing the name of the recipient, a tradition that dates from medals awarded in the Civil War.
Mr. Mugno provided some additional background on the design process for this medal. The more common military awards typically use a circular disc; it was therefore appropriate that this high-level award have a slightly different profile, resulting from the position of the laurel wreath. The flying-star insignia was initially included in conjunction with a world map or a field of stars, but this background was simplified in the final design.
Ms. Nelson praised the use of polished and matte surfaces to highlight the relief, commenting that this would add interest and depth to the design. Mr. Powell expressed his appreciation for the simplicity of the design. Mr. McKinnell asked how often the medals would be awarded; Mr. Mugno estimated that only one or two would be given per year.
Ms. Balmori questioned whether the laurel wreath would detract from the medal's powerful circular form, particularly on the reverse where the wreath was not depicted but its outline formed part of the medal's irregular profile. She suggested moving the wreath to a position within the circular disc. Mr. Mugno responded that the wreath would be slightly recessed from the disc and would give the effect of wrapping or embracing the medal, while also reducing the emphasis on concentric circular forms. Mr. McKinnell, Mr. Belle, and Ms. Nelson concurred with Ms. Balmori's concern. Ms. Zimmerman suggested that the flat reverse be modified to indicate the laurel wreath so that the remaining circular form would be clear. Mr. Mugno replied that this might leave insufficient room for the text and inscription; Ms. Zimmerman commented that these elements made the reverse especially important, emphasizing the need for a meaningful composition. Mr. Belle suggested that the circular border detail on the obverse could be repeated on the reverse; Mr. McKinnell suggested that this could be combined with some slight further articulation of the reverse side of the laurel wreath.
The Commission members concurred in this recommendation and asked Mr. Mugno to resubmit the revised design as a consent calendar item. Mr. Mugno explained that a resubmission might be difficult due to the air force's tight deadline and their concurrent review process. Mr. Powell said that it would be sufficient to show the revised design to the staff, and he summarized the Commission's consensus to approve the design with the suggestion to modify the articulation of the laurel wreath.
Following the lunch break, the Commission considered the Arboretum project (item II.F). Item II.D. had been discussed earlier in the meeting, and item II.E. was postponed until after the Arboretum agenda item.
F. Department of Agriculture
CFA 27/JUL/06-5, U.S. National Arboretum, New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road, N.E. Revised draft Master Plan. (Previous: CFA 19/OCT/00- 2, Master Plan revisions; CFA 17/JUN/05- 1, China Garden.) Mr. Martínez introduced the submission to revise the Arboretum's draft master plan from 2000 in response to several new proposed projects. He emphasized that the specific project designs would be submitted for review at a later date, but a Commission action was needed on the draft master plan revision. He introduced Faye Harwell of Rhodeside & Harwell, Inc., landscape architects for the Arboretum.
Ms. Harwell described the Arboretum and the proposed additions: an eight-acre classical Chinese garden, donated by the Chinese government; pedestrian connections from the Arboretum to a walkway being created adjacent to the Arboretum along the Anacostia River; and accessibility-related modifications to the outdoor path system at the Asian Collection.
The initial design for the China Garden was provided by the Chinese government; Rhodeside & Harwell is refining this design based on detailed site analysis. The garden's main features would be a lake, a path system, and two series of pavilions. The pavilions would be sited and designed in conjunction with the plantings and views and would contain exhibits on the history of Chinese art and culture. Restrooms at two locations would either be placed in separate structures or incorporated into the pavilions. A twenty-car parking area would be located near the China Garden entrance along Holly Spring Road, which would be slightly realigned to accommodate the garden. A drop-off area for buses and the Arboretum's internal tram system would be located alongside the entry plaza. Some paths would not meet accessibility standards due to the topography; the one pavilion that could not be reached by the China Garden's accessible paths would have access from the Arboretum road system and tram. Some existing forested areas would be removed and replanted.
Ms. Harwell described the proposed improvements to paths at the existing Asian Collection, northeast of the proposed China Garden. In accordance with the master plan, a visitor "node" would be created with a parking area, tram stop, and visitor services building. The configuration of this node would be revised to place all of these features on one side of the road. The deteriorated paths would be improved; where feasible, the path system would be designed to meet accessibility standards.
At the south end of the Asian Collection, a path would connect to a new pedestrian entrance gate to the Arboretum; and further south, an existing maintenance road cul-de-sac and gate would be improved to provide a new pedestrian entrance and tram stop. These entrances would connect to a strip of National Park Service land along the Anacostia River, where the D.C. government is creating a pedestrian path as part of an extensive new riverfront trail system. Ms. Harwell mentioned a potential land exchange that would allow the Arboretum to acquire this strip of land in exchange for providing some Arboretum land for the National Park Service's adjacent golf course.
Ms. Harwell concluded by describing the environmentally sensitive design techniques that would be used, such as porous paving, stormwater management and bioretention, recycled materials, and boardwalks in many areas to protect the plants and roots. Ms. Balmori commented favorably on the sustainable design emphasis and asked for further details on the porous paving material. Ms. Harwell said the specific material had not yet been chosen and this decision would require further research.
In response to Ms. Nelson, Ms. Harwell explained that a visitor would need about 45 minutes to ride the entire tram route through the Arboretum. Mr. Belle asked about the technical requirements of creating the China Garden lake. Ms. Harwell said that it would be created through excavation and its water would be artificially supplied, possibly in conjunction with stormwater runoff. She explained the role of water in providing visual reflections of the pavilions, contrasting with hard and dry surfaces, and symbolizing peacefulness. Ms. Harwell clarified that a Chinese firm would do all of the detailed design of the garden after an American team designed the infrastructure and site work, including basic grading and retaining walls. She also confirmed that the Commission had seen the China Garden as a project submission in June 2005.
Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Zimmerman, the Commission approved the revised draft master plan.
E. District of Columbia Sports and Entertainment Commission
CFA 27/JUL/06-4, Ballpark for Major League Sports and Entertainment and Associated Uses (Washington Nationals Baseball Team). Area bounded by South Capitol Street and N Street, 1st Street, and Potomac Avenue, S.E. New ballpark facility. Concept. Mr. Luebke introduced the project, noting the site's proximity to the Anacostia River, the Frederick Douglass Bridge, and the Southeast Federal Center. He noted the applicant's intention to complete the facility by April 2008. He also explained an ongoing issue of how to configure parking at the north end of the site—either in above-ground structures with retail at the street level, as already approved by the D.C. Zoning Commission, or underground with mixed-use development above. He then introduced attorney Ed Rich of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ceresi, representing the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission.
Mr. Rich described how the project would contribute to the fulfillment of plans for the development of South Capitol Street and the Anacostia waterfront. He then introduced the design team: Suzette Goldstein and Bill Hellmuth of HOK Inc., Joe Spear of HOK Sports, and Marshall Purnell of Devrouax & Purnell.
Ms. Goldstein provided an overview of planning issues, beginning with the context of the site and current plans in the area. She explained that the design responds to a proposed oval roadway and park that the D.C. Department of Transportation intends to construct along the southwest corner of the site in conjunction with the reconstruction of the Douglass Bridge, although the oval would be completed later than the stadium. Eighty percent of visitors were expected to approach the site from the north, primarily due to the Navy Yard Metro station located a block north of the site, so the main entrance would face this direction. Ongoing development along the M Street corridor would provide additional parking for stadium visitors. Within the site, residential and retail buildings were under consideration for the north area, and the stadium would include retail frontage and a secondary entrance along First Street. Along Potomac Avenue, a monumental stair would face the Anacostia River and the system of parks and trails currently being developed. Along South Capitol Street, secondary entrances would be aligned with O and P Streets as well as at the northwest corner of the site.
Mr. Spear described how the design responds to the estimated 46,000 pedestrians who would approach the stadium for each game. Their direction of approach would evolve over time as the area develops. The playing field was placed twenty feet below street level to allow visitors to enter at the main concourse level, where half the seats would be located. The remaining visitors would use ramps or escalators to reach their seating levels. Truck access would be at the northeast corner of the site, providing the necessary docks for television equipment trucks and food and beverage deliveries. There would also be truck access to the playing field for maintenance or special-event needs. Additionally, a 300-space parking garage would be reached from this area. The remaining First Street frontage would have retail space that would extend to the property line, a revision from earlier design drawings. The monumental staircase on the south would provide additional access to the stadium and would encourage people to go to the waterfront after games.
Mr. Purnell explained that the southwest corner of the site would be designed to encourage pedestrian flow from P Street on the west to Potomac Avenue and the Anacostia River on the southeast; this route could be used at all times, regardless of whether the stadium was in use. This area would have a triangular pavilion with year-round office space for the team administration; an adjacent conference center would extend along South Capitol Street. Mr. Spear said that the west facade would be designed so that pedestrians on the alignments of O and P Streets would have views into the baseball stadium. This facade would also have a more monumental character and would be set back fifteen feet from the property line, in accordance with the National Capital Planning Commission's planning studies. The facade would express the curvilinear form of the stadium bowl as well as the linear monumental character that is desired for South Capitol Street. The seating bowl itself would be broken up into multiple areas to suggest the character of traditional baseball stadiums, and the outfield fence line would have varying heights to add excitement to the fielding of long hits. Mr. Spear explained that the seats would be dark blue, helping to make the stadium space seem smaller. The exterior colors shown in the renderings were tentative concepts; the facade materials would include "a warm limestone architectural pre-cast" and metal panels. Ms. Nelson suggested using lighter colors that would be less heat-absorbent during the warm-weather games.
Mr. Purnell explained the heights of various parts of the structure. The cornice line would be at 78 feet; the inner edge of the canopy above the seating would reach 118 feet, and would be about 5 feet lower at the outer edge. Two lighting towers would be used for the playing field, but most of the lighting would be placed along the edge of the canopy to minimize the spread of light to the street and nearby residential neighborhoods. He said that the maximum allowable height, including the light towers, is 130 feet.
Mr. Spear and Mr. Purnell provided further descriptions of the experience of walking through and around the stadium. The concourses would have a view of the playing field, encouraging visitors to use the concourse during the game. The pedestrian circulation ramp along South Capitol Street would be angled to align with the Washington Monument to provide alternating views of the Monument and the playing field. The ramp would also extend beyond the building face to provide a view of the Capitol. The press box would also have a view of the Capitol. Mr. Purnell emphasized that pedestrians outside the stadium would have views inward toward the playing field at all times. The three-block-long west facade would be designed to have a pedestrian scale. The entrance plaza on the north would be open year-round, along with an adjacent restaurant overlooking the playing field.
Mr. Spear showed a rendering from above the river showing the potential development of the riverfront site immediately south of the proposed stadium. People crossing the Douglass Bridge would initially see this development, and then the stadium would be visible. The administration building and adjacent plaza would be the first areas to come into view. Mr. Purnell explained that the facade along this plaza would provide a major signage opportunity; the details had not yet been determined. On the north side of the building, the back of the scoreboard would also be a signage opportunity, similar to other baseball stadiums.
Mr. Belle commented on the difficulty of relating the building and its function to the challenging urban context. He suggested the importance of carefully developing details, such as the design of the outdoor stairs linking the building to the riverfront, to ensure that the project would be perceived as an appropriate and inviting part of the urban context. In response to Mr. Powell, Mr. Spear explained that a variety of orientations are possible for the playing field; this field was designed with the most common orientation of center field toward the northeast.
Ms. Nelson asked if this project would devote one percent of the budget to art projects. Ms. Goldstein explained that there was no specific percentage; the design team was coordinating with the D.C. government arts programs. Ms. Nelson noted the many opportunities for artwork in the project. She suggested that video art and artistic lighting be considered, and she urged that the artists be brought into the design process at an early stage. Ms. Goldstein agreed, and she mentioned an initial concept for the southern plaza area to create a time-line relating D.C. history and baseball. Mr. Purnell said that a graphic designer was already working with the project team, and Mr. Spear said that the architects had already begun discussions with some artists.
Mr. Hellmuth then described the architectural proposal for the northern part of the site. He noted that the drawings depicted the outline of four buildings on the north side of N Street—these outlines showed the potential as-of-right development for these privately owned parcels. On the south side of N Street, within the stadium site, the original proposal was for two parking garages to accommodate the 925 parking spaces that the baseball league required. The garages would flank the major northern entrance that would be aligned with Half Street. Mr. Hellmuth said that this earlier proposed configuration could have a deadening effect on the potential for street life and nearby economic development, which were primary goals of locating the stadium at this location. He said that ground-level retail would not be sufficient; additional activity was needed in the upper floors. The design now included two mixed-use buildings with ground-floor retail, upper-floor apartments including two-story lofts, and a hotel at the eastern side. These uses would wrap around smaller above-grade parking structures; the majority of the parking would be provided below grade. He showed a design for the apartments that would include glass walls rather than Washington's typical brick buildings with punched windows. The upper-floor plans would include recessed courtyards on the north and south, resulting in a facade that would be revealed gradually to pedestrians. The ground-level retail facades would be developed as individual storefronts of differing characters. Parking entrances and loading access would be on the north and east, not along South Capitol Street. The building complex would incorporate green roofs and would meet LEED certification criteria for environmental sustainability, although LEED certification would not be sought.
Ms. Balmori questioned the viability of obtaining financing for this much housing and retail. Mr. Hellmuth explained that his expertise was in architecture rather than economics, but he noted that other developers are considering residential construction in the vicinity, as well as the more common interest in constructing large office buildings. He said that this site was particularly appealing because there are interesting views in all directions, as well as the uniqueness of being associated with the baseball stadium. General population and job growth, as well as the increasing attractiveness of downtown living, would also contribute to the housing's success. Ms. Balmori asked how the multi-use proposal could be encouraged instead of above-ground parking garages; Mr. Hellmuth urged further coordination and cooperation in pursuing the multi-use alternative. He noted that the construction schedule was ambitious and sitework has already begun. He anticipated that the parking, but not the apartments, would be completed by the anticipated opening of the stadium in April 2008.
Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the concept for the stadium.
The Commission proceeded to item II.G; item II.F was discussed earlier in the meeting.
G. The District of Columbia Courts
CFA 27/JUL/06-6, Judiciary Square Historic District. Bounded by 4th, G, and 5th streets and Indiana Avenue, N.W. Master plan, Phase I components: security and landscape design, lighting plan, and signage. (Previous CFA 19/JUN/03-11, Draft Master Plan.) Ms. Penhoet introduced Chief Judge Eric Washington, chairman of the D.C. Courts' Joint Committee on Judicial Administration, to make an opening statement on the project. Chief Judge Washington explained that the project was developed in collaboration with other agencies involved in Judiciary Square, including the General Services Administration, National Capital Planning Commission, and Commission of Fine Arts. He said that the final version of the master plan incorporated several solutions that resulted from balancing operational needs with Judiciary Square's park-like character. E Street would have areas for passenger drop-off from cars and taxis. A central service area would serve several buildings—two D.C. court buildings, the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, and the future National Law Enforcement Museum.
Chief Judge Washington said the security design and E Street streetscape were important projects to support the current renovation of the old D.C. courthouse as the future home of the D.C. Court of Appeals. He then introduced architect Mike Kazan of Gruzen Samton LLP, landscape architect Roger Courtenay of EDAW, and lighting designer Domingo Gonzalez of Domingo Gonzales Associates.
Mr. Kazan explained that his firm had helped plan for the relocation of the various D.C. courts within the buildings at Judiciary Square. The relocations suggested the need for a master plan to address issues such as parking, security, service, and streetscape. Much of the renovation work was already in progress. The main proposals involved placing all parking below grade, adjusting street alignments, restoring the landscape, and providing perimeter security. The current submission involved specific components that were ready to move forward for construction.
Mr. Courtenay explained the goal of recreating a large green space as the surface parking is removed. The design would include curved pathways as well as axial approaches to the buildings. A low fence at the curb would provide the required separation of vehicles from the buildings. On E Street, where this solution would be insufficient, the street would be narrowed by eleven feet. Two travel lanes would remain in each direction with no curb parking. A combination of bollards and fencing around trees would provide the perimeter security along E Street. For the block north of E Street, the design team was continuing to consult with the National Park Service concerning perimeter security along the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in order to protect the two court buildings adjacent to the memorial. For the south side of E Street, where the underground museum is planned, the interim proposal includes bollards and low planter walls; this perimeter would connect to the perimeter security at the U.S. Military Court of Appeals. Bollards within pedestrian paths would be thinner to allow for easier pedestrian movement; larger stone posts would be used to mark corners and entrances. The fencing pattern would be derived from the design of the historic buildings. Standard "Washington globe" streetlights would be hardened to serve as part of the perimeter security system.
Mr. Gonzalez explained the goals of the lighting design: safety, coordination with the perimeter security system, celebration of the area's identity and historic qualities, as well as economy and efficiency. Visible lighting fixtures would include streetlights and lights for the pathways, using a whiter color of light; some lights for the buildings would be included with the pathway fixtures. Concealed fixtures would be used to light trees and provide additional architectural lighting. Building porticos would receive special lighting treatment. The buildings would not be floodlit in order to avoid overpowering the lighting design of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
Mr. Kazan then presented the proposed signage. He noted that the courts receive 11,000 visitors daily; most had previously gone to the Moultrie Courthouse on Indiana Avenue, but now it would be necessary to provide additional information. With separate security screening at each building, it will be especially important to help visitors understand which building they want before entering. The proposal involved four types of signage. One would provide general orientation with a map and aerial photo of the area; it would be incorporated into existing Metro signage. The second category of signs would match the directional signs installed recently by the D.C. government and business improvement districts; these would be installed by the D.C. Department of Transportation, with most of them mounted on existing poles. A third category of signs would identify the types of activities within each building, so that visitors could determine their destination; these would be placed at three key locations with high pedestrian traffic. The final category would be building identification signs on four of the buildings. None of the signs would be lit, and they would be designed to be changeable as needed.
Mr. Belle said that he would not participate in the discussion of the project due to his firm's ongoing work for the D.C. Courts. Ms. Balmori questioned whether there were too many types of proposed signage and whether some of the signs would block the sidewalks. Mr. Kazan agreed to consider her concerns further. He clarified that the signs would not be placed in the public right-of-way. He also noted that many existing signs were being removed as part of the project, including multiple identification signs on each building. Most other signs would only be modifications to existing signs or would conform to existing signage systems in the vicinity.
Ms. Balmori asked whether the two different colors of lighting, using high-pressure sodium and metal halide, would create a visual problem. Mr. Gonzalez said this was a common urban situation, and he explained that the streetlights using high-pressure sodium would generally be far away from the buildings. He said that requiring metal halide for the streetlights would impose an excessive maintenance burden on the D.C. Department of Transportation due to its shorter lamp life, creating a potential safety risk from burned-out fixtures. He also commented that the varied lighting colors would enliven the visual environment. Ms. Balmori asked if the Washington globe streetlights contributed to excessive lighting of the night sky. Mr. Gonzalez acknowledged that this historic fixture design was developed before this issue was a concern, and he confirmed that this was the standard streetlight required by the D.C. Department of Transportation. He said that the fixtures on pathways were designed to prevent light from going upward.
Mr. Kazan then showed a computer-generated video simulation of the site lighting. Ms. Nelson asked why the National Law Enforcement Museum entrance pavilions were not shown, particularly since they would have a glowing presence. Mr. Kazan said that he had not received enough information about their design to include them in the simulation and drawings. Mr. Rybczynski commented that lighting was not shown around the U.S. Military Court of Appeals. Mr. Kazan explained that this building was administered separately but it would follow the lighting and streetscape design established by this master plan. Mr. Powell commended the treatment of the sidewalk at the Military Court of Appeals, which provides more sidewalk space than the existing temporary bollards.
Mr. McKinnell praised the overall project and questioned the lack of coordination with the entry pavilions for the National Law Enforcement Museum. Mr. Luebke explained that the museum design was not yet finalized; its lighting and perimeter security would be coordinated with this master plan. Ms. Nelson suggested further study of the design of the fencing panels. Mr. Courtenay explained that they were abstractions, not replicas, of existing architectural features. Mr. McKinnell supported the concept while recommending further refinement. He suggested that the contrast of black iron and light limestone might be too strong; Mr. Rybczynski supported the proposed design. Ms. Nelson and Ms. Zimmerman supported the use of an oval shape in the metal design. Ms. Zimmerman suggesting quoting the architectural details more accurately or not at all.
Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept subject to the comments on the fencing and signage. Mr. Belle abstained.
H. Department of Defense / Armed Forces Retirement Home
CFA 27/JUL/06-7, Scott Building, Scott Road, N.W. Memory Support/Transitional Care/Assisted Living Units Project. Building alterations and additions. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 15/JUN/06- 9.) Ms. Penhoet introduced the project, a revision to the submission seen the previous month. She introduced architect Tim Jamieson of SFCS to present the project.
Mr. Jamieson summarized the project's scope to modernize the existing Scott Building: three stairwell additions on the rear wings, and a projecting bay on the front of the east wing. In June, the Commission had requested further study of the proposed front bay. The revised design was a faceted glass projection using a Pilkington-type window system. He said that the design provided an improved architectural character and also made the interior space work better for the residents. The glass bay would contrast sharply with the existing stone facades, emphasizing the strength of their design, and the north-facing glass would bring indirect light and bright views to the residents inside. There was no significant change to the design of the stairwell additions, which were in keeping with the character of the existing facade; the Commission had supported this design in the previous review.
Mr. McKinnell asked if this revised design would be affordable. Mr. Jamieson said that shouldn't be a problem, since this was an important project for the Retirement Home and the previous design had some costly features anyway. He recognized that it might be necessary to consider several alternative window systems as part of the bidding process. Mr. Rybczynski, Mr. McKinnell, and Ms. Nelson praised the revised design. Ms. Nelson asked how the glass wall would reach the ground; Mr. Jamieson said this was still being resolved and would be clarified in the next submission. Ms. Nelson supported the design of the garden provided for the residents.
Upon a motion by Ms. Zimmerman, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised concept.
I. District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities
CFA 27/JUL/06-8, Fourteenth Street Bridge Tenders' House on the Arland D. Williams, Jr. Memorial Bridge (Northbound I-395 and US-1, formerly named the Rochambeau Bridge). Environmental art installation—light sculpture. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the project, set along inbound lanes amidst the Fourteenth Street grouping of road and rail bridges. The Williams Bridge included a moveable span that was no longer operable, so the unused bridge tenders' house was available for this art project. He introduced Rachel Dickerson of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and artist Mikyoung Kim.
Ms. Dickerson said the project was initiated by the D.C. Department of Transportation, represented by chief engineer John Deatrick. She said that the proposed artistic treatment of the hexagonal structure will serve as a landmark and gateway for commuters and visitors as they travel to the Nation's Capital.
Ms. Kim explained that people entering Washington from Reagan National Airport would typically pass by the project site. Her intent was to create "a beacon of luminous light within the structure." Her design involved the creation of optical effects within the house's second floor. A series of kaleidoscopic constructions would lead from each of the six windows to a central light source. The radiating light would be visible from cars on the bridge and from the Metro trains on the adjacent bridge. The design would provide shifting kaleidoscopic images as people move along the bridges; it was designed for fast-moving viewers because there would be very few pedestrians using the bridges. She noted the need to balance driver safety with the artistic effect, so the project was designed to be appreciated with a few glances as well as with close viewing. For train riders, the effect would be different when seen from inbound and outbound trains. Three of the six windows would be visible from the train, so the light source was placed asymmetrically to provide these viewers with a variety of visual experiences. The project would also be visible from boats, but not from airplanes. The lighting effect would be most visible at night.
Ms. Kim described the technical details of the light source, the concentric frames, and the fiber optics. She showed images of her other projects involving fiber optics and music, creating choreographed light shows. This project has a limited budget, so the design primarily uses off-the-shelf materials such as particle-board panels and acrylic sheets. The tilted glass and overhang were additional technical considerations, so some of the lighting effects would have to be studied further at the site.
Several Commission members questioned whether the small size of the windows—four by six feet—would allow for sufficient appreciation by viewers passing through the area at approximately forty miles per hour, particularly in daylight. Ms. Kim said that the overhangs, fiber optics, and special framing would give sufficient prominence to the lighting effects. She confirmed that the color of the light would change as the viewer moves past the project.
Responding to Ms. Zimmerman, Ms. Dickerson said the project would be a permanent installation with the artwork maintained by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities; the D.C. Department of Transportation would maintain the bridge tenders' house. Ms. Kim said that the mirror being used was guaranteed for 50 years. Ms. Dickerson confirmed that the Federal Aviation Administration had reviewed the project and did not have any concerns regarding the project's effect on airplanes. Ms. Balmori commented that the lighting effect would be similar to a lighthouse.
Mr. Deatrick said that the bridge would soon be painted and repaired, and repair of the bridge tenders' house would be included. Since this project would be constructed entirely within the house, maintenance would be relatively simple.
Mr. McKinnell expressed support for the project, comparing it to a Josef Albers painting rendered in light. He said the project had a contemplative character and questioned whether this was fitting for a site that would be seen primarily at high speeds. Ms. Kim agreed that a highway-oriented project should be limited in scope. She noted that train riders would have more time to look closely at the design. Ms. Nelson noted that the typical traffic jams on this bridge would provide drivers with the opportunity to study the project closely. Mr. Deatrick noted that the adjacent bridge span included a pedestrian and bicycle route, so people would have the opportunity to study the project from a stationary vantage point.
Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the concept. Ms. Zimmerman requested the opportunity to see a mockup of the project. Ms. Kim said she was developing a mockup but she was not sure if it would be feasible to install it at the site. Mr. Deatrick clarified that any on-site activity would probably require a traffic closure. Ms. Zimmerman emphasized the importance of having on on-site mockup for a public art project.
J. District of Columbia Office of Property Management
CFA 27/JUL/06-9, Eastern Market, 225 7th Street, S.E. Building rehabilitation and additions. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 20/APR/06-9.) Ms. Penhoet said that the revised design responded to the concerns that had been raised at the April meeting. She introduced Baird Smith of Quinn Evans Architects to describe the revisions.
Mr. Smith said that the skylights and roof alterations were eliminated from the project. The rear egress stair and equipment enclosures were also eliminated by relocating the equipment to the second-floor space that was serving as a pottery studio. The existing windows for this space would be converted to louvers. An exhaust vent would be located in a new dormer that would not be readily visible from the ground.
Mr. Smith explained that the exterior ramping was eliminated by setting ramps within the interior flooring and slightly lowering two of the exterior doorways; an eight-inch transom bar above these doors would fill the original openings. These doors would be power-operated using a control button mounted on a post placed outside the doors. There was still some discussion of limiting these change to a single accessible doorway. Additionally, two small porch additions, subsequently altered, would be remodeled to provide additional space and an additional door while also restoring a sense of their original architectural character.
Mr. Powell recognized Monte Edwards from the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee. Mr. Edwards praised the revisions in the plan since the previous submission. He suggested removal of a large chimney that was added in the 1940s; he said it was mostly obsolete, and the metal flue running through it could be relocated. Removing the chimney and relocating the dumpster would open up the west facade for an additional entrance that could be barrier-free; this would make it feasible to provide only one barrier-free entrance on the east facade. Since the interior ramps would be disruptive to the merchants, eliminating one of the ramps would be beneficial. Mr. Edwards also noted that the removal of the pottery studio from the second floor had architectural benefits but necessitated an alternative site for this facility; he urged the Commission to support the effort to keep it somewhere within the building. Mr. Powell encouraged this goal but said that the Commission was not directly John Deatrick of the D.C. Department of Transportation said that his agency would soon be submitting streetscape improvements for this area to the Commission. He said that the design process had been underway for four years due to "conflicting ideas and requirements," but he expected a contract to be awarded at the end of the year.
Ms. Nelson supported the goal of keeping the pottery studio within the building. Mr. Powell asked for further consideration of removing the chimney. Mr. Smith explained that it was the only available vertical stack of sufficient height, so any relocation of the existing flue—and possibly new venting for the relocated pottery studio—would require constructing a new chimney which would not be worthwhile.
Upon a motion by Ms. Zimmerman, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised concept and delegated the final review to the staff.
K. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority
CFA 27/JUL/06-10, Potomac Interceptor Line, near Fletcher's Boathouse along the C&O Canal. New odor control facility for interceptor line and public restrooms. Revised design / Final. (Previous: CFA 16/JUN/05-6.) Ms. Penhoet introduced the project which she said had not changed much from the previous submission. She introduced Barry Lucas, the project manager from the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority.
Mr. Lucas said the purpose of the project was to address public complaints about odors along the C&O Canal. The design was developed in conjunction with the National Park Service. He said that the project was part of a larger capital program that included several similar structures in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs; this was the only such structure within Washington.
Mr. Powell asked Mr. Lucas to limit the presentation to a description of changes since the previous submission. Mr. Lucas said the dimensions were changed on the false windows to better imitate the appropriate proportions of real windows. The dimension of the chimney had also changed. The materials of the lower portion were also changed to suggest a combination of stone and brick, relating to the existing lockhouses along the canal. The roofline remained the same.
Mr. Powell praised the design as appearing "more honest," as the Commission had requested. Mr. McKinnell requested material samples, particularly since final approval was requested, but these were not available.
Mr. Luebke reminded the Commission of the previous concern about the orientation of the roof ridge; he suggested that it seemed inappropriate for the historic period of the canal houses and made the building seem larger and bulkier. Ms. Nelson suggested that the applicant work further with the staff. Mr. Rybczynski asked the design team to respond to the suggestion. Kevin Brandt, Superintendent of the C&O Canal for the National Park Service, responded that his agency had the same concern and did not want this new structure to overpower a nearby historic house. However, he said that turning the roof would raise its height and worsen the relationship between the buildings. He noted the site constraints that greatly limited the options for locating the building. When seen from the towpath, he said the building's elevation would be in character with typical lockhouses. Mr. Rybczynski disagreed and said that turning the roof wouldn't necessarily make it taller; it could be steeper instead. Mr. McKinnell questioned the proportions and dimensions shown on the drawings. Mr. Brandt explained that the building's size and orientation were dictated by the equipment located inside; this equipment extended upward to the roof.
Mr. McKinnell continued to question the consistency of the drawings and suggested that a simple study model was needed; several other Commission members concurred. Mr. Brandt offered to study the design further but said that the dimensional requirements were provided by the engineers based on the equipment within the building. Mr. Rybczynski noted that the section showed that all of the equipment would be positioned below the roof sill and questioned whether the equipment was a significant constraint in redesigning the roof.
The Commission members urged the design team to work further with the staff and then bring the revised design back to the Commission for review. The discussion concluded without a motion.
L. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Shipstead-Luce Act
S.L. 06-114, 8240 West Beach Terrace, N.W. O'Dowd-Barton Residence. Alterations and additions including third floor and rooftop deck. Final. Ms. Penhoet introduced the project that would alter an existing single-family house in the far northern corner of the District of Columbia. Staff had raised concerns about the additional floor creating a height that would be inconsistent with the neighboring houses, and the creation of a rooftop terrace that would be prominently visible from the adjacent park. She introduced co-owners John O'Dowd and John Barton.
Mr. O'Dowd, an architect, described the house as "a mid-century modern split-level brick construction" that had not been altered since its 1955 construction. The addition would increase its size from 2,200 to 3,300 square feet. He illustrated the context with photos and maps, showing how the house faces two tributaries of Rock Creek. He said the slope of the site reduced the visual impact of the proposed additional floor. He showed the elevations, indicating a proposed retaining wall across the front of the site to create a level front yard. The front walk and steps would be repositioned to align with the front door. He said the roof material would be standing-seam metal with a natural aluminum finish that would tend to diminish the apparent volume of the addition; he provided a sample of the material. He described the proposed landscaping, explaining that the vertical emphasis would tend to reduce the visibility of the house when seen from the street level. The proposed third floor would allow the creation of a master suite with views unobstructed by the existing outdoor utility wires. He also noted that the proposed roof deck would sit entirely within the house's existing footprint.
Ms. Zimmerman commented that the proposed third story seemed taller than normal. She supported the relocation of the front walk and steps. She questioned the overall scope of changes to the house, observing that it would become much more urban in character. She said the new design appeared large for its context. Ms. Nelson suggested the house would appear to be a commercial structure when seen from the park, becoming an inappropriate intrusion on the residential neighborhood. Mr. O'Dowd said that several residents of the area had expressed interest in updating their houses and had urged him to set a precedent of good new design. He anticipated that the neighborhood context would be changing in the near future. Ms. Nelson remarked that the proposal seemed too tall to be a good precedent.
Mr. McKinnell asked about the process for neighborhood review. Mr. O'Dowd said he had discussed the project with neighbors and his next step would be to present the project to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Ms. Penhoet said that ANC review should normally precede the Commission of Fine Arts review; Mr. Powell urged that this procedure be followed. He commented that some aspects of the proposal were commendable, but he said the proposed roof made the massing look awkward in the context of the neighborhood. Mr. Rybczynski said the roof form would be more appropriate for an isolated villa in a Pacific or Caribbean setting, but he would not necessarily oppose the proposal to do it here. He suggested that gabled dormers on the third floor would allow a reduction in the overall height.
Ms. Zimmerman questioned the large number of decks on the house. Mr. O'Dowd said they would contribute to the goal of "blurring the boundary between inside and outside." Mr. Powell summarized the consensus to request further study of the roof form and to obtain the ANC's response before resubmitting the project. The discussion concluded without a formal motion.
Freer Gallery of Art, Objects proposed for acquisition. Due to the length of the preceding agenda items, the Commission decided to postpone the inspection to a later date to be arranged with the Freer Gallery.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:13 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke
Last Modified: October 20, 2006