Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
16 November 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 10:15 a.m.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
A. Approval of the minutes of the 19 October meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the October meeting were circulated to the members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes without objection, upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: January 18, February 15, and March 15, with no meeting scheduled for December. There were no objections.
C. Introduction of new staff member. Mr. Luebke introduced Eve Barsoum, who joined the staff several weeks earlier. He summarized her background as an architectural historian with experience as an independent researcher and at the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. Most recently, she wrote the National Park Service's National Register nominations for several parks and memorials in D.C. Mr. Luebke said that she would work primarily with Mr. Martinez on Georgetown submissions.
D. Report on the site inspection of the Millennium Expansion Project at Arlington National Cemetery. Mr. Luebke reported that, subsequent to publication of the agenda, the site inspection was postponed due to bad weather and illness.
Mr. Luebke reported that the Commission will be a co-sponsor of the inaugural lecture in a series honoring the memory of Charles Atherton, the Commission's former secretary. The lecture series will be supported by donations made in his honor since his death in 2005. The inaugural lecture is tentatively scheduled for April 2007 at the National Building Museum.
II. Submissions and Reviews
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: Mr. Luebke confirmed that there were no changes to the draft appendix. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the appendix.
Appendix II — Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: In Ms. Penhoet's absence, Mr. Lindstrom presented the appendix. He noted several changes to the draft appendix. A revised set of designs was submitted for a proposed sign at 25 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.; the proposed recommendation was changed to be favorable for one of the new alternatives. A revised design was also submitted for a proposed sign at 409 3rd Street, S.W, eliminating the internal illumination; the proposed recommendation was changed to support this revised sign, while still opposing a proposed directional sign adjacent to the Metro station entrance. Two small new projects were added to the appendix, with favorable recommendations. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Appendix III — Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported several revisions to the draft appendix. Several recommendations were changed to be favorable based on supplemental drawings that were recently submitted. One project was withdrawn by the applicant to allow time for a revised design that will be reviewed by the Old Georgetown Board in December. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised appendix. Mr. Luebke noted that an additional Georgetown project, the Wormley School redevelopment, would be presented to the Commission later in the meeting (item II.F).
At this point the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider the U.S. Mint submission (item II.G.).
G. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 16/NOV/06-7, 2006 Buffalo Fifty Dollar Gold Bullion Coins. Resizing for 0.5, 0.25, and 0.1 ounce issues. (Previous: CFA 19/JAN/06-6, design for the one-ounce coin.) Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to consider a minor agenda item that had been submitted by the Mint. The Commission had previously approved the design for a one-ounce gold coin based on the historic buffalo coin design. The Mint has decided to issue the coin in several sizes and to add the weight designation to the face of each coin design. Mr. Powell asked for further clarification of the different scales of the coins; Mr. Lindstrom explained that the design would be reduced proportionally on each of the different sizes. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised design and various sizes.
The Commission then returned to the order of the agenda.
B. National Park Service
CFA 16/NOV/06-1, American Veterans Disabled for LIFE Memorial. Square 580, Washington Avenue (formerly Canal Street) and 2nd and C Streets, S.W. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/JUL/05-1.) Mr. Luebke introduced the project and the site; the concept was approved in 2004 and a further refinement was presented in 2005. The concept is now being significantly revised due to a change in the site configuration: the planned restoration of C Street, S.W., will no longer be pursued due to security-related objections from the Architect of the Capitol's office. This decision has changed the character of the site's southern border and affected traffic patterns and roadway dimensions on all sides of the site, making the previous design concept infeasible. The new concept reconfigures the design elements into an asymmetrical composition, with the fountain feature moved from the center of the site to the north corner where there is an unobstructed view toward the Capitol. Other features of the original design—a commemorative wall, sculptures, and trees—would also be shifted to different locations on the site.
Mr. Luebke introduced Sally Blumenthal of the National Park Service to begin the presentation. Ms. Blumenthal explained that the new site configuration would include accessible parking at the south end of the site; the adjacent area would be reserved for future needs of the Architect of the Capitol. A pedestrian connection would be maintained across the southern portion of the site, approximately within the historic C Street alignment, to accommodate workers walking between the legislative office buildings to the east and southwest.
Ms. Nelson asked if the Architect of the Capitol might develop the adjacent southern area with a parking structure; Ms. Blumenthal acknowledged that this is a possibility. Mr. Belle asked for clarification of the historic C Street alignment through the site. Ms. Blumenthal noted that C Street is unusually wide for several blocks to the west of the site, resulting from early 20th-century building setbacks; the original concept for the memorial would have extended the narrower L'Enfant Plan alignment that exists in Capitol Hill to the east of the site. She noted that the portion of C Street immediately east of the site, alongside the House office buildings, is now closed to public vehicular traffic.
Ms. Blumenthal then introduced landscape architect Michael Vergason, the designer of the memorial. Mr. Vergason explained that 2nd Street, along the west side of the site, would be widened to accommodate two-way traffic due to the decision not to open C Street. The lane alongside the site would be available for the memorial's bus drop-off and handicapped parking. This change reduces the site size but improves the movement of traffic and pedestrians, with crosswalks becoming feasible at each corner. The center of the site would shift slightly east, to a point where the view of the Capitol dome becomes completely obstructed by the Rayburn Building; the fountain will therefore be moved from the center to the north corner of the site.
Mr. Vergason said that the resulting asymmetrical composition would be simpler and stronger than the original concept, with a clearer sequence for the visitor experience. Visitors would typically begin at the star-shaped fountain on the north, where there is a strong visual connection to the Capitol; he noted the guidance from disabled veterans that the memorial be clearly visible from the Capitol to emphasize the need for the nation to see and remember its disabled veterans. The fountain would also be prominently visible along Washington Avenue which is a typical travel route of many government officials. The northern end of the site is also closest to the Mall, including the nearby National Museum of the American Indian and the U.S. Botanic Garden with its new National Garden. The five points of the fountain's star shape would represent the five branches of service; a flame at the center of the fountain would symbolize the common experience of service that unites the veterans. A marble wall along 2nd Street would represent permanence, loss, and the nation's gratitude; it would be constructed from the same material as many government buildings. Several quotations would be etched into the wall. A break in the wall would provide an entry point from the drop-off area along 2nd Street, framing a dramatic initial view of the fountain, fire, and Capitol.
The water from the fountain would cascade into a broad pool extending southward across the memorial site. The cascade would provide background noise to screen the sound of traffic; the remainder of the pool would establish the calm and reflective character of the memorial. The pool and the marble wall would lead visitors toward the southern part of the site, where a grove of trees would contain glass panels etched with soldiers' narratives. The laminated glass panels, approximately eight feet high, would be slightly reflective to show the plants and people to the north. Four bronze sculptural panels would also be set within this area; Mr. Vergason noted that the sculptor, Larry Kirkland, was present for questions. The panels would suggest the memory of body parts, and the overall grove area would express the theme of personal survival. A tree-lined promenade would then draw visitors northwestward along Washington Avenue back to the star-shaped fountain, re-emphasizing the theme of service and the view to the Capitol.
Mr. Vergason concluded by describing the three types of proposed trees. The grove would be Gingko trees symbolizing survival, healing, and memory. Two rows of bald cypress trees would be planted along 2nd Street behind the marble wall; these fast-growing trees would screen the large Health and Human Services building to the west. Mr. Vergason explained that bald cypress trees grow under varied soil conditions and were dominant in this area approximately 11,000 years ago, symbolizing survival and tenacity. Along Washington Avenue, American elm trees would be planted to relate to the Mall and to the general popularity of these trees in the U.S. The newer types of disease-resistant elm trees would symbolize optimism. Mr. Vergason noted that all three types of trees would be very colorful in the fall—particularly the gingko trees that often have their peak color around the time of Veterans Day, creating a golden canopy and carpet of leaves that would contrast with the glass panels. The low angle of the sun in November would heighten the natural lighting of the glass.
Mr. Belle asked about the materials of the memorial plaza. Mr. Vergason said that a range of gray granites would be used for the plaza surfaces, and black granite would be used for the bottom of the pool. Mr. Belle asked about site lighting; Mr. Vergason responded that Washington globe fixtures would be used with single-headed or double-headed fixtures at various locations but lighting levels would be kept low to emphasize the flame at the north end of the site. The sculptural panels would be lit from above by spotlights mounted on simple poles. The glass panels would be back-lit from the ground using lighting troughs placed within the planting area of ginkgo trees and ground cover. Mr. Vergason explained that the ground cover plantings had not yet been chosen, but the intention was to have a ground cover that moves in the breeze to animate the setting of the glass walls. Mr. Belle questioned the decision to place planting areas around the glass walls. Mr. Vergason said the planted ground cover would make this area more comforting, soft, intimate, and personal. This planted area would also support the ginkgo trees and would contrast with the pavement along the other sides of the memorial.
Mr. Rybczynski asked about the sound generated by the fountain. Mr. Vergason explained that water would foam over the edges of the star-shaped basin and then drop 30 inches into the pool. The basin would be deepest at the center, where the flame rises above. The fountain details were still being studied; the depth of the pool might be several inches or much shallower, and the direction of the pool's water flow was not yet decided.
Mr. Rybczynski asked about the choice of ginkgo trees since they typically have a bad smell. Mr. Vergason explained that the male trees do not have this problem, so the trees would be carefully selected and would be produced through grafting.
Ms. Nelson asked about the appearance of the fountain and pool in winter. Mr. Vergason said that this topic was being discussed with the National Park Service. The current expectation was that the pool would be drained in the winter; the star-shaped fountain would have water year-round, with a slightly lower level of water in the winter to avoid spillage of water into the drained pool. The base of the pool would be carefully designed due to its visibility in winter, with a beauty of a different type than seen in the warmer months. The flame would be particularly prominent in the late-afternoon winter darkness, when many people would see it from sidewalks or vehicles. Mr. Vergason noted that Veterans Day is the peak design day, in addition to the usual peak summer season, and he acknowledged that the memorial would have a different character during the winter.
Mr. Vergason concurred with Ms. Nelson that a large number of people would experience the memorial from cars, while he noted that many pedestrians would be crossing the site between Capitol Hill and the Southwest Federal Center. He expected that the pedestrian movement would primarily be along the south edge of the site, and he expressed support for the site being part of the daily life of the city. Ms. Nelson commented that only a few benches were shown, with none around the fountain area. Mr. Vergason said that more benches would likely be included in the design, with a very simple bench design near the fountain.
Ms. Nelson asked if ceremonial events would be held on the site. Mr. Vergason said that there would be a large event on Veterans Day and smaller events at other times. The pool would be designed to be drained quickly so that it could serve as a stage or platform for these events.
Mr. McKinnell asked about the edge detail of the pool. Mr. Vergason said that this would depend on the decisions about the direction of water flow and whether the pool edge could also provide seating; the edge would either be a wide, flat seating surface or a narrow, angled edge that would emphasize the continuous plane of water. Mr. McKinnell noted the importance of the edge detail when the pool is drained, since the edge would determine whether people would walk across the pool surface or treat it as an empty place. Mr. Rybczynski concurred with the importance of this detail in determining the character of the pool; he suggested that the memorial has enough vertical emphasis in the walls, so the pool could be flush with the ground rather than a three-dimensional object. Mr. Vergason agreed but added that pedestrian access to the pool would also be a concern when water is present, creating an attraction for children; Mr. Powell and Mr. McKinnell said that this should simply be allowed and tolerated.
Mr. Belle commented on the importance of deciding on the direction of water flow. Mr. Vergason said that the preferred narrative would be to have water flow from the star on the north toward the individual stories displayed on the south, following the anticipated direction of visitor movement; but the site's slight slope made this direction of water flow difficult to achieve, as does the configuration of the pool widening southward from the smaller fountain. An alternate narrative was being considered in which the water would gather the voices of individual survivors and flow toward their common experience of service to the nation. Ms. Nelson noted that visitors would not necessarily arrive at the north end of the site, so it might be best to respond to the topography rather than to an assumed narrative sequence. Mr. Vergason said that the new design configuration and the new drop-off location make it likely that a vast majority of visitors will arrive at the north end, and he commented that this sense of arrival and movement is an advantage of the new design.
The Commission concluded its discussion by approving the revised concept, upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Rybczynski.
C. Department of Defense
CFA 16/NOV/06-2, The Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. The Pentagon Memorial for the Victims of September 11th, 2001. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/APR/06-1.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the project, explaining that the design team had been refining the design that was presented in April. In October the staff had viewed a preliminary on-site prototype of the memorial's typical bench unit and a mock-up of various paving and gravel assemblies. He introduced Jean Barnak, the memorial's project manager from the Pentagon Renovation and Construction Program.
Ms. Barnak summarized the previous submissions and staff consultations for the project. She said that the final on-site prototype of the bench unit would be erected in December and would be available for the Commission to visit on the January meeting date. The final prototype would include the lighting and water circulation components, which could not be manufactured in time for the preliminary prototype erected in October. She added that each iteration of the prototype and fabrication process is resulting in modifications to improve the design. Meanwhile, since the design now responds to the Commission's previous concerns, the project is being presented for final approval. She said that the presentation would include a review of the design previously presented along with additional details, particularly concerning the gateway area and the selection of materials.
Ms. Barnak described the site and summarized the site selection process. Visitors to the nearby Air Force Memorial, which opened earlier in the month, have a good view of the Pentagon memorial site. She summarized the site's access by Metro, bus, car, and future light rail, along with the handicapped parking and bus drop-off adjacent to the site. She noted that a ground-breaking was held in June and site preparation work is already underway, involving relocation of utilities and placement of structural soil and fill layers. Site preparation will be complete in February 2007; construction of the memorial is expected to begin immediately after, with completion in September 2008.
Ms. Barnak then introduced designer Julie Beckman of Kaseman Beckman Amsterdam Studio and Jeff Lee of Lee and Associates, part of the joint-venture design-build team. Ms. Beckman summarized the design concept, as previously approved by the Commission. She showed a night-time rendering of the memorial: most of the lighting would come from underneath the pools under each of the benches, giving the impression of the benches hovering over light and water. At the end of each bench, the name of a victim would be inscribed; the names of those who were on the plane would be seen with the sky in the background, and for those who were in the Pentagon the building would be in the background. An "age wall" would screen the memorial site from the adjacent secure access road. Toward the Pentagon would be a berm and a continuous bench with an inset of stainless steel numbers identifying the years of the memorial's "age lines"; small spotlights would light these numbers at night. Additional low-level lights would identify key areas of the pathway. Ms. Beckman said that the lighting would be studied further when the memorial unit prototype is completed, with the goal of minimizing the lighting from below to reduce glare while providing sufficient light for pedestrian safety. Accent lights would be provided for trees at the perimeter. If necessary, additional lighting could be provided within the tree canopy of the main memorial area.
Mr. Lee summarized the design of the gateway area. A bench area and a grove of trees would provide gathering places for groups and encourage people to filter into the main area of the memorial without suggesting a specific visitor route; visitors could also gather here before departing. The gate is designed to move out of sight when the memorial is open to the public and no special hardware would be visible. As previously presented, paper-bark maple trees would be located among the memorial benches. The grove at the entrance would be Chinese elm trees to provide a different texture and canopy. Along the fenced edge of the memorial, climbing roses would create an informal pattern.
Ms. Beckman added that the chronological "zero line" would separate the gateway area, representing the time from September 11 to the present and our ongoing memory, and the memorial area that represents the lives that ended on that date. The time of the attack would be inscribed at the main threshold. The gateway surface would be custom-made aggregate pavers and poured concrete with scoring marks that continue the pattern of the memorial's age lines. Much of the memorial would be surfaced in loose gravel—a mixture of gold and black granite aggregates—mixed with a stabilizing agent and placed on a porous underlay of cylindrical cavities. Mr. Lee added that this system would be sufficiently stable for visitor usage while providing the desired acoustical effect from footsteps. Ms. Beckman noted that the porous assembly would eliminate the need for grates around the trees. She also explained that some pathways would have pre-cast pavers to provide a hard surface, improving the accessibility for those using wheelchairs or crutches while matching the appearance of the gravel walkways. The paved path system would bring visitors to within thirty feet of any of the memorial benches.
Ms. Beckman described the fabrication details of the age lines, the transition of the lines into the benches, and the age wall. She showed samples of the gray and gold granite proposed for the wall. The capstone would be gold granite in the gateway area and gray in the main memorial area. She then described the benches which are made of cast stainless steel filled with epoxy polymer concrete that would contain the same gray and gold granites. Below each bench would be a precast concrete basin containing the water circulation and lighting mechanisms; the concrete would be cast with a very smooth surface. Mr. Lee noted that at benches honoring those with a relative who also died at the Pentagon, the relative's name would be inscribed in the basin below. Ms. Beckman showed samples of the various materials and finishes along with photos of the prototype fabrication process that is currently underway at various factories around the country. She explained that the light fixture beneath each bench would last for 100,000 hours and would not fade during that lifespan. She said the design team was using the on-site prototypes to study the interaction of lighting from benches that would be positioned close to each other.
The Commission members inspected the material samples and model. Mr. Powell noted that the final prototype was not yet ready and suggested that the current submission be treated as an information session. Ms. Barnak requested that the Commission consider approving the overall design and details today with the exception of the bench units that would be shown in the forthcoming prototype. Ms. Beckman said that the earlier prototypes had allowed refinement of the various systems related to the benches, so the next prototype would be the last one -before production of the final benches.
Ms. Nelson commented that the text shown for the edge of the benches could be difficult to read, depending on the lighting conditions; Mr. Powell and Mr. McKinnell concurred. Ms. Beckman said that the acid-etching process could be adjusted to produce deeper letters with greater shadow, making them easier to read. Mr. McKinnell noted that the low position of the lettering on the bench would add to the legibility concern.
Mr. Powell noted the Commission's past concern with maintenance of the memorial, and he asked how the design would address leaves and loose gravel that would end up in the basins. Ms. Beckman said that the gravel would sink to the bottom and would not cause any immediate problem; the stabilization techniques would also minimize the amount of gravel that would reach the basins. Floating objects such as leaves would be trapped in a skimming basket which would need frequent cleaning during autumn.
Ms. Nelson asked whether the gravel would become excessively hot during the summer. Mr. Lee explained that the maple trees would provide a dense canopy of shade, and the porous qualities of the gravel assembly would reduce heat absorption. Mr. Powell asked if the budget would allow for the installation of sufficiently large trees to provide adequate shading in the memorial's early years. Ms. Beckman said the trees that have been selected are three to four years old now, and they would be large enough for people to stand under by the time of the memorial's opening. She emphasized that the purpose of the trees is to provide shade to the memorial benches.
Mr. Belle commented that the design is very complex and requires precise execution. He said that extensive field testing would be necessary to be able to assess whether the design is successful, and he did not want to make a decision on the design until the on-site final prototype becomes available; Mr. Rybczynski and Mr. Powell concurred. Mr. McKinnell commented that children tend to kick at loose gravel and he urged the designers to take children to the final prototype to observe their behavior. Mr. Rybczynski asked if the final prototype would include gravel. Ms. Beckman said one side of the prototype would have gravel and the other side would have a paved path; trees would not be included with the prototype.
Mr. McKinnell asked how the memorial's design relates to the new Air Force Memorial. Ms. Beckman confirmed that the Air Force Memorial is visible from the site and was not considered in her firm's initial competition entry, and she said the design has not changed due to the Air Force Memorial. She observed that the Air Force Memorial is very vertically oriented with emphasis on the sky, while the memorial at the Pentagon would be very horizontal with an emphasis on the benches near the ground, characterizing the combination as a "reciprocal relationship." Mr. McKinnell disagreed and questioned whether this memorial would have an appropriately solemn character. Ms. Beckman said that the design is intended to invite interpretation and thought rather than a particular reaction, since the September 11 events affected people in so many different ways. She acknowledged that the commemoration of 184 victims on the site would make the memorial a solemn place; but she suggested that the memorial also emphasizes life, through the visitor's personal path through the memorial, reaction to the design features, and sensory perceptions. Mr. McKinnell praised the thoughtful intentions of the memorial design but questioned whether visitors would appreciate this without further guidance; he suggested that people might initially perceive the scattered cantilevered benches as a field of diving dolphins rising above the basins. Ms. Beckman acknowledged that various visual analogies have been suggested in the past, but she emphasized that people would appreciate the memorial benches and basins as unique commemorative design features rather than as representations of other images.
Mr. Powell summarized the Commission's reluctance to approve the project, even conditionally, before the final prototype is available for inspection. Ms. Beckman emphasized that the prototype would only show the bench and basin assembly and some adjacent paths; all the design information for the remainder of the memorial was now available. Mr. Powell responded that the prototype would nonetheless indicate the essence of the full design. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, with second by Mr. McKinnell, the Commission postponed action on the project until the prototype is available for inspection at the time of the January meeting.
D. General Services Administration
1. CFA 16/NOV/06-3, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Headquarters Building, 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Alterations for business visitors entrance and employee entrances. Final. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal for several alterations to the existing headquarters building: a new entrance along Pennsylvania Avenue for visitors with appointments, and improvements to the employee entrances on the 9th and 10th Street sides of the building. Mike McGill of the General Services Administration then introduced David Voorhies of MTFA Architecture Inc. to present the project.
Mr. Voorhies described the existing headquarters building from the 1970s, constructed of concrete with bronze detailing. He clarified that the project does not include a tourist entry facility; public tours of the building have been suspended and a proposal to revive them was considered but cancelled. He noted that the submission includes a depiction of the existing streetscape including planters and other security barriers; these areas are beyond the scope of the current design but could be of interest to the Commission.
Mr. Voorhies described the location of the proposed appointment entrance, filling in an existing breezeway toward the center of the Pennsylvania Avenue facade. The facade's ground level currently has a long dark stone wall and a dark iron gate at the breezeway, which was once a main entrance to the building's courtyard. He said the new entrance would restore some of the original function of this location and would enhance the streetscape by providing some activity. The architecture of the new enclosure would be as simple as possible, using a maximum amount of glass subject to the FBI's security constraints. A blast-resistant wall would be placed inside the entrance area so the street facade could be glass; the interior space would be used for security screening. Other facade elements would include bronze mullions and granite end-panels with bronze medallions. The existing bronze fascia would be moved out approximately thirty inches to create a canopy over the entrance. Signage would be a light bronze color. Additional letter on the revolving door would identify this as an entrance for business visitors.
Mr. Belle asked if the new materials would match the existing building. Mr. Voorhies said the existing granite is nearly black and the proposed end-panels would use a slightly lighter granite. Mr. Belle asked if a much lighter stone could be used; Mr. Voorhies said this was considered but a darker color would relate better to the bronze color of other facade components; a much lighter color would make too strong of a design statement.
Mr. Belle asked about the relative amounts of glass and stone in the new facade. Mr. Voorhies showed that a half-bay on each side would be stone, with glass on the remaining half-bays and the center bay. The glass would run behind the existing columns to form a separate system from the existing concrete structure.
Mr. McKinnell asked about the material sample of the mullions. Mr. Voorhies explained that bronze-colored aluminum is proposed. Mr. McKinnell noted that this area of the building would be very visible to the public, on an important building along Pennsylvania Avenue, so he suggested using actual bronze; Mr. Powell and Mr. Belle concurred. Mr. Voorhies said he would suggest this to the client and appreciated the Commission's support.
Mr. Powell expressed support for the design's simplicity and restraint while providing an identity to the building along Pennsylvania Avenue. Ms. Nelson asked about the possibility of improving the ring of concrete planters around the building, even though this area is not within the current project scope. Mr. Lindstrom suggested that the Commission's letter could include a request that GSA submit a plan for permanent perimeter security.
Mr. Voorhies then described the proposed improvements to the 9th and 10th Street employee entrances, which are nearly mirror images. On each side, glass doors would open into a security screening room. A similar palette of materials would be used including bronze-colored aluminum panels. The existing metal structures would be removed and the roll-down gates would be narrowed; when raised, the gates would be concealed under the concrete structure, although they would usually be lowered. He confirmed that these alterations would only barely be visible from Pennsylvania Avenue. Signage would not be included since the entrances are not intended for public use.
Mr. McKinnell repeated the suggestion to use real bronze; Ms. Nelson and Mr. Powell concurred. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the project with the request to use high-quality materials including bronze. Ms. Nelson agreed to omit from the motion the request for the future submission of an overall streetscape design, based on the understanding that the staff would include this suggestion as an additional comment in the letter to GSA.
2. CFA 16/NOV/06-4, Forrestal Building (Department of Energy headquarters), 1000 Independence Avenue, S.W. Temporary security planters to replace jersey barriers. Final. (Previous: CFA 21/APR/05-4.) Mr. Lindstrom explained that there are special security concerns because the building spans across 10th Street supported by columns that are very close to the street. The proposal from GSA is to replace the existing jersey barriers with a series of planters encircling the columns. He introduced Mr. McGill from GSA and Jeff Zarkin from the Department of Energy.
Mr. McGill explained that GSA had protected much of the building's perimeter several years ago by constructing a retaining wall and adding fill, with a pleasing result that is compatible with the building's architecture. The current proposal would improve the protection at the center of the building where 10th Street passes underneath. Mr. Powell suggested that the current proposal would be a temporary solution since the Commission had previously recommended that the center portion of the building be demolished. Mr. Zarkin said that this solution has been studied and would be very difficult due to the building's structure and utilities; partial demolition could not be achieved in the near future, so the current proposal would be a long-term improvement.
Mr. Zarkin showed the existing conditions of the building, including an estimated 62 jersey barriers to protect the columns along 10th Street. He noted that the Children's Museum would soon be constructed further south on 10th Street, with the Forrestal Building framing the view of the museum from Independence Avenue. He said the new design would place concrete planters around the columns, providing better protection than the jersey barriers. The planters would be eight feet long, two feet deep, and thirty inches high. They would be arrayed in a pinwheel fashion around each of the twelve columns along 10th Street. The planters would provide a 10-foot protection distance around each column, strengthened by the amount of concrete and dirt, compared to the seven-foot distance provided by the jersey barriers. The planters would also provide better protection against explosives carried by pedestrians. Planters would also be placed to protect two entrances to adjacent building wings along 10th Street.
Mr. Zarkin said that the concrete planters would match the color and texture of the concrete retaining wall recently erected by GSA, and the plantings would improve the streetscape. He characterized the project as a major improvement that would turn an eyesore into an attractive feature. He noted that the planters could be considered temporary and could easily be removed in the future if a better solution is identified or if the security threat is reduced. Mr. Powell asked what temporary period was contemplated; Mr. Zarkin said that the National Capital Planning Commission had approved the barriers for two years, after which they would need to be re-authorized.
Mr. Rybczynski asked if the existing benches provide sufficient protection for the plaza. Mr. Zarkin said the benches protect the 28 columns within the plaza area, so only the columns along 10th Street need further protection.
Mr. Belle suggested that the Commission approve the proposal with the condition that the applicant submit a renovation plan within six months that would include demolition of the central portion of the building. Mr. Zarkin said that such a project would be far too expensive; Mr. Belle urged that a study be submitted instead. Mr. Powell supported Mr. Belle's suggestion but noted that the Commission had previously requested the demolition.
Mr. Powell asked the extent of previous studies to demolish the central portion. Mr. Zarkin explained that the demolition would need to include not only the 120 feet over the street but additional depth to provide a sixty-foot distance from the street to the facade for blast protection. The result would be to remove 240 feet from the 660-foot-long building, a major disruption. Utility systems would also have to be greatly altered. A potentially feasible solution would be to regain the lost office space by replacing Building C to the south, a one-story building that provides loading and support functions, with a new taller office building; this solution would involve extensive and costly reorganization of functions throughout the complex of buildings. Meanwhile, the proposed planters would cost only $100,000. Ms. Nelson commented that the planters do not look particularly special. Mr. Belle noted that the site is adjacent to the Mall and could potentially be reconfigured to support major improvements along the entire length of 10th Street, far beyond the project site. Ms. Nelson concurred, observing that the Children's Museum would be affected by the treatment of this site.
Mr. Powell agreed with the emphasis on the site's importance to the broader urban context; he suggested that this should be addressed at the end of a two-year approval period. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the proposal for two years and requested that a submission be provided at that time to address the future urban design direction of the site.
E. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1. CFA 16/NOV/06-5, Washington Aqueduct, Dalecarlia Reservoir, Little Falls Road, N.W. Residuals Collection and Treatment Facility, Residuals Pump Station, and addition to the Control Building. Concept.
2. CFA 16/NOV/06-6, Washington Aqueduct, Georgetown Reservoir, 4700 MacArthur Boulevard, N.W. Residuals Pump Station. Concept.
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the projects related to the Washington Aqueduct, noting that they are part of a single proposal but are listed separately on the agenda because construction is proposed at two different installations. He introduced Patricia Gamby from the Corps of Engineers to present the proposal.
Ms. Gamby explained that the Washington Aqueduct is a division of the Army Corps that supplies drinking water for Washington and parts of northern Virginia. Water is drawn from an upstream area of the Potomac River, then piped to the Dalecarlia and Georgetown Reservoirs for treatment. Several stages in the treatment involve removal of river sediment resulting in residual material. The Corps of Engineers currently discharges this residual into the Potomac River, but the Environmental Protection Agency will not allow this practice to continue. The Corps therefore proposes to take the residuals by truck to disposal facilities that are located up to fifty miles away. She noted that there have been community concerns about the project during the environmental review process; these concerns are reiterated in a letter that has just been received by the Commission. Ms. Gamby then introduced Glenn Palenn from CH2M Hill, the engineering firm for the project.
Mr. Palenn presented the four proposed facilities, including before-and-after views of each site. The largest proposed structure would be the residuals processing facility, to be located east of MacArthur Boulevard at the Dalecarlia Reservoir. Sibley Memorial Hospital is immediately south of the site. The proposed building would have three tall floors in the center, surrounded by four circular tanks to hold and treat liquid residuals. The top floor would use various technologies such as centrifuges to remove water from the residuals; the middle floor would have storage bins; and the ground floor would be used by trucks being loaded with the residuals from the storage bins. The stacked program would allow movement of the residuals by gravity. The building facades would be brick with arched windows, relating to the historic buildings elsewhere at the Dalecarlia Reservoir. The building would have a flat roof. Mr. Palenn explained that the circular tanks would be 21 feet high; undulating berms and landscaping are proposed to reduce their apparent height. The building would be approximately 69 feet tall. In response to community concerns, the building is designed to reduce odors and noise transmission, and the landscaping and perimeter walls would reduce the visual impact. He explained that odors from the residuals would be minor but extensive odor-control features have been incorporated nonetheless. The centrifuges will generate noise, which will be reduced by the acoustic-block walls, sound-absorbing tile ceiling, and laminated insulated glass in the windows. The doors to the truck bays will be closed while the trucks are inside to reduce the effect of noise from the truck loading process. Trucks would be washed upon exiting to prevent residuals from reaching the city streets. The landscaping would screen the facilities and contribute to the park-like setting of the reservoir. A fence around the building would be positioned to allow public access to the landscaped area facing the hospital.
Mr. Palenn presented two alternative facade configurations for the Commission's consideration, and he provided samples of the material colors. One alternative would use textured cast stone for the first floor with brick above; the other alternative would be all brick. The windows would have off-white aluminum frames. He noted that Sibley Hospital is planning a medical office building and parking structure that would face the project site; the Sibley proposal might include a street realignment that would be coordinated with the Corps project.
Mr. Belle asked about the context and the extent of the reservoir property. Mr. Palenn explained that the reservoir site is quite large, with some residential neighborhoods in Maryland having views of the reservoir. Mr. Belle asked if the facility could operate with two stories instead of three since the context, aside from the hospital, has a relatively low scale. Mr. Palenn said that that a two-story building would require the use of conveyors in the operation which would increase the maintenance difficulties and reduce the reliability of the facility. Ms. Gamby added that this idea was considered in the environmental review process but the decision was that the three-story arrangement would be necessary for the facility's efficient operation. She noted that the proposed building would be lower than the adjacent Sibley Hospital. Mr. Palenn noted that the building's first floor is six to eight feet below the adjacent road, as low as could be achieved while providing appropriate grades for access by large trucks; additionally, the poor soil conditions make it infeasible to lower the facility further into the ground.
Mr. Palenn described the remaining facilities which would be much smaller than the first. The second facility would be a small structure—400 square feet in area—set alongside the four Dalecarlia sedimentation basins that are located west of MacArthur Boulevard. The structure would accommodate a pump that would send residuals from the sedimentation basins to the proposed residuals processing facility. The majority of the structure would be below grade to minimize the visual impact. The materials and design would be compatible with the existing reservoir buildings nearby.
Mr. Palenn described the third facility, a small structure at the Georgetown Reservoir sedimentation basins located two miles south of the Dalecarlia Reservoir. The structure would contain a pump to send residuals from the Georgetown sedimentation basins to the proposed residuals processing facility at the Dalecarlia Reservoir. The building would be set into an existing sloped berm so the structure would not be visible from MacArthur Boulevard; visibility from other nearby residential areas would be minimal and would be screened by landscaping. The sloped site will also allow trucks to drive onto the roof of the building for necessary maintenance. The building would be concrete with a cast-stone facade that would be compatible with nearby reservoir structures.
Mr. Palenn described the fourth structure, a small addition to an existing electrical equipment building at the Dalecarlia Reservoir; the structure is needed in conjunction with a new below-grade pumping station. The addition would match the style of the existing building.
Ms. Gamby reviewed the concerns expressed in the letter received by the Commission. She emphasized that this facility processes fresh water and will not have the odor problems that would be associated with a wastewater treatment facility. She reiterated the extensive noise-control measures that are incorporated into the design. She acknowledged that truck routing has been a major concern for the project; Mr. Powell emphasized that the Commission's concern is the design. Ms. Gamby mentioned the public concern about design compatibility with Sibley Hospital and explained that the project has been coordinated with them for two years, including design coordination.
Mr. Rybczynski asked what is done with the water as the residuals are removed. Mr. Palenn explained that the water is quite clean at that stage and it is returned into the water supply process.
Mr. Powell suggested that the Commission consider which facade alternative would be most compatible with Sibley Hospital, since the proposed residuals processing facility would be perceived as part of the Sibley complex. Mr. Palenn said that the all-brick alternative would most closely resemble the existing Sibley buildings, but proposed new hospital buildings would potentially alter the design character of the complex. Ms. Nelson asked about the height of the nearest proposed hospital building; Mr. Palenn said that there was discussion of a seven-story building but it was still subject to the zoning approval process.
Mr. Luebke suggested two issues for consideration. The choice of facade materials would affect whether the residuals processing facility is perceived as part of the Sibley complex or part of the Dalecarlia Reservoir buildings. The facade alternatives also provided contrasting approaches to how the first floor would be perceived in relation to the upper floors. Ms. Nelson said she would prefer to differentiate the first floor with stone cladding to reduce the apparent height of the building and lessen the impact of the tanks. Mr. Belle said he would prefer the all-brick alternative but with more emphasis on the string courses. He suggested not using Sibley Hospital as the design inspiration. Mr. Powell asked Ms. Gamby for the design team's preference; she said the opinions were varied, but her preference is for the first-floor stone.
Mr. Palenn clarified that the berms along the 21-foot-high tanks would rise five to ten feet. Mr. McKinnell suggested that the berms and landscaping be as tall as possible to screen the tanks. Ms. Gamby said that the slope of the berms is already the steepest feasible without having to use retaining walls. Mr. Powell suggested adding ivy above the berms; Ms. Gamby said this was already being considered. Mr. McKinnell commented that the berms would be structurally useful in resisting the outward pressure of water in the tanks. Mr. Palenn said that the tanks would normally be designed to be structurally sound without relying on the support of the berms. Mr. Powell suggested lowering the tanks into the ground. Mr. Palenn said this had already been done to the extent feasible, but the associated pump rooms also must be lowered so this solution has limitations. Ms. Gamby thanked the staff for providing the suggestion to design the berms in an undulating shape. She noted that a rear tank has less berming in order to provide fire truck access.
Mr. Powell concluded that the Commission had no strong preference for either of the facade alternatives. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept for all four structures with the final design approval delegated to the staff.
F. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Old Georgetown Act
O.G. 06-261, Wormley School—Encore Development, 3325 Prospect Street, N.W. Six new row houses in school yard. Concept. (Previous: O.G. 05- 283, 17 Nov. 2005.) Mr. Martinez introduced the project for the development of the Wormley School site. He said that in November 2005 the Commission had approved the general concept for alteration of the historic school building to contain condominiums and for the construction of six new row houses along the Prospect Street frontage, east of the school building. Since that time, certain parts of the project had moved ahead: the restoration of the school building was approved as an Appendix item several months ago, and the foundation-to-grade work for the site and garage structure beneath the row houses had also been approved.
Mr. Martinez said the submission for this meeting concerned the concept development for the row houses—the architectural treatment for the facades and the layout of the houses—as well as the landscape concept. He said the Old Georgetown Board had looked at the concept for this part of the project in September 2006 and had met with the architects in October and November; black and white drawings would be shown to illustrate the current state of the facade designs. The Board's report, which had been circulated to the members, stated their current position on the row house part of the project. They wanted the glass penthouses on the two end houses to be reduced in size so they would not be visible from public space and asked that the applicants work with the Commission staff to be sure the details are historically appropriate. Mr. Martinez said meetings with the project architect, Elizabeth Shepard from the firm of Cunningham + Quill, had been very productive.
Mr. Martinez then introduced Chris Morrison, also from Cunningham + Quill. Mr. Morrison spoke briefly about the history of the school and its site, saying that the school was erected in the late 19th century and was one of the first D.C. public schools to be chartered for African-American children. It served as a school through the 1980s and was then purchased by Georgetown University in the early 1990s; following differences with neighbors regarding the usage of the property, the university sold it in 2005 to Encore Development, the current owners, who asked Mr. Morrison's firm to work with the neighbors, the D.C. Office of Planning, and the Old Georgetown Board to come up with a suitable project for the site. Mr. Morrison showed a site plan of the original conditions, pointing out the school, a parking lot, the location of a former playground, and a narrow alley at the north end of the site defined on the south by an old wall, which he said was one of the original boundary walls of Georgetown. Mr. Morrison also noted that there had been single-family houses on the eastern part of the site; these were demolished in the 1930s when D.C. purchased these properties to enlarge the school grounds.
Mr. Morrison said the current plan was to develop the vacant land on the eastern part of the site as six single-family row houses, develop the school as condominiums, and do this in a way that would reinforce the urban street pattern in Georgetown. The school would continue to be the prominent feature on the block, set apart and slightly back from the facades of the street's existing and proposed row houses.
Mr. Morrison then discussed the plans for the row houses. He said the property had been subdivided into lots that would allow for matter-of-right houses; all the zoning requirements had been met, and the only zoning variance sought was for the change of usage for the school. Each of the houses would have a private yard and garden area behind it, and there would be a common garden area for the residents of the school and the houses running along the back of the property. Deep tree planters for deciduous trees would be built along the perimeter edges and along the back for screening purposes. There would be a 10-foot fence, covered with ivy on both sides, along the back of the property. Ornamental trees would be planted in the gardens of each house. The streetscape would be treated in typical Georgetown fashion, with herringbone-pattern brick sidewalks and planting around the school and in front of the row houses.
Mr. Morrison said that the houses would sit atop a basement garage structure that would provide ample parking for the residents of both the school and the individual houses. There would be only one curb cut on Prospect Street, and that would be used by residents for garage access and for all services. He presented drawings showing the architectural style of the houses, saying that they would vary and would include some of the major architectural styles seen in Georgetown, specifically variations on the Italianate and Victorian. He said the project architect had met with Eve Barsoum from the Commission staff to insure that the detailing was historically appropriate, and he expected his firm to work with her on an ongoing basis. He pointed out changes that had been made in response to review by the Old Georgetown Board.
Mr. Morrison said all the houses would be brick with stone stoops, shaped brick molding, and divided light wood windows. He said they would like to paint all the houses to make them more compatible with those on the opposite side of Prospect Street. The school would remain red brick and would undergo any needed restoration.
After Mr. Morrison had finished his presentation, the Commission members requested further information on the parking garage and the raised gardens for the three easternmost houses, which Mr. Morrison explained. In answer to Ms. Nelson's question about the possibility of making the penthouses smaller or setting them back further, Mr. Morrison said they were working on that. Mr. McKinnell asked if the 19th-century painted houses were painted immediately after they were built, or if the paint came later. Mr. Morrison said it was his understanding that it was a mixture of both, but he wasn't sure.
There were no further questions. Mr. Powell asked for a motion to approve the final concept design with the understanding that the points raised were going to be examined, as recommended by the Old Georgetown Board. Mr. Rybczynski made a motion that the Commission approve the final concept design "as is." Ms. Nelson seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:12 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Last Modified: January 23, 2007