Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
21 June 2007
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 10:25 a.m.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
A. Approval of the minutes of the 17 May meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the May meeting were circulated to the members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes without objection, upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Belle.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: July 19, September 20, and October 18; no meeting is scheduled in August. There were no objections.
C. Confirmation of appointment to the Old Georgetown Board. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to approve the appointment of David Cox, FAIA, to a three-year term on the Old Georgetown Board. He would replace Jack McCartney, who will be leaving the Board after its July meeting upon completing three terms. There were no objections and Mr. Cox's appointment was approved unanimously.
D. Report on the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program for Fiscal Year 2007. Mr. Luebke reported on the federal grants program administered by the Commission. The $7.1 million of appropriated funds will soon be distributed to 21 non-government cultural and performing arts institutions of national stature in the District of Columbia. He noted that the status of the program in Fiscal Year 2008 was still being resolved in the federal budget process.
E. Report on the position announcement for an Administrative Support Assistant. Mr. Luebke reported that a vacancy announcement is being posted for the position of Administrative Support Assistant on the Commission staff to replace Delores Davis, who recently took a position at the State Department after two and a half years with the Commission. He said that the announcement would be posted on-line at www.usajobs.opm.gov.
Mr. Luebke suggested that the Commission discuss the morning site visit to the west campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital in conjunction with the corresponding agenda item (II.B.).
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. Lindstrom reported one revision to the draft appendix: the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department clarified that the renovation of Engine Company #5 would include repair rather than replacement of the existing windows on the Dent Place facade, complying with the recommendation of the Old Georgetown Board. The recommendation was therefore changed to be favorable with referral to the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Appendix II — Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Penhoet reported the revisions to the draft appendix: all of the negative recommendations have been eliminated by resolving the concerns and obtaining supplemental information. She explained that one project, case number S.L. 07-087, has generated some community concern. She noted the letters from neighbors that were distributed to the Commission members and said that some of the neighbors were present and would like to address the Commission; the applicant was not present due to the favorable staff recommendation. She explained that the project involves a third-story addition to the rear of a house at 2218 Cathedral Avenue, N.W.; the rear roofline would be changed but the front facade would not be substantially altered.
Mr. Powell recognized Judith Shapiro, a resident of a nearby house on the block. Ms. Penhoet noted that her comments sent by e-mail were already distributed to the Commission members. Ms. Shapiro said that the proposed alteration of the rear roof line would be easily visible due to the slope of the street; she suggested that the favorable recommendation might not have taken into consideration the effect of the sloping street on the project's visibility. She said that the houses on this block are intact with no changes to the rooflines. She also noted the importance of the street as a gateway route to and from Rock Creek Park. She objected that the approval process was moving too quickly and asked the Commission to delay action on the project until further information is provided to the neighbors, the Commission, the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC). She added that many neighbors are concerned in addition to the three who were present.
Mr. Powell recognized Barbara Ioanes, another resident of the block. Ms. Ioanes reiterated the request to delay action because the project had not yet been shown to the ANC. She said that the applicant had told the ANC earlier in the week that the plans were not available. She requested the opportunity for the ANC to see the drawings, particularly a side elevation. She added that the narrow front yard space on the block does not provide room for street trees so there is no visual screening of the proposed alteration to the roof.
Mr. Powell recognized Leila Smith, another resident of the block. Ms. Smith requested that the Commission require the applicant to build a mockup to demonstrate whether the altered roofline would be visible from the ground level.
Mr. Powell suggested that the Commission defer action on the project until the applicant could be present. Mr. Luebke clarified that some sort of action would be necessary due to the limited time for providing comments to the D.C. government. Ms. Nelson said that the project shows the need for applicants and neighbors to communicate earlier in the design and review process, particularly for a project in a historic neighborhood. Mr. Powell agreed and said he wanted the opportunity to deliberate further on the project before deciding whether to approve it; he suggested removing the project from the Consent Calendar and asking that it be resubmitted with the opportunity for discussion with the applicant, consideration of neighborhood concerns, and possibly a mockup.
Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the revised appendix with the exception of case number S.L. 07-087. Mr. Luebke asked for clarification of the action on this case; upon a motion by Mr. Powell, with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission disapproved case S.L. 07-087 with the recommendation that the project be reviewed by the ANC and then resubmitted with additional information showing the impact of the project on the surrounding context.
Appendix III — Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported one revision to the draft appendix: a project involving repair and replacement was added at the end of the appendix. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
B. General Services Administration
CFA 21/JUN/07-1, St. Elizabeths Hospital, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, S.E. Draft master plan for the development of the West Campus as a high-security compound for federal agencies. Information presentation. Mr. Luebke introduced the presentation on the master plan for creating a consolidated headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He explained that the campus is designated as a National Historic Landmark and contains historic buildings such as the mid-nineteenth-century Center Building by architect Thomas U. Walter. He said that the campus is also notable for spectacular views of the monumental core and is prominently visible from many locations including the Mall, Reagan National Airport, and Interstate 395 approaching Washington. He said that the staff has been participating with other agencies in the Section 106 process concerning historic preservation, including discussion of the site's cultural and architectural history, its topographic prominence, and its potential symbolic relationship to the monumental core. He noted the Commission's visit to the site prior to the meeting.
Mr. Luebke explained that the General Services Administration (GSA) is providing an information presentation to obtain the Commission's general feedback and guidance; no formal action is requested. He introduced Dawud Abdur-Rahman, GSA's development director for the project, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Abdur-Rahman thanked the Commission members for visiting the site and acknowledged the large scope and complexity of the project. He provided an overview of the project team and introduced two members participating in the presentation: Martin Denholm of the SmithGroup, the master-plan architect, and Kelvin Robinson of Symmetra Design to discuss transportation impacts.
Mr. Abdur-Rahman summarized the site's history as part of the Government Hospital for the Insane established in 1855. The west campus, currently proposed for redevelopment, includes 176 acres and approximately 1.1 million gross square feet of building space. The site was transferred to GSA from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2004; the federal government has subsequently invested $13 million to stabilize and repair the deteriorating buildings and utilities. He explained that the National Historic Landmark designation includes the buildings, landscapes, and views to, from, and within the campus. He described the large scope of the project: an estimated $3 billion of federal investment and a significant part of the development underway in the District's Ward 8. He explained that the master plan is being coordinated with other transportation improvements in the area that are already being implemented to support nearby development.
Mr. Abdur-Rahman explained GSA's previously announced intention to use the site to accommodate the needs of a large-scale high-security federal agency, since it would be more cost-effective to locate such facilities on existing federal property than to acquire a new site. He said that the public notice of intent would soon be revised to specify the proposal to place DHS at this location due to the urgency of DHS's need for space. He explained that DHS offices are currently in 84 locations around the city which results in operational problems for the department; the St. Elizabeths site is the only viable location identified by GSA for consolidating the department. He said that the community outreach process has been extensive and is continuing. He explained that funds have already been appropriated for the design of a headquarters for the Coast Guard on the site; GSA is coordinating that design process with the overall master-planning process that will provide 4.5 million gross square feet to accommodate 14,000 employees. He said that GSA had already commissioned a land-use feasibility study that looks at how development could occur on the site.
Mr. Abdur-Rahman showed a map of the site's context. He emphasized the issue of transportation and said that the master plan would include an access road connecting to Interstate 295 in order to reduce the traffic impacts on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Mr. Belle asked about the potential for Metrorail transportation to the site. Mr. Abdur-Rahman showed the two nearest Metro stations, Anacostia and Congress Heights, both of which are beyond normal walking distance to the campus. He explained that the transportation management plan would include shuttles to transport employees between Metro and the campus. He noted that the National Capital Planning Commission's recommended parking ratio is one space per four employees, but GSA would seek a ratio closer to 1:3 due to the site's transportation constraints.
Mr. Abdur-Rahman explained the project goals. GSA wants to achieve a maximum build-out for federal use while maintaining the historic character of the site; he acknowledged that this will be a challenge that is being addressed through the study of alternative building configurations to minimize harm to the site's historic character. Another goal is to provide a first-class workplace and to support the operations and mission of DHS. He noted GSA's Design Excellence Program that brings in world-class architects; the firm of Perkins and Will is the architect for the Coast Guard development. He described the goal of considering community concerns and said that such issues would be addressed through the design process; he noted the community concerns of traffic and economic development opportunities. Another goal is to satisfy federal security requirements in a manner that is sensitive to neighboring communities; he noted that any dense concentration of federal employees would result in security concerns. He said that the natural terrain would be used as much as possible to provide security for this site. He described the goal of promoting sustainable development and said that the project would be designed to achieve a silver LEED rating. He concluded by emphasizing the need for sound investment of federal funds by making better use of this under-utilized site.
Mr. Belle asked for further information about the land-use feasibility study that GSA had commissioned, (the 2005 study commissioned by GSA and conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate consulting firm). Mr. Abdur-Rahman said that it is available on the website and has been used in the consultation process but was not specifically a part of the overview presentation for the Commission.
Mr. Denholm of the SmithGroup presented the three alternative scenarios for development. He identified several site features: "The Point" where the best view is available toward central Washington; Gate One at the north end of the boundary along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue; the Center Building; the warehouse area and its view west across the Potomac River; the adjacent ravine and power plant; the "pavilion area" of buildings surrounding a lawn at the south end of the site; and the "Allison Quad" toward the center of the site. He showed the Barry Farm public housing complex to the north, which he said is planned for redevelopment. He explained that the landscape is of particular historic importance because it was part of the therapeutic program for treating patients. He noted a site constraint resulting from the nest of an eagle, a threatened species, on adjacent parkland resulting in the exclusion of the southwestern portion of the site from development. He said that issues of environmental contamination were being studied and would be addressed; additional environmental concerns have also been considered, such as noise, air quality, and the protection of steep slopes and forested areas. Social and economic considerations were also being considered.
Mr. Denholm explained the program for all of the development alternatives: 4.5 million square feet of administrative space and 1.8 million square feet of parking to provide 5,000 parking spaces for the 14,000 total employees. All of the alternatives include a new access road along the west side of the site connecting with Firth Sterling Avenue on the north and Malcolm X Avenue on the south, providing connections to South Capitol Street and Interstate 295; as a result, only thirty percent of the incoming traffic, or approximately 1,500 vehicles, is projected to use Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, and parking would be distributed around the perimeter of the site to correspond to the anticipated traffic volumes at the entrance points. The alternatives also include a 100-foot setback from any vehicles that would be outside the secure perimeter. He explained that the tallest existing architectural feature on the site, other than the stacks on the power plant, is the tower of the Center Building; the new buildings in all of the alternatives would be lower than this tower. Mr. Rybczynski asked if the building height limitation is measured relative to the varying grade; Mr. Denholm clarified that the limitation is an absolute height so that the Center Building tower will be higher than any new construction. He described the height of various groupings of buildings in the alternatives, typically ranging from three to five stories. The parking structures rising from the lower portion of the site would be seven stories tall but still below the site's upper plateau.
Ms. Nelson asked if the existing buildings would be reused; Mr. Denholm explained that demolition of some buildings is a part of each alternative, and the buildings to be retained would be used as part of the DHS headquarters. Ms. Nelson asked how much of the landscape would be replaced by new development. Mr. Denholm said that the location for new buildings would include a combination of existing open space and the site of existing buildings that would be demolished. He said that each alternative includes proposed new buildings in the pavilion area that would help to complete the spatial definition of the lawn area, and several new buildings would also be located adjacent to the Center Building. Mr. Belle observed that the proposed buildings appear to have much larger footprints than the existing buildings; Mr. Denholm was not able to give a comparison of the ground coverage and offered to provide the calculation at a later date.
Mr. Denholm explained that the meandering road system is an important part of the site's character and would be retained. He said that there would not be much need for traffic to cross the site since parking and delivery areas would be at the site perimeter. Parking along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue would be below-grade. A shuttle system would be provided for transportation within the site.
Mr. Denholm described the intention to reuse some of the existing buildings toward the center of the site for shared campus-wide facilities such as day-care centers, fitness centers, health services, dining, and an auditorium; some of these uses correspond to the original uses of existing buildings such as a dining hall and theater. Existing gatehouses would also be reused, and the existing historic cemetery on the west would be retained. All of the alternatives also include reuse of the Center Building and several buildings along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue as office space.
Mr. Denholm described the differences among the alternatives. The first alternative would include intense development around Gate One and moderate development of the warehouse site. The second alternative would concentrate more of the new development at the warehouse site. Both of these schemes would provide parking garages and deliveries toward the west corner of the site with additional parking on the site of the power plant. The third alternative would place parking at the far west corner of the site and deliveries at the north end, allowing more extensive new development at the warehouse site and retaining the power plant for continued use; the greenhouse site near Gate One would not be redeveloped although the greenhouses would be demolished.
Mr. Luebke noted that the development on the west side in the third alternative would include an extremely large new building in addition to the large adjacent parking structures and would effectively build up the entire western slope of the campus; he said that the occupied building would result in an approximately ten-acre footprint. Mr. Denholm explained that the concentration of development in this area makes it possible not to redevelop the power plant and greenhouse sites. Ms. Nelson commented that the power plant's two stacks are a prominent feature and asked if they would be demolished in the third alternative; Mr. Denholm said that they would likely be retained as part of the power plant operation unless significant structural or environmental problems are discovered.
Mr. Belle asked if each of the alternatives shows 4.5 million square feet of new space; Mr. Denholm clarified that this is the total amount of program space and would include the reuse of approximately 800,000 square feet of existing building area. Mr. Belle asked how the program size was determined; Mr. Abdur-Rahman said that the requirement for 4.5 million square feet was provided by DHS in response to a legislative request to determine its programmatic needs. Ms. Nelson commented that the resulting program is very large. Mr. Abdur-Rahman said that DHS was created as the government's third-largest agency by combining 22 existing agencies; he said the creation of DHS was likely the largest federal reorganization since the formation of the Department of Defense in the 1940s. He noted the various studies of operational problems at DHS as well as policies calling for reuse of existing federal property and placing major agency headquarters in the city, resulting in GSA's proposal to locate the DHS headquarters at this site. He reiterated that GSA does not have another site available to meet this need. He also clarified that DHS has an overall need for seven million square feet in the Washington area, but only 4.5 million square feet need to be accommodated at a single headquarters location.
Mr. Abdur-Rahman summarized the next steps for the project, including continuation of the environmental and historic preservation review processes and the creation of work groups to look at particular issues of accommodating the program while protecting the site's landmark features; he explained that the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the Department of the Interior are involved in the historic preservation consultation. He said that the tour and information presentation to the Commission would provide some background before a formal submission is made for this large proposal.
Mr. Belle expressed appreciation to GSA for involving the Commission at this stage of the process. He commented on the disparity between the broad goals of the project and the specific development alternatives that were presented; the middle part of the process seemed to be missing, making it difficult to assess the alternatives. He reiterated that more information should have been provided from GSA's land-use feasibility study. Mr. Abdur-Rahman said that the presentation was an overview and additional analysis is available on the website; he said that further program information would soon be available.
Mr. Powell emphasized the goal of minimizing harm to the existing campus. He asked if any of the alternatives is preferred. Mr. Abdur-Rahman said that DHS has generally expressed a preference for locating as much office space as possible close to the Secretary's office; this could be achieved through building placement as well as through other connections such as tunnels. He emphasized that the project will necessarily involve significant tradeoffs with historic features, and some harm will be inevitable.
Ms. Nelson commented that the alternatives show the importance being given to protection of endangered species and asked if other interests, such as the impact of the project on the site and the community, were being given similar priority. She suggested that the headquarters could be located in another part of the country where it could more easily be accommodated. Mr. Abdur-Rahman said that any government facility in Washington has some degree of impact. He noted that GSA has been coordinating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the nearby eagle's nest. Mr. Powell asked what would happen if the eagle left the area; Mr. Abdur-Rahman said that the area being left undeveloped encompasses steep terrain that could not easily be developed, so the site planning is appropriate even without the eagle's presence.
Mr. Abdur-Rahman added that the community had expressed interest in having access to the Point. Discussions were underway about providing some controlled regular access, and the site planning would allow for this possibility. He noted that the Point overlooks a sensitive helicopter base and said that modern-day security concerns make it infeasible to provide general public access; he provided letters from the White House Security Office and the Marine Corps expressing concern about general public access overlooking the helicopter operations. He characterized this situation as one of many difficult tradeoffs in planning for this site.
Mr. Abdur-Rahman summarized the project schedule, including final submission of the master plan early next year. He said the fast pace of the project responds to the need for improving DHS operations and the appropriation of funds for the Coast Guard design and the overall planning of the site for DHS.
Mr. Powell asked how the design of the Coast Guard facilities, currently in progress, would relate to the three development alternatives. Mr. Abdur-Rahman said that the Coast Guard design is not specifically shown since it will be following a separate review process that has not formally been initiated. He confirmed that the location for the Coast Guard facility would be on the western slope of the site and would comprise approximately 1.5 million square feet, one-third of the overall program, exclusive of parking. Mr. Belle noted that this would exceed the total amount of existing development on the campus and reiterated that the enormous size of the program is a fundamental concern. Mr. Abdur-Rahman emphasized GSA's management principles for real property, including return on investment and supporting agency missions. He explained that the land-use feasibility study considers some other programmatic options for the site, including complete preservation of existing buildings or a more intensive development program of six million square feet; both of these programmatic extremes were found not to be feasible. The current master planning effort involves finding some degree of balance within the constraints of the site.
Mr. Abdur-Rahman provided additional details on the preservation of buildings. He said that some existing buildings, such as residences, could not easily be adapted to modern office needs and would likely be demolished under any scenario. He said that some demolition involves non-contributing buildings such as the warehouse; approximately 77 to 80 percent of contributing buildings, on a square-footage basis, would be retained. He said that DHS and GSA are interested in adaptively reusing the existing buildings even though there was no financial incentive to do so.
Mr. Luebke asked that the Commission be shown further information on perimeter security. Mr. Denholm showed the extent of the 100-foot setback for vehicles and explained that the natural topography provides a sufficient vehicle barrier along much of the site perimeter. He said that a two-layered security fence would extend around the site; the outer layer would be an iron picket fence and the inner layer, set back twenty feet, would be designed to prevent climbing such as with a small mesh. The location of the security fence would vary in response to topography, vegetation, and special features such as the historic cemetery; in areas where the security fence is not near the property line, an additional fence would mark the edge of the site.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that the alternatives appear to be somewhat similar. He said that the third alternative appears to push development toward the southern part of the site, perhaps to accommodate more public access to the Point. Mr. Denholm confirmed that the development to the south and west would allow the open space near the Point and the Center Building to remain undeveloped, which would be advantageous since this area is a desirable gathering place and has some visibility from outside the site. Mr. Rybczynski asked if this north area could be outside of the security perimeter. Mr. Denholm said that this would not be feasible for several reasons: the security concerns of other agencies about public access to the Point; the difficulty of placing a security barrier between this open space and the occupied parts of the campus; and the security risk of having the public in an area with views of the Center Building, where the DHS Secretary's office would likely be located. The design intent was to create a single security zone with no need for further barriers within the site that would interrupt the open spaces. He said that the decision was to have the Point within the secured area and to provide limited public access to the extent feasible. He noted that the historic cemetery, which might also be of interest to the public, would be located outside the security perimeter.
Mr. Robinson of Symmetra Design discussed the transportation improvements associated with the project. He described four alternative proposals for reconfiguring the interchange of Interstate 295 and Malcolm X Avenue, providing access to the proposed roadway that would extend along the west edge of the site. He explained that the various alternatives would address the potential impacts on Malcolm X Avenue and on the nearby main entrance gate to Bolling Air Force Base.
Ms. Nelson commented that the vast scale of the proposal makes it important to achieve sensitive siting and high-quality architecture. She said that the information provided was not sufficient to support a recommendation for a particular development alternative; Mr. Belle added that none of the alternatives may be suitable. Mr. Abdur-Rahman said that the alternatives were intended to encourage discussion rather than lead to a decision at this stage.
Mr. Rybczynski said that it was not feasible to provide comments because the presentation was insufficiently documented. He said that the three development alternatives appear to be thoroughly designed but the differences among them are not clear; and the issue of views was discussed but not illustrated. He expressed disappointment with the presentation, particularly in comparison to the scale and significance of the project. Mr. Abdur-Rahman reiterated that the presentation was intended as a high-level overview; Mr. Rybczynski said that the Commission members are design professionals who expect more detailed information.
Mr. Luebke asked if the Commission had any general guidance to provide to GSA. Mr. Rybczynski said that the project needs a sense of hierarchy, such as an understanding of which buildings are important to save rather than a general emphasis on maximizing the amount of preservation. Mr. Abdur-Rahman confirmed that these issues have been discussed in depth within the project team and with the consulting parties. He emphasized that additional documentation was available and would soon be supplemented by the extensive environmental documentation that would be released shortly. Mr. Powell emphasized the importance of viewsheds and preservation of the landscape; he said that there was no basis for the Commission to comment on the programmatic requirements of DHS but that less program would allow for more preservation of the site.
Mr. Belle agreed with these concerns and said that the presentation omitted critical information. The detailed depiction of the three development alternatives was apparently the result of extensive site analysis and design assumptions that were not presented. He said that the building shapes that were shown raise concerns about the resulting workplace environment. He emphasized the significance of the project and said that its importance to national security should not be a reason to exempt it from good master planning and design. Mr. Powell added that the selection of a good architect would be very important. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
C. National Park Service
1. CFA 21/JUN/07-2, John Marshall Park, Fourth Street corridor between Pennsylvania Avenue and C Street, N.W. New landscape design. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 18/JAN/07- 3.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced John Parsons of the National Park Service and landscape architect Carol Johnson of Carol R. Johnson Associates. Mr. Parsons said that the Commission gave a qualified approval to the concept that was presented in January; in response to the Commission's comments, the project team has been working to simplify the design, re-study the pillar, and further consider the issue of safety. He said that the National Capital Planning Commission had subsequently approved the design concept. He added that retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor had looked at the design and he read a statement she provided expressing support for the memorial to Marshall.
Ms. Johnson said that the design has been revised in response to the Commission's comments. The memorial park would reflect Marshall's genial character by providing a place that accommodates public use while also displaying the great words of his jurisprudence. She summarized the site context, including the nearby Newseum, and the general configuration of the park with three terraces and a proposed central ellipse. She said that the fountains and associated sculpture on the upper terrace would be retained and improved; the original sculptor is working with the project team to suggest needed repairs to his work. Several other sculptures would be removed, including the chess players and the sundial.
Ms. Johnson explained that glass would be used around the perimeter of the ellipse for benches and tall panels marking the entrances to the four interpretive "rooms." She summarized the overall intention of making Marshall's words, as etched on the glass panels, a highly visible feature that will be an integral part of people's experience of enjoying the park. She showed samples of the glass and said that much additional study will be needed. She explained the importance of designing the glass panels to avoid joints interrupting the text, to control condensation, to protect the etched surface, to create a simple setting that emphasizes the text, and to provide a background that ensures legibility of the lettering. She said that a Vancouver company manufactures the type of glass product that will satisfy the project requirements, and the resulting wall system will require dismantling for maintenance on an annual basis.
Ms. Johnson explained that the four interpretive rooms adjacent to the glass panels have been simplified to include less text and visual imagery on the low walls; additional benches and an informal planting design are now included in these areas. In order to clarify the sequential experience of the park, lettering is no longer included on the side of the glass panels facing the interpretive rooms, resulting in a simpler and more legible design for the panels. Ms. Johnson described the landscaping intention to provide a background of taller trees with a foreground of lower trees. The distance between trees framing the center line of the park has been widened to provide greater visibility of the old city hall to the north.
Ms. Johnson explained that the material for the Constitution pillar, previously discussed as glass, would be white granite to match the pedestal of the statue of Marshall at the other end of the ellipse. The three sides of the pillar would show the three branches of government, with the judiciary branch represented on the side facing south toward the center of the park and the Marshall statue. A three-sided decorative sculpture on top of the pillar would contain bas-reliefs related to the Constitution such as the text "We the people . . ." She acknowledged the Commission's previous recommendation to engage an artist for this work; she said that her office is not designing the pillar. Ms. Nelson suggested that the sculpture on top of the pillar be more three-dimensional, such as by emphasizing the depth of a scroll as a setting for the text, to contrast with the flat sides of the pillar. Ms. Johnson agreed to consider this and said that such a design had already been developed. Mr. Belle commented that the sculpture above the pillar was superfluous and should be eliminated; there was general agreement and Ms. Johnson said she would pursue this recommendation.
Mr. Powell asked about the seating surface of the glass benches. Ms. Johnson explained that people would sit directly on the glass, which would be placed within a metal frame. She acknowledged the potential for damage from skateboarders and said that this concern would be addressed through the detailing.
Ms. Johnson emphasized the advantage of using glass for the benches to create a special night-time lighting effect within the park. She said the glass manufacturer would prepare full-scale mockups of the benches as well as the panels. Mr. Powell asked if the glass would be vulnerable to scratching. Ms. Johnson showed samples of different surface textures that would address the issues of durability and seating comfort. Ms. Nelson asked if the benches would require annual disassembly for maintenance. Ms. Johnson said that she expected such maintenance only for the panels due to the placement of lighting fixtures below the glass; the lighting below the benches might be designed to allow easier access for maintenance, but these details were still being studied.
Mr. Belle asked if the large elliptical shape around the center of the park, particularly as emphasized by night-time lighting, was intended to have a symbolic meaning. Ms. Johnson said that the continuity of the ellipse would be legible when seen from a high angle, such as from the adjacent buildings, but from the ground level it would have a more three-dimensional character; the lighting would emphasize different heights along the perimeter of the ellipse. Mr. Belle commented that the design might include too much illuminated glass. Ms. Johnson said that the glass features define the central elliptical area of the park, and other lighting in the park is for safety and wayfinding. She acknowledged the safety concerns in the area and said that the park should be sufficiently lit so that people will feel comfortable visiting it at night.
Mr. Rybczynski said that the Commission's previous comments should not have been interpreted only as a request for simplification; the Commission had more pointed concerns about the amount of interpretive material. Ms. Johnson reiterated that the amount of text has been reduced by fourteen percent. Mr. Rybczynski commented that the design is still dominated by text, giving the project the inappropriate character of a memorial rather than a park. Mr. Luebke said that the reduction in interpretive material was relatively minor and the overall concept remains substantially the same as what was previously submitted; he added that the Commission might want to consider whether the proposed design would in effect create a new commemorative work or museum rather than a park that contains a statue.
Mr. Rybczynski said that the pillar and statue convey important meaning that should be sufficient and he discouraged the proposal to include additional interpretive information. He acknowledged the widespread desire to educate people about particular subjects but said that this would not be an appropriate purpose for a park.
Mr. Parsons said that the Commission's previous comments were carefully considered. He added that the National Capital Planning Commission had acknowledged that Marshall's contributions were based on words so the emphasis on text was appropriate to convey his significance. He said that the National Park Service was caught between the conflicting advice of the two review agencies and acknowledged that the fourteen-percent reduction in text was only a partial response to the advice from the Commission of Fine Arts. He said that the Park Service prefers to rely on text at this location more than at other memorials such as the Lincoln and Jefferson.
Mr. Belle suggested further consideration of not only the amount of text but also the location and treatment of it. He commented that the illuminated glass will draw great attention to the text on the panels and encouraged a different design approach for this feature. Mr. Parsons clarified that most of the text would be on the low walls along the interpretive rooms rather than on the glass panels; he confirmed that each of the four interpretive rooms would have a series of text panels. Mr. Powell expressed support for the overall design but continuing concern about the amount of text. Mr. Parsons offered to continue to study this issue.
Mr. Rybczynski offered additional comments about the use of glass in the project; he expressed concern about the need to disassemble the glass panels annually and said that glass is not a familiar material for benches. Mr. Powell acknowledged that the design team is still investigating the available materials. Ms. Johnson expressed confidence in the Vancouver glass manufacturing company, explaining that it had experience with similar projects and was developing new variations on the production methods to address the needs of this design.
Ms. Johnson added that the design is intended as a serious treatment of Marshall's legacy, particularly because the site has significance in Marshall's life because his home was adjacent to the park. Mr. Rybczynski said that the significance of the design is not necessarily enhanced by words. He described the Washington Monument as the most beautiful in the country without having any words on it; people still understand its meaning. He said that people tend not to read the text that is provided for them, and he urged that the design be less explicit in its interpretive material. He reiterated that the park should be designed as a public space rather than as a place for teaching.
Ms. Nelson said that the project should be resubmitted when additional technical details have been researched such as the appropriate design of the glass to prevent the risk of breakage. She suggested that the design team use the additional time to consider the Commission's concern about the excessive amount of text that tends to transform the entire park into a museum.
Mr. Parsons said that the Park Service shares the concern about maintenance even with the intent of the sponsoring foundation to create a maintenance endowment. He agreed that the technology should not be too experimental. Mr. Powell and Ms. Nelson suggested that a mockup be provided after the technical questions have been resolved. Mr. Powell reiterated the Commission's comment from the previous review that less interpretive material would be preferable.
Mr. Rybczynski commented further on the use of glass in the design. He said that he had reservations about the appropriateness of the glass panels but acknowledged that they make a powerful statement; their importance would be diluted by the use of glass for the adjacent benches, and he therefore suggested reconsidering the design of the benches. Mr. Belle agreed and expressed support for the overall concept of the park's spatial organization while discouraging the experimentation with unusual usage of materials. He commented that the potential failure of these materials would detract from the concept of the park. Ms. Nelson suggested several alternative ways of treating the panels such as using all-glass construction or cast glass blocks for all or a portion of the panels. Ms. Johnson offered to study these alternatives further.
Mr. Belle asked whether the project involves any legal issues of treating the site as a memorial rather than as a park, potentially making the proposal subject to the Commemorative Works Act. Mr. Parsons responded that the memorial to Marshall was authorized by federal law in the late nineteenth century, predating the Commemorative Works Act of 1986; he said the Park Service is relying on this earlier legislation. Mr. Luebke asked that a copy of this legislation be provided to the Commission and suggested that further consideration be given to the issue of creating a memorial based on the earlier authorization for a statue to be placed within a park.
The Commission heard an additional comment from Lynn Brackenridge, the Executive Director of the John Marshall Foundation in Richmond, Virginia, that is sponsoring the memorial. Ms. Brackenridge acknowledged Mr. Rybczynski's comment about the successful simplicity of the Washington Monument but commented that nearly all Americans could explain who George Washington was and could learn about him through readily available sources. She said that Marshall is much less known than Washington so the extensive interpretive material is necessary to successfully commemorate his contributions. She said that this park will be the only place that many people will be able to learn about Marshall so the interpretive material is necessary to help them better understand him. Mr. Powell suggested that this topic could be discussed further at a future review; he said that Marshall may not be as unknown as Ms. Brackenridge suggested. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
2. CFA 21/JUN/07-3, Georgetown Waterfront Park. Wisconsin Avenue Terminus: pergola, benches, and river stairs. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 15/FEB/07-2.) Mr. Martinez summarized the Commission's previous comments concerning the concept for several elements of the Wisconsin Avenue terminus, including simplification of the pergola, benches, grass parterres, and bollards. He said that the revised concept was reviewed by the Old Georgetown Board in June and the Board's report was circulated to the Commission members. He explained the Board's recommendations to further simplify the pergola by eliminating the undulation and to simplify the curved configuration of benches. He said that the submission included a lighter color alternative for the pergola at the Commission's request but the Board prefers the darker color. He introduced John Parsons of the National Park Service; Mr. Parsons agreed with the summary of the project and introduced Kent Sundberg of Wallace Roberts & Todd to present the design.
Mr. Sundberg showed the phases of the overall park project, with Phase I from 34th Street to Wisconsin Avenue currently under construction and scheduled for completion in early 2008. The current submission concerns several unresolved features of Phase II. Mr. Sundberg explained that, in contrast to the smaller buildings of Georgetown's residential areas, the waterfront area of Georgetown is characterized by buildings of a large size and industrial character; he emphasized that the park site has a maritime and industrial history. He said that the park would generally serve as a gathering place and would become particularly crowded with spectators when regattas are held on the Potomac River. The proposed wide flight of steps leading to the river's edge would accommodate these crowds as well as provide a place for informal gatherings, and the proposed pergola would provide shade to replace the temporary tents that were sometimes installed during regattas.
Mr. Sundberg explained the revisions in response to the Commission's comments: the three separate pergola structures have been combined and simplified into two structures that are separated by a diagonal walkway extending through the park; the several grass areas have been combined into a single continuous parterre with a simple design that is elevated six inches above the promenade; and the bollards have been confined to a single grouping. The bollards would be shaped to flare outward like mooring posts to recall the maritime heritage of the site; he said that these bollards could also provide seating and would be constructed of either granite or steel.
Ms. Nelson asked if the slight elevation of the parterre would be sufficient to prevent an accidental fall down the staircase toward the river. Mr. Sundberg said that the six-inch elevation would be sufficient while allowing people to easily step onto the grass to sit or walk on it.
Mr. Sundberg explained that there were varying opinions on whether some complexity and variety in the benches would be desirable; the proposal now includes some benches with backs and some without, and the benches are placed in a curving configuration that allows people to face each other or toward the river. The proposed granite material for the benches remains unchanged, matching the granite features in other parts of the park. Ms. Nelson asked whether the other benches in the park will have backs. Mr. Sundberg explained that some benches have backs that provide a location for the placement of interpretive information; other benches are without backs and accommodate a variety of seating orientations.
Mr. Sundberg explained the revisions to the pergola design to reduce the height and the industrial character; he explained that it was not intended to have a residential character but acknowledged that it may have been too industrial in the previous design. He said the height to the bottom of the undulating horizontal trellis would vary from eleven to fourteen feet; the trellis would include a matrix of fine wires to support plantings. He showed how the pergola and bollards would help to define the view from the park's Wisconsin Avenue entrance toward the Kennedy Center and the downstream portion of the Potomac River. He showed an additional rendering with a lighter color for the pergola but said that the design team prefers the darker color.
Mr. Sundberg showed the material samples for the previously approved portions of the park. He said that the pergola would be steel, probably painted. Mr. Belle asked if the pergola structure would be welded; Mr. Sundberg said it had not yet been determined whether the structure would be welded or bolted.
Mr. Powell recognized two members of the community who wished to address the Commission. Steve Kurzman of the Georgetown Waterfront Park Commission said that the pergola is not necessary and should be deleted; if it does remain, it should be simpler and smaller as the Commission had previously recommended. Mr. Kurzman said that the vertical posts of the pergola remained problematic, since only had been removed from their height and the number of posts had been reduced only from fifteen to fourteen. He said the vertical posts were comparable to the tall sculptural features that were eliminated from the design for the western portion of the park at the Commission's request.
Robert Vom Eigen, president of the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park, said that his group of 200 members supports the park design. He said the group supports the undulating design of the pergola but would not object if the Commission chooses to request further simplification.
Mr. Parsons responded that the undulation of the pergola has already been simplified; he said that the Old Georgetown Board's recommendation appears to call for a completely rectilinear design, which he said would be less appropriate for the park setting. Mr. Belle agreed and said that it was time to stop revising the design; he said that the design team had responded to the Commission's comments, the design had been simplified appropriately, and the design team should go forward with working out the details.
Mr. Powell suggested approving the revised concept and supporting the darker color for the pergola. Ms. Nelson commented that the vertical posts of the pergola are tall but their size is appropriate within the large overall scale of the park.
Upon a motion by Mr. Belle, with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the revised concept with the darker color for the pergola; the approval included the design of the pergola and benches as presented.
D. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
CFA 21/JUN/07-4, National Law Enforcement Museum, Judiciary Square. Perimeter security elements and configuration of E Street. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/OCT/06-3.) Mr. Belle recused himself from this agenda item. Mr. Lindstrom said that the submission includes the last remaining components of the concept design for the proposed museum, including the treatment of the E Street curb line and the design of perimeter security that has been coordinated with the security needs of the adjacent court buildings. He introduced architect Davis Buckley to present the design.
Mr. Buckley explained that the proposal for E Street is consistent with policies of the D.C. Department of Transportation and the master plan approved by the National Capital Planning Commission. The curb would be aligned to form two lay-by areas along the south side of E Street for drop-off from vehicles for people arriving at the museum or the adjacent court buildings. The location of the lay-bys would provide a sufficient standoff distance between vehicles and the court buildings.
Mr. Buckley then presented the proposed perimeter security that is designed to meet the requirements of the court buildings. He said that the D.C. Courts had requested barrier walls with a minimum height of thirty inches, compared to the museum's previous design for eighteen-inch-high walls. He showed two alternative configurations for the pair of walls that would flank the slightly sloping plaza. One configuration would have unequal levels for the top of the two walls, with the top of the east wall set thirteen inches below the top of the west wall; each wall would have a minimum height of thirty inches above the sloping grade, resulting in a maximum wall height of thirty-seven inches along the main sidewalk area. The second alternative would maintain a constant level for the top of both walls, with the height above the sloping sidewalk varying from thirty to fifty inches in the area where perimeter security is required. In either alternative, the open plaza area between the walls would be protected with bollards. He expressed a preference for the first alternative because it reduces the maximum height of the wall.
Ms. Nelson asked if the proposal satisfies the security requirements of the D.C. Courts. Mr. Buckley said the design meets the criteria stated in the letter sent by the Courts in December 2006. Mr. Luebke added that the proposed configuration of the perimeter security elements is generally consistent with that shown by the Courts on the interim plan that was previously approved. Ms. Nelson asked if the forty-foot length of the two lay-bys would be sufficient. Mr. Buckley said that the length would be sufficient for two ordinary vehicles; buses would have to drop off passengers at another location nearby.
Ms. Nelson commented that the proposed solutions appear straightforward. Mr. Powell expressed support for the first alternative of walls with unequal alignments as preferred by Mr. Buckley. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the proposal including the walls with unequal alignments. Mr. Luebke noted that Mr. Belle had recused himself and was not voting.
E. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 21/JUN/07-5, National Zoological Park, Asia Trail Phase II: Elephant House, habitat renovation, and additions to existing facilities. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/MAR/07-4.) Mr. Martinez summarized the Commission's previous recommendation to simplify the design of the addition to the Elephant House. He introduced Tim Buehner of the Smithsonian Institution to begin the presentation. Mr. Buehner said that the project team has been finalizing the design in response to the Commission's comments and has completed the historic preservation Section 106 process. He introduced Michael Holleman, the architect for the project's design-build team and the director of historic preservation at the design firm Vitetta.
Mr. Holleman summarized the design intention for the latest phase of design: design the "barn" addition to achieve a level of integrity and refinement commensurate with the original building while standing on its own as a work of architecture; preserve the existing building in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's standards for rehabilitation; achieve LEED gold certification for the project, which he said is an interesting goal since the building is designed to meet the needs of elephants as well as humans; expand the indoor and outdoor habitats for the elephants; and develop viewing areas for the public. He said that the presentation also includes smaller features such as shade structures for humans and elephants, restrooms, and a pump facility for the water pools.
Mr. Holleman showed the project location adjacent to Olmsted Walk and the other areas of the Asia Trail project. He noted that an earlier proposal to realign Olmsted Walk is no longer included in the project. He showed the existing and proposed site plans, explaining the proposal to expand the Elephant House building and associated habitat areas and to provide two new pools. He showed the original 1937 plan of the Elephant House and the proposed reversal of the areas for the animals and the public. He showed a plan illustrating the portions of the building that would be removed in order to accommodate the renovation and additions; he said that as much of the building as possible is being preserved.
Mr. Holleman described the large barn addition for the female elephants on the west, a small addition for the male elephants on the east, and the expanded area for the elephants at the center of the building which will include a shallow pool. He indicated how the facility was divided into areas to be used by the general public, the zoo staff, and the elephants. He showed the roof plan including green roof areas above the barn addition and part of the existing building. Extensive skylights would provide natural light which is very desirable for the elephants. Some skylights would be operable to provide passive ventilation; they would be operated automatically in response to weather conditions, and shading or insulating cloths would be automatically extended when necessary. Exterior mechanical equipment would be set in a sunken roof area between the barn addition and the existing building.
Mr. Holleman described the proposed facade treatment. The south wall of the existing building, facing the outdoor habitat area, would be altered to provide a small addition and three large new openings to connect the interior and exterior habitat areas. The east facade would remain largely unchanged; the small addition on the east would be faced with stone taken from the existing south facade. On the north facade, facing Olmsted Walk, the existing building facade would be retained. All facades of the barn addition would be simple concrete walls rather than using stone facing along Olmsted Walk as previously proposed. He noted the unusual requirements for durability, including resistance to a 15,000-pound lateral load. He explained that the staff and service entrances to the barn addition have been simplified; a large moveable gate would screen the service and loading area from Olmsted Walk and would provide a setting for changeable display panels.
Mr. Holleman showed samples of the concrete that is being considered for the barn addition; two different tints are proposed to correspond to different conditions on the facades. He described the construction details of the concrete walls, including the extensive insulation system, the continuation of lines from the existing Elephant House, and the varied size of joints to articulate special openings. He explained that the barn addition is also designed to allow future conversion to other uses.
Mr. Holleman described the proposed outdoor shade structures which are required for the health of the elephants—one for a paddock that is intended for newborn elephants, three others near the Elephant House, and two more in a nearby habitat area; the lowest habitat area would have shade provided by an existing bridge. Additional shade canopies would project from the facades of the barn addition.
Mr. Holleman said that the path system and the paving details that would match the pine resin material used in the first phase of the Asia Trail project. Barriers alongside the paths would include guard rails along vegetated edges and viewing rails which allow unobstructed views into habitat areas. A minimal amount of night lighting would be provided along the paths for safety. The grading of the habitat areas would require the introduction of retaining walls; Mr. Holleman described the proposed construction method of concrete walls faced with castings of natural rocks. The zoo would use the irregular wall surfaces to place food for the elephants to discover, drawing the elephants toward the public viewing areas.
An "elephant camp" interpretive area would be located at the base of the valley; Mr. Holleman explained that the zoo staff had requested a design recalling an Asian camp. The proposal includes a single structure containing public restrooms and mechanical systems for the elephant pools; a service walkway at the top of the structure would provide access to the pool filters. The facades would include an extensive system of canopies, columns, and display panels. An additional open pavilion would accommodate further interpretive exhibits. Another special public viewing area would be an amphitheater located east of the Elephant House; the seating would provide views of one of the elephant pools, and shade structures would be included for the comfort of visitors.
Ms. Nelson commented that the space between shading devices appeared too large to provide sufficient shade to the gathering areas below. Mr. Holleman said that the size could be adjusted to improve the amount of shade. Mr. Powell asked if the zoo has African elephants in addition to the Asian elephants that are the subject of this proposal. Mr. Buehner said that the zoo has only Asian elephants; Mr. Holleman explained that the population of Asian elephants is much smaller and their natural habitat is in greater danger of disappearing.
Mr. Belle expressed support for the simplified design of the barn addition. Mr. Luebke asked for the opportunity for further staff review of the construction drawings. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the design subject to the staff's final review of the construction drawings for completeness.
F. District of Columbia Office of Property Management
CFA 21/JUN/07-6, Eastern Market, 225 7th Street, S.E. Restoration, rehabilitation, and additions. Revised concept to include repair of fire damage. (Previous: CFA 27/JUL/06- 9.) Mr. Simon introduced the project which had previously been approved at the concept stage with final review delegated to the staff. A major fire at Eastern Market's South Hall on April 30 had resulted in a revision to the scope of the proposed restoration, resulting in the submission of a revised concept. He noted the attendance of community members and the written comments that had been distributed to the Commission. He introduced Aimee Occhetti of the D.C. Office of Property Management to begin the presentation.
Ms. Occhetti said that the fire damage included destruction of the roof which had been in good condition and was not previously included in the restoration work. She emphasized the importance of moving the project forward expeditiously and said that the displaced vendors will be accommodated in a temporary structure until the renovation is complete. She introduced Baird Smith of Quinn Evans Architects to describe the proposal.
Mr. Smith described the four components that have been added to the project as a result of the fire: the South Hall roof, exterior lighting, minor alterations to site features, and the windows and doors. He showed photographs of the damage from the fire which had generated intense heat. He showed historic and modern photos of the South Hall roof and explained that the skylight framing appeared to have been part of the original roof design although it is unclear whether the skylight glass was ever installed; other roof features were added or removed in later years. The proposal now includes restoration of the original roof form to the greatest extent possible, including installation of the skylight and the use of natural slate. He said that the new roof would include insulation resulting in a slight thickening of the roof; previous alterations to the roof had added over two inches of thickness, and the new proposal would add an additional four to five inches. He said that the alteration to the roof profile would not be readily visible from the ground due to the projecting cornice around the building. He explained that several small flues are proposed to accommodate the needs of vendors; the detailing would be copied from historic flues in the building.
Mr. Smith described the structural issues involving the iron roof trusses. There was extensive damage to the trusses from the fire, and the truss design would not be strong enough to meet current building code requirements. Continued use of the trusses, regardless of the fire damage, would require substantial reinforcement that would be visible from within the market hall. Instead, the proposal is to remove alternate trusses and replace them with new steel trusses that would support the entire roof; the remaining historic trusses would be retained and reconditioned but would not carry structural loads. The new trusses would have slightly larger elements sizes than those of the historic trusses in order to accommodate the increased loads. The steel elements of the two new trusses at the roof hips, where substantial additional loads are present, would be more significantly larger, although the differences should not be visually obvious.
Mr. Smith explained that the project would include substantial excavation of exterior utilities as a result of the fire, resulting in the opportunity to install exterior lighting. He showed the various types of fixtures that are proposed: modern-style pole lights on the north plaza, which was designed in 1977; historically styled pole lights flanking the entrances to the South Hall; recessed lighting in the sidewalk paving to highlight the central entry pavilion on the east facade; and a wall-mounted light above the door of the central pavilion as seen in historic photographs. He emphasized that the exterior lighting would be minimal; additional light is already provided by the streetlights which will be supplemented by the interior light coming through the building's windows.
Mr. Smith described the minor site alterations that are proposed. Two new underground vaults at the back of the building would have steel gratings on top; a sidewalk freight elevator would be covered by a steel door. The previous proposal for air intake involved the addition of a false dormer to the roof; the new proposal would locate the air intakes across the alley at the adjacent swimming pool, involving construction of two brick intake towers approximately two feet square and ten feet high along with excavation to connect the towers to the Eastern Market building.
Mr. Smith showed the proposed glass for the windows to replace the plastic that was installed in 1977; the recent appearance of the plastic was translucent but he explained that it was originally clear and then degraded due to ultraviolet light. He said that the previously approved proposal was to install clear glass. In response to concern from vendors about the effect of direct sunlight on the food displays, the revised proposal is for a laminated glass with a milky finish and a layer of protection from ultraviolet light. For the skylights, a similar glass is proposed but with a more significant reduction in light transmission to avoid the introduction of harsh overhead light. He also explained that the replacement of door and window components would be more extensive due to the fire damage but would match the historic appearance.
Mr. Smith concluded by explaining the tight schedule for the project and asked the Commission to approve the revisions to the previous concept and to delegate further review to the staff.
Ms. Nelson commented that the use of different styles of pole lights around the building seemed inappropriate, even though the north plaza was designed more recently, and suggested that a single style of light be used. Mr. Smith agreed to consider this; he noted the residential context around the north plaza and said that the contemporary pole lights were chosen to concentrate all of the light downward rather than toward the neighboring residential buildings. Ms. Nelson said that the historically styled pole lights are more consistent with the building architecture.
Mr. Powell recognized two members of the community who wished to speak. Monte Edwards said that he chairs a subcommittee of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee which was established by D.C. law as part of the process for the Eastern Market renovation. Mr. Edwards said that this D.C. law specifically references the Secretary of the Interior's standards for historic preservation. He said that the configuration of barrier-free access is a concern: the previous proposal, which has not been modified, includes two accessible entrances on the South Hall's east facade; this solution would require ramps and railings within the building that would intrude on vendor space. He said that his subcommittee was advocating the placement of accessible entrances on the west facade where no ramping would be needed. This proposal would require the removal of a chimney built in 1940; the existing flue could be rerouted internally to reach the roof.
Mr. Edwards expressed support for most of the proposals for the roof but disagreed with the proposed installation of skylights. He said that the building's architect, Adolf Cluss, used clerestory windows rather than skylights in all of his other projects. He explained that the earliest historic photo, which dates to about eight years after the building's construction, does not appear to show glass skylights, so it is unlikely that they were originally installed and then removed soon afterward. He said the Advisory Committee has concluded that Cluss only included the framing to allow for future installation of skylights if the building were put to a different use; the known negative effects of direct sunlight on food would have made the skylights undesirable for a market hall. He expressed support for the vendors' concern about the impact of sunlight, saying that the proposed transmission-reducing glass for the skylight was helpful but that no skylights should be included at all since the lighting level within the building would be sufficiently improved by the replacement of the window and door glazing.
Mr. Edwards addressed the exterior lighting of the site. He expressed support for the proposed lighting of the north plaza but said that additional ambient lighting would be necessary for pedestrian safety. He said that the bright lighting under the exterior sheds was designed for merchant displays and should not be relied on for nighttime safety and convenience. He expressed support for an earlier proposal to install lights on the sheds that would illuminate the exterior of the building and highlight its architectural features.
Mr. Edwards concluded by discussing the historic paint colors that were determined through an analysis seven years ago. He said that the fire presents the opportunity to accurately restore the historic paint colors of the building.
Mr. Rybczynski asked who is advised by the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee. Mr. Edwards said that the committee advises the market manager and the D.C. Office of Property Management. Mr. Luebke noted that the D.C. government would submit the project to the D.C. Historic Preservation Office and he suggested that some of the technical preservation issues could be addressed during that review process.
Mr. Powell recognized Nancy Metzger, chair of the historic preservation committee of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. She said that her committee generally supports the comments of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee but has a different opinion concerning the skylights. She said that the skylight may have been initially installed and then removed soon after, perhaps as a result of technical problems. She said that her committee could support the proposed skylights with the provision that the light transmission be further reduced through measures such as fritting as part of the laminated glass assembly. She said that if an adequate technology is not currently available then the skylights should not be installed now. She also said that the new skylight assembly would likely be a modern manufactured system and it was not clear whether this would be consistent with the original framing design.
Mr. Rybczynski said that the specific historic preservation questions would be better addressed by a preservation review board rather than by the Commission. Mr. Powell agreed and reiterated that the D.C. government has such a review board; he suggested that the Commission discuss the overall design of the roof and skylight. Mr. Smith responded to the statement that Adolf Cluss did not use skylights elsewhere, saying that a wing of the Old Patent Office Building designed by Cluss includes many skylights.
Mr. Belle asked the project team if the type of glass had been given further consideration since the fire. Mr. Smith explained that all of the discussion about replacing the glass had occurred since the fire. He said that the previous proposal for addressing light transmission through the windows was blinds or shades within the building but this was discouraged by the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. As a result, the shading would need to be provided by the window glass itself.
Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the revised concept and delegated final review to the staff.
G. District of Columbia Public Schools
CFA 21/JUN/07-7, The School Without Walls (formerly the Grant School), 2130 G Street, N.W. Renovation and additions. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/SEP/06-5.) Ms. Penhoet explained that the revised concept includes changes to the front facade in response to comments from the Commission and the D.C. Office of Historic Preservation. She introduced Sean O'Donnell of Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects to present the proposal.
Mr. O'Donnell explained that the school was built in 1882 as an elementary school and has served for the last several decades as the home of the School Without Walls, an innovative public high school. He said that the project includes modernization of the 32,000-square-foot building and a new addition that would double the school's size. On the main facade facing G Street, the addition is designed to suggest a different neighboring building rather than an attachment to the historic facade; the new recessed entryway would allow the corner of the existing building to remain visible. He described the varying architectural features in the neighborhood, with buildings of many styles and periods; he noted the prevalence of bay windows. He said that the standard streetscape design of George Washington University would be used for the sidewalk area so that the school would be perceived as part of the surrounding university campus, corresponding to the operational partnerships between the school and the university. The recessed entry plaza of the school would be differentiated with bluestone paving to establish an independent identity for the School Without Walls as people approach and enter the building. He explained that the main entrance to the existing building would be closed because it includes a flight of steps as a barrier to entry; the new main entrance would be in the addition and the new entry plaza would be slightly elevated with access from steps or a short ramp.
Mr. O'Donnell described the G Street elevation in more detail. He showed the strong symmetric design of the existing building's facade with its central bay, the visual separation of the new addition's facade and its modern bay, the relationship of cornice heights and other horizontal alignments expressed through the design of the addition's window system, and the proportional relationship of the existing and new facades. He described the penthouse that punctuates the facade of the addition, echoing the tower on the existing building's facade; the penthouse would contain a media center with views across the university campus. He presented material samples of the curtainwall system, brick, precast concrete, and stone that are proposed for the facade and entry plaza.
Ms. Nelson asked about the red fin on the facade of the addition. Mr. O'Donnell said it would be part of the curtainwall system and would provide a visual accent for the new entrance; the material would be aluminum. Ms. Nelson said that the red fin appeared cheap; she suggested using a better-quality material such as glass or porcelain. Mr. Rybczynski agreed that a high-quality material would be appropriate for this special design gesture. Mr. O'Donnell acknowledged that the fin is a special feature that is intended to draw people toward the entrance, and he agreed to give further consideration to the choice of material.
Mr. Belle commented that the metal pieces of the proposed curtainwall system were unusually heavy. Mr. O'Donnell said that a smaller dimension was still being considered, but the thickness was partly due to the intention to provide operable windows for the classrooms. Mr. Belle supported the inclusion of operable windows but said that the thickness of the metal pieces was inelegant. He suggested that the two grey colors that are used in various parts of the curtainwall system could be carefully combined to reduce the apparent thickness and heaviness of the components. Mr. O'Donnell offered to study this further.
Upon a motion by Mr. Belle, with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the revised concept subject to the comments that were provided; the Commission delegated the final review to the staff.
H. District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the next three submissions, all public art projects submitted by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. They included sculptural embellishments for the Benning Road Bridge; a sculpture for Edward "Duke" Ellington Plaza; and sculptures and metal pavers for Washington Canal Park. He noted the attendance of community representatives interested in addressing the Commission. He introduced Rachel Dickerson of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, project manager for the public art programs, who asked to begin with the Washington Canal Park sculpture (item II.H.3).
3. CFA 21/JUN/07-10, Washington Canal Park, 2nd Street between I and M Streets, S.E. Sculptures and metal pavers by David Hess. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/OCT/06-4, new park design.) Ms. Dickerson said that her agency has been coordinating this project with the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, the Canal Park Development Association, and the landscape architecture firm for the park, Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd. She said David Hess was selected as the sculptor because his proposal had themes that reflected the character, history, and urban nature of the neighborhood as well as the innovative approach to low-impact design seen in the work of the landscape design firm. She introduced Mr. Hess to present his work and the proposed installation.
Mr. Hess showed photos of his works in the Baltimore area which were similar to his proposal for Washington Canal Park: large-scale hollow metal sculptures supported on below-grade footings. One of the themes of the park is water, relating to the former presence of a canal on the site, and he said that his sculptures would reinforce this theme and emphasize the concept of confluence. He proposed two large sculptures that would be placed at opposite ends of the three-block-long park; he said they would act as "bookends." At the north end of the park, he proposed a hollow stainless-steel funnel-shaped sculpture, 12 feet in diameter, that would collect rainwater; at the south end, he proposed a 24-foot-tall copper conical sculpture. He said that weathering would produce a rich patina on both pieces. Radial lines on the sculptures would allude to geologic strata, hydrology and naval construction. Applied letters made from contrasting metals would be used to give information on the site's history, geology, and ecology.
Gerry Greaney, Mr. Hess's associate, spoke about the inscriptions in more detail. Mr. Greaney said that the proposal includes text on the two large sculptures and additional text located on metal pavers that would be embedded in the ground, on walls, or in nearby sidewalks. The circular form of the pavers would relate to the shape of the two large sculptures. He said that the text would emphasize the cultural history of the site to complement the ecological emphasis of the landscape design. He said that the metal pavers could be updated in the future to describe additional important events, and additional pavers could be sited in the nearby community.
Mr. Powell commented that the two large sculptures would be so far apart that they could be considered independent works. Mr. Belle and Ms. Nelson agreed; they commented that the presentation gives the misleading impression that the two sculptures are closer together. Mr. Hess and Mr. Greaney responded that the two sculptures would relate through the memory of the viewer, just as the long narrow form of the park results in a variety of forms that cannot be experienced simultaneously. Mr. Greaney acknowledged that the distance between the park's two entry points was a design challenge, but he said that the locations allow the sculptures to relate to the cistern on the south and the connection to nearby Garfield Park on the north.
Rodrigo Abela, a landscape designer with Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, spoke about the cistern on the southern plaza for the collection and reuse of stormwater; he said that the proximity of the cone, with its water-stained copper surface and the color continuing onto the cobblestones below, would relate well to the cistern. He said that his firm supports the siting of the sculptures and acknowledged that additional ground-level perspectives would be helpful in refining the proportions of the sculptures.
Ms. Nelson expressed support for the forms of the two large sculptures but questioned the appropriateness of placing text on them. Mr. Greaney said that the text on these sculptures would relate to cyclical themes that could be expressed through the round forms and curved lines, such as with a timeline. Ms. Nelson questioned the appropriateness of combining nautical imagery with timelines, commenting that the emphasis of the sculptures should be on their form rather than on text; Mr. Powell agreed.
Mr. Belle expressed concern that most of the presentation was about the text and not about the two large sculptures and the relationship between them. Mr. Rybczynski expressed support for the size of the sculptures and joined in discouraging the placement of text on these pieces, saying that they would be perceived as kiosks rather than as sculptures. Mr. Abela responded that the metal of the lettering was intended to contribute to the patina and staining of the sculptures. Mr. Belle suggested that applied metal could be used without actually forming text. Mr. Hess responded that the text was intended to make the sculptures part of an educational process as seen in Washington's museums; the text on the sculptures could provide hints of the additional text on the metal pavers. Mr. Hess and Mr. Greaney agreed to consider the Commission's recommendations.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept with these comments and delegated final review to the staff. Mr. Belle abstained; he discussed his abstention at the conclusion of the discussion on the third sculpture (item II.H.2).
The Commission then returned to the order of the agenda with item II.H.1.
1. CFA 21/JUN/07-8, Benning Road Bridge, Benning Road over the Anacostia River, N.E. Sculptural enhancements by Garth Edwards. Concept. [Previous drafts of the agenda referred to the location incorrectly as the Lorraine H. Whitlock Memorial Bridge.] Ms. Dickerson said that her agency has been coordinating this project with the D.C. Department of Transportation and the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation. The proposed sculptural enhancements by sculptor Garth Edwards are intended to improve the experience of pedestrians and motorists crossing the bridge.
Mr. Edwards showed photographs of some of his work and then one of the Benning Road Bridge, which he described as a bare industrial bridge that gave no hint of the beauty of the natural landscape and wildlife underneath. He described his proposal for anodized aluminum sculptures depicting various stylized plants and animals which would be anchored to the piers along the length of the bridge. Near the ends of the bridge would be stylized aluminum flower baskets on tall poles. He explained that the sculptures would be three-dimensional rather than the flat cutouts depicted in the models.
Ms. Nelson said that the proposed sculptures were very appealing and appropriate but commented that the tall baskets would be jarring, difficult for motorists to see, and would detract from the other sculptures. She suggested that the tall baskets be removed from the project; Mr. Rybczynski agreed and said that this would place more emphasis on the sculptures along the piers.
Mr. Powell recognized Dorothy Douglas, chair of the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission, who asked to address the Commission. Ms. Douglas said she had spoken to Ms. Dickerson about the importance of sharing the plans for projects like this with the community before the project was too far along, particularly because the sculpture would mark a gateway to the community. Mr. Powell thanked her for coming, and Ms. Nelson expressed support for community involvement in projects.
Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the project with the recommendation to eliminate the tower elements. Mr. Belle abstained; he discussed his abstention at the conclusion of the discussion on the third sculpture (item II.H.2).
2. CFA 21/JUN/07-9, Edward "Duke" Ellington Plaza, T and 7th Streets and Florida Avenue, N.W. Sculpture by Zachary Oxman. Concept. Ms. Dickerson introduced the proposal for a sculpture of Duke Ellington to be placed in the Duke Ellington Plaza that is being developed by the D.C. Department of Transportation. She introduced the sculptor, Zachary Oxman from Bethesda, Maryland, to present the proposal.
Mr. Oxman began by showing photos of his work, commenting that he often deconstructs elements and then reassembles them in different scales and contexts to give an energy and clarity to the message he is trying to send. In the case of the Ellington statue, he said that he was designing a piece that would be a gateway to the community while also being accessible to the individual viewer on a more intimate level. The larger-than-life stainless-steel figure shows Ellington composing and playing while sitting on a giant treble clef resembling those he drew in his hand-written scores. Mr. Oxman explained that the treble clef is used as an entry to a musical score, just as this sculpture will be a gateway to the community. He described the piano keys that begin as a literal connection to the composer and then spiral upward to create a vortex of melodic energy. He said that the musical staff represents the musician's canvas and in this case represents Ellington's future possibilities and greatness.
Mr. Oxman described the proposed base for the statue, designed in the shape of a grand piano; it would be made of poured concrete faced with black granite that could be inscribed with text. The statue itself would be made of fabricated and cast stainless steel with a brushed finish and would be 20 feet tall. The treble clef and floating keys would be made from sheet stainless steel.
Mr. Oxman said he had been asked to give some ideas on the plaza design, although he would be working with the architects for the overall project. He had suggested aligning the sculpture with T Street, as had the selection committee; he commented that the statue would become a focal point for people exiting the nearby Howard Theater. He said that his other suggestions for the plaza included low plantings, a seating area and seat walls, and large open areas for pedestrian movement throughout the plaza.
Ms. Nelson asked if constructing the whole sculpture in stainless steel would give the project more impact and unity. She also commented that the musical staff needed further study, and she said that the piano leg appeared to be too prominent and could perhaps be removed entirely. Mr. Powell and Mr. Rybczynski supported the suggestion to remove the piano leg. Mr. Oxman agreed with the recommendation but explained that the leg was structural; he said he would study the possibility of supporting the weight some other way. Mr. Powell said that the rendering of Ellington's face would be important.
Ms. Nelson commented that this very large stainless-steel sculpture should not be placed in a setting that was too garden-like; she recommended that the site vegetation should be limited. She also suggested that the artist reconsider the base, perhaps using all stainless steel to create more unity with the figural sculpture.
The Commission approved the concept design and delegated final review to the staff, whom they asked to work with the artist to refine the design in accordance with the Commission's comments. Mr. Belle abstained as he had with the other two sculpture submissions, saying that while he thought that aspects of all three projects were commendable, there was little or no relationship between the artist and the site and that closer collaboration is needed in the design process. Mr. Powell agreed that it would be helpful to see closer coordination of the art projects with their context.
I. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Mr. Luebke noted the imminent loss of a quorum and suggested that the Commission reverse the order of the remaining two projects on the agenda (item II.I.2 followed by item II.I.1).
2. Old Georgetown Act
O.G. 07-164, Wormley School—Encore Development, 3305-3313 Prospect Street, N.W. Six new townhouses. Permit. (Previous: O.G. 06-261, CFA 16 November 2006.) Mr. Luebke explained that the project was reviewed this month by the Old Georgetown Board and the Commission could decide whether to adopt the Board's recommendation. Mr. Martinez summarized the project involving six townhouses that are proposed as part of the adaptive reuse of the Wormley School in Georgetown; the townhouses would be located on the grounds of the school building, which would remain. The concept was reviewed by the Board and the Commission in November 2006. The Board reviewed the final design in June 2007 and has provided a report with several recommendations. Mr. Martinez explained that the applicant has subsequently revised the submission to address the Board's concerns regarding the facades; other features needing further study have been removed from the submission, including the garden wall, the access gate, and the uplighting of trees along the sidewalk. He said that the Board's report has therefore been updated to recommend approval of the revised submission; the unresolved features would be addressed in a future review. He introduced architect Elizabeth Shepard of Cunningham + Quill Architects.
Ms. Shepard showed the street elevation of the townhouses and said that the facade details were revised in response to the Board's comments. Ms. Nelson expressed support for the design and asked whether the parapet above the parking garage entrance had been relocated as the Board requested. Ms. Shepard said that the parapet design was being studied further in conjunction with the remaining features of the landscape design.
Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission adopted the favorable revised recommendation of the Old Georgetown Board.
The Commission then returned to agenda item II.I.1. Mr. Powell departed at this point, resulting in the loss of a quorum.
1. Shipstead-Luce Act
S.L. 07-101, Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street, S.W. Revised design for additions, alterations, and reconfiguration. Revised concept. (Previous: S.L. 05-091, CFA 15 September 2005.) Ms. Penhoet introduced architect Bing Thom to present the newly revised concept; the concept for the project was first presented to the Commission in 2003 and then a revised concept was presented in 2005. Mr. Thom explained that the design was completed in 2005 but funding was not available; now the funding is available but escalating costs have made it necessary to propose further revisions to the design. He described the site with two existing theaters along the Southwest waterfront, an area that will be extensively redeveloped in the near future. He explained the overall concept to retain the two theaters, demolish the existing support facilities, add a new experimental theater, and create a large new roof that would encapsulate the three theaters; new support facilities would be contained within the complex but would not be a prominent feature of the design.
Mr. Thom showed the revisions to the original concept, including cost-saving measures and refinements to the design. The roof form was adjusted to reduce the extent of its projection and introduce skylights in some areas; adjustments to the position of the window wall resulted in the perception of a greater cantilever in other areas. The alignment of the window wall was simplified. The profile of the roof edges was given more curvature to add a sense of lyricism and make it appear more slender. The apartments on top of the building were eliminated and the form of the new theater was therefore extended up through the roof to provide a vertical feature. The spiralling inner wall containing the new theater, originally to be clad in zinc, would now be constructed of concrete with a stained textured finish. The proposed water features surrounding the project have mostly been replaced with grass. The position of an exterior wall was adjusted to eliminate the large cantilever of the rehearsal rooms. The fire exiting requirements have been restudied and some solid exit areas have been eliminated, improving the openness of the design. The proposal for two levels of below-grade parking has been reduced to a single level.
Mr. Thom explained that the roof would be supported on tilted columns made of recycled wood. He showed examples of similar columns used in another project in Vancouver. Mr. Rybczynski asked if the details of the Vancouver project would be used at the Arena Stage; Mr. Thom said the detailing would be very similar. He presented material samples for the wood columns, glass windows and spandrels, stainless steel fixtures, aluminum, and tinted concrete. Ms. Nelson asked about the color of the wood; Mr. Thom said the walnut would have a natural finish. He clarified that that the wood columns would be quite large, with an elliptical profile having a maximum diameter of three feet. Mr. Rybczynski asked about the finish texture of the concrete; Mr. Thom said that the concrete formwork would be rough wood boards, preferably old wood if it could be obtained.
Mr. Belle asked Mr. Thom what he regretted losing in the revision process. Mr. Thom said that the loss of water and housing were the most significant; he said that he had liked the idea of people living at the theater building. He also noted the reduction in the amount of parking. He said the project cost had to be reduced from $95 million to $75 million. Much of the savings was achieved through reductions in the mechanical systems; he said that the architectural finishes were generally maintained. Mr. Luebke said that the staff had encouraged the architect to retain the key features of the design, particularly the slender roof profile, which could have been adversely affected by such deep cost cuts.
Ms. Nelson expressed support for the design of the roof and the columns, saying that the project combines toughness and elegance. She expressed regret at the elimination of the water features but acknowledged that maintenance of the fountains would be difficult. She asked Mr. Thom if he has done other projects to enclose an existing building within a new roof. He said this type of design was unusual and emphasized the importance of selecting the right glass. Ms. Nelson asked if the interiors of the existing theaters would be remodeled; Mr. Thom said they would be totally redone and their acoustics would be improved. Ms. Nelson commented that the original concept has been maintained and sometimes improved; Mr. Belle agreed.
Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski, with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the revised concept and delegated final review to the staff, with the understanding that this action would be ratified by a quorum at the Commission's next meeting.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:12 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Last Modified: August 1, 2007