Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
15 November 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 10:07 a.m.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
A. Approval of the minutes of the 18 October meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the October meeting were circulated to the members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes without objection, upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Belle.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: January 17, February 21, and March 20. There were no objections.
C. Proposed amendment to the submission policy. Mr. Luebke requested that the Commission consider a rule change concerning the time duration during which the Commission’s approval actions would remain valid for cases submitted by the D.C. government under the Shipstead-Luce Act and Old Georgetown Act. He explained that the Commission’s approval of these cases is currently valid for four years, while the D.C. government’s approval of these cases is valid for two years, which sometimes results in an inconsistent status for a project. He proposed that the Commission change the duration of its approvals for such projects to two years in order to match the D.C. process. He said that these cases, submitted by the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, are separate from the federal and D.C. government projects that the Commission otherwise reviews which would continue to have a four-year validity period for the Commission’s approvals.
Mr. Powell and Ms. Nelson commented favorably on the proposed rule amendment. On a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission adopted the proposal. Mr. Luebke said that the amendment would be published in the Federal Register with an effective date that would likely be in 2008.
D. Report on October 2007 inspection of objects proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Luebke reported that the Commission had inspected several Japanese scrolls at the Freer Gallery after the October 2007 meeting; he said that Mr. Powell had approved their acquisition. The items included a 14th-century scroll of Buddha, a pair of 15th-century landscapes, a set of three 17th-century portrait scrolls, and a mounted folding fan from the 17th century. Mr. Powell commented that the Commission members gave enthusiastic support to the Freer’s acquisition of these scrolls.
E. Report on site inspections. Mr. Luebke provided a report on the Commission members’ site inspections the previous evening and the morning prior to the meeting. At Judiciary Square, the Commission viewed mockups of several components of the Judiciary Square Master Plan: lighting for Building A in the evening as a prototype for the proposed lighting of several court buildings around Judiciary Square; and an inspection of bollards and fencing in the morning. Mr. Luebke noted that these inspections were a follow-up to the previous review of the master plan and were not associated with a current agenda item.
He summarized the Commission members’ comments and offered to incorporate these into a letter to the D.C. Courts. He said that the members expressed support for the general idea of uplighting on the facades but suggesting that the lighting be warmer in character and much less bright. The Commission supported the proposed lighting of the building’s end pavilions while recommending that the fixtures be less bright and less visible. The members were not convinced that the lighting of the arched windows would be effective and suggested further study of this proposal. The proposed lighting of the stone grilles should be eliminated because the lighting would draw too much attention to this minor architectural feature. The entrance area would be sufficiently lit by the general lighting of the building facade without need for additional accent lights. The Commission requested that these recommendations be incorporated into a supplemental mockup. Regarding the site elements, Mr. Luebke said that the Commission members had expressed support for the metal fencing while expressing concern that the bollard design is reminiscent of concrete block construction; they suggested further study of the size of joints, color of mortar, and, if possible, the size of the masonry blocks.
Mr. Luebke said that comments from the morning site visits to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial site and the Lincoln Memorial grounds would be discussed with the corresponding agenda items (II.B.1 and II.B.2).
As an additional administrative item, Mr. Luebke noted that a vacancy announcement is being advertised for an architect on the Commission staff; the closing date for applications is December 17. An announcement would also be posted soon for the historian position.
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 that there were no revisions to the draft appendix. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the appendix.
Appendix II — Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Mr. Lindstrom reported that the staff has added one project to the appendix: case number S.L. 07- 018, involving the repair of an existing front porch at 471 H Street, N.W., with a favorable recommendation. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Appendix III — Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported several revisions to the draft appendix: of the four cases with unfavorable recommendations, all involving concept designs, two have been postponed at the request of the applicants; other recommendations have been revised due to supplemental drawings; and additional detail drawings are pending for one project. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 15/NOV/07-1, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Independence Avenue, S.W., at the Tidal Basin. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 15/FEB/07-1.) Mr. Luebke introduced the presentation of revisions to the design concept since the previous presentations, including a general update on the design and particular details of the central sculptural elements, the landscape plan, the visitor services building, materials, and lighting. He said that some issues remain outstanding as explained by the National Park Service to the sponsoring foundation in a letter that has been circulated to the Commission members. Concerns include the increased scale of the “Stone of Hope” and its sculpture of Dr. King; the design of the water elements; the character and scale of the landscape; and the scale of the visitor services building.
Mr. Luebke introduced John Parsons and Sally Blumenthal of the National Park Service, noting that both will be retiring at the end of the year; he expressed thanks for their dedication and commitment to the design of the national capital. Mr. Powell added thanks and congratulations on behalf of the Commission members, and he asked the staff to prepare resolutions in their honor. Mr. Parsons expressed appreciation for the guidance of the staff and Commission members over the years, including the review of designs for twenty-five memorials that will be part of the national capital in perpetuity. He added his appreciation for the Commission’s assistance in disapproving projects that were not appropriate for the city. He introduced his successor, Peter May, who has previously worked for the D.C. Office of Property Management and for the Architect of the Capitol.
Mr. Parsons explained that the National Park Service has submitted the current version of the design, notwithstanding the concerns expressed in its letter, to receive the Commission’s comments at this concept stage; he said that the design is progressing well overall. He introduced Dr. Ed Jackson, the executive architect with the sponsoring foundation, to start the design presentation.
Dr. Jackson explained that the design revisions are based on consultations with the staff of the Commission, the National Park Service, and the National Capital Planning Commission. He said that the design, as well as the fundraising, is nearing the foundation’s desired goal. He introduced architect Ronald Kessler of McKissack & McKissack and landscape architect Sheila Brady of Oehme, van Sweden & Associates.
Mr. Kessler said that his firm’s involvement with the project in recent months has involved improvements to the constructability of the design details while maintaining the integrity of the existing design. He reviewed the project location and several revisions to the site plan. The geometry near the Tidal Basin has been changed from an angular to a curved form. Seating has been relocated to be further from the Tidal Basin. He showed the resolution of grade issues at the northwest area of the site along the primary entrance route. The walkway would be sloped to descend four feet from the street to the memorial plaza. The walls flanking the walkway would serve as retaining walls against the adjacent raised landscaped areas. The grade difference would be as much as ten feet, resulting in walls that were taller than desired; the design has therefore been revised to include sloped ground surfaces in the landscaped areas as much as possible, with a greatly reduced height for the flanking walls. Mr. Kessler added that the remaining wall surfaces would provide a suitable surface for an entrance inscription that would read “Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.” He said that lighting is also now incorporated into the design of this entrance walkway. He explained that these walls would be angled rather than vertical to reduce the perceived height; the landscaping above would also be designed to extend over the top of the walls to further reduce the apparent height. He showed a sample of the proposed material: granite with a green tone, which would also be used for the curbs, benches, and paving. The wall would have a honed finish; the paving would have a thermal finish.
Mr. Kessler explained that the location of the Stone of Hope has been adjusted to bring it ten feet closer to the “Mountain of Despair;” the resulting distance is approximately thirty feet. Ms. Nelson asked for details on the reason for this change. Mr. Kessler said that one reason is to improve the visual relationship between the Stone of Hope and the two walls of the Mountain of Despair, since the relation of these components is part of the design concept. Another reason is to move the Stone of Hope further from the curbing of the landscape beds near the Tidal Basin. He explained that position of the Stone of Hope has also been rotated slightly so that visitors entering from the northwest will have a sense of the sculpture rather than only seeing the back of the Stone of Hope.
Mr. Kessler showed how the stone sizes of the Stone of Hope and the Mountain of Despair are being coordinated with the sculptor and the structural engineer, resulting in sizes of approximately five feet by six or seven feet. Mr. Belle asked how the heights were determined. Mr. Kessler said that the earlier design drawings from 2005 showed a height of 28 feet; the current height is 31 feet 4 inches above the surface of the pavers. He discussed the detailing of the Stone of Hope and Mountain of Despair at the ground level; the intention was to have these elements appear to be rising from the earth rather than resting on the pavers. He said that a substantial trough at the ground level could create problems for maintenance or safety. The proposed solution is a one-inch slot around these elements that would be filled with granite chips made from the same material as the pavers, contrasting with the granite of the Stone of Hope.
Mr. Kessler discussed the design of the water elements that would separate the Mountain of Despair components from the “Inscription Walls;” he emphasized that these elements will be entirely different in character so a transition is necessary. The proposed water features would be approximately five feet wide and ten feet tall, which is lower than the adjacent twelve-foot height of the Inscription Walls. Ms. Nelson asked for further details of the materials in this area; Mr. Kessler showed the granite samples for the Inscription Walls, the water elements, and the Mountain of Despair, which would have a much rougher finish. He showed details of the water elements, including angled walls similar to the adjacent Inscription Walls and pools at the top and bottom. He said that the bottom pools would be covered by gratings aligned with the pavers in order to deemphasize the presence of the water pools; this would also eliminate any problems of safety, wading, or appearance of the water. Ms. Nelson asked if the water would be turned off in the winter; Mr. Kessler said that this would be possible. He emphasized that the design is intended to work well without the water: the grates will remain visible regardless of whether water is flowing, and the lighting is designed to highlight the contrasting textures of the adjacent stone surfaces even if water is not present. Ms. Balmori asked where the water pumping equipment would be located. Mr. Kessler said the equipment would be in an underground vault on the west side of the site along West Basin Drive. He said that the intention is to locate the vault as far as possible from the memorial’s plaza; the operational limit is 150 feet from the water feature.
Mr. Kessler showed the lettering sample for the Inscription Walls; he said the font is still being finalized and the proposal is to use a light coloration of the lettering; silver with a matte finish has been chosen after consultation with the lighting designer. He said that the landscaping would extend over the top of the Inscription Walls, similar to the treatment of the walls flanking the entrance path. He showed that the lowest ends of the tapering Inscription Walls would be two and three feet high, varying due to the different lengths of the two walls—200 feet and 250 feet. The walls would be composed of five-foot panels with dry joints; slightly larger expansion joints would be included at twenty-five-foot intervals. The appearance of the joints would be minimized to emphasize the continuity of the walls and avoid disruption of the inscriptions.
Ms. Nelson asked for further information about the lighting of the Inscription Walls. Mr. Kessler said that lighting fixtures would be placed in a continuous raised enclosure placed parallel to the walls. He said that the fixtures would be above grade, based on consultation with the National Park Service, in order to minimize problems with maintenance and water. The enclosures would be eleven inches high and slightly under two feet wide, allowing people to step across them. The ends of the enclosures would taper down to the plaza level. Mr. Powell asked how floodwater would affect the lighting fixtures and the plants. Mr. Kessler said that this issue would be addressed as it arises; he said that placement of lighting fixtures above the Inscription Walls was considered but this would interrupt the visual continuity of the top of the walls.
Mr. McKinnell asked about the extent and height of the inscriptions. Mr. Kessler said the inscriptions occur along the full length of the walls. The lowest line of text would be at a constant height of approximately four feet above the plaza; additional upper lines would be added as the height of the wall increases, with longer quotations to be located in the taller portions of the walls. At the lowest ends of each wall, six panels would have no text, and then the first panels of text would have a single line identifying the memorial.
Mr. Kessler showed details of the proposed benches in the revised location and the plaza surface. Each of the landscape islands flanking the plaza would have a green granite bench approximately sixty feet long with an angled shape corresponding to other elements of the memorial design. The plaza paving pattern would have organizing lines at seven-foot intervals and a more random pattern within this lines, using square or rectangular pavers of varying sizes. Near the Inscription Walls, the paving would be adjusted in pattern and color to provide additional emphasis.
Mr. Kessler described the two ancillary buildings that are proposed, intended to incorporate a similar design aesthetic. One building would contain the bookstore and restrooms; the other would be a visitor contact station for a National Park Service ranger. The bookstore and restrooms would each be contained in 34-foot-square structures with a trellis-covered plaza between them. He showed samples of the exterior materials of glass with a bronze-colored framing system and granite similar to the stone used for the memorial.
Mr. Kessler explained that the elevations would be organized into modules of 4 feet 3 inches for the bookstore and restroom building and three feet eight inches for the visitor contact station. The facades would be three modules high for the glass-enclosed areas—transparent for the bookstore, translucent for the restrooms—and four modules high for some of the granite-clad portions to provide additional height for enclosure of mechanical equipment. The general interior ceiling height in the middle of the third module would be expressed on the exterior with a horizontal sunscreen; the ceiling would be sloped upward near the glass facades to allow the full height of glass to be lit from within. Mr. Luebke asked for clarification of the heights shown in the on-site mockup that the Commission members had viewed earlier in the day. Mr. Parsons said that one pole in the center of the mockup for the bookstore and restroom building was marked at the height of four modules, and two corners were marked at the height of three modules.
Ms. Nelson asked for further information on the finish of the framing system. Mr. Kessler said that a matte finish would be used; the bronze color may be revised further and a sample would be shown to the Commission when a specific proposal is presented. Ms. Nelson asked why the program includes both a bookstore and a visitor contact station; she suggested combining these functions into a single facility or placing the ranger station in a booth adjacent to the bookstore. Mr. Parsons explained that the location of the visitor contact station allows a ranger to see across the memorial plaza, making the ranger visible to those visiting the memorial. Ms. Nelson asked if the visitor contact station would be staffed at all times; Mr. Parsons said that staffing would typically extend until midnight.
Ms. Nelson asked where the bus drop-off area would be located, commenting that the preferred visitor experience would involve entering from the northwest corner of the site. Mr. Kessler acknowledged that the primary entrance is at the northwest, although groups might begin by congregating at the ancillary buildings to the southwest; he suggested that a group’s guide could help bring them to the primary entrance walkway to the memorial. Dr. Jackson said that the National Park Service had encouraged a memorial design with multiple entry and exit points due to the variety of routes connecting to other nearby memorials and paths. He said that the National Park Service prefers that the bus drop-off area be located near the restrooms and the visitor contact station.
Ms. Brady presented the landscape design refinements in response to comments from the National Park Service and the Commission staff. She described the general goal of “weaving together” the memorial and the landscape around the Tidal Basin. She showed the proposed location of additional cherry trees toward the southeast that would supplement the existing cherry trees along the Tidal Basin. On the northwest, rows of American elm trees would be placed along the street edges, and the proposed hills framing the memorial’s primary entrance path would be planted with cherry trees placed among evergreen shrubs. Jasmine shrubs would be placed to cascade over the edges above the memorial walls. The cherry trees proposed for this area would provide a relatively low backdrop for the memorial walls and would relate the memorial to the landscape of the Tidal Basin. The landscape islands within the memorial plaza would be planted with cherry trees and crape myrtles, with a ground plane of day lilies and iris. She said these plantings were chosen for their color, season, and ease of maintenance.
Ms. Balmori asked if the modestly scaled cherry trees would provide sufficient shade for the memorial’s visitors; Mr. McKinnell commented that this is particularly a concern within the large plaza area where visitors would gather to read the text on the Inscription Walls. Ms. Brady agreed that shade is a design goal and said that the fully mature cherry trees, as seen at the adjacent Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, have a surprisingly large canopy that provides reasonable shade. She said that the trees within the islands are closely spaced to provide shaded areas of respite and contemplation in contrast to the open character of the plaza.
Lighting consultant David Mintz presented the proposed lighting. He said that he designed the recent lighting for the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial, both involving monumental buildings, while the emphasis at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is on lighting a space. He said that the effect is intended to evoke the ideals and spirit of Dr. King rather than the man himself, and the lighting would be softer and more subtle than the lighting for Lincoln and Jefferson. The subdued lighting is also intended to avoid competing with these nearby major memorials.
He described the lighting along the primary entrance path at the northwest, with low-level indirect lighting of the pathway from two coves along the flanking walls. The entrance route then passes between the side walls of the Mountain of Despair which would not be lit. The Inscription Walls would be lit from the raised enclosures parallel to the walls; these enclosures would also serve to encourage people to stay an appropriate distance from the wall for reading the inscriptions, while not preventing them from stepping closer if desired. He emphasized that the above-grade solution for these lights would be easier to maintain than below-grade fixtures, with less problem of drainage and leaf collection. The lighting would be relatively even across the wall, with slight highlights on the areas of text; a similar technique is used at the Jefferson Memorial and Lincoln Memorial. The Stone of Hope would be lit from standards with highlights of the inscriptions on the sides and the sculpture of Dr. King. Additional lighting within the planting areas would highlight the trees and provide ambient light; fluorescent or low-maintenance LED fixtures would be used for the cove lights.
Mr. Rybczynski asked whether alternative designs were considered for lighting the Inscription Walls. Mr. Mintz said that a below-grade trough was ruled out due to maintenance concerns. A handrail with lighting was considered but the decision was that a handrail would be visually intrusive in front of the wall; lighting from above was rejected because the effect would resemble a billboard. Mr. Rybczynski asked if the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial uses lighting from above. Mr. Mintz responded that the lighting at that memorial relies on incandescent lamps which need frequent replacement and focusing, which is not desired. Mr. Rybczynski asked if the separate recessed lights at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial would be a good solution. Mr. Parsons said that the lighting at that memorial had failed and needed replacement two years ago; he said that condensation continues to be a problem. Ms. Balmori asked if the proposed above-grade enclosure would still be difficult for maintenance and changing bulbs. Mr. Mintz said that the enclosure would not need to be waterproof or air-tight; air would circulate to prevent condensation. Ms. Balmori commented that flooding might still be a concern for this low-lying site.
Ms. Nelson commented that the lighting enclosure is obtrusively large and might be a tripping hazard, particularly since visitors will be focusing their attention on the text along the walls; she suggested further consideration of a handrail with lighting. Mr. Mintz responded that the enclosure is intended to be large enough to be readily apparent to pedestrians so it will not be a tripping hazard, while being small enough to step over easily and unobtrusive due to the cladding in the same stone as the plaza paving. Mr. McKinnell commented that the design goals involve a contradiction between visibility and unobtrusiveness. He also noted that the section through the enclosure shows that the lamps would be located below the grade level; Mr. Mintz explained that this section was still being studied, and the final design would place the lamps above the grade level. Mr. McKinnell asked if this design revision would raise the height of the overall enclosure; Mr. Mintz agreed that it would.
Mr. Belle asked why lighting from above would be undesirable. Mr. Mintz responded that the fixtures would have to be placed on obtrusive arms extending outward from the top of the wall. Mr. Belle suggested that the lighting could be in the coping at the top of the wall; Mr. Mintz said that this solution would not provide a sufficient angle for the lighting. Ms. Balmori suggested a cove at the bottom of the walls, but Mr. Mintz said this would be particularly unsatisfactory due to the sloping face of the walls. Ms. Balmori suggested that the base lighting could project outward to provide a sufficient angle; Mr. Mintz said that result would put the lights in approximately the location that is proposed in order to provide even lighting across the full height of the walls. Mr. Rybczynski suggested lighting from standards set within the landscaped islands; Mr. Mintz said that this could result in visitors’ shadows being cast on the walls as they are trying to read the text. Mr. McKinnell commented that the proposed lighting near grade level would provide an opportunity for people to generate shadows by walking in front of the lights; he said that this configuration might attract children to play in the lights. Mr. Mintz acknowledged this possibility and added that visitors might also step over the lights to pose for pictures alongside the inscriptions.
Ms. Nelson asked for further details of the lighting for the Stone of Hope. Mr. Mintz showed the two standards that would be used for lighting the sides and front; the back would have ambient lighting and reflected light from the water features instead of direct lighting.
Mr. Powell opened the discussion for general comments and invited Mr. Parsons to discuss further his letter expressing concerns with the memorial design. Mr. Parsons said that he was satisfied that the design team would be responding to this letter along with the Commission’s comments; he said that the design did not yet reflect a response to the letter’s concerns. Dr. Jackson noted that the design team had sent a response to the National Park Service; a copy was provided to the Commission members later in the discussion.
Ms. Nelson commented that the scale of the memorial remains a general concern, particularly the height and mass of the elements which are growing as the design is developed. She said that the morning site visit to the mockup gave some sense of the problematic scale and suggested that a more complete mockup, including scaffolding draped with cloth, would be valuable in the design process. She said that the memorial should encourage visitors to relate to Dr. King as a human being, which she said would be difficult due to the large scale of the proposed sculpture depicting him. She noted that a child looking up at the sculpture would have difficulty seeing his face, while backing up from the statue to provide a better viewing angle would bring a visitor to the water of the Tidal Basin. She urged careful study of the scale of the Stone of Hope and its relation to the Mountain of Despair. She questioned the decision to move the Stone of Hope closer to the Mountain of Despair, commenting that the previous distance created an interesting tension while the closer location provides a more obvious relationship. She said that the proposed paving pattern has a relatively small scale compared to the large size of the plaza; she suggested further study of this feature. She also suggested reconsideration of the proposed lighting enclosures paralleling the Inscription Walls.
Mr. McKinnell agreed with Ms. Nelson’s comments, particularly the scale of the paving, which he said is domestic in character compared to the grandeur of the overall memorial concept. He suggested that the paving pattern be more random, rather than repetitive, across the larger scale. He reiterated the importance of a mockup for the sculpture, particularly in relation to the potential conflict of viewing angles with the Tidal Basin. He commented that a literal three-dimensional representation of Dr. King would be problematic because of the distortion caused by the viewing angles. Mr. McKinnell also said that the overall amount of text in the memorial is excessive, notwithstanding the importance of words to Dr. King’s legacy, and suggested that the text along the walls flanking the primary entrance path could be eliminated to simplify the design. Dr. Jackson said that only the name of the memorial is proposed along these walls; Mr. McKinnell said that the memorial design would be iconic enough that even this minimal text would be unnecessary.
Regarding the proposed ancillary buildings, Mr. McKinnell commented that the visitor contact station would be ineffective in providing surveillance of the memorial and harms the clarity of the memorial design which should be centered on the Stone of Hope and the Inscription Walls. He said that the building with the bookstore and restrooms is elegant and well designed but too large; he suggested that the height be reduced.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that the proposed design of the water features is too small in comparison to the scale of the adjacent Mountain of Despair; he suggested that the water features should be either eliminated or significantly enlarged, and requested that design alternatives be developed for both options. He suggested a width of thirty to forty feet if the water features are to be retained. He said that the description of the water features as merely a transition element suggests a similar tentative character. He agreed with Mr. McKinnell’s comment that the amount of text is excessive.
Ms. Balmori commented that the experience of entering the memorial between the pieces of the Mountain of Despair is very powerful; she expressed concern that the ancillary buildings would draw visitors to enter the memorial from the south which would weaken the experience. She suggested that the ancillary buildings be moved northward to be closer to the memorial’s primary entrance. She agreed with the concern that these buildings are also too large; Mr. Belle agreed and emphasized the importance of bringing visitors in from the northwest. Dr. Jackson responded that the ancillary buildings are outside the memorial site and a change in their location would require further coordination with the National Park Service. Mr. Parsons said that a change might be possible, particularly with the realization that the proposed site would require removal of some existing plantings. Dr. Jackson noted that the bus drop-off area had previously been shown further to the north but was moved southward in response to the National Park Service.
Ms. Nelson commented that the design of the entry area at the northwest corner of the site involves sharp angles that could be awkward and jarring. Mr. Powell agreed, noting that the remainder of the memorial design involves organic shapes that flow well. Ms. Balmori suggested that some larger trees in the planted areas flanking the entrance path would provide useful shade for this area. She suggested trees with a high canopy to avoid obstructing views toward the Mountain of Despair. Ms. Brady agreed to study this area further, adding that the relatively small area makes it difficult to include different types of trees. Ms. Balmori acknowledged this concern and suggested an intermediate-sized tree; she also suggested extending the line of street trees into the area of the corner plaza as part of a response to Ms. Nelson’s suggestion to revise the angular design of this area. Ms. Brady said that some large cherry trees would be displaced by the realignment of the road alongside the memorial site; the National Park Service had suggested transplanting these trees, which are large enough to provide shade, so perhaps they could be placed in this area to provide a varied mixture of sizes in the proposed grouping of cherry trees. Ms. Balmori agreed with this solution and suggested that cultivars of cherry trees could also be planted.
Mr. Rybczynski suggested that the ancillary buildings be moved further north and placed on the east side of the road, where they would be less obtrusive in the landscape. He noted that the road to the west of the memorial will be reconstructed on a new alignment, so its position could be adjusted to provide sufficient room for the ancillary buildings to be sited on the east side.
Mr. Rybczynski emphasized the importance of a full-scale massing mockup of the Stone of Hope, including a suggestion that it be moveable to allow study of different siting options. Ms. Balmori and Mr. Belle agreed; Ms. Balmori added that the original location and scale of the Stone of Hope appeared to be preferable which could be demonstrated with a moveable mockup. Mr. Rybczynski also suggested a more detailed partial mockup of the stone construction and joints for the Mountain of Despair and Stone of Hope.
Mr. Powell summarized the Commission’s comments suggesting further study of the design concept. He expressed appreciation for the progress of the design and the design team’s consideration of the comments sent by the National Park Service. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
2. CFA 15/NOV/07-2, Lincoln Memorial Circle. Perimeter security barriers on east side. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/NOV/05-3.) Mr. Luebke noted the Commission’s approval in November 2005 of perimeter security barriers across the east front of the Lincoln Memorial, including bollards in the hedges leading from the Lincoln Memorial circle to the Reflecting Pool. He also explained the Commission’s subsequent request that the National Park Service explore additional options for the location of perimeter security in this area as well as the color and design of the bollards. He introduced John Parsons to present the updated proposal for perimeter security in this area.
Mr. Parsons explained that a retaining wall has already been constructed to provide perimeter security on the southern, western, and northern portions of the circle; the design for the east side has taken longer to develop. He said that a submission in May 2007 was withdrawn due to a request by other agencies that the approved concept be reconsidered. The unattractive existing barriers remain in place on the memorial’s main eastern plaza; he said that the National Park Service wants to improve the appearance of this area in time for the upcoming 200th anniversary in 2009 of Lincoln’s birth. He said that the current submission is for the final design and color of the bollards framing the eastern plaza along the approved alignment that would extend the perimeter security to the outer edge of the circle; an interim solution is also being developed for a temporary security barrier across the center of the memorial’s eastern axis.
Mr. Parsons described the proposed revision to the bollard design: the profile has been adjusted to include a consistent group of curves, rather than the combination of flat and curved portions that was previously submitted. Retractable bollards would be included to provide emergency and maintenance access; the top profile of these bollards would be slightly different for operational reasons. He showed the bollard mockup that the Commission viewed earlier in the day and explained the color alternatives: the previously proposed lighter color that was intended to blend with the stone steps on the east axis, and the new proposal for a darker color that is consistent with the existing street furniture in the landscape setting to the sides of the plaza. He acknowledged that the darker color on the mockup could be revised further based on the comments made at the site inspection. Ms. Nelson asked how the finish would be applied; Mr. Parsons responded that the bollards would be painted, similar to existing features such as light posts. He emphasized that the bollards, as well as the interim solution for security on the eastern axis, would be reversible. He explained that the proposal includes a total of 250 bollards, with 125 on each side of the plaza.
Mr. Parsons showed an initial concept for using masonry blocks to provide security on the eastern axis between the plaza and the Reflecting Pool; he said the idea was based on the large blocks used at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. Ms. Balmori commented that the row of blocks would be brutal and discouraged this solution, characterizing it as an “attenuated jersey barrier.” Ms. Nelson asked if the security could be achieved by deepening the Reflecting Pool instead of adding new barriers. Mr. Parsons responded that such options would be considered, and he reiterated that this portion of the perimeter is not currently submitted for approval; he clarified that some interim solution, or else retention of the existing jersey barriers, would be necessary to provide a complete security perimeter. Ms. Balmori said she would support the interim proposal only for a limited time period. Mr. Powell offered to have the Commission work further with the National Park Service as the design for the interim solution is developed.
Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the bollards with the darker color and encouraged the National Park Service to further study the remaining portion of perimeter security. Ms. Nelson added that even temporary solutions deserve careful thought because they can remain for a long time. Ms. Balmori asked Mr. Parsons to urge the National Park Service to use talented designers when dealing with sensitive settings such as the Lincoln Memorial.
C. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 15/NOV/07-3, 2009 Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Coin. Designs for a silver one-dollar coin. Final. Ms. Barsoum introduced Kaarina Budow of the U.S. Mint to present the proposal. Ms. Budow said that the coin would be issued to raise funds for the celebration in 2009 of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth; the designs are being developed in cooperation with the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission that is planning the celebration. The coin would be different from the Abraham Lincoln One-Cent Coin Redesign Program for 2009 and the Presidential One Dollar Coin Porgram that were previously reviewed.
Ms. Budow explained that the obverse would show an image of Lincoln as president; most of the twelve design alternatives are based on various historical photographs and sculptures. In addition to the required wording, some alternatives include the phrase “Lincoln Bicentennial” as requested by the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which she said has expressed a preference for alternative #6, with #7 as a second choice. Mr. Rybczynski said that the renderings of these alternatives appear to be photographs pasted on a coin; he asked how such a style could be achieved on an actual coin. Ms. Budow said that the rendering reflects the artist’s style and some of the shading would not be reproduced on the coin. Mr. Rybczynski said that renderings that look more like actual coins would be preferable.
Ms. Balmori expressed a preference for obverse alternative #8 due to its simplicity, the scale of the head in relation to the coin, and the suitability of the rendered image for reproduction on a coin. She questioned whether the rendered images of #6 and #7 could be successfully transferred to a coin, adding that her preference among these two would be for #7. Ms. Nelson also expressed support for #7, while agreeing with the concern that the image would be difficult to transfer to a coin. Mr. Belle supported #7 and #8. Mr. Rybczynski supported #8, commenting that the design is better without the “Lincoln Bicentennial” text, while #6 and #7 have too much wording. Ms. Budow clarified that this phrase was not included in the original set of alternatives but was added to #6 and #7 at the request of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission since these two alternatives were preferred by them. Ms. Nelson commented that #6 and #7 might be stronger designs without this added text. Mr. Powell expressed support for the symmetrical composition of #7, with #8 as a second choice. Mr. Belle questioned the configuration of Lincoln’s hair on #7; Ms. Budow said that his appearance was “disheveled” in some of the historic photographic portraits. Mr. McKinnell supported alternative #8. Ms. Nelson questioned whether the image in #8 is recognizable as Lincoln. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori, the Commission recommended alternative #8 as a first choice and #7 as a second choice.
Ms. Budow presented the twelve alternatives for the reverse design. Ms. Nelson expressed support for the alternatives with Lincoln’s words on the reverse in conjunction with his image on the obverse; she particularly supported the use of an excerpt from the Gettysburg Address. Mr. Belle and Mr. Powell supported alternative #2; Ms. Balmori agreed and described it as the simplest. Ms. Nelson said that #9, which includes similar wording, is less successful because the small depiction of a Gettysburg monument crowds the design; Ms. Balmori agreed. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission recommended alternative #2.
D. General Services Administration
CFA 15/NOV/07-4, Federal Bureau of Investigation, J. Edgar Hoover Building, 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Temporary perimeter safety fence. Final. Mr. Martinez introduced Suresh Malhotra from the General Services Administration (GSA) to begin the presentation. Mr. Malhotra said that the project involves a temporary fence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) because the concrete facade of the 37-year-old building is deteriorating with pieces falling to the ground; the fence would be installed to protect pedestrians along Pennsylvania Avenue by preventing them from being close to the building facade. He introduced Denis McMullan, a structural engineer with McMullan & Associates, Inc.
Mr. McMullan explained that the danger from falling concrete is currently being addressed through the installation of temporary scaffolding and netting and by a cordoned area along the facade. He said that an inspection of the facade has resulted in removal of additional pieces of concrete that are in danger of falling. The temporary fence would provide a more secure protection for pedestrians and could easily be removed in the future; its design would not penetrate the pavers and waterproofing above the underground portions of the building in that area. The proposed zig-zag layout would provide the fence with lateral stability. Gates within the fence would allow the FBI to bring small maintenance vehicles behind the fence line. The proposed material is anodized aluminum with a dark bronze painted finish, similar to the existing detailing of the building.
Mr. Luebke noted the rows of mature trees along Pennsylvania Avenue and asked how the fence would be secured in that area. Mr. McMullan said the fence line would be staggered around the row of trees closest to the building and would not disturb the trees nor the tree grates. He explained that the fence would rest on metal plates set on the pavers; no bolts or other attachments would be used.
Ms. Nelson asked how long this temporary installation would remain in place. Mr. McMullan said that the duration is not known and will depend on when GSA obtains funds for repairing the building. Ms. Balmori suggested that the Commission specify a maximum length of time for the fence; Mr. Luebke confirmed that the Commission could include such a provision. Mr. Powell suggested a two-year time limit. Mr. Rybczynski commented that the fence would not be removed while the problem of falling concrete remains, which could be indefinitely long. He agreed with Ms. Balmori that a long-term fence would be undesirable but acknowledged that the fence removal would depend on GSA’s repairs rather than the Commission’s action. Mr. Luebke asked if there was further information on the scope of repairs that would be necessary. Mr. McMullan said that the concrete construction was of poor quality, with reinforcing bars close to the surface and a porous concrete that allows water to reach the reinforcing bars, causing corrosion and the deterioration of the concrete. He noted that the concrete is part of the building’s structural frame rather than a surface panel, so the repair would be very difficult. The weak concrete would be chipped out and patched. This procedure would add approximately ten to fifteen years to the building’s useful life. He said that there is not yet a contract to perform this work. Mr. Malhotra confirmed that the funds have not yet been authorized; the cost, approximately $10 million, would need specific appropriation rather than be drawn from GSA’s general funds, and he estimated that the process would take several years.
Mr. Powell acknowledged the need for the fence and suggested a five-year approval. Ms. Nelson commented that the proposal is better than other temporary fencing that has been built. Ms. Balmori suggested that the money being spent on the fence should instead be used to fund the repairs; Mr. McMullan responded that the cost difference is large because the fence is inexpensive, and GSA does not have funds available for the balance of the repair cost.
Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the temporary installation of the fence; Ms. Balmori abstained.
E. D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
1. CFA 15/NOV/07-5, Diamond Teague Park, Potomac Avenue & First Street, S.E. New public park. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 20/SEPT/07-8.) Mr. Lindstrom summarized the Commission’s request in September that the design be simplified and resubmitted. He introduced Jonathan Fitch of the Landscape Architecture Bureau to present the revised concept.
Mr. Fitch reminded the Commission of the project location along the Anacostia River and First Street, S.E., across Potomac Avenue from the baseball stadium that is nearing completion. The park would be part of the Anacostia waterfront trail system, connecting with the Southwest Waterfront toward the west and with the Navy Yard and Southeast Federal Center waterfront parks toward the east; the immediately adjacent segments include the future development site owned by Florida Rock Industries to the west and a D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) facility to the east. He said that the site for Diamond Teague Park has the only portion of waterfront in the area that is not bulkheaded. Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission had seen the site context during its visit to Southeast Federal Center in July.
Mr. Fitch explained that the park would be built in two phases; the first phase and a portion of the second phase are included in the current submission. A later portion of the second phase would extend beyond the site to connect the park to the Southeast Federal Center, crossing on a floating walkway along the river in front of the WASA property. The park would also be supplemented by the adjoining open space at the east end of the proposed Florida Rock development; that project is still in the zoning approval process and detailed design coordination with Diamond Teague Park has not yet occurred. Mr. Fitch noted that the Florida Rock open space will occupy the area directly between the waterfront and the baseball stadium’s grand staircase; this area will be an important part the overall context of the park although its design has not yet been determined. He showed the old Capitol pumphouse that is used by the Earth Conservation Corps, a community organization that will remain and participate in managing the park through such activities as trash collection along the riverfront.
Mr. Fitch described the revisions to the previous design. The walkways, gangways, and floating dock have been widened. A large part of the park would be accessible to pedestrians, supplementing the main gathering space that is anticipated on the Florida Rock property. Ms. Nelson asked for further information on seating areas; Mr. Fitch indicated the alignment of 30-foot-long benches along the esplanade and the stairs that could serve as additional seating.
Ms. Nelson said that the revised plan is an improvement and responds to the Commission’s comments; Mr. Rybczynski and Mr. Belle agreed. Ms. Nelson asked if the proposed areas of stone dust would collect heat in the summer. Mr. Fitch responded that the material is similar to the walkways on the Mall. Mr. Powell asked if the floating dock would remain throughout the year. Mr. Fitch explained that it is a year-round dock that rises and falls with the varying water level. Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised concept.
At this point the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider the Henry D. Cooke Elementary School (item II.F).
F. District of Columbia Public Schools
CFA 15/NOV/07-8, Henry D. Cooke Elementary School, 2525 17th Street, N.W. Renovation and additions. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/JUL/07-3.) Mr. Simon summarized the Commission’s previous comments concerning the playground design and signage for the school. He introduced Carl Elefante of Quinn Evans Architects to present the final design.
Mr. Elefante described the revisions since the concept review. On the eastern side of the site along Mozart Place, the driveway configuration has been simplified to provide a single entrance and exit drive crossing the sidewalk, resulting in a simplified pedestrian path to the building. Retaining walls in this area provide seating near the entrance and define the science garden and playground, further responding to the Commission’s comments. The configuration of the play area and basketball court has been further developed at the south end of the site. The entrance ramp and stairs on the 17th Street facade to the west have been developed and shortened in response to more detailed grade information. Mr. Elefante showed that the entrance signage facing Mozart Place has been simplified in response to the Commission’s comments.
Ms. Balmori asked if the children’s playground could have some shade. Mr. Elefante showed the location of nearby newly planted trees along Mozart Place and the eight-story building that is located to the south of the playground, providing shade for most of the day; he said the design concern was actually to ensure sufficient daylight for the adjacent science garden, which has been achieved. Ms. Nelson asked about the gates shown at the site perimeter; Mr. Elefante responded that these are provided to control access to the site, including the play areas, during the school day. He clarified that bollards are not part of the design except for a single bollard at the dumpsters. Ms. Nelson commented that the revised signage is a straightforward solution.
Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the final design.
The Commission then returned to the order of the agenda with item II.E.2.
E. District of Columbia, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (continued)
2. CFA 15/NOV/07-6, New Communities Initiative, Northwest One Redevelopment Project. Area bounded by New Jersey Avenue, New York Avenue, M Street, and K Street, N.W., and North Capitol Street. Information presentation. Mr. Simon introduced the presentation of the D.C. government’s plan neighborhood plan for an area several blocks northwest of the U.S. Capitol, called the Northwest One Redevelopment Project. He explained that the information presentation would provide the context for the Commission’s review of the following agenda item for a school complex within the neighborhood. He introduced Buwa Binitie from the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to present the neighborhood plan.
Mr. Binitie said that the plan is part of a D.C. effort to address neighborhoods that have a high concentration of violent crime and poverty, a high unemployment rate, and other social issues. He identified the four neighborhoods covered by the D.C. initiative, which was originally funded in 2005: Northwest One, Lincoln Heights, Barry Farms/Parkchester/Wade Road, and Park Morton. The vision of the plan is to protect and expand affordable housing, improve economic integration and opportunities for residents, reduce crime, rebuild community anchors, and encourage resident involvement. He said that new mixed-income housing would include at least as much affordable housing as currently exists, and current residents would have the opportunity to remain in the neighborhood. To minimize displacement, construction of additional housing is planned to occur before existing housing is demolished.
Mr. Binitie described the existing neighborhood including five buildings of low-income housing. He emphasized the “human capital plan” and the effort to introduce a “new mentality” as well as new buildings in the neighborhood. He described the demographics of the neighborhood, with nearly forty percent of the population under age eighteen and twenty percent over age sixty. The initiative includes case managers for all residents, vocational training programs, and programs for youth.
Mr. Binitie explained that the construction program includes 1,700 new housing units, of which at least thirty percent would be for low-income residents, thirty percent for work-force housing, and the remainder at market rate. The neighborhood plan also provides for additional community amenities such as the school, recreation center, library, health clinic, and open space that are included in the Walker Jones School project. He described the specific development parcels for which the D.C. government is currently soliciting development proposals; the selection of a developer is expected by the end of the year to provide 700 of the new housing units. He emphasized that the project schedule for the Walker Jones School would need to move forward so that its amenities are available when the new housing is ready for occupancy.
Ms. Nelson expressed support for the neighborhood plan and emphasized the importance of resident participation in the community. She asked if residents could be involved in the proposals, such as through employment, volunteer work, or community gardening. Mr. Binitie acknowledged the importance of this issue and said that the developer solicitation includes a requirement to create an apprenticeship program for community residents. He added that the selection criteria for the development team would include experience in community engagement.
Mr. Luebke commented that development is occurring rapidly in the vicinity of this neighborhood, such as in the Mount Vernon Triangle area directly to the west. He noted the site for the Walker Jones School on the neighborhood development plan. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
3. CFA 15/NOV/07-7, Walker Jones School, New Jersey Avenue and Pierce Street, N.W. New building for school, public library, and community recreation center. Concept. Mr. Simon noted the project’s relation to the preceding agenda item and introduced Jason Willock from the Office of the Deputy Mayor to begin the presentation of the concept design. Mr. Willock explained that the Office of the Deputy Mayor is leading the project as a joint effort of the D.C. Public Schools, D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, and D.C. Public Library, which will all have facilities within the project. He said the school would serve students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and would involve a wide portion of the neighborhood’s residents. He also noted that this would be the first new school built during the administration of Mayor Fenty. Mr. Willock introduced architect Peter Winebrenner of Hord Coplan Macht to present the proposal.
Mr. Winebrenner distributed updated copies of the submission booklet incorporating further refinements in the design. He described the existing conditions of the site including Terrell Junior High School, which is currently vacant and will be demolished, and the playing field and gardens toward the west along New Jersey Avenue. He described the slope of the site upward approximately twelve to fourteen feet from L Street on the south to Pierce Street on the north. He showed the initial neighborhood plan for the Northwest One initiative and the current plan which adjusts L Street to retain its historic east-west alignment along the project site. He described the overall strategy for the site, with the building mass concentrated to the west along New Jersey Avenue and an open character facing toward the community which is predominantly located east of the site. The building wings frame a courtyard that opens to the playing field on the east which is shared among the school, the recreation center within the complex, and the general community.
Mr. Winebrenner described the program of 100,000 square feet including the school, recreation center, and public library. The primary school entrance would be at the northwest corner of the site, with a secondary entrance further east along Pierce Street; two entrances are required to allow separation of the different age groups of students at the school. The Pierce Street entrance, intended for the younger children, is adjacent to the cafeteria which is where many students begin the school day. The library would be at the southwest corner of the site, with the recreation center further east; they would share an entrance lobby on L Street. The raised courtyard would include a playground for the younger students and would be adjacent to their classrooms; the massing of the adjacent recreation center to the south has been studied to ensure that natural light reaches the courtyard.
Mr. Rybczynski asked if the public library would also serve as the school library; Mr. Winebrenner responded that the school has a separate library so there is no ongoing shared activity between the public library and the school. He explained that the recreation center’s gymnasium is shared, with student use during the school day and public use at other times. In addition, the recreation center and the public library would share second-floor multi-purpose rooms that are separate from the school.
Mr. Winebrenner said that the design intention for the school is to have it stand out as an “expressive icon” within the community. He showed examples of other schools and public buildings such as museums and performance halls in Washington and elsewhere. He said that this project is expressive through its massing, facades, and emphasis on the two corners of the site along New Jersey Avenue. He showed the proposed elevations with brick walls and a pattern of projecting window bays that would provide views from the street to the activity within the school. The cafeteria and gymnasium would be expressed through different window patterns and masonry coloring as well as highlights of zinc panels. The library would be a glass and metal volume that would be highly visible at night; he said that a solar screening treatment is still being studied, possibly using a metal mesh covering. The vertical circulation areas would be expressed as glass “gaskets” between the primary masonry volumes; these would mark the school’s entrances and would provide views from the street through the building to the courtyard. A green roof above the library and recreation center entrance would be accessible from a science classroom and would serve as a visual extension of the courtyard. The cafeteria would have south-facing windows overlooking the courtyard, and the gymnasium would have north-facing windows to provide diffuse light. Mr. Winebrenner described the range of materials and colors under consideration, including a proposed brick pattern of a darker color contrasting with lighter accents. Adjacent to the courtyard, the building wings and topography would provide public gathering areas overlooking the playing fields.
Ms. Balmori expressed support for the overall organization of the program which she described as an intelligent plan. She commented that the use of brick would help to relate the building to the surrounding neighborhood but questioned the complex configuration and contrasting colors of the proposed facades which break up the overall interplay of glass and brick masses. She also suggested more relief to the length of the facades. Mr. Winebrenner responded by explaining the design concept of wrapping the building masses in a fabric that is textured rather than monochromatic. He characterized the material palette as relatively simple with two or possibly three brick colors, metal panels, and the glazing system with possibly two colors of glass, but he agreed to study the elevations further to avoid an excessive range of materials.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that several years ago the Commission had reviewed a set of ambitious school designs that were never built, probably because they could not be constructed within the budgets available. He said that the precedents shown in the presentation included some very expensive buildings and asked if the project budget would be sufficient to achieve this level of construction. Mr. Winebrenner responded that the budget is not large, and Mr. Rybczynski suggested that more modest materials and design ambitions should be used. Mr. Winebrenner agreed and said that the precedents were intended to show the desired expressiveness of the facades rather than a specific treatment of the finishes. Mr. Rybczynski emphasized that an ambitious design that is constructed cheaply would be worse than a modest design that can be built successfully within the budget.
Mr. McKinnell agreed with Mr. Rybczynski and suggested that the precedents not be emphasized when presenting the project. He commented that the strong idea of the proposed design is the assemblage of four massing blocks on the angular site, which could be expressed using a variety of masonry colors. He supported the proposed oversized windows, which are clearly not domestic in scale, and the organization of the building as a group of masses around a courtyard facing the neighborhood toward the east. He said that these gestures would be sufficient and discouraged other gestures, such as the excessive embellishment of the cafeteria and the large glass wall of the library which would have an undesirable southwest orientation that will be difficult and costly to screen. He reiterated his praise for the straightforward concept and elegant proportions; Ms. Balmori agreed.
Ms. Nelson asked for further information on the landscaping of the green roof at the library and recreation center entrance. Mr. Winebrenner responded that plantings such as vines would spill over the sides of the roof where they would be visible to students in the courtyard. He acknowledged that the vertical landscape surfaces shown on the drawings would be difficult to achieve but are intended to express the concept of the courtyard landscape extending over the building and down its face. Ms. Balmori asked if the roofs could be actively used by the children as outdoor space in addition to being planted. Mr. Winebrenner clarified that the green roof would be an occupiable space with access from a science classroom as well as from a school staircase; it would be used for outdoor education and would have railings and a walkable surface. Mr. Belle and Ms. Balmori asked about the other roof areas of the building which could become simple outdoor spaces for student use; Mr. Winebrenner said that this would be too difficult to achieve within the project budget. Ms. Nelson asked if the rooftop mechanical systems would be located near the green roof. Mr. Winebrenner responded that some of the mechanical systems would be across the courtyard near the cafeteria, including a screened mechanical area above the kitchen, and other equipment would be on various roof areas including above the gymnasium. Mr. Belle commented that the drawings do not illustrate the proposed rooftop mechanical equipment.
Mr. Belle asked why the window pattern is offset on the east and west facades. Mr. Winebrenner responded that this is a design option that is being considered but Mr. Belle and Ms. Nelson discouraged this concept. Mr. Winebrenner said that the classroom configuration is still being studied to determine the optimal window position for interior issues, such as glare, and further revisions may be developed. Ms. Nelson commented that the window pattern looks random on the current elevation; Mr. Winebrenner said that this effect was the intent but could be reconsidered in conjunction with the development of the interior layout.
Mr. Powell expressed support for the overall concept and suggested that it be revised further and resubmitted. Several Commission members acknowledged the contribution that the building will make to the neighborhood. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission enthusiastically supported the overall concept with the request that its comments be considered in the preparation of a revised concept. The Commission acknowledged the tight schedule for the project and encouraged the design team to work with the staff in the preparation of a revised concept submission and subsequent final design.
G. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs – Shipstead-Luce Act
1. S.L. 08-015 (H.P.A. 08- 046), 800 17th Street, N.W. New twelve-story office building. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposed concept for a new office building at the northwest corner of 17th Street and H Street, N.W., that would replace three existing office buildings. He noted that last year the Commission reviewed another office building across 17th Street from the site. He introduced developer Daniel Karchem of Vornado Realty Trust, the owner of the property.
Mr. Karchem said his firm has been selected by PNC Bank, which occupies a portion of the site, to develop the site as a joint venture; the parcel at 1707 H Street was also acquired to include in the project which will allow the improvement of the narrow alley segment that leads to the service areas for the block’s other occupants. He said that his firm asked the architect to design a simple, elegant building that respects its neighbors and to have the building meet the environmental standards of a gold LEED rating. He introduced architect David Epstein of Gensler to present the design.
Mr. Epstein explained the design goal of expressing the architectural values of the 21st century. The existing buildings to be demolished have small column bays and old mechanical systems; the new building with larger floorplates would provide more flexible space that will have long-term usefulness. The goal of energy-efficient design would also contribute to the long-term value of the building. In addition, the building is designed to respond to the attributes of the site. He indicated the historic lower-scale Metropolitan Club building to the south across H Street, which allows broader views to and from the building. He also showed how 17th Street rises from the monumental core on the south to the business district on the north, with this building helping to define the edge of commercial Washington. He said that the proposed building, like the recently approved office building under construction across 17th Street, would emphasize glass facades with internal light. He said that the roof will have spectacular views of the Washington Monument and the July 4th fireworks.
Mr. Epstein showed how the site would be reconfigured to allow all parking and loading access to come from the revised alley system; an existing curb cut along 17th Street would be eliminated. A 3,500-square-foot flagship PNC bank would occupy the retail frontage along H Street, and an additional 10,000 square feet of retail space—possibly for a restaurant—would front on 17th Street. A three-story-high lobby, extending one story below grade, would be at the southeast corner of the building, with active uses such as retail or a fitness center planned for the day-lit lower lobby. A bridge structure would connect the entrance to the main lobby space. He said that a separate natural ventilation system is being considered for the lobby area, possibly including operable windows. He showed the typical floorplate of 29,000 square feet; PNC Bank would have offices on the second and twelfth floors, and a law firm would be a likely tenant for the remaining space. He showed how the columns would be set back from the building facade to allow a thinner floor slab near the windows, bringing additional daylight into the building. The roof would include a 3,500-square-foot deck and a green roof. He showed the external solar shading of the south-facing windows while preserving the view toward the Washington Monument. Fritting of the glass on the lower part of each floor would help to screen views of the office furniture and control the heat gain. The street facade design would continue partially along the west facade with a lower-cost and better-insulated wall system for areas facing the alley. He showed the proposal for a metal mesh that would screen the windows of the retail facades.
Mr. Belle commented that the natural ventilation of the lobby would make it function like a traditional vestibule with a temperature that varies with the weather. Ms. Nelson asked about security for the building; Mr. Epstein said that routine security would be provided in the lobby, but perimeter security such as bollards would not be necessary. Mr. McKinnell asked if the solar shading fins on the south facade extend beyond the property line into the public space. Mr. Epstein responded that they do, which is permitted in Washington; the D.C. regulatory process treats these embellishments like a cornice extension. Mr. Powell asked about the project schedule. Mr. Karchem responded that PNC Bank would vacate its offices in January, followed by demolition in the spring. Ms. Nelson asked about the durability of the metal mesh. Mr. Epstein said that it would be sealed inside the glass; he acknowledged that it is a new product so he could not be certain of its long-term performance.
Mr. Powell described the design as elegant. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the concept.
2. S.L. 08-012 (H.P.A. 08-043), Pierce Still House, 2400 Tilden Street, N.W. Building renovation, alterations, and additions. Concept. Ms. Barsoum introduced the project for alterations to a house built in the early 19th century with additions from 1924 and a garage dating from the 1950s. She explained that the original owners, the Pierce family, were important to the industrial heritage of the area that is now Rock Creek Park. Mr. Luebke added that the building, originally built to house the equipment for a still, is part of a significant historic complex at a prominent intersection in Rock Creek Park. Ms. Barsoum noted that the property faces both Tilden Street and Shoemaker Street. She introduced the developer for the property, Tom McCullough of McCullough Residential. Mr. McCullough said that he has had encouraging meetings with the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. He introduced George Myers of GTM Architects to present the design.
Mr. Myers described the evolution of the house, known as Pierce Hall or the Still House. The proposal is to remove the 1950s two-car garage from the back of the house and replace it with an addition that would provide a gallery, family room, and one-car garage. A second story would be added to one of the 1924 additions at the south side of the house. He asked for comments on the massing concept, adding that the materials would include stone, a wood shingle roof, and possibly siding in keeping with the existing house. He explained that the alterations would make the house more marketable to current buyers.
Mr. Powell asked for further information on the materials of the proposed additions. Mr. Myers said the intention is to use the palette of the existing building so that the additions would appear to be part of the original house, while the detailing would be designed to emphasize the house’s original walls. Other parts of the house would be restored, with minimal changes to the interior. Mr. Powell asked why the proposed garage is for only one car; Mr. Myers responded that the lot coverage regulatory limit is a constraint.
Ms. Balmori commented that the proposed reconfiguration of gables would detract from the appearance of the house from the street. Mr. Rybczynski asked about the visibility of the gables; Mr. Myers explained that the view from Tilden Street is limited. Mr. McKinnell commented that the proposed addition is not historically sympathetic because it would alter the legibility of the house’s original volume, but the concern may be minor because of the limited visibility. Mr. Luebke said that the design of the additions could be developed to differentiate them from the original stone house, with the current submission emphasizing only the massing concept. He noted the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for alterations to historic buildings, which call for a treatment that is visibly differentiated from the historic structure. Mr. Rybczynski expressed a preference for the architect’s intention to make the additions blend seamlessly with the existing house; he discouraged the creation of a different appearance for the relatively small proposed additions to the large house. Ms. Nelson agreed, commenting that the complex massing would not benefit from the introduction of additional materials.
Mr. Belle asked for further information on the elevation facing Shoemaker Street. Ms. Nelson noted the large existing trees, and Mr. Myers explained the grade change that further limits the visibility of the house from Shoemaker Street. Mr. Belle asked specifically about the design of the proposed shed-roof addition to the second story; Mr. Myers explained that this area is difficult to see because of the dense vegetation. Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission typically disregards vegetation when determining the visibility of architectural features. Mr. Belle acknowledged the usefulness of adding space to the second story but emphasized the change in the house’s appearance that would result from the design as shown; he recommended further study of this addition, especially the materials. He also commented that the appearance of the proposed garage door is unsatisfactory. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept with these comments and delegated the final review to the staff.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Last Modified: January 25, 2008