Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
15 May 2008
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 10:05 a.m.
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
A. Approval of the minutes of the 17 April meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the April meeting were circulated to the members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the minutes without objection.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: 19 June, 17 July, and 18 September; no meeting is scheduled in August.
C. Report on the approval of objects for the permanent collection of the Freer Gallery of Art. The Chairman noted the approval of acquisitions sought by the Freer Gallery to purchase at auction earlier in the month; Mr. Luebke confirmed that the Freer did not obtain the objects.
D. Announcement of the selection of the Commission's staff Historian. Mr. Luebke said that Kay Fanning, Ph.D., will join the staff at the end of the summer as historian. He summarized her current work at the National Park Service, where she writes and edits cultural landscape inventories for the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit. He said that her master and doctoral degrees are from the University of Virginia, with a doctoral dissertation on the Presidential memorials built in the eastern United States between 1890 and 1940.
Mr. Luebke noted that there were no site visits in conjunction with the Commission meeting. He reported on Mr. Rybczynski's presentation the previous Tuesday of the Charles Atherton memorial lecture, given at the National Building Museum in honor of the Commission's long-serving Secretary. He explained the subject of Mr. Rybczynski's lecture—the evolution of building height regulations in Washington and elsewhere—and summarized the conclusion that Washington's physical character has become a "pleasant anomaly" among American cities due to the history of its height regulations. He said that a recording of the lecture would be available on the National Building Museum's website.
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: The staff did not report any changes to the draft. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the Direct Submission Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: The staff did not report any changes to the draft. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the Shipstead-Luce appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported the revisions to the draft appendix: three projects listed on the draft appendix were subsequently withdrawn by the applicants, and minor revisions have been made for several projects in response to supplemental drawings. He said that no further supplemental drawings are anticipated. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the revised appendix. Mr. Luebke noted that the new science building at Georgetown University would be reviewed later in the meeting as a separate agenda item.
B. National Park Service
CFA 15/MAY/08-1, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. Independence Avenue, S.W. at the northwestern rim of the Tidal Basin. Revised concept for the visitor support facility. (Previous: CFA 17/APR/08-1.) Mr. Luebke explained that the submission is limited to the support facility; he summarized the Commission's recommendations concerning this facility from the previous month, including the request to consolidate the several components—visitor contact station, bookstore, and restrooms—into a single massing. Further study of the location was requested by the Commission as well as by a public consultation process concerning the historic preservation aspects of the project. He introduced Glenn DeMarr of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. DeMarr said that the proposed location responds to the Park Service's public consultation process and addresses the concerns about the appropriate proximity of the support facility to Independence Avenue and to the primary entrance at the northwest of the proposed memorial. He introduced Dr. Ed Jackson, executive architect of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc., who said that the facility's location has been moving north and south along the proposed alignment of West Basin Drive and appears to have settled into an appropriate location. Dr. Jackson asked for the Commission's concurrence and introduced architect Ron Kessler to present the proposal.
Mr. Kessler summarized the previous proposals for the support facility, including splitting of the components into separate locations and into separate pavilions framing a partially covered courtyard. He explained that the current proposal consolidates the components into a single compact building without a courtyard, as requested by the Commission, resulting in a reduction in length of the footprint from 112 to 84 feet; the width remains at 34 feet as previously presented. He noted the request from the public consultation process to provide some covered outdoor space, which would be provided by a deep overhang on the north at the bookstore entrance and a moderate overhang on the other sides. The glass walls of the bookstore would allow views toward the polo field on the west.
Mr. Kessler explained the siting issues related to parking, bus unloading, vehicular queuing at the Independence Avenue stoplight, and pedestrian movement between the support facility and the memorial. He said that the facility has been pushed northward in order to encourage visitors to cross from the facility to the memorial's northwestern entrance, while maintaining a location sufficiently south of Independence Avenue to preserve sightlines from the avenue to the memorial and to provide sufficient stacking space for four to five cars between the crosswalks at Independence Avenue and at the facility. The resulting setback of the facility is 174 feet south of Independence Avenue, with the facility's crosswalk aligned with the bookstore facade. The location has also been moved slightly west to provide additional space for pedestrians and landscaping along the West Basin Drive sidewalk. The proposed landscaping would include cherry trees to provide low-scale visual screening of the building, distinct from the larger elm trees along the streets. Seating within this shaded area would be provided.
Mr. Kessler explained the proposed parking configuration on West Basin Drive, including six handicapped spaces along the east side of the street and an area for buses and taxis further to the south. He described the proposed entrance points in the facility: the bookstore entrance would face north toward a paved plaza that would be partially covered, and the restroom entrances would be on the south.
Mr. Kessler requested that the Commission respond to the location and general configuration of the facility; he explained that additional information on the architectural design would be provided in a future submission, with the intention to continue the previous submission's design character which the Commission had supported.
Mr. Powell commented that the proposal has progressed since the previous submission; Mr. Belle added that "all the big moves are the right moves." Ms. Nelson asked if food or beverage service would be included in the facility; Perry Wheelock of the National Park Service responded that no such service is anticipated at this location. Ms. Nelson asked if the crosswalk would have protection for pedestrians, such as a speed bump or flashing light. Mr. Kessler said that the paving would be textured to provide emphasis to the crosswalk, which would be 40 feet wide with ramping across the full width on each side.
Mr. Rybczynski asked for further information about the roof overhangs; Mr. Kessler responded that a fourteen-foot overhang is envisioned on the north and a two-foot overhang on the other sides of the building to provide protection from inclement weather. Mr. Belle suggested that the overhangs be designed without supporting columns along the outer edge that could limit movement through the area. Mr. Kessler said that the structural issues are still being considered, with the intention to make the overhangs as thin as possible while also avoiding columns; he said that small supports, possibly four- to six-inch round columns, might be included.
Mr. Luebke raised the issue of the road alignment that had been discussed in the public historic preservation meetings; the existing curvilinear roadway would be shifted to the west to provide room for the memorial, and there was a suggestion to curve the new alignment instead of the straight north-south alignment that is proposed. Mr. Kessler and Dr. Jackson said that this suggestion has not been studied further.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that the proposal addresses the issues successfully; Mr. Powell agreed, with Mr. Belle noting that the Commission would review the architectural design in a future submission. Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the revised concept for the siting and size of the visitor support facility.
C. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
CFA 15/MAY/08-2, National Law Enforcement Museum, Judiciary Square (Federal Reservation #7), E Street north of Old City Hall. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/JUN/07-4.) Mr. Luebke introduced the final submission for the museum, which was last reviewed for the perimeter security elements and street configuration. He said that the final design has already been approved by the National Capital Planning Commission subject to further coordination with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the D.C. Office of Planning, and the D.C. Courts. He introduced architect Davis Buckley to present the design. Mr. Belle recused himself from the project due to his firm's role as architect for the adjacent D.C. Courts project; with the Chairman's permission, he remained present for the discussion.
Mr. Buckley summarized the museum's site and configuration, with a primarily underground facility entered from pavilions framing the entrance plaza to the adjacent D.C. courthouse. He said that the presentation of the final design is primarily a consolidation of the various components and modifications that have previously been submitted. He described three changes from the previous design. On the ramps leading up from the plaza to the courthouse entrance, the proposed skylights within the ramp surface have been removed from the design; further study of the dimensions showed that the skylights would provide little benefit in bringing daylight into the museum space below. The crosswalk configuration has been simplified at the request of the D.C. Department of Transportation, with the east and west crosswalks eliminated and the central crosswalk retained leading to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on the north. The bollard spacing has also been revised to provide 48 inches of clear space between bollards, rather than 48 inches on center as previously proposed, to improve access for the handicapped.
Mr. Buckley presented the proposed materials. The paving would be consistent with the materials currently being installed by the D.C. Courts, including black and pink granite as well as brick walkways. The site walls leading to the courthouse would be the same limestone being used for the court construction; the pink granite would also match the material of the lower portions of the courthouses flanking the site to the east and west.
Mr. Buckley presented the elevations of the museum's entry pavilions, which have not changed, and the plans and sections of the underground museum. He indicated the glass facades supported by a painted steel structure and the brushed and patterned aluminum cladding of the core that would be visible within. The base of the pavilions would be black granite with a honed finish. The vaulted roof structure would incorporate a stainless-steel screen—not visible from the ground level—to keep birds out of the mechanical spaces. The floor of the pavilions would be terrazzo. The limestone inside the pavilions would be the same material used in the nearby memorial but with a polished finish. He presented a rendered perspective of the site, noting that the bollards would be clad in black granite rather than the light color shown in the rendering, while the end walls would be limestone rather than the darker color shown.
Mr. Rybczynski asked if the E Street crosswalk would be brick similar to the other nearby walkways, noting that the rendered site plan shows slightly different colors. Mr. Buckley explained that the crosswalk would be colored asphalt rather than brick due to concern about the effect of vibrations.
Mr. Rybczynski asked for further information about the bollard spacing, due to the Commission's frequent discussion of this issue. Mr. Buckley said that the interim plan for the plaza area, developed by the D.C. Courts, called for the bollards to be 48 inches on center. However, he said that the design has been revised to allow 48 inches clear between bollards to meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Mr. Rybczynski asked if this dimension would provide the needed protection against threats from vehicles; Mr. Buckley said that the design revision has been reviewed by a security consultant and by the National Capital Planning Commission with no objections. He noted that E Street, which would be the source of vehicular threats, is being narrowed and there would be limitations on parking and standing areas for vehicles. He indicated two proposed curb cuts for access to the adjacent court buildings as well as for handicapped drop-off access.
Mr. Rybczynski asked if the painted steel would be sufficiently durable to withstand exposure to the weather. Mr. Buckley clarified that the painted steel would be used for the interior support structure visible through the glass; all of the metal elements exposed to the exterior—parts of the attachment system for the glass walls—would be stainless steel. He emphasized that the National Law Enforcement Officers Fund has been very careful about maintaining the adjacent memorial and can be expected to give equal effort to maintenance of the museum.
Ms. Nelson asked about signage and lighting for the museum. Mr. Buckley explained that the signage, as previously approved, would be limited to lettering behind the glass of the east pavilion. Lighting would be kept at low levels, including small lights on top of the support structure and ambient light reaching the entrance pavilions from the lower levels of the museum. Glass pavers within the entrance plaza would also transmit a small amount of light from the museum below. He noted that the new entrance pavilion to the courthouse on the south would be lit.
Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the final design. Mr. Buckley acknowledged Mr. Belle's architectural work for the adjoining courthouse and emphasized the compatibility of the museum design with this work.
D. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 15/MAY/08-3, National Museum of Natural History, Constitution Avenue at 10th Street, N.W. Perimeter security barriers—revised design for the south frontage. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/JAN/06-1.) Mr. Lindstrom explained that the proposal is a revision to portions of the previously approved design for perimeter security at the museum. He introduced Harry Rombach of the Smithsonian Institution to begin the presentation. The Chairman noted that Mr. Belle, whose firm is involved in the design, has recused himself from this project; he left the meeting room for the discussion of this agenda item.
Mr. Rombach said that the revision results from the Smithsonian's continual reassessment of security needs, including coordination with new technologies and needs. The revision was also influenced by the recent development of a perimeter security design for the adjacent National Museum of American History; the revision incorporates some of the solutions for that adjacent project in order to provide continuity along the Mall. He introduced architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle to present the design.
Mr. Hassan explained that the previously approved perimeter security was intended to be implemented in phases. Currently, construction has been completed on portions of the northern part of the site, including a fence and boulders; he presented photographs of the completed work. Construction is approximately half completed at the north entrance to the museum. He explained that the original plan for the southern and western portions of the site included additional retaining walls to supplement the height of existing retaining walls along 12th Street and Madison Drive. After further study, questions of constructability arose as well as concern about the visual intrusiveness of this solution including the effect on views outward from within the museum. Meanwhile, the development of a cable-fence system for the Museum of American History suggested a new solution for the Natural History site.
Mr. Hassan described the typical design features of the cable fence: major steel posts at 100-foot intervals with secondary posts every ten feet. The posts would be 36 inches high while the two cables extending between the posts would have a maximum height of 30 inches. He said that shrubs would be planted on each side of the fence to conceal the cables; dense shrubs with year-round foliage would be used to provide continuous screening. He presented samples of the cable and a secondary post, explaining that he did not bring a sample of the bulky major post.
Mr. Hassan emphasized that the cable fence would be more easily reversible than other solutions and would have less impact on the sensitive environment of the Mall. The relatively large ten-foot spacing of the posts would cause less impact on plantings and roots. He also explained that the cable-fence system on the west side of the site would be the same system being used along the 12th Street frontage of the American History museum. For both museums, the cable fence would wrap around the south corner of 12th Street and Madison Drive, while a stone fence—with an obviously different design character—wraps around the north corner of 12th Street at Constitution Avenue.
Mr. Hassan presented the revised planting plan, showing the formal arrangement framing the main entrance steps on Madison Drive and the more informal plantings toward the east and west ends, including a bird garden and the existing butterfly garden. At the entrance to the butterfly garden, boulders rather than the cable fence would be used in order to protect the existing tree and to maintain consistency with the boulders placed at the northern end of the butterfly garden.
Mr. Hassan described the proposed treatment of the two small existing staircases connecting the service and parking areaway to the Madison Drive sidewalk. A bollard will be required at each staircase to provide protection from vehicular threats. Due to the differing relationship of these staircases to the sidewalk, the existing site walls would be adjusted to create a symmetrical condition that provides for the placement of the bollards without intruding onto the sidewalk. The new wall segments would be constructed of Milford pink granite to match the nearby site walls.
Ms. Nelson asked if the initial size of the shrubbery would be sufficient to conceal the cable fence. Mr. Hassan responded that the design anticipates further growth of the shrubbery; the initial planting would substantially conceal the 30-inch-high cables while not necessarily screening the 36-inch-high posts until further growth occurs. He noted that the configuration of the cables also allows for small gaps that are useful for maintenance operations. Ms. Nelson commented on the shiny finish of the cable; Mr. Hassan clarified that it will be contained within a black sheath that will also mask any sagging of the cable.
Mr. Rybczynski expressed support for the proposal. He asked whether the cable fence at the American History museum has been constructed; Mr. Hassan responded that the holes have been dug for the stone fences but construction has not yet started on the cable fence. Mr. Rybczynski asked when either museum's cable fence would be available for inspection; Mr. Hassan said that both projects are moving forward and it was not certain which site would have the first completed example of the cable fence. Mr. Rombach noted that the National Museum of American History is scheduled for reopening in late fall of 2008.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised final design for the perimeter security.
At this point, Mr. Belle returned for the remainder of the meeting and the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider the H. D. Woodson Senior High School (item II.H).
H. District of Columbia Public Schools
CFA 15/MAY/08-9, H. D. Woodson Senior High School, 5500 Eads Street, N.E. Replacement building. Concept. (Previous: CFA 15/JAN/04-15.) Mr. Simon explained that the site is adjacent to Marvin Gaye Park, a two-mile-long linear park whose design the Commission reviewed in September 2007. He introduced architect Chester Bartels of the SHW Group to present the design. Mr. Luebke clarified that the project was previously listed on the January 2008 agenda but was withdrawn due to changes in the program; Mr. Bartels also noted that a different proposal for the school was reviewed several years earlier.
Mr. Bartels explained that the school is using a "STEM" curriculum of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, a curriculum that emphasizes laboratory and flexible-use spaces. The program also includes a football stadium and additional outdoor recreational space for other sports such as tennis and softball.
Mr. Bartels described the site context including its relationship to Marvin Gaye Park on the south, Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue on the north, and the front of the site along 55th Street on the east. He said that future mixed-use development is anticipated to the northwest at the corner of Division and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenues, as well as housing anticipated to the south across Marvin Gaye Park and elsewhere in the wider neighborhood. He noted that the park is already well used by the community.
Mr. Bartels presented photographs of the existing school building that will be demolished, including the seven-story "Tower of Power" set on a two-story concrete plinth. The new school would reuse materials from the demolished building to the extent feasible, including recycling of the concrete, as part of the effort to attain a LEED silver certification for the project. The proposed site plan would place the new building along 55th Street, with a three-story classroom wing on the south facing the park and a dead-end segment of Eads Street, and special-use facilities—including a theater, gymnasium, and natatorium—located on the north with a separate public entrance. The main school entrance would be in the central portion of the east facade, facing 55th Street.
Mr. Bartels explained that the building is designed to engage the community, emphasizing transparency, visibility, and pedestrian access around the perimeter. He indicated the shared laboratory space that would be visible along the south facade, which would be composed of a pre-cast concrete frame with glass infill and a brise-soleil system; he described this facade as ornate but pragmatic and said that it would provide a dignified edge to the park. The two-story main entrance atrium would be framed by courtyards intended to suggest extensions of the park toward the heart of the building. The media center would be designed as an object within this glass atrium, preserving views through the building from the exterior. The parking lot would be located on the north adjacent to the community entrance to the special-use facilities, and the roadway would continue into a service drive along the east side of the building.
Mr. Bartels provided additional details on the interior configuration of the building. The circulation stairs of the classroom wing would be visible looking south from the atrium, and rooms for staff and faculty would have views over the atrium. The three levels of the classroom wing would have identical layouts emphasizing laboratories, flexible learning spaces, and collaborative spaces. The second-floor slab would be pulled back from the facade at several locations to provide double-height spaces along the exterior wall. In the north wing, the cafeteria would open onto one of the exterior courtyards. The administrative area would be adjacent to the main entrance plaza. The auditorium was envisioned as a flexible room that could be used as a theater or as several separate learning spaces, with the option of keeping the perimeter walls open to the adjacent corridors so that people walking by could see and hear the activities within; the acoustic implications of this proposal were still being studied. The art rooms would be located along 55th Street, with emphasis provided by a curved exterior wall that might be emphasized with zinc panels or a light-colored cast stone. He said that the architectural expression along the street facade is still being developed, and the visibility of the art rooms to pedestrians would be an important feature, perhaps with high windows that would allow mounted artworks to be seen. He said that one design goal is to achieve coverage of fifty percent of the building by a green roof; a portion would be accessible from the classroom areas to provide a learning opportunity, and the green roof above the lower areas of the building would provide enjoyable views from the third-floor classrooms.
Mr. Bartels described the overall character of the facades, ranging from the open system of glass and metal facing the park on the south, to the more solid character framing the main entrance plaza to provide a stronger sense of dignity. Metal panels and photovoltaics would be included. The two-story atrium would be extended as an organizing circulation element for the northern part of the building, culminating in the community entrance on the north.
Mr. Belle asked for clarification of the different designs illustrated in the drawings and the model, including the different treatments of the entrance area. Mr. Bartels responded that the drawings show the most current version of some aspects of the design, but the entrance canopy shown in the drawings is superseded by the model. He said that the entrance plaza is now intended to be tree-lined rather than dominated by a large free-standing canopy; the canopy could instead become a smaller element attached to the building, with the possible introduction of seating and horizontal datum lines that would extend through the building. He presented additional views of the facades and interior, including night views, and emphasized the effort to engage the street and enhance the building's visibility.
Mr. Powell commented that the proposed school is very different from the existing building. He asked about the student population; Mr. Bartels responded that the number of students would remain at 1,300 while the building size would increase from 170,000 to 240,000 square feet.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that the quality of the design is substantially better than that seen for most D.C. schools; he expressed his congratulations to the design team. He noted the large size of the building and said that many issues are still being resolved; he suggested that the project be resubmitted as the concept becomes further clarified rather than wait until the final design for the next review. He added that some of the earlier renderings have appealing features that should be considered. Mr. Powell said that a revised concept submission could be the next step; Mr. Rybczynski agreed while emphasizing his support for the current submission.
Ms. Nelson asked about the inclusion of art, music, and athletics in the STEM curriculum; Mr. Bartels responded that all of these are part of the school program. Ms. Nelson expressed concern about the budget being sufficient to allow for high-quality materials throughout this large building. Mr. Luebke said that the design has progressed considerably since the initial consultation meetings, with further changes resulting from the decision to introduce the STEM curriculum. Mr. Belle expressed support for the overall organization of the plan, particularly the separation of the classroom spaces from the special-use rooms. He emphasized the importance of the linkage between these two programmatic areas and therefore recommended further study of the entrance courtyard. He agreed with the decision to remove the large canopy from the design but questioned whether the proposed line of trees would be a sufficiently strong replacement. He added that the weakness of the main entrance could create confusion in comparison to the community entrance near the natatorium on the north.
Ms. Nelson asked where the band practices; Mr. Bartels responded that this would occur in the auditorium. Ms. Nelson commented on the resulting acoustical problem from the proposed open walls of the auditorium. Mr. Bartels said that this issue would be studied further and could be addressed through materials and spatial volume.
Mr. Powell summarized the Commission's enthusiasm for the design, comparing its quality to the strong designs recently submitted for several D.C. branch libraries. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept subject to the comments provided.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.E.1.
E. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
Mr. Simon introduced the two sets of submissions from the U.S. Mint, to be presented by Kaarina Budow, and noted the inclusion of the D.C. commemorative quarter which has generated extensive local interest.
1. CFA 15/MAY/08-4, 2009 Presidential One Dollar Coin Program. Five designs for the third set of First Spouse $10 gold coins and bronze medals: Anna Harrison, Letitia Tyler, Julia Tyler, Sarah Polk, and Margaret Taylor. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/MAR/07-2.) Ms. Budow reviewed the legislative requirements for this series, including an obverse portrait of each President's spouse and a reverse image representing the life and work of the spouse. For Presidents married more than once while in office, separate designs would be created for each spouse, resulting in the current submission of designs for Letitia Tyler and Julia Tyler to be issued in 2009. The bronze medals and gold coins would have similar designs except that some wording for coins would be omitted from the medals, resulting in slight reconfiguration of the design elements.
Ms. Budow presented five alternative obverses depicting Anna Harrison, all based on her White House portrait. Mr. Rybczynski commented that #1 is the best version of the portrait; Mr. Powell agreed. Ms. Nelson said that the portrait in #1 needs more strength while Mrs. Harrison appears extremely sad in alternative #3. Mr. Belle said that #1 reverses the pose from the original portrait, which could be advantageous; Ms. Nelson commented that #5 is most similar to the original portrait. Mr. Rybczynski said that this issue should not be a concern. Ms. Budow clarified that some of the artists vary the portraits to generate a variety of alternatives. Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission recommended obverse alternative #1 for Mrs. Harrison.
Ms. Budow presented five alternatives for the Harrison reverse, noting that the Commission members have been provided with the Mint's biographical narratives that suggest themes for the designs. Two of the designs depict Mrs. Harrison in front of the family home. Ms. Budow noted that #2 has been modified since the original submission to more accurately depict the clothing of the period, based on consultation with historical experts. Ms. Nelson expressed a preference for #2 and #5, which depict Mrs. Harrison as a teacher instead of a hostess. Mr. Rybczynski supported #2 due to the circular composition of the grouping of figures; Mr. Belle and Mr. Powell agreed. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission recommended reverse alternative #2 for Mrs. Harrison.
Ms. Budow presented four alternative obverses depicting Letitia Tyler. Ms. Nelson commented on the prominence of the hair; Mr. Powell said that the hairstyle gives the portrait a modern character. Ms. Budow said that the Mint conferred with Smithsonian Institution staff on the hairstyle. Ms. Nelson said that the ornate collar in #1 and #2 is distracting. Mr. Rybczynski expressed a preference for #3, commenting that it is the best coin design despite the modern appearance. Mr. Belle supported #4 due to its simplicity. Ms. Nelson objected to the prominent hair clusters at the top of the head. Mr. Luebke and Ms. Budow said that the Commission could recommend a modification or a combination of features from different alternatives. Mr. Powell said that #4 evokes the historical period rather than the timelessness of #3; he suggested that the hairstyle in #4 could be modified. Ms. Nelson agreed with this solution; Mr. Rybczynski commented that the hairstyle in #1 would be more acceptable. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission recommended obverse alternative #4 with a modification to simplify the uppermost portion of the hairstyle.
Ms. Budow presented four reverse alternatives for Letitia Tyler, two depicting her at her daughter's wedding while living in the White House and two depicting her in early years at the various family homes. Mr. Powell and Mr. Belle commented on her sad appearance in #1; Ms. Budow said she was ill at the time depicted. Mr. Rybczynski said that none of the designs appear satisfactory; Ms. Nelson agreed. Ms. Nelson supported #3 as the best composition; Mr. Belle agreed, commenting on its relative simplicity. Mr. Powell expressed a preference for #2 and #3, depicting Mrs. Tyler with family houses, rather than the alternatives with groupings of figures inside the White House. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission could choose not to support any of the design alternatives. Mr. Rybczynski suggested that #3 could be developed further. Mr. Powell agreed to support a simplified version of #3, suggesting that the children be removed from the design. Ms. Nelson noted that the children are not present in #2, which Mr. Powell supported as an acceptable design. Ms. Nelson suggested that #2 could be modified to provide a deeper sculptural effect for the foreground figure. Mr. Powell said that the cobblestone effect could also be removed to simplify the design for this small scale. Mr. Rybczynski added that the tree and chimney as well as the cobblestones contribute to the excessive detail of the design. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, the Commission supported reverse alternative #2 for Letitia Tyler with further simplification of the details and adjustment to the depth of relief.
Ms. Budow presented four obverse alternatives depicting Julia Tyler. The Commission members commented on the pronounced tilting of the head, which Ms. Budow noted is present in the White House portrait. Mr. Belle supported alternative #1 as the most appealing; Mr. Rybczynski agreed, and Ms. Nelson commented on the dignity of this design. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission supported obverse alternative #1 for Julia Tyler.
Ms. Budow presented six alternatives for the Julia Tyler reverse, of which four depict a gold pen given to her by President Tyler in conjunction with the signing of a treaty for the annexation of Texas. Ms. Nelson commented that the pen would be difficult for people to comprehend without specialized historical knowledge, and she expressed support for #4 depicting Julia and President Tyler dancing. Mr. Rybczynski and Mr. Powell agreed that this design is best. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission recommended reverse alternative #4 for Julia Tyler.
Ms. Budow presented five obverse alternatives depicting Sarah Polk, noting her distinctive hairstyle and hat in the White House portrait. Ms. Nelson supported #3, commenting that it deemphasizes the hat and gives Mrs. Polk a pleasant expression; Mr. Powell and Mr. Rybczynski agreed. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission supported obverse alternative #3 for Mrs. Polk.
Ms. Budow presented five reverse alternatives for Mrs. Polk, one of which depicts a young Mrs. Polk and her sister riding horses. Mr. Belle commented on the desirability of an equestrian design and recommended alternative #4. Mr. Rybczynski commented that people would have difficulty identifying which of the women is Mrs. Polk. Mr. Powell suggested that the sister could be eliminated from the design, but Ms. Nelson noted that the historical narrative describes them making a long journey together. She supported the subject of alternative #1, showing Mrs. Polk in the unusual role of her husband's secretary in the White House, but added that the drawing is somewhat crude. Mr. Rybczynski said that #2 depicts a similar theme but Ms. Nelson said that the subject could be confusing. Ms. Budow explained that the gold coins are packaged with a certificate that contains a brief explanation of the design. Mr. Powell supported #4 depicting Mrs. Polk and her sister on horses. Ms. Budow said that the explanation could indicate which of the two is Mrs. Polk. Mr. Rybczynski suggested that the composition could be altered to have the second horse only partially visible or to have Mrs. Polk prominently larger than her sister, commenting that the larger figure would typically be understood as the primary subject of the design while the sizes are reversed in this alternative. Mr. Belle and Mr. Powell expressed support for #4 without further modification; Ms. Nelson agreed and supported the composition of #4. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission recommended reverse alternative #4 for Mrs. Polk.
Ms. Budow presented four obverse alternatives depicting Margaret Taylor, commenting that there was no contemporary portrait but a later engraving was provided to the artists. Ms. Nelson supported #1, commenting on its dignity and its superior design for a coin; she said that the expression on the other alternatives is too stern. Mr. Belle and Mr. Powell agreed to support #1. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission recommended obverse alternative #1 for Mrs. Taylor.
Ms. Budow presented five reverse alternatives for Mrs. Taylor. Ms. Nelson supported #1 for the clear depiction of Mrs. Taylor helping a soldier without extraneous design elements. Mr. Belle suggested comparing #1 to #3; Ms. Nelson said that the tent and pitcher in #3 are distracting while #1 is a more clear design. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved reverse alternative #1 for Mrs. Taylor.
2. CFA 15/MAY/08-5, The District of Columbia and United States Territories Circulating Quarter-Dollar Program for 2009. Reverse designs for the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, United States Virgin Islands, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands quarters. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/JAN/07- 4.) Ms. Budow explained the legislative authorization for the D.C. and territories quarters to be issued in 2009, noting that the obverses would continue to have the existing design depicting George Washington.
Ms. Budow presented three reverse alternatives for the District of Columbia: #1 depicting Frederick Douglass at his desk, #2 depicting Benjamin Banneker with surveying instruments and the original outline of the District; and #3 depicting Duke Ellington seated at a piano.
Ms. Nelson commented that each design puts a lot of features onto the quarter, suggesting that any of the alternatives should focus more on the subject's face and surrounding clothing. Ms. Budow responded this would have the undesirable result of a two-headed coin since the obverse will continue to show George Washington. Mr. Powell reiterated the concern that the supporting features are given undue emphasis, giving the example of Douglass's desk in #1 with a similar concern for #3. He acknowledged that the additional features are useful in conveying Banneker's importance in #2. Ms. Budow offered to convey these comments to the D.C. government. Ms. Nelson concluded that none of the designs is satisfactory; Mr. Belle agreed, noting that the quarter is smaller than the size of the First Spouse designs reviewed earlier on the agenda. Ms. Nelson and Mr. Belle suggested that a new set of design alternatives be prepared. Mr. Powell agreed, commenting that #1 and #3 could be revised satisfactorily by giving further emphasis to the heads of the portraits. Mr. Rybczynski commented that all three subjects are worthy of commemoration; he suggested that a consensus on subject matter be developed through another process so that the Commission could focus on design issues rather than the thematic decisions that are outside the Commission's purview. Mr. Powell commented that the piano is an important feature in depicting Ellington; he suggested that the desk is less important in the Douglass design. Mr. Powell summarized the Commission's recommendation to request the submission of an additional set of design alternatives; Mr. Belle agreed with this consensus.
Ms. Budow presented two reverse alternatives for Puerto Rico: #1 depicting the historic governor's residence and #2 depicting the sentry box from the fortifications of old San Juan. Mr. Powell said that the subject of #2 is well known, and Mr. Rybczynski added that #2 works better as a coin design. Mr. Belle agreed. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission recommended reverse #2 for Puerto Rico.
Ms. Budow presented two reverse alternatives for Guam, each with a variety of features and emphasis on a map of the island in #1 and a sailboat in #2. Ms. Nelson supported #2 as having the most potential and expressed concern about the multiple objects floating across the design of #1. She commented that the promontory in the background of #2 would be difficult to understand at a small scale and suggested that it be removed, providing greater emphasis to the boat and palm tree. Mr. Rybczynski commented that the boat alone would be sufficient; Ms. Nelson agreed, commenting that the most successful quarters in the series have been those that emphasize a single element such as the tree for Connecticut. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission recommended Guam reverse #2 with simplification to remove the background topography and water in order to enlarge and emphasize the boat.
Ms. Budow presented three reverse alternatives for American Samoa. Mr. Belle expressed support for #1 depicting a Samoan in traditional dress. Ms. Nelson agreed and suggested that the surrounding leaves be eliminated from the design. Mr. Powell also said that the leaves would be difficult to comprehend at a small scale and reiterated the general concern to better focus the designs. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission recommended reverse #1 for American Samoa.
Ms. Budow presented three reverse alternatives for the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mr. Powell supported #1 depicting a man blowing a conch shell. Ms. Nelson supported #2 with the preference that the map of the three islands be eliminated so that the three women representing the islands could be enlarged; Mr. Rybczynski agreed and said that #2 is also superior because it does not include additional text. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission recommended reverse #2 with the map removed and the three women to be given further emphasis.
Ms. Budow presented three reverse alternatives for the Northern Mariana Islands. Mr. Belle said that all three alternatives place too many elements on the small coin. Ms. Nelson said that the composition of #3, depicting a World War II landing of marines, is the most dynamic but is still unsuitable at a small scale. She suggested a more symbolic design rather than the accumulation of multiple features, and she asked that new designs be prepared for the Commission's review; Mr. Belle and Mr. Powell agreed. Mr. Powell added that the military scene could be part of the history of many islands and is not unique to the Northern Marianas. The Chairman summarized the Commission's decision not to recommend either design and to request simplified alternatives; he suggested that #1, having the smallest number of elements, could serve as the starting point for a revised design.
F. D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
1. CFA 15/MAY/08-6, District of Columbia Consolidated Forensic Laboratory. E and 4th Streets, S.W. New six-story building. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced architect Bill Hellmuth of HO+K to present the design for the new building. Mr. Hellmuth explained that the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory will combine laboratories and other functions located elsewhere. He discussed the design's emphasis on daylight and energy-efficiency, scoring near the gold or platinum range for a LEED rating. He said that this is a particularly unusual achievement because a laboratory building typically has extensive energy consumption requirements; he gave the example of the necessity for single-use air circulation through fume hoods. He said that the site configuration is advantageous, providing for long north and south facades: solar control can be achieved through conventional shading measures on the south, while the north facade provides the opportunity for extensive windows to bring daylight into the laboratories. The east and west facades would have relatively few openings in order to avoid solar heat gain.
Mr. Hellmuth described the site with the main facade facing E Street on the south; the one-block segment of School Street forms the north boundary, with 4th Street on the east and an adjacent building on the west. He described the overall design concept of a glass-covered mass set in a limestone frame. Laboratories would extend along the north facade; office space would be located toward the south, with solar screening provided by a system of moveable glass fins. A five-story atrium at the southeast corner of the building would include an open staircase, encouraging collaboration among people from the different departments within the building. He said that the atrium would be further animated by the visibility of street activity through the exterior windows. The expression of the atrium on the facade would define the corner entrance to the building.
Mr. Hellmuth described the proposed streetscape design. A setback from the street is provided but bollards are not necessary; the emphasis is therefore on planting areas and open space. Bioretention swales and tree pits would be designed to contribute to stormwater management. He explained the complex vehicular access requirements for the building, including fleet vehicles, employee parking, loading docks, and facilities for the forensic analysis of an entire vehicle. The facilities for larger vehicles have been grouped into a courtyard on the western edge of the site, with gated access drives from E and School Streets that provide for a pleasant pedestrian-scaled streetscape rather than a series of loading docks along the sidewalk. A ramp from School Street would lead to the two levels of below-grade parking, including spaces for fleet vehicles. The 4th Street sidewalk would be animated by the placement of a large ground-floor meeting room along this facade; this room would be used for meetings with the press when necessary, maintaining the layers of security for access to the remaining portions of the building. He emphasized that the design is intended to balance security with transparency.
Mr. Hellmuth described the vegetated roof that will contribute to stormwater management and reduce heat gain. The ventilation stacks, including extensive ventilation requirements from the laboratories, would be grouped into three large ventilation towers rising from the roof; he compared the roofscape to the profile of a large ship. He said that the building will be lower than some of its neighbors, while acknowledging that its six stories are unusually tall due to the laboratory design requirements; the total height of 90 feet, plus an 18.5-foot mechanical penthouse, is lower than the allowable 130 feet.
Mr. Hellmuth presented the proposed materials, including metal panels for the north facade, limestone that would be emphasized on the east and west facades and along the top of the building, and a band of black granite along the base. Clear glass would be used on the north and south, while a slightly darker glass would be used on the east and west where solar control is more difficult. Mr. Belle asked for clarification of the varying depictions of contrast between the clear glass and the limestone; Mr. Hellmuth said that the tonality of the clear glass is distorted by the background of the materials board.
Mr. Rybczynski asked for further information about the choice of glass fins rather than opaque shading devices. Mr. Hellmuth said that the glass fins would be fritted to reduce the heat transmission while still allowing visible light to pass through; the resulting heat gain in the glass would not be a problem because the fins are located away from the building envelope. He explained that the fins would move in response to the changing sun angle, ensuring the feasibility of the extensive glass area along this facade. He cited studies showing that worker productivity and health are enhanced when the workplace has extensive exposure to daylight. Mr. Rybczynski asked about the heat reduction efficiency of the shading system. Mr. Hellmuth, along with Aaron Altman of the design team, were unable to provide an efficiency ratio but said that the window glass can be twice as clear as would be feasible without the fin system. Mr. Hellmuth added that a typical solution for controlling heat gain in glass facades is to apply a dark coating which results in an aesthetically unappealing building, despite the attractive appearance of the glass in the design renderings.
Mr. Belle asked about the glazing of the atrium. Mr. Hellmuth responded that the atrium facade will have a more standard low-transmission glass. He noted that the heat gain in the atrium is less of a concern because the atrium air can be exhausted directly through the roof. Mr. Belle asked about the code requirements for such a tall atrium; Mr. Hellmuth said that they are permissible and are subject to special design requirements such as smoke exhaust systems.
Ms. Nelson asked whether the glass fins would move continuously during the day. Mr. Hellmuth said that they would be operated by a mechanical system that would probably be activated at several times during the day. Ms. Nelson asked how a failure of this mechanical system would be handled; Mr. Hellmuth responded that the fins could simply be set in a horizontal position where they could remain indefinitely. He said that the occasional movement of the fins is helpful in discouraging birds and the formation of ice.
Ms. Nelson asked how perimeter security features, such as bollards, could be omitted from the design. Mr. Hellmuth said that a threat assessment and extensive discussions allowed for the more moderate security level for the building; Mr. Luebke contrasted this D.C. project with the federal and embassy buildings that typically have higher security.
Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept.
At this point Mr. Belle departed the meeting, resulting in the loss of a quorum. Mr. Luebke suggested that the remaining three Commission members review the rest of the agenda items, with the recommendations to be confirmed at the next Commission meeting.
2. CFA 15/MAY/08-7, Deanwood Community Center (recreation center and branch library), 49th and Quarles Streets, N.E. New building. Final. Mr. Luebke introduced Ayris Scales of the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Ms. Scales said that the project began several years ago at the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation and is now being carried out by the Deputy Mayor's office. She said that the 60,000-square-foot building will co-locate several facilities and is in a part of the city that needs considerable investment. She introduced Sean O'Donnell and Mary Rankin of Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects to present the design.
Mr. O'Donnell explained that the project includes the innovative combination of a recreation center and branch library, involving the collaboration of separate D.C. government agencies. He said that the design emphasizes the building's role as the center of the community, with inter-generational activities ranging from a child-care center to senior citizen programs. He said that the program elements are most appropriately configured into a single-story building on the 5.8-acre site. The energy efficiency goal is a LEED silver rating.
Mr. O'Donnell described the context in the eastern part of D.C., immediately east of the Deanwood Metrorail station across an isolated segment of Minnesota Avenue. He indicated the location of the Ron Brown Middle School to the south; the school and the community center will share the site's playing fields. The remainder of the site is defined by 49th Street on the east, Quarles Street on the northeast, and an alley on the north. He said that the community center would draw people walking from the surrounding neighborhood as well as people arriving by Metrorail, bus, or car from other parts of D.C. and even nearby Prince George's County. He said that the building design responds to the regional transit context on the west as well as the neighborhood context on the east. He explained that the school and Metrorail station both have parking lots that would be available during the peak usage times of the community center, in addition to the availability of street parking in the vicinity, so the project includes only a small number of parking spaces to provide for handicapped access and for drop-off to the child-care center; as a result, more of the site is available for outdoor recreation space.
Mr. O'Donnell said that the building would be placed on the northeast portion of the site, allowing for the retention of an existing tennis court and a row of four large oak trees that form a monumental edge to the playing field. Additional trees would be added to fill in the gaps and extend the row to the courtyard of the new building; the street trees along 49th Street would be retained. The building would respect the residential scale of this street; the taller volumes would be placed toward the west, corresponding to the larger scale of the context along Minnesota Avenue. The existing school and new community center would frame the playing fields and create a campus of civic buildings.
Mr. O'Donnell said that the program includes the branch library, an early childhood center, gymnasium, swimming pool, senior center, and shared-use spaces such as meeting rooms and bathrooms. Rather than provide separate exterior entrances for the various functions, the building is organized around an east-west circulation spine that will serve as an interior public street or plaza with an entrance at each end. This public space would include seating and a coffee bar with an adjoining terrace overlooking the recreation field to the south. An overhang would provide solar screening while helping to unify the interior plaza with the terrace. A separate outdoor play area would be accessible from the child-care area which would also include indoor recreation space for use during inclement weather. The building's massing would be animated by different materials and colors for the various volumes
Mr. O'Donnell explained that the pool would be designed with recreational features—such as a water slide and wading area—rather than exclusively for lap swimming; he said that this facility has generated excitement within the community and would be a prominent feature of the building. Its tall glass western wall with large-scale graphics would face Minnesota Avenue and would be visible from the Metro station; the glass volume would also help to frame the recreation field to the south. The pool deck would provide seating with views toward the recreation field. The library at the northeast corner of the building would be lower in scale while featuring extensive windows along the neighborhood streets.
Ms. Nelson expressed support for the multiple uses in the building and recommended that the design should support combined activities such as music or exercise classes that mix the elderly with the children. Mr. O'Donnell responded that the design encourages such interactions through the placement of programmed spaces as well as through unplanned encounters in the circulation spine. Ms. Nelson emphasized the need for specific activities rather than relying on chance encounters. Ms. Scales agreed and said that activity programming has not yet been addressed but offered to convey the suggestion to the Department of Parks and Recreation; she anticipated that the building design would support such shared programming. Mr. O'Donnell emphasized that the library would attract children and teens and might include tutoring services for D.C. public school students, which would add to the interactions across age groups.
Mr. Rybczynski noted the prominent expression of the east-west spine on the western entrance facade and asked why the eastern entrance is far less expressive of the public space within. Mr. O'Donnell responded that the smaller eastern entrance is intended to provide compression and variety along the spine while also responding to the lower residential scale of 49th Street. Mr. Rybczynski said that a larger-scaled expression on the east would allow the spine to be better understood as an interior street, while the current design suggests that the spine becomes more like a corridor. Mr. O'Donnell said that both the street and plaza analogies are intended for this interior space, with its extensive windows facing the terrace on the south as well as its linear east-west orientation. He emphasized that the treatment of the eastern entrance was considered extensively and the conclusion was to give it a modest scale.
Ms. Rankin presented the materials and the sustainability and energy-efficiency features of the design. She said that site preservation features include the retention of mature trees and the reduction of site disturbance by retaining the existing playing fields as much as possible. She said that the limited alterations to the site would include repair of the backstop and installation of an irrigation system. She indicated the bioretention garden that would be adjacent to the proposed parking lot along 49th Street. The garden would retain and filter the water runoff from the parking lot before releasing it into the stormwater sewer system; the plantings would be attractive with year-round visual interest as well as being functional for the filtration process. Rainwater from the roof would be collected in a cistern and used for irrigation of the planting areas around the building. The roof itself would have a white reflective surface that would reduce heat absorption; a weather station on the roof would track precipitation to allow for more careful management of the irrigation system; treated potable water would be used only when necessary to supplement the recycled water and natural rainfall.
Ms. Rankin said that the proposed building materials have organic content or incorporate recycled materials. The linoleum flooring and interior paint are designed not to harm the indoor air quality, an important concern for a building that serves young children as well as senior citizens. The countertop material includes recycled aluminum cans. The millwork would include resin panels containing recycled products. The proposed exterior materials include various colors of ground-face concrete block, curtainwall, and metal panels. She added that the majority of the manufacturers of these products are committed to green manufacturing systems, and the ease of maintenance and low life-cycle costs were also taken into consideration.
Mr. Powell asked about the material for the swimming pool deck. Ms. Rankin said that tile would be used along the edge of the pool, allowing for depth indications and other necessary wording, while the remainder of the deck would be a light-colored brushed concrete which she said would be less slippery than tile. Ms. Nelson contrasted this to the proposed terrazzo tiles, which she said could be slippery. Ms. Rankin responded that the finish on the interior tiles would be slightly less slick than the sample on the materials board, while the terrazzo tiles used on the exterior would have a coarser finish that would be safer in the rain or snow.
Ms. Nelson asked about special features for elderly users, such as grab bars and railings. Mr. O'Donnell said that the building would be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. He added that the room designated for senior citizen activities is designed as a general multi-purpose room, including an adjacent pantry.
Mr. Rybczynski said that he had some concerns about the concept for the building but, since it is being submitted as a final design, he did not have further comments to offer.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the final design subject to confirmation by a quorum at the next Commission meeting.
G. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 15/MAY/08-8, SmartBike, automated bicycle rental system. Phase I, ten locations, citywide. Information presentation. Mr. Lindstrom introduced Jim Sebastian, the bicycle and pedestrian program manager for the D.C. Department of Transportation, to present the proposed SmartBike system. Mr. Sebastian described the launch, planned in several weeks, of an automated bicycle rental system that would be the first of its kind in the nation; similar systems are operating in Oslo and Barcelona. The system would include special racks at selected locations that would accommodate the program's bicycles and would release them upon being activated by an electronic membership card. Members would receive the cards by mail after enrolling in the system on-line, by mail, or by telephone; the annual fee would be tentatively set at $40. Members could return the bike to any of the racks in the system. He said that the first phase of the project will be relatively small in scope and will include ten racks.
Mr. Sebastian described the physical components of the system. The rack was illustrated by photographs provided to the Commission members. Mr. Sebastian said that a small tower would be located near the end of each rack for reading the electronic cards. He presented an example of the bicycle, indicating the automatic front and rear lights and the electronic chip that communicates with the rack to identify the location of individual bicycles within the system. The bicycle has a three-speed gear mechanism, a protective casing around the gear mechanism to avoid damage to the rider's clothing, and a front luggage rack. He said that the design of the bicycle makes it relatively easy to mount and ride for a wide range of users with varying physical abilities.
Mr. Powell asked how damage or theft of the bicycles would be avoided. Mr. Sebastian responded that the company contracted to run the program—Clear Channel, the same company involved in the D.C. bus shelter program—will be responsible for maintenance of the bicycles; the company's staff will visit the racks to check on the bikes. Theft of bikes from the racks would be very difficult due to the secure locking mechanism that is electronically controlled. Failure of members to return a bicycle would be handled through the membership and billing information that is obtained through the enrollment process; members would be contacted automatically if the bicycle is not returned within three hours of its rental. He said that the Paris system with 20,000 bicycles has a loss of several hundred bicycles per year—approximately one percent—but the Paris system requires only a credit card and does not have a membership registration process.
Ms. Nelson asked if bicycles could be relocated based on varying demand among the racks, in order to improve the likelihood of bicycle availability at each rack. Mr. Sebastian responded that bicycles can be redistributed using a van with a nine-bike capacity whenever a shortage or excess of bikes develops at a rack. The electronic tracking system would alert the operating company when such a situation is occurring. He said that the data will be studied to better understand the patterns of riders' origins and destinations.
Ms. Nelson asked about the cost of the bicycles, which might be charged to members if a bike is lost. Mr. Sebastian said that the bicycle itself costs approximately $500; the associated equipment and program components such as the racks and website would result in a per-bike cost of several times that amount. Ms. Nelson asked if members would be charged $500 for a lost bike. Mr. Sebastian responded that the replacement cost is specified in the user agreement; he didn't recall the exact amount but estimated it in the $300 to $500 range. Mr. Powell asked about responsibility for damage to bicycles due to traffic accidents; Mr. Sebastian responded that such situations could be handled individually.
Mr. Sebastian explained that the initial system will include ten racks with approximately twelve bikes each. Locations would include Foggy Bottom, Shaw, Metro Center, and U Street, forming a two-mile rectangle around downtown Washington. He said that one of the racks is proposed for Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown and the design would be presented to the Old Georgetown Board; coordination is also underway with other Georgetown citizen groups. He said that the intention is to expand the scope of the system to the entire city after the initial phase is successfully implemented.
Mr. Powell expressed enthusiasm for the proposal. No action was taken on the information presentation.
Agenda item II.H was seen earlier in the meeting; the Commission continued to the following agenda item.
I. District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities
CFA 15/MAY/08-10, Kennedy Recreation Center and Playground, 1401 7th St., N.W. Mosaic mural column. Concept. Ms. Barsoum introduced artist Byron Peck and Christopher Ziemann, planner for Ward Two in the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT). Mr. Ziemann said that DDOT is sponsoring this artwork at the Kennedy Recreation Center on the block bounded by O, P, 6th, and 7th Streets, N.W.
Mr. Peck said that the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation asked him to develop the artwork, which is being funded as part of a plan to address the impacts of the nearby new Convention Center on the Shaw neighborhood. He presented images of the site and the two initial options that he proposed: images related to the neighborhood that would be displayed as a wall-mounted work or on a freestanding mosaic-clad column. The column was selected; it would be fourteen feet high, 2.5 feet square, and would be placed in the center of the front yard of the recreation center building along 7th Street. It would be visible from 7th Street, the sidewalk, and the entrance walk of the recreation center. The mosaics would combine geometric patterns with images of people and places that are historically associated with the neighborhood. Subjects would include the O Street Market that is located across 7th Street, now damaged by fire; people would include Langston Hughes, Alma Thomas, Pearl Bailey, Robert Shaw, Thurgood Marshall, Helen Hayes, and Duke Ellington.
Mr. Peck said that the column could include internal lighting to act as a lantern with light emanating through glass panels near the top of each side; alternatively, a solar panel on top could provide the necessary power if an electrical supply is not extended to the column. The materials were chosen to emphasize sustainability, with 50% of the mosaic glass obtained from recycling. He said that the architectural styling of the column would be consistent with the rectilinear prairie style of the recreation center. He presented the details of the panels, noting that some panels are left as blank colored squares with the potential for additional artwork or blueprint images of major nearby buildings. The side facing the recreation center would be less visible and would have abstract patterns of mosaic tiles. He said that the column would be constructed of concrete masonry units and concrete panels that would serve as the subsurface of the mosaic panels.
Ms. Nelson asked how the edges of the mosaic panels would be treated; Mr. Peck responded that a ring of edging tiles would frame these panels, and none of the raw concrete would be exposed. Mr. Powell asked about the extent of the proposed lighting; Mr. Peck confirmed that only the top panels of colored glass would be lit internally, providing a soft glow at twilight.
Mr. Peck showed other examples of his work incorporating similar design elements, including some projects previously reviewed by the Commission such as the Lamond Recreation Center.
Mr. Rybczynski questioned the decision to locate the column behind the fence that encloses the building yard. He commented that this location isolates the artwork, and the intention to relate to the community could be better achieved if the column were located in a more urban manner—on a hard surface where people could touch it. He acknowledged that the location decision might not be within the artist's control. Mr. Peck said that the location away from the sidewalk simplified the issue of avoiding conflict with underground utilities, but he agreed that a more prominent location would be acceptable and added that the mosaic surfaces are durable and would be enjoyable to touch. Mr. Powell suggested approving the proposal with a request to consider an adjustment to the location. Mr. Rybczynski said that a location along the recreation center's entrance plaza would be appropriate; Mr. Peck confirmed that there is an extensive paved area that could provide alternative sites.
Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the concept with the suggestion to consider a more publicly accessible location, subject to confirmation by a quorum at the next Commission meeting.
J. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Old Georgetown Act
O.G. 08-159, Georgetown University, 3700 O Street, N.W. New science center building. Final. (Previous: O.G. 07- 281, CFA October 2007.) Mr. Martinez explained that the final design is submitted by the D.C. government under the Old Georgetown Act. He reported that the Commission had approved the concept for the proposed new science building in October 2007. He said that the Old Georgetown Board has reviewed the final design and provided a favorable recommendation to the Commission, including the normal request with new construction that an on-site materials panel be erected for the Commission's review. He introduced Alan Brangman, architect for Georgetown University, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Brangman emphasized the importance of this building in completing the definition of a new quadrangle and in providing a more convenient at-grade pedestrian route to the adjacent Levy Center—the student center for the campus—that is currently elevated above the sloping terrain. He explained that the completion of this building will allow for the transfer of most science facilities from the existing nearby Reiss Building which will then be renovated; eventually, the science facilities will be split between the two buildings. He said that the building is being designed to achieve a LEED silver level, which is now a standard requirement for new projects on the campus.
Mr. Brangman said that there have been only a few changes to the design since the concept was reviewed in October. The east facade has been simplified to incorporate a single standard window size. The south facade has been modified to provide more appropriate emphasis to the south entrance, which will be a major point of access to the building and to the Levy Center. The twelve rooftop stacks that were previously shown have now been grouped together to form six stacks; their height has also been increased by two feet to prevent downdrafts. He introduced architect Gary Cabo of Payette Associates to provide additional information about the design and the material samples.
Mr. Cabo indicated the two types of masonry used in the facades: red brick at the base of the building and a terra cotta rainscreen system on the upper floors. He explained that the facades are designed to bring daylight to the interior spaces and to correspond to the distribution of laboratories and offices in the building. He said that the choice of textured or flatter finishes would be explored further using the on-site materials panel that will be created. He indicated the curtainwall that would be used for the south entrance and along the circulation, lounge, and conference areas. He described the clear glass of the facades and the shift in plane of the spandrel glass. The facade of the faculty offices would include clear and fritted glass with a projecting aluminum sunscreen system. He indicated the granite that would be used for some of the window sills and the metal colors that would be used for the mullions and at the roof.
Mr. Cabo said that the courtyard would be designed as an extension of the Levy Center activities and would provide convenient access up the hillside to the Levy Center's main floor. Beneath the courtyard would be biology laboratories that would have access to exterior gardens that could be related to the educational program.
Mr. Powell commented that the design has been resolved well. Ms. Nelson predicted that the courtyard would be well populated due to the design of the space as well as the careful attention to pedestrian circulation patterns on the campus. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the final design, subject to confirmation by a quorum at the next Commission meeting.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 2:45 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Last Modified: May 20, 2008