Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
18 February 2010
The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 9:10 a.m. (The starting time of the meeting was published as 9:00 a.m., one hour earlier than usual, due to the anticipated length of the agenda.)
A. Approval of the minutes of the 21 January meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the January meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the minutes. Mr. Luebke said that the minutes will be made available on the Commission's website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: 18 March, 15 April, and 20 May.
Mr. Luebke reported that this year's application process in underway for the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program of grants, with a deadline of March 1.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Direct Submission Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom reported that the only changes to the draft consent calendar are minor updates to a case number and drawing dates. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that the only changes to the draft appendix are minor wording changes and the addition of a case that is cross-referenced to the Direct Submission Consent Calendar; Chairman Powell noted that this case was approved as part of Appendix I. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Ms. Barsoum reported several changes to the draft appendix. Minor updates were made in response to supplemental information, all of which has now been received. Several projects have been added with the response that they are not visible from public space; these projects do not require further review by the Commission. Two cases were removed at the request of the applicants. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 18/FEB/10-1, National Mall and Memorial Parks. Draft Master Plan—Preferred option. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/FEB/09-1.) Mr. Luebke introduced the concept submission of the National Mall Plan; a draft of the plan was previously presented to the Commission a year earlier, and the National Park Service (NPS) has now identified preferred options. He said that the plan's goal is to help NPS achieve a balance between protecting resources and providing for visitors. He introduced Doug Jacobs of the National Park Service, representing associate regional director Peter May, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Jacobs characterized the document as a management plan and said that NPS is seeking the Commission's response as part of the public comment period of the environmental review process. He introduced John Piltzecker, the NPS superintendent of the National Mall & Memorial Parks, and Susan Spain, the NPS project manager, to present the National Mall Plan. Mr. Piltzecker said the plan aims to balance a high level of use on the Mall with keeping it well-maintained. He emphasized the comprehensive scope of the study, encompassing such topics as civic space, circulation, infrastructure for events, visitor facilities, and the overall visitor experience.
Ms. Spain said that the currently submitted draft plan will be followed by the final plan and then by implementation of projects. Due to the 600-page length of the plan, the presentation includes one-page summaries of key topics. She described the great impact on the National Mall from its high level of use and said that the NPS goal is respectful rehabilitation of its historic landscape and the creation of sustainable space for events and demonstrations. She said that the project is being coordinated with other recent and current planning efforts including the National Capital Framework Plan, the Capitol Complex Master Plan, the Comprehensive Design Plan for the White House and President's Park, the Center City Action Agenda, and the Extending the Legacy vision plan which served as a starting point for this project.
Ms. Spain outlined the key concepts of the National Mall Plan. First, the Mall would be developed as a sustainable civic stage with three kinds of regular uses: public demonstrations, national celebrations, and special events. She said careful attention is being given to locations that have visual backdrops of nationally symbolic structures; in some areas, more space will be created for people to gather, including through the addition of paved surfaces to protect the landscape. A second major idea is improving the condition of resources and the health of the urban ecosystem, including soil and water. She said that the National Mall, with its three large pools and many light fixtures and pumping units, consumes more potable water and electricity than any other of the more than 390 units within the national park system; NPS is seeking a more sustainable water system and reduced energy use. A third key idea of the National Mall Plan is enhancing visitor enjoyment and inspiration, in part through better dispersal of facilities and improved modes of transportation.
Ms. Spain presented Union Square at the foot of Capitol Hill as an example, describing this site as offering the most opportunity for transformation into a sustainable civic space. She said Union Square could become a flexible area that can accommodate many events and relieve pressure on the rest of the Mall. She explained the problem presented by the Capitol Reflecting Pool, which is so large that it inhibits free movement across the site. Noting that the National Mall Plan is neither a design nor a master plan, she presented several renderings to illustrate how Union Square could be redesigned and said that this site could present an opportunity for a design competition.
Ms. Spain briefly discussed other proposed projects. The construction of a multi-purpose facility at the Sylvan Theater on the Washington Monument Grounds would include restrooms, food service, and places to stage programs and provide visitor information. She said the plan seeks to increase public use of Constitution Gardens through construction of a garden restaurant, and to improve the Tidal Basin through rebuilding walls and widening walks. She described mentioned circulation issues and the large numbers of commuters and visitors, noting that NPS in the past has tried to reduce their impact by minimizing the width of walks and constructing single-purpose facilities, with the result of causing even more damage to the Mall's resources.
Ms. Balmori expressed support for the goal of greening the National Mall and creating a healthy ecosystem. She commented that the Mall's high electricity consumption suggests the need to consider using solar energy for lighting, perhaps by designing a new lighting fixture for the Mall that incorporates a solar panel. She said that paving of walks is contrary to the goal of sustainability. Citing the experience of Great Britain's National Trust and a work by landscape architect Russell Page on the use of gravel and stone-dust walks, she said that such walks—if built well—are effective and inexpensive to maintain. Mr. Belle urged NPS to accept some unpopularity while conducting experiments with different widths and materials for walks; he emphasized that there is no way of knowing what will work without in-depth experimentation in the field. Mr. Powell cited the success of the compacted gravel walks at the National Gallery of Art's sculpture garden, where he said the maintenance has not been problematic.
Ms. Nelson asked why the pools need to use potable water; Ms. Spain responded that this is the current practice but the use of potable water is not necessary. Ms. Nelson asked about public response to the plan; Ms. Spain said that NPS has received 30,000 comments on the draft plan which has helped in developing the range of alternatives. Mr. Piltzecker added that NPS expects to see comments on three particular issues: not infringing on public demonstrations; balancing special events such as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival with resource protection; and proposals for increased activity at Union Square.
Mr. Rybczynski said that the problem with Union Square is that it is not really a square but a large water feature; he asked if NPS has considered eliminating the pool. Ms. Spain said this was considered, but other options are possible: if a pool could be designed so that water could be drained quickly, for example, the site could become more flexible. Mr. Belle commented that Union Square presents the opportunity for substantial redesign—which the public should be made aware of—while other proposed changes for the Mall are more modest in scope. He observed that one of the renderings implied that the pool would be removed at Union Square; Mr. Piltzecker and Ms. Spain responded that some of the renderings illustrate smaller pools as examples of what could be done.
For the improvement of the Mall's lawn areas, Mr. Belle cited the example of the Sheep's Meadow in New York's Central Park which was entirely closed for two or more years to allow for rehabilitation; he suggested that NPS consider such an action as the only way to make a significant improvement to the Mall. Ms. Spain agreed and said that NPS has been considering the possible need to completely rebuild the central grass panels. Mr. Piltzecker said there is public opposition when NPS suggests making even minor changes to event locations, adding that a planned turf study will help NPS improve its lawn maintenance practices. Mr. Belle recommended that NPS present specific proposals to the Commission and other review agencies in order to gain support as the plans are developed.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk said the Commission has seen various projects for the Mall in the past year, including signage, and questioned how the different proposals fit in with the National Mall Plan; she commented that the presentation seems to be a step back to more general issues while NPS is already dealing with details. She added that additional information would be helpful on topics such as transportation, expressing concern that the pressure of events will affect the development and use of what is intended to be a calm place. Ms. Spain responded that development of the overall plan began in November 2006; while specific projects have been proceeding as necessary, the plan will set a cohesive framework for all projects.
Mr. Luebke said that the Commission might want to offer broad guidance to NPS on issues brought up in previous discussions, such as sustainability and water use, or design principles such as walkway widths and materials. He noted that many of these issues will come up repeatedly as projects come before the Commission. Mr. Piltzecker said that ideally NPS would develop the plan and then immediately implement projects, but the reality of funding typically does not allow for this; the National Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides the opportunity to enact some major projects now while developing the plan as an overarching guide for the future.
Mr. Powell observed that some activities don't need to happen on the Mall and recommended identifying alternative locations. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested that the Commission state its support for preserving a degree of decorum, calmness, and beauty on the Mall; Mr. Belle agreed that this review provides an opportunity to reinforce the importance of these issues. Ms. Plater-Zyberk added that rehabilitation of the Mall will require support from high-level government officials. Chairman Powell described the National Mall Plan is a commendable project with noteworthy goals; he said the plan has the support of the Commission, with reservations and comments as noted, and the Commission would like to remain involved. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
2. CFA 18/FEB/10-2, Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and Grounds, West Potomac Park. Rehabilitation of pool, landscape improvements for Elm Walks, and installation of security barriers for east plaza of the Memorial. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JUL/09-2.) Mr. Luebke summarized the numerous issues being addressed in the proposed rehabilitation of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and Grounds: a perimeter security barrier on the east side of the memorial plaza, improvements to the Elm Walks, barrier-free access from the Reflecting Pool to the memorial plaza, new walks along the sides of the Reflecting Pool, and a new water supply and filtration system for the pool. He noted that the Commission had approved the concept for the project in July 2009. He said that the Commission staff, along with staff from the D.C. Historic Preservation Office and the National Capital Planning Commission, has been consulting with the project team to minimize the effects on the landmark Lincoln Memorial and its historic landscape. He asked Doug Jacobs of the National Park Service (NPS) to begin the presentation.
Mr. Jacobs said that NPS intends to submit the project to the Commission for final approval in March 2010 and noted that the project is receiving funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He said the project is intended to provide an integrated approach to addressing perimeter security, accessibility, and water quality. He introduced Alan Ward of Sasaki Associates to present the proposal.
Mr. Ward presented detailed studies of the different parts of the project, including various options for the Commission's consideration. He described the proposed alignment of the perimeter security barrier, moving it away from the central axis of the Mall and Reflecting Pool. The pool edge itself would provide the barrier across the central axis, which would be achieved by lowering the bottom of the pool at its west end; the remainder of the barrier would be a combination of walls and bollards in conjunction with adjustments to the grade of existing walks. He presented a diagram of the historically significant areas of the site and said that the new security barrier components will not disrupt these contributing features nor the grade along the Reflecting Pool.
Mr. Ward said that the structural portion of the new security walls will need to be thirty inches high; any cap on the walls would be in addition to this height. He presented sections of the proposed walls at several locations, including three design options for treating the wall's surface: a thirty-inch-high granite veneer with a six-inch-high cap; a monolithic granite surface with no cap; and a granite veneer with no cap which could be slightly shorter than the other options. He also illustrated two options for the material: Milford Pink granite to match the existing walls, and a gray granite that would provide a distinction between new and historic material.
Mr. Ward confirmed that these walls would likely be used for seating. Mr. Rybczynski and Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the curb component shown in each of the sections. Mr. Ward explained that the building code would require a railing along a drop-off greater than thirty inches, which is the required minimum height of the security barrier; the curb stone therefore serves to reduce the drop-off distance to less than thirty inches, eliminating the need to introduce railings. He noted that the same configuration was constructed recently on the Washington Monument Grounds. Ms. Nelson asked if NPS is concerned about skateboarding on the new walls; Mr. Jacobs responded that this issue will be managed through enforcement.
Mr. Belle asked about drainage from the lower plaza; Mr. Ward responded that water would flow into either the Reflecting Pool or a slot drain. Mr. Belle asked if drainage into the pool would be acceptable, and Mr. Ward responded that this issue has not yet been resolved. Ms. Nelson asked whether an attempt to match the existing granite would be feasible or if the new granite would always be obvious as a later addition; Mr. Ward responded that a close match is possible if the same quarry is used. Ms. Balmori commented that the granite would match in time; Mr. Powell added that the older granite could also be cleaned.
Mr. Ward presented images comparing different combinations of security walls and bollards, including views looking toward and away from the Lincoln Memorial. He said the various options have been refined to reduce their visibility, with the goal of integrating the security perimeter into the site so that its location would be difficult to perceive.
Mr. Ward presented options for paving materials and patterns on the lower plaza, illustrating different combinations of Milford Pink granite, light gray Mt. Airy granite, a darker gray granite, and inset cobblestone or granite panels with different types of finishes. He said the variations were developed in an attempt to distinguish the rehabilitated plaza from historic materials and to provide better walking surfaces on the three panels. Mr. Belle asked why cobblestones are proposed for the inset panels, commenting that it would be an uncomfortable surface to walk on. Mr. Luebke noted that cobbled panels were part of the original design for the upper plaza by Henry Bacon, and the existing panels in the lower plaza date from its construction in the 1970s. Mr. Ward said that when the cobblestones were originally installed, it was apparently not anticipated that so many people would be using the stairs at the west end of the Reflecting Pool; the cobbled panels had probably been designed to visually break down the scale of the plaza.
Ms. Balmori questioned the use of the lighter Mt. Airy granite for the pool coping, commenting that a reflecting pool would be more refined and powerful if it were surrounded by a stone with a darker tone similar to that of the water; she said the lighter edge would make it resemble a swimming pool. Mr. Ward responded that the existing Mt. Airy granite is the historic material and is considered a contributing feature to the historic landscape. Ms. Balmori expressed support for one of the paving alternatives for the lower plaza—using Milford Pink granite for both the field and the three panels, with the panels using smaller pavers and a bush-hammered finish—commenting that this is a more integrated design having less contrast with the historic granite coping. Chairman Powell noted a consensus of the Commission to support this option.
Mr. Ward then discussed the issues concerning new walks along the Reflecting Pool. He noted that such walks had been proposed in a 1920 plan that was approved by the Commission but never implemented. He said the walks have become necessary because of the increased numbers of people walking between the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, which has resulted in broad worn social trails approximately fifteen to sixteen feet wide on both sides of the pool and its three-foot-wide coping.
Mr. Ward said the design team recommends that a defined walk that is 13'-4" wide would be sufficient to keep people off the lawns. Mr. Belle asked what factors, including aesthetics, had determined this proposed width; Mr. Ward responded that the calculation is based on the amount of anticipated pedestrian traffic. Mr. Belle commented that the issue is not just the number of people but their interaction as they walk along the paths. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if he wants the walks to be wider or narrower; Mr. Belle said he did not have a proposal but suggested consideration of people walking in typical groups of two to four in each direction, recommending that the walks be wide enough so that a group would be able to walk together the entire length of the pool. Ms. Balmori said that walks give a certain level of intimacy to a landscape, and some English landscape architects believe that if two people together occupy a space six feet wide they should have a 12-foot-wide path to keep this intimacy; from this point of view, the proposed 13-foot 4-inch width would be reasonable. However, she added that the three-foot-wide coping could be perceived as an extension of the walk material, resulting in a "highway" appearance for the composition. She acknowledged the thoroughness of the submitted studies but recommended further consideration of this issue. Ms. Nelson asked if runners would be likely stay on the walk surface or run on the grass; Mr. Ward responded that they would do both. He added that the proposed width also relates to the condition at the ends of the pool, and the proposed module is intended to allow an effective transition in these areas.
Mr. Ward described several alternative configurations and surface treatments for the walks along the Reflecting Pool. One option would place a strip of lawn between the coping and the new walks, but he said this would likely become muddy. A second option is poured-in-place concrete paving with a fine gray exposed aggregate, which would be a darker, less reflective material that would create less contrast with the darker color of the lawn. A third option would be to use a stone-dust surface with a steel edge, but the concern is that this material will become highly compacted and rutted, requiring more maintenance than paved walks. A fourth option would be light-colored poured-in-place concrete, which would create a broad light-colored paved zone around the pool. Mr. Ward said the design team favors the gray exposed-aggregate concrete because it would contrast with the pool coping and has been used already in some walks near the Lincoln Memorial. He then presented different options for treating the junction of walks adjacent to the east and west ends of the pool, including the treatment of different materials and scoring patterns.
Ms. Balmori strongly recommended that stone-dust walks be specified. She questioned Mr. Ward's statement that pavement requires less maintenance than stone dust, observing that concrete and asphalt are typically not well maintained, whereas stone-dust walks that are rolled and compressed are preferable because they only need to be treated once per year. She cited the low cost and the existing use of stone dust along the central grass panels of the Mall as additional reasons to prefer this material. Mr. Belle agreed, adding that the sound of feet walking on a crushed stone surface would add an important and almost ephemeral character. Mr. Powell supported further exploration of this option, reiterating his comment from the previous agenda item, the National Mall Plan, that the stone-dust walks at the National Gallery of Art's sculpture garden have not been a significant maintenance problem.
Mr. Ward then presented options for the Elm Walks, illustrating the existing fifteen-foot-wide asphalt walks and several options for asphalt or poured-in-place concrete using the historic scoring pattern. He noted that runners have created an informal trail under the elm trees; one option for an asphalt walk therefore includes a softer surface for runners—a four-foot-wide band of crushed stone with a steel edge to separate it from the asphalt. He said that this option is not preferred because of the potential tripping hazard and because it lacks the simplicity of using a single material.
In summary, Mr. Ward presented several options illustrating different combinations of paving materials for the overall system of walks and plazas. The first option would distinguish new materials from the historic Milford Pink granite and poured-in-place concrete by having the new walks constructed in a darker material, whether granite or exposed aggregate. In the second option, the Elm Walks and pool walks would be poured-in-place concrete, and the landings, steps, and plaza would be Milford Pink granite. The third option would combine gray exposed-aggregate concrete for the pool walks and selected other walks, while again using poured-in-place concrete for the Elm Walks. The fourth option would vary this by using asphalt for the Elm Walks.
Mr. Luebke suggested that the Commission to give comments on the several issues that have been presented before continuing with the presentation. Chairman Powell confirmed the Commission's consensus that the lower plaza should be built of Milford Pink granite with a different finish for the three inset panels. Regarding the design details for cladding the security walls, Ms. Balmori recommended matching the historic material in order to unify the ensemble and not attract attention to the security measures; the other Commission members agreed.
Mr. Luebke noted that the external walks outside the memorial precinct are part of a larger pattern of connective walks and asked if the Commission prefers these walks and adjacent retaining walls to be light or dark; Ms. Balmori added that another issue is whether the cladding should be a solid block or have a cap. Ms. Plater-Zyberk recommended that all of the walls be same material, the Milford Pink granite, suggesting that only the curved walls should have a cap. For the paving material, Ms. Balmori recommended using the aggregate for the curving ramped walks, but not for the Reflecting Pool walks nor Elm Walks, reiterating her request that crushed stone be considered for both. Mr. Lorenzetti of NPS agreed with Ms. Balmori's observation that existing concrete walks have not been well maintained but said that, in conjunction with the proposed reconstruction of the Reflecting Pool, the adjacent walks would be supported on piles which will reduce their deterioration. He reiterated that the crushed stone walks on the Mall have been troublesome: water does not permeate but collects in depressions, and each year many tons of stone have to be added and leveled with a highway grader. Ms. Balmori emphasized that the problems result from the shallow depth of these walks, and she recommended a construction depth of nine to twelve inches using graduated stone sizes. She said that the poor construction has resulted in a bad reputation for this material, but when built correctly the stone-dust walks need only yearly maintenance. She said that these walks can be easily leveled with a roller, which cannot be done with concrete or asphalt, and added that walking or running on such a soft surface is much better for the human body.
Mr. Rybczynski said he agrees with Ms. Balmori's preference but noted the poor record of annual maintenance of the Mall walks; he was therefore skeptical of imposing a maintenance requirement on an agency that has resisted it unless NPS is able to change its way of operating. Ms. Balmori reiterated that maintenance of stone-dust walks is easy while maintenance of concrete and asphalt is not. Mr. Rybczynski said that much easy maintenance on the Mall does not get done, and he expressed concern about predicating a recommendation on annual maintenance. Mr. Belle suggested that perhaps the original specifications for the gravel walks on the Mall were not sufficient. Mr. Lorenzetti said that the Mall walkways date back to the 1970s and have a strong base because they were built on the roadbeds of the former Adams and Washington drives, and included at least eight inches of stone and clay. But he said that NPS has been unsuccessful in using rollers to maintain an even grade due to the large number of visitors.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted that permeability is apparently not an issue in the material selection; Mr. Ward responded that water would drain onto the grass next to the walks. Ms. Plater-Zyberk observed that whatever material is used should therefore be high enough to drain water toward the grass. She suggested that the curving walks be treated as an extension of whatever material is used on adjoining walks, so that the Commission members could focus their discussion on the Elm Walks and Reflecting Pool walks. Mr. Ward responded that the curving walks will adjoin both asphalt and concrete walks.
Mr. Ward discussed the issue of lighting the Elm Walks; the intention is to provide a low light level because, historically, these walks were not lit. He proposed that new lights be placed along the outside of the walks, flanked by trash receptacles or paired benches. He presented four options for the lighting fixtures, of which the first three emphasize historical detailing to relate to the existing benches. The first option would use a glass globe which would result in excessive light spillage. The second option would have an arm with a hood to focus light downward; the third option is similar but would provide a longer arm and a bracket to further recall the bench, and both of these options would have LED lamps for long life and low cost. A fourth option is a very simple modern-style fixture using a luminaire having a thin profile that would be much less noticeable; the problem with this option is that the standard lamp is too bright, and he said that the design team is working with the manufacturer to reduce the illumination level. All four options use a pole with historical detailing related to the style of the benches.
Ms. Balmori asked if the Elm Walks could remain unlit; Steven Lorenzetti of the National Park Service responded that the current temporary lights were installed on the advice of NPS and D.C. police following several assaults approximately three years ago. Ms. Balmori noted the general tendency toward over-lighting; she urged reconsideration of the proposal to light the Elm Walks, commenting that it is a myth that lighting creates safety. Noting the statement by NPS that the Mall is the highest user of electricity in the National Park System, she asked if it would be possible to create a system of sustainable solar lighting for the entire Mall and said that there is no better place than the Lincoln Memorial for such a project. Chairman Powell asked the design team's preference for the lights; Mr. Ward said that the fourth option is preferred because it has the thinnest and least visible fixture. Chairman Powell noted the apparent problem of excessive brightness with this option and asked about a second choice; Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested the third option—the lamp post with a bracket. Ms. Balmori suggested that the Commission could support these choices but should strongly recommend further study of energy use including the possible introduction of a solar energy system. Ms. Plater-Zyberk commented that the modern luminaire should not be placed on a traditionally styled pole; she suggested a more modern pole and base for this option, without attempting to refer to the style of the benches, while the more traditional style of the third option would be consistent with the proposed traditional pole profile. The other Commission members agreed. Ms. Nelson expressed concern with one photograph in the presentation which showed a white bag lining a trash receptacle; she commented that it looked like a kitchen trash can or a diaper pail and recommended that NPS use black trash bags lining an inner receptacle.
Mr. Ward introduced Lou Ragozzino of the Louis Berger Group to present the final topic of improving the water quality of the Reflecting Pool. Mr. Ragozzino presented three options that were developed for the environmental review process. The first option is to circulate water from the Potomac River, with a continuous flow to discharge into the Tidal Basin using an existing outflow pipe; this is the preferred alternative of the environmental assessment although this preference is being reconsidered. The second option is to continue using potable water from the urban water supply, recirculating it through a new treatment system. The third option is the reverse of the first: taking water from the Tidal Basin for the pool and then discharging it into the river with a continuous flow system. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the current practice. Mr. Ragozzino responded that the Reflecting Pool is annually drained, cleaned, and filled using potable water which then sits and becomes stagnant; the pool is also replenished periodically to compensate for loss from evaporation and leaking.
Mr. Ragozzino discussed the relative merits of the options. The advantage of circulating water from the river to the pool is to eliminate the use of potable water, but water quality is a concern with river water due to periodic sewer overflows and the large amount of sediment, which would tend to settle in the Reflecting Pool and cause aesthetic as well as maintenance problems. This option would also require building an intake structure on the bank of the river. The third option—pumping water from the Tidal Basin—is emerging as a more viable alternative because it would not require building a structure on the river and would supply water of appropriate quality. To reduce the volume of water to be pumped from the Tidal Basin, the Reflecting Pool water could be recirculated through a filtration system, with Tidal Basin water used for replenishment of the Reflecting Pool after annual draining and maintenance. Ms. Balmori asked about the extent and location of equipment for this proposed system. Mr. Ragozzino responded that there would be two structures: a pumping station that could be placed below grade, and a 40 x 60 foot single-story building to house the treatment equipment. He said that the filtration building could be located in the NPS police stables complex, which is southeast of the Lincoln Memorial.
Mr. Rybczynski noted a tendency among designers to cite sustainability benefits without fully considering the energy consumption of their proposals; he asked Mr. Ragozzino to compare the energy consumption of the current system with the energy needed for the other options, including their pumps as well as the construction, maintenance, and operation of a new treatment facility. Mr. Ragozzino said it would be disadvantageous to do nothing and keep filling the pool annually with potable water, adding that the current system cannot provide acceptable water quality. He said the proposed options may have a higher energy use but would provide consistently high water quality throughout the year. Mr. Rybczynski asked if the issue is cleaning the water rather than saving potable water; Mr. Ragozzino said the objective is to improve water quality. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked whether there is some solution between a once-yearly cleaning and a daily cleaning that would greatly improve water quality but not require the constant running of equipment; Mr. Ragozzino responded that the proposal anticipates the ability to reduce operation of the system during months when less frequent treatment is needed.
Mr. Rybczynski and Ms. Balmori asked for clarification of the water flow if the Tidal Basin is used as the source. Mr. Ragozzino said this option would add pumps to an existing pipe connection to the Tidal Basin, as well as adding the filtration equipment and associated recirculation pipes. In addition to refilling the pool annually, smaller amounts of water would be required for replenishment of evaporation losses; this water could be provided by the groundwater discharge from the nearby World War II Memorial, and could be supplemented from the connection to the urban water system that would be retained for use in case of unusual water conditions.
Mr. Powell asked if the proposed filtration building could be lowered to minimize its profile in the stable complex; Mr. Lorenzetti of NPS said that it may be feasible to sink partially the building into the ground. Mr. Powell asked if the optimum location of solar panels would influence this decision. Mr. Lorenzetti responded that solar panels are not proposed for this structure's roof because of its location on the Mall, but it may be feasible to locate solar panels off-site. Mr. Belle asked how much of the stables area would have to be cleared for the filtration building; Mr. Ragozzino said it would require clearing an area approximately ten to fifteen feet beyond the building footprint. Ms. Balmori requested that the issue of energy savings and consumption be studied further for the Commission's consideration.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised concept with the recommendations that were discussed, including a request for further study of the walks.
3. CFA 18/FEB/10-3, National Mall and Memorial Parks. Pedestrian Guide Sign Program—Centennial Wayfinding Project. Designs for identification signs for eight monuments and memorials. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/FEB/09-2.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal for new identification signs at memorials on the National Mall, the final component of the National Park Service's Pedestrian Guide Sign program for the Mall. He noted that the Commission approved the other parts of the program—designs for wayfinding pylons and maps—in February 2009. He asked Doug Jacobs of the National Park Service (NPS), who noted that the proposal is part of an integrated treatment of signage; he introduced consultant Wayne Hunt of Hunt Design to present the design.
Mr. Hunt said that identification signs are needed on the memorials in consideration of the National Mall's large number of visitors speaking many languages. He noted that there are already examples on the Mall of signs identifying memorials, museums, and other features. He said that the design strategy of a sign reflecting the particular design of each memorial was considered but rejected; instead, the proposal includes three types of sign treatment for the eight memorials. Ms. Nelson asked why the individualized approach was rejected; Mr. Hunt responded that he did not want to give the impression of trying to make the signs appear to have been part of each memorial's original design.
Mr. Hunt described the first type of sign, a horizontal stone slab set on a low stone base; it corresponds to a standard NPS sign type and would include the name of the memorial along with a list of the administrative bodies—National Park Service, National Mall & Memorial Parks, and U.S. Department of the Interior—and the NPS arrowhead logo. The stone for these signs would be selected to complement each memorial. This type of sign is proposed at five locations: the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the D.C. World War Memorial, and the Grant Memorial. He said the proposal for the Grant Memorial is for a single sign to be placed on the memorial's east side facing the Capitol. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if signage already exists at the Grant Memorial; Mr. Hunt said there is a single sign giving the story of the memorial but not identifying it. She asked if the name could instead be incised in the existing walls; Mr. Hunt responded that this would not be acceptable for the historic walls. Ms. Plater-Zyberk commented that the sign for the Grant Memorial seems superfluous and should be eliminated; Ms. Nelson added that this comment could extend to many of the proposed signs.
Mr. Hunt described the second type of sign: inscribing only the name of a memorial into existing walls, which is based on a suggestion from the Commission. The proposal is to use this method at the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. For the Lincoln Memorial, the name would be incised at two locations on the recently constructed walls along Lincoln Circle at the termini of two diagonal walks; these would lie outside of the main view of the memorial. For the Washington Monument, two signs could be inscribed on existing non-historic barrier walls on either side of the Lodge Building. Ms. Nelson asked if this signage was included in the design by Laurie Olin for landscaping and security walls on the Washington Monument Grounds; Mr. Hunt responded that the spirit of the proposal was in the Olin design.
Mr. Hunt described the third design for a swing-arm sign, which—like the first type—would include the name of the site, the NPS logo, and a list of the administrative bodies. He said that this type of sign is proposed for Constitution Gardens, an area within the park that he characterized as little visited and poorly understood. The proposal includes a series of swing-arm signs around Constitution Gardens, with a single sign identifying the Memorial to the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Ms. Nelson asked how many signs would be proposed for Constitution Gardens; Mr. Hunt responded that there would be five initially and perhaps two more after the Potomac Levee is finished.
Mr. Rybczynski asked if the new pedestrian wayfinding signs, approved by the Commission in 2009, would direct people to the monuments by name; Mr. Hunt said they would, but these signs would be located some distance away from the memorials and would include much other information as well.
In their discussion, the Commission members questioned the need for providing identification signs. Ms. Balmori commented that the proposal appears to treat the National Mall like a shopping mall, with everything identified by a sign. She said the proposal would mistreat the Mall by filling it with irrelevant objects, while the memorials are visual icons that speak for themselves. She said that only the simple inscription signs would be tolerable, characterizing the proposed freestanding sign types as intrusive, objectionable, and damaging to the Mall.
Mr. Rybczynski agreed that the memorials are iconic and the sign proposal would be harmful to the National Mall; he commented that the wayfinding signs and maps would be sufficient. Mr. Hunt responded that the proposal involves only eight locations in a 400-acre park, Ms. Nelson and Mr. Rybczynski said that the proposal includes large tombstones, with Mr. Rybczynski adding that their appearance would be "horrible." Ms. Nelson commented that the only acceptable and dignified alternative might be to have a sign close to the ground giving the name only, but said that this would still be intrusive in the landscape; she added that people have found their way to the memorials for many years. She said that the Commission's stewardship role should be to provide the best aesthetic recommendation and that she could not approve this proposal.
Mr. Hunt reiterated that many people misidentify or cannot find the memorials. Mr. Rybczynski said that is part of life, adding that the Mall is part of the American experience and visiting the Mall is about discovering things rather than pointing people to things; he said this sign plan would diminish the whole experience in a way that he finds "unconscionable." Mr. Belle expressed interest in a recommendation by the Commission that the entire proposal is superfluous. Ms. Nelson said that the incised signs might be acceptable but are nonetheless somewhat redundant; Ms. Balmori agreed.
Mr. Luebke raised the question of the large amount of administrative information proposed for the freestanding signs—including the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service, the National Mall unit, and the name of the memorial. Ms. Balmori said that the wayfinding signs should be sufficient; Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested that NPS allow the wayfinding signs and maps to be used for a couple of years and then reconsider whether the identification signs are needed. Ms. Nelson commented that the sign proposed for the D.C. War Memorial could overpower the small structure. Mr. Hunt offered that the signs for the Grant and D.C. World War Memorials could be eliminated.
Chairman Powell suggested that the Commission consider the individual proposals more closely due to the apparent lack of a consensus. Mr. Rybczynski and Ms. Nelson objected that, on the contrary, there is a clear consensus that the Commission does not like the identification signs.
Mr. Hunt asked if there could there be an opportunity to design a low sign at the level of the ground; Mr. Rybczynski said no, commenting that the presentation has demonstrated that the sign program would inevitably be an imposition on the already cluttered Mall landscape. Mr. Rybczynski said this proposal would not enhance the experience of visiting the Mall and would amount to a program of corporate branding of the sites for the National Park Service when instead they belong to the nation. He summarized the consensus of the Commission that the proposal is redundant.
Mr. Hunt noted that there are identification signs already at the Vietnam and Korean Memorials which visitors find helpful; Ms. Balmori said these should be removed. Mr. Hunt asked about the potential for moving forward with inscriptions on the walls at the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument; Chairman Powell said that these sites too do not require signage, concluding that there is a "groundswell of opposition" to this proposal from the Commission. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said the proposal is particularly objectionable because the other categories of signs will soon be installed; she repeated her comment from an earlier presentation that people can ask each other for assistance if they have any questions about the identities of the memorials.
Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission recommended that these important memorials do not need an additional layer of signage in addition to the new wayfinding signs and maps.C. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 18/FEB/10-4, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue and 7th Streets, SW. Seasonal inflatable pavilion. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced Harry Rombach representing the Smithsonian Institution to begin the presentation of the proposed seasonal pavilion installation at the Hirshhorn Museum.
Mr. Rombach noted the extensive recent media coverage of the project, which is being presented for the first time to the Commission. He said that this project would bring vitality to the Mall, which he characterized as a sometimes dull and somber place. He emphasized that the proposal is artful and relatively inexpensive. The pavilion would be installed for one month in the spring and one month in the fall; its impacts are therefore moderate due to the short duration, and the proposal is reversible. He introduced the Hirshhorn's director, Richard Koshalek, and architect Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro to present the design.
Ms. Diller said that Mr. Koshalek had requested a design that would welcome the public, encourage "adventurous programming," foster education, and reduce the institutional character of the Hirshhorn. She said that the design team initially considered using the museum's sculpture garden on the Mall or otherwise extending outward from the site. The building itself generates mixed reactions due to its style and lack of expression, and simultaneous impressions of heaviness and levitation. The design team concluded that ample space is available by using the building's plaza which includes the central courtyard and the area beneath the building. The design challenge was therefore to express the seasonal nature of the program and address the heaviness of the building's architecture as well as the monumentality of the Mall; a modest new structure in this context seemed unsatisfactory in scale. The proposal is therefore to create an inflatable structure having a light character that does not attempt to compete directly with its surroundings; the temporary structure is intended to respect the existing museum and create a dialog with it, providing a contrast of permanence and impermanence. She noted that inflatable structures have been used for a variety of purposes, both military and civilian, since the mid-20th century.
Ms. Diller described the proposal as a formed inflatable structure using cables to create the shape. It would be set within the building courtyard to leave a gap for light and air along the existing facade. She presented several plans showing how the space within the inflatable structure could be configured for various types of events: a stage configuration with seating for a 600-person audience, or multiple screens for projection. The overall shape includes a ground-level extension that could be programmed as a cafe or lounge. She said that details of lighting and equipment are still being developed. The material for the structure would be a translucent Teflon fabric in the upper portions and a transparent material at the base to provide visual continuity across the plaza level. The structure would extend forty feet above the top of the existing museum as a dome-shaped bubble; she said that visibility of the structure from the Mall is an important feature, and the sightlines were carefully studied. She noted that the intention is to install the structure for one-month periods twice per year; the process of installing the structure would itself be an artistic event and would require approximately four days, extending to more than a week for the initial installation.
Ms. Nelson asked if people within the museum's upper-floor exhibit galleries would be able to see into the event space from the building's courtyard windows. Ms. Diller responded that the inflatable structure's skin would be primarily translucent at this height, obscuring clear views, but the design may include portions of transparent skin in this area to allow for such views which she said would be desirable. She noted that the translucent fabric is more durable than the transparent material, and the entire assembly will be subject to stress from the cycles of installation and removal, so the combination of materials must be carefully selected for long-term performance. She added that the translucent material will introduce a desirable glow of natural light within the space during the day but will limit the feasibility of film projections to nighttime hours. Additional lighting would be provided within the structure, providing a nighttime glow when seen from the exterior; she likened the effect to the appearance of a bioluminescent marine animal. Ms. Nelson asked about the existing lighting of the building. Mr. Koshalek responded that the exterior and courtyard are lit, as well as the courtyard fountain; Ms. Diller added that the coffers are beautifully lit above the open plaza level, and the new proposal will respect the existing lighting pattern.
Ms. Diller presented additional details of the proposal, noting that the structural analysis is still underway. The cables would tie to the existing building's columns; a water-filled ballast at the plaza level would weight down the inflatable structure and could be easily dismantled by draining the water. The structure would be stabilized against wind loads by the cables and by an anchoring ring located near the edge of the building roof around the courtyard; the anchoring ring would not be visible from any ground-level location and could remain in place year-round. Ventilation equipment will be placed on the museum's roof and would not be visible from the Mall nor the Hishhorn courtyard. She presented sections illustrating the installation process, expressing confidence in the feasibility of the proposal even as the technical details are being developed. She confirmed the need for providing continuous air pressure which would be at a very low level that would not be perceived by visitors; the equipment would probably be on the museum's roof but could otherwise be located at ground level. She added that a loss of pressure would result in a very slow deflation rather than a sudden collapse. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about heating and cooling, noting that the structure would be installed in spring and fall. Ms. Diller confirmed that the temperature control would be provided in conjunction with the pressurized air and would be separate from the existing building's mechanical system. David Allin of Diller Scofidio + Renfro added that air quality will be studied more closely in the next phase of design, and natural ventilation might be sufficient rather than providing supplementary conditioning.
Ms. Nelson asked about the capacity of the cafe area and commented that it might become a popular amenity, particularly because the museum does not currently have food service. Ms. Diller responded that the capacity has not been determined; the proposal does not include a kitchen, and the cafe would therefore sell food that is prepared elsewhere.
Mr. Belle asked why the proposal is intended as temporary rather than as a permanent addition to the museum. Mr. Koshalek responded that the seasonal nature of the structure is preferable for the museum, supporting an intensive educational programming effort for two special months—likely May and October—that will demonstrate the museum's special commitment to education and reaching a larger audience. He said that part of the programming concept is to form temporary collaborations with other institutions such as embassies or other museums. He noted the renewed emphasis on becoming a more innovative museum of contemporary and modern art as the Hirshhorn's fortieth anniversary approaches in four years; part of this celebration would be the creation of public space and an expansion of programming. He offered the example of the museum's bookstore facility, which will be relocated to the lower level and which the museum has commissioned as a work of art in itself, creating a new public space. The existing lobby would be transformed into an educational space, unlike a conventional government or museum lobby. Ms. Diller emphasized the temporary excitement and energy that would accompany the short-term installation of this structure for the two months per year of special programs; she said that the design would likely be different if the proposal were for a permanent addition to the museum. Mr. Koshalek added that the proposed materials are expected to be sufficiently durable to allow for 25 years of semi-annual installation, accommodating a long-term pattern of seasonal programming. Mr. Belle offered a comparison to the temporary excitement of a circus coming to town. Mr. Koshalek also emphasized the flexibility of the temporary structure in accommodating future programming concepts; he contrasted this with the typical tendency of institutions, particularly universities, to construct permanent buildings that soon become functionally outdated.
Ms. Balmori said that the issue of impermanence is part of a larger current philosophical idea of the arts trying to resemble the changeability of living things rather than being a fixed entity; she expressed enthusiasm for the project as an example of this philosophy.
Mr. Rybczynski noted that the submission materials include a second design option that would provide more visibility of the existing building as well as more flexibility in locating equipment associated with the programming; he asked for further discussion of this option. Ms. Diller responded that the second option—using a more constrained bubble to form a roof over the courtyard while not enclosing an interior space—seemed to be an insufficient transformation of the building; the preferred option, as presented, involves a more complex dialogue between interior and exterior space. She acknowledged the potential clutter of interior equipment such as lighting and said that this issue would be studied carefully. Mr. Rybczynski emphasized that the preferred option requires all of this equipment to be supported from the ground due to the infeasibility of suspending it from the inflatable structure; he said that the success of the proposed space will depend on such details which are not depicted in the drawings.
Mr. Powell offered support for the project and encouraged further development of the design. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the proposed concept.
D. General Services Administration
1. CFA 18/FEB/10-5, St. Elizabeths Hospital, West Campus, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. Perimeter security fence, gates, and guard stations. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/NOV/09-6: New headquarters building for the United States Coast Guard.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the first of two submissions concerning the west campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital: the concept design of perimeter security elements, including fencing and guard stations. She noted that the proposal results from the previously reviewed master plan for locating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters on the campus. She asked Shapour Ebadi of the General Services Administration to begin the presentation. Mr. Ebadi said that the submission is one of many that will be needed in developing the DHS headquarters and introduced architect Tom Mozina of Perkins + Will to present the design.
Mr. Mozina presented the plan for development of the campus, acknowledging the site's setting in the city's topographic bowl which has guided many design decisions for the project. He indicated the six proposed openings in the perimeter and described the requirements for perimeter fencing which must prevent pedestrian as well as vehicular access. The fencing would generally include two layers: an outer barrier to resist vehicular crashes, and an inner barrier of no-climb fencing to prevent pedestrian access. The twenty-foot-wide area between these fences would be kept open and would be under the surveillance of guard booths. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if landscaping is precluded within this zone; Mr. Mozina responded that treatment of this zone would be limited to a grass or gravel surface.
Mr. Mozina presented the particular fence proposals in response to the various conditions along the perimeter. The existing historic wall, primarily along the Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue edge on the east side of the campus, would remain unaltered but is not sufficient to meet modern security needs. An additional layer of posts and cables is therefore proposed behind the wall; a layer of decorative no-climb picket fence is also proposed. Decorative fencing would also be used along the west side of the campus near the main access for the planned Coast Guard headquarters; the proposal is a stone base which provides the vehicular barrier, configured as a retaining wall in some locations, with fencing above. He presented images of historic uses of stone on the campus. The planned stormwater retention pond adjacent to the Coast Guard headquarters would serve as a pedestrian barrier, eliminating the need for an inner fence layer at this location. The fence along the north and south sides of the campus runs through forest and would not be readily visible to the public; the proposal is chain link for both layers, using a tighter mesh for the inner no-climb fence. He presented the design of the approximately 25 guard booths that would be located along the inner fence line. He emphasized the simplicity of the booth design, with a simple metal roof and a central area of glass; the base would be brick for booths on the upper plateau to relate to the historic buildings, and stone in the lower portions of the campus to relate to the natural features and stone walls.
Mr. Mozina presented the proposed gatehouse designs. Gate 1, an existing gate with a historic gatehouse building and landscape setting, would be used for staff and special guests. He acknowledged the important historic view of the campus for people entering at this location. The adjacent greenhouses would be demolished to accommodate security screening facilities, which are designed to recall the glass character of the greenhouses. A vehicle ramp would lead to an underground parking garage. He said that the queuing and screening areas will be more extensive than was envisioned in the recent master plan, and the design is intended to minimize the impact of these facilities. He emphasized that the design is intended to consolidate this infrastructure at the edge of the campus and noted that the descending topography in this area will reduce the impact of the screening area on views from the historic core of the campus. He presented the design of the screening building for pedestrians—arriving by bus or taxi, or from the garage below—which would provide access to a waiting area for the campus shuttle bus. Mechanical equipment would be placed in the basement, allowing the above-ground facades to have extensive glass facades recalling the character of a greenhouse. He said that the historic gatehouse building would be adaptively reused as offices encompassing approximately 1,500 square feet; non-historic additions to the building would be removed and lost features would be restored. The historic gate and gatepost design would also be restored.
Mr. Mozina presented the proposed landscape plan for the area around Gate 1, as well as an overall planting plan for the landscape that would be disturbed by the perimeter security of the entire campus. Ms. Balmori described the presented plans as underdeveloped and requested the submission of a more detailed landscape design.
Mr. Mozina presented the proposal for Gate 2, intended to be the primary entrance for visitors. Two small historic buildings would be retained at the gate, and a new visitor center would be constructed. The historic wall and gateposts would generally be retained; however, the existing gate width is not sufficient for two lanes of traffic, and a gatepost and portion of the wall will therefore be dismantled and reconstructed several feet away to provide an adequate opening. He indicated the vehicular queuing and screening area leading to an entrance to underground parking; he noted that the sharply curved configuration of the vehicle lanes is a desirable security feature that forces traffic to slow. An historic campus path would be improved with ornamental trees and would serve as part of the patrol route for the area. The visitor center would accommodate screening and provide access to the campus shuttle bus; a basement area would be used for processing all new staff members. The architecture of the visitor center would include brick and glass with a broad hip roof relating to the campus context in this area; the west facade toward the campus would be primarily glass. The small existing buildings would be rehabilitated for use as two offices and as a kennel for the guard dogs.
Mr. Mozina presented the proposal for Gate 3, which would be used only for emergency vehicle access; the entrance would replace an existing sunken roadway leading to a tunnel beneath Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue that connects to the east campus. The proposed configuration of fence and bollards would provide a sallyport for entering emergency vehicles. A portion of the historic stone perimeter wall would be dismantled to accommodate the new access driveway; the material would be reused to form the driveway's flanking walls. The guard booth would be part of the system of booths along the inner perimeter wall of the campus. An adjacent one-story stucco building, originally a cafeteria, would be demolished due to its poor condition, lack of stylistic consistency with other campus buildings, and problematic proximity to the campus perimeter; landscaping is proposed to replace this building.
Mr. Mozina presented the gate designs for the western portion of the campus adjacent to the planned Coast Guard headquarters. Gate 4 would be a staff entrance leading to the planned 2,000-vehicle parking garage. A proposed security screening building would accommodate staff arriving as pedestrians; people entering the garage would use the vehicle screening area and then pass through a staff screening area located within the garage. The proposed design character of the screening building is derived from that of the Coast Guard headquarters as well as the nearby historic stone Ice House, and much of the landscaping in the area was included in the recent headquarters proposal. An additional secured driveway lane would provide access for emergency vehicles. Gate 5 would provide access for the childcare center within the Coast Guard building; the gate area would include a small pavilion for security screening, surface parking for eight to ten cars, and an emergency access road that would be cut into the sloping topography. Ms. Nelson asked if this configuration would require people to be exposed to the weather after passing through the security pavilion; Mr. Mozina responded that people will have to walk approximately 150 feet outdoors between the security pavilion and the daycare center within the Coast Guard building, as well as the shorter distance between the parking area and the security pavilion.
Mr. Mozina concluded by presenting the design for Gate 6, a delivery gate for large vehicles. He noted that the current proposal includes a vehicular screening facility and perimeter wall; a planned warehouse facility nearby will be submitted separately as part of a future phase. The configuration allows for varying delivery patterns: trucks would normally pass a guard booth and then be directed to the warehouse, where materials would be offloaded and inspected, then transferred as needed to smaller trucks for distribution inside the campus; or, when necessary on rare occasions, trucks could be directed to a larger screening building and then admitted to a road leading to the upper campus for delivery directly to the campus buildings.
Mr. Powell asked how long people would wait for screening and access to the campus, particularly at a busy weekday arrival time. Mr. Mozina said that some employees will have badges that provide automated access through turnstiles; the elevators and escalators leading from the parking garage areas to the screening points are configured to facilitate a smooth flow at the turnstiles. Visitors will have a slower process of establishing their access authorization; they will then be issued a card to activate the turnstiles and provide permissible access to campus buildings.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk commented that the design vocabulary of the Gate 1 screening facility is clearly related to the historic greenhouse complex in that area, while the vocabulary of other proposed facilities does not clearly relate to their architectural context. She noted the prevailing use of brick and pitched roofs on the upper portion of the campus—near gates 1, 2, and 3—while the proposed structures are boxes with flat roofs; and on the lower portion of the campus, the design reference is apparently to the special overhanging roof form of the Coast Guard building's ceremonial entrance rather than to the prevailing design character of that large planned building. She also questioned the shift between brick and stone for the proposed interventions along the existing wall facing Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue; Mr. Mozina clarified that the historic wall changes from brick on the north to a natural rubble stone wall toward the south, and the proposed wall modifications correspond to these materials. He also reiterated the design details at each gate, noting the brick facade, hipped roof, and arcade for the visitor center at Gate 2; he added that the blend of brick colors would be based on the pattern of nearby buildings. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if a similar treatment could be extended to the small guard booths used for vehicle screening. Mr. Mozina responded that various roof forms were considered but the proposal is to make these booths, as well as the booths along the inner perimeter fence, as quiet and simple as possible due to their small size; the screening buildings are substantially larger and are therefore proposed as more closely related to the historic campus architecture. Mr. Luebke added that the staff had discouraged the alternative of historicist designs for the guard booths because the multiple settings would result in a complex and distracting vocabulary for these small buildings; the more uniform design approach, with some variation in materials based on context, provides a more neutral solution.
Mr. Mozina continued that the screening pavilions at Gates 4 and 5 are closely related to the planned Coast Guard headquarters and are intended to combine the stone base of the building walls with the thin zinc roof form of the Coast Guard's main entrance; this combination is appropriate for these landscape structures that serve as entrances to the Coast Guard portion of the campus. Ms. Plater-Zyberk reiterated her concern that the special character of the Coast Guard's main entrance would be diluted by repeating its roof form at the screening pavilions, which she said should be treated as less important structures. Mr. Mozina emphasized the role of the screening pavilions as part of the entrance sequence to the campus, describing them as a type of public space. Mr. Belle agreed with Ms. Plater-Zyberk's concern.
Ms. Balmori expressed concern about the extent of asphalt proposed near the entrance gate areas. She said that the proposed landscaping is insufficient, with sometimes only a single line of trees surrounding the paved area; she encouraged development of a design that achieves the richness of the existing campus landscape. She added that the green tone used on the drawings to indicate some of the paving is misleading, giving the impression that the extent of paving is less than the amount proposed. Mr. Ebadi of the General Services Administration responded that the overall design team includes a landscape architect for the entire campus, and the proposal for the gate areas will be integrated into that overall vision which will be submitted for future review. Ms. Balmori said that the integration is not apparent in the current presentation, and she emphasized the importance of the gate areas in the campus design; she cited the proposed landscape plans for Gates 1, 4, and 6 as being particularly problematic. Mr. Mozina responded that much of the project area at Gate 1 is currently occupied by greenhouses rather than landscaping; the proposal is intended as an extension of the nearby landscape character of specimen trees and lawn. He said that the proposed design is not merely a response to the requirements of processing vehicles and visitors, which consumes only a moderate portion of land at this gate, but is intended to respond to the historic landscape. Ms. Balmori commented that the proposed landscaping at Gate 6 appears only to screen the truck areas from the remainder of the campus but does not address the sidewalk and street. Mr. Mozina clarified that the campus edge in this area is an existing woodland, and the trees shown at the edge of the project are part of this forest; some of the forest would be cleared to provide sufficient area for the truck screening. He indicated the proposed trees in a median area, intended to screen the truck inspection building, and offered to design a denser grouping of trees—potentially as dense as the existing forest—if desired by the Commission. Ms. Plater-Zyberk recommended that the landscape plan be developed more carefully to address the topography as well as the visual screening of the larger-sized new buildings, with particular emphasis on views from outside the campus. Mr. Powell and Mr. Belle supported this recommendation.
Chairman Powell noted that the project is submitted as a concept and would be subject to further review by the Commission. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission supported the proposed concept subject to the comments that were provided on the architecture and landscape design.
2. CFA 18/FEB/10-6, St. Elizabeths Hospital, West Campus, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. Adaptive Reuse Plan (Phase 1b) for the Department of Homeland Security Headquarters. Concept. (Previous: CFA 20/NOV/08-2: Master Plan for the Department of Homeland Security.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the second of the two submissions concerning the west campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital: the adaptive reuse plan for seven existing buildings on the campus. She noted that the submission excludes the reuse of the Central Building but includes two other major buildings—Hitchcock Hall and the Central Power Plant. She asked architect Tom Mozina of Perkins + Will to continue with the presentation of the design.
Mr. Mozina described the existing buildings in the proposal, including a cafeteria, auditorium, and laundry building. He said that Perkins + Will is the architect for most of the buildings in the submission, while one is being designed by Quinn Evans Architects. He presented the proposed adaptive reuse of each building, beginning with Building 31, known as Atkins Hall, which is programmed for the campus credit union and the office of the historian. He presented historic and current photos of the three-story 12,000-square-foot building, sited directly adjacent to a road. He indicated the existing entrance that will be reopened on the north for the credit union and the additional entrance on the west for the historian's suite which will continue into the upper floors, noting that some entrance modifications such as ramps for accessibility are proposed for all of the submitted buildings where necessary. He said that the proposed landscape plan is intended to restore historic plantings based on historic photographs, and to enhance the landscape character where needed.
Mr. Mozina presented the proposal for Buildings 33 and 34 encompassing 23,000 square feet, proposed to return to its historic use as a cafeteria; he explained that Building 34 was constructed as a small addition to Building 33. He indicated the sloping topography which provides access to the lower level, the upper-level hall which includes beautiful exposed trusses, and the proposed alterations for support facilities such as modern bathrooms. The exterior would be restored to its historic character. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the appearance of the entrance ramp on the elevations; Mr. Mozina responded that the proposed switchback ramp on the north is shown in the plan but is omitted from the elevation. He added that the location and design of such features is being coordinated with the landscape design firms on the project team for the campus, and confirmed that the submitted design is not yet a final proposal. Ms. Balmori noted the sensitivity of the historic building designs and said that such additions are important to illustrate for the review process. Mr. Belle asked about the proposed treatment of porches; Mr. Mozina responded that they would be retained and restored, with details such as the roof and railings designed to match the historic period of significance for each of the buildings.
Mr. Mozina presented the proposal for Building 37, known as Hitchcock Hall, which would continue to be used as an auditorium with new conference and training facilities. The historic exterior would be cleaned and restored. He indicated the prominent south facade with several steps and said that barrier-free access to the main entrance could be achieved easily by taking advantage of the topography; access to the east entrance, serving the proposed suite of conference rooms toward the rear of the building, would require switchback ramps. Mr. Belle asked about the proposed position of the ramps; Mr. Mozina said that they would be pulled away from the facade to avoid obstructing the existing areaways and stairs to the lower level. Mr. Belle suggested locating some of these elements within the building interior. Mr. Mozina responded that the auditorium configuration is difficult to alter, and the front and rear portions of the building will operate independently; he noted that the design includes a barrier-free connection sequence between the stage and audience area that will be provided by an existing ramp supplemented by a proposed lift.
Mr. Mozina presented the proposal for Building 49, a complex of historic construction shops and laundry rooms. He described the recent master plan proposal for augmenting the building with an addition on the west that would not be readily visible due to the topography. The current proposal would demolish several wings of the building complex in order to site the addition closer to the principal portion of Building 49, with extensive below-grade space in the addition; this proposal would better accommodate the complex elements and desired adjacencies of the program, which includes a retail store, dry cleaner, barber, guard support, facilities management, and a fitness center including a gymnasium. He said that this configuration would reduce the impact of the development while accommodating the expanded program. He described the effort to use the existing openings in the historic walls to provide access, and said that the attic level would be unprogrammed in order to avoid extending an elevator that would protrude through the historic roof. He indicated the proposed adjustments to the existing grade in order to improve drainage and create a plaza at the first-floor entrance level. He presented a model of the Building 49 proposal and emphasized the relationship of the design to the historic context, including Buildings 41 and 52 that are not part of the current submission. He described the landscape concept which is still being developed, with emphasis on creating suitable courtyards and plazas for the various levels of building entrances on the hillside site; he noted that the placement of large trees would be limited by the location of proposed underground building areas. He added that a staircase through the building and sloping site is being considered in order to improve connections between the Coast Guard headquarters, other DHS facilities, and the parking garage. He described the proposed program configuration, emphasizing the careful attention to providing natural light where desirable and maintaining a distance between the below-grade construction and historic buildings in order to avoid structural impacts. He said that the visible portion of the proposed addition would include a stone-clad podium—based on existing site walls and buildings in the immediate vicinity—and the gymnasium above of brick and glass.
Mr. Mozina described the last of the buildings being addressed by Perkins + Will: the conversion of Building 71 into an information technology center. He noted its small size—only 230 square feet—and indicated a fan that will be removed from a historic opening. He said that no significant landscaping is proposed but the proposed driveway and landscaping for Gate 3 is immediately adjacent, compatible with the overall character of lawn and specimen trees in this area of the campus.
Mr. Mozina introduced Tom Jester of Quinn Evans Architects to present the proposal for adaptive reuse of Building 56, the Central Utilities Plant. Mr. Jester described the location adjacent to the planned Coast Guard headquarters and parking garage. The current proposal involves approximately one-third of the overall building, including an original portion of the 1904 design as well as several later small additions, most of which are proposed for removal; a proposal for the remainder of Building 56 and adjoining Building 57 will be submitted in the future. He confirmed that the two tall stacks of Building 57 are expected to remain. The current function of accommodating utilities for the campus will continue. The proposed restoration work includes repair of masonry, replacement of missing features such as downspouts, and repair or replacement of the historic windows and doors.
Mr. Jester introduced architect Craig Wright of McKissack & McKissack to present the new construction associated with Building 56. Mr. Wright described the proposed entry plaza, entry pavilion, and three stainless-steel exhaust flues that would be located on the plaza in front of the historic facade. The entry pavilion would provide access to an extensive area for new utilities that would be located beneath the proposed plaza; this new utility area would be entirely separate from the historic building. The historic building would contain chillers, pumps and boilers; the new construction would contain fuel storage, generators, and electric switchgear equipment. Ms. Nelson asked about the proposed green roof; Mr. Wright responded that the small proposed entry pavilion would include a green roof, but none is proposed for the historic building. He added that the brick and glass of the pavilion would match the materials of the planned Coast Guard headquarters. Mr. Rybczynski asked why an elaborate entry pavilion is proposed for an underground utility area that only requires access for service. Mr. Wright responded that the pavilion also provides access for moving large equipment into the new utility area; he indicated the folding glass doors on the facade. Mr. Belle and Mr. Rybczynski questioned the use of glass; Mr. Wright said that the intention is to create a beautiful contemporary pavilion. Mr. Rybczynski commented that the design of the pavilion inappropriately suggests that this is an important entrance; he suggested treating it as a service entrance rather than as a pavilion. Mr. Wright said that other parties consulting on the design have encouraged the placement of a modern structure against the backdrop of the historic building; Mr. Rybczynski said the proposal seems excessive and wasteful, commenting that it would be more appropriate for a prominent retail store. Mr. Ebadi of the General Services Administration responded that several options were considered; while the cost difference was not significant for this proposal, he agreed that the appearance of the pavilion as a welcoming entrance could be misleading. Mr. Mozina, whose firm was involved in an earlier stage of the Building 56 proposal, responded that the pavilion design is intended to emphasize two equal-sized areas: a solid core with elevator and stairs, clad in brick; and a lighter glass-enclosed lobby space. He said that an entrance with daylight would be desirable for people entering and exiting the utility space, and a solid brick box at this location would appear excessively heavy adjacent to the historic building.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk offered several general comments on the seven building proposals. She said that the interior proposals appear straightforward, while the exterior details need further development and review. She requested that the next submission include information on the types of proposed replacement windows, the porches and railings which may include modifications to meet modern building codes, and any changes to the location of stairs and doors. She noted the proposed extensive new construction at two of the buildings and said that the relationship between new and historic architecture provides an opportunity for thoughtful dialogue which is being only partially developed in the concept submission. At Building 49, she supported the proposal to use brick and stone relating to the historic context but questioned the form of the proposed gymnasium, commenting that it does not relate to the adjacent historic buildings nor to the planned new buildings elsewhere on the campus; she recommended further refinement of this design. She agreed with Mr. Rybczynski that the proposed entry pavilion at Building 56 would be inappropriate for this minor entrance. She also supported Ms. Balmori's concern that the site planning opportunities are not sufficiently developed. She encouraged the placement of trees at locations where they historically existed, as well as the repair of roads and sidewalks, but said that some additional design opportunities should be pursued; she offered the example of site lighting which currently has a highway character but could be replaced with smaller-scale lighting that is more appropriate to the envisioned future character of the campus.
Mr. Belle commented on the apparent discrepancy between the treatment of historic buildings, which appears sensitive in the concept submission, and the unsatisfactory treatment of new elements. He described the stylistic unity of design and materials in the historic buildings, extending to the roofs, facades, verandas, and other details; although the buildings are relatively simple, their consistency should be respected and should serve as the inspiration for the new designs. He noted that the design vocabulary for the new construction emphasizes heavy flat roofs that are folded to form facades and entrances, a style that does not appear to relate to the existing campus. He recommended further design effort to better relate the new and historic design elements, commenting that the proposal lacks clarity and appears to have multiple authors.
In summary, Mr. Belle recommended further Commission review of the proposal. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested that the Commission offer overall support for the concept, including the appropriateness of the general planning and the siting of new construction, while requesting reconsideration of the building vocabulary. Chairman Powell supported this approach and commended the overall plan. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the general scope of the proposal while requesting further study of the proposed new construction—particularly at Buildings 49 and 56—as well as the landscape design and the restoration details.
At this point, Ms. Balmori departed the meeting.
E. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the three submissions for art installations in Metro stations. He asked Michael McBride, manager of the art program at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), to present the concept proposals. Mr. McBride acknowledged the involvement of the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District with two of the proposals, as well as the assistance of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
1. CFA 18/FEB/10-7, Farragut North Metro Station. South entrance, corner of K Street and Connecticut Avenue, NW. Art installation. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/MAY/09-7.) Mr. McBride indicated the proposed location of the artwork on a wall alongside the escalator at the south entrance to Farragut North station. He acknowledged the Commission's previous questions about detailing and said that the concept has now been simplified. The overall shape of the work remains as previously proposed but the complex integral lighting system has been eliminated in response to the Commission's concern. The proposal now provides frontal lighting that will be located in the well between the escalator and the wall; the depth of the well will prevent the lighting source from being seen directly. The change in the lighting source has resulted in changing the material of the artwork from a matte to a reflective finish; he provided a sample of the proposed material, a resin backed by film. The surface of the art is now proposed to have some relief to provide a sense of dimension and visual interest, and the metal accent pieces have been eliminated. He said that the original aquatic concept for the artwork remains in the design, and the lighting has been selected to emphasize blue and green colors. He presented a video of the mockup for the artwork and lighting, and confirmed that the lighting is programmed to change using simple technology.
Mr. McBride noted that WMATA has purchased the design from the artist and has undertaken these refinements without the artist's further involvement. Ms. Nelson asked whether this arrangement is common; Mr. McBride said that such transactions are sometimes done to help move a project forward. Mr. Powell and Ms. Nelson expressed enthusiasm for the proposal, and Ms. Plater-Zyberk supported the ease of maintenance in the revised design. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised concept.
2. CFA 18/FEB/10-8, Farragut West Metro Station, East entrance at 17th and I Streets, NW. Art installation. Concept. Mr. McBride described the proposed location on the south and east street-level walls of Farragut West station's east entrance. The proposal includes groupings of back-lit pierced-metal convex disks of varying sizes—20, 30, and 42 inches in diameter—inspired by the overhead appearance of tree canopies in a landscape design. The disks would curve outward by no more than four inches from the wall. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the wall material; Mr. McBride said that it is a gray-white granite which is an important material in the Metro system. He presented a sample of the disk material and described the careful study of the lighting tone. He said that the intention is not to expose the bulbs to view; the design solution is still being developed and may involve a shallow profile with a frosted lens at the center of each disk, proportional to the disk size. Ms. Nelson asked how bulbs will be changed; Mr. McBride said that the disks will be hinged to the wall using inconspicuous attachments, and long-life bulbs will also be used to reduce maintenance requirements. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested LED lighting, which Mr. McBride said is being considered.
Ms. Nelson expressed support for the proposal noting that the mounting height of the disks appears high enough to be out of children's reach. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the concept. Mr. Luebke noted the issue of controlling the color of the light through the selection of the lamp and lens; Mr. McBride said that these would be selected in consultation with a lighting designer. Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission might want to delegate review of the final design, including the lighting details, to the staff; Chairman Powell agreed to delegate this review.
3. CFA 18/FEB/10-9, Takoma Metro Station, Eastern Avenue and Cedar Street, NW. Art installation. Concept. Mr. McBride described the proposal by renowned artist Sam Gilliam for the wall of the underpass adjacent to Takoma station. The proposal is a 400-square-foot mosaic of glass and marble attached to a honeycomb aluminum substrate with varying relief depths. He confirmed that it is exposed to the weather and said that the materials have been selected for durability. The substrate would be placed slightly forward of the wall to allow rain to flow down without running across the artwork.
Ms. Nelson expressed support for the proposal but questioned its weight; Mr. McBride said the materials would be relatively light with a total weight of 1,800 to 2,000 pounds. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked for further explanation of the context. Mr. McBride indicated the general-traffic-street in the foreground and the viaducts above for the two Metro tracks and the freight rail tracks. He said that the underpass is heavily used by pedestrians as well as by vehicles; passengers exiting the station would have a direct view of the artwork. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that the installation is appropriately elevated above the reach of pedestrians, but as a result the proportion may be difficult to comprehend; she suggested a rail or other element to provide a visual base for the artwork. Ms. Nelson noted that this was a traditional technique for the display of paintings; Mr. Belle likened the proposal to a hanging canvas.
Mr. Rybczynski expressed discomfort with the proposal's appearance of being a painting that is hung outdoors in a public place, contrasting it to the previous two art proposals that are better integrated with their settings. Mr. Powell acknowledged the similarity to a painting but did not perceive its setting as problematic. Ms. Nelson characterized the proposal as a painting translated into a mosaic, and Ms. Plater-Zyberk expressed support for the proposal.
Mr. Luebke clarified that exiting passengers will have an angular framed view of the artwork as they descend the escalator from the elevated station; he said that the height is appropriate for this viewing angle. Mr. Powell asked about lighting; Mr. McBride responded that the artwork would be lit from the front, and he noted the community's interest in creating an iconic gateway element. He presented renderings of the artwork and setting in day and night lighting conditions.
Mr. Powell expressed enthusiasm for the proposal and the selection of such a prominent artist. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept.
F. District of Columbia Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization
CFA 18/FEB/10-10, Woodrow Wilson High School, 3950 Chesapeake Street, NW. Building renovation and additions. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 19/NOV/09-9.) Mr. Luebke said that the submission includes changes in response to the Commission's review of the initial concept submission in November 2009, particularly concerning the courtyard, entrance, and further protection of the historic fabric. He introduced Chris Graae of Cox Graae + Spack Architects to present the revisions.
Mr. Graae described the changes to the proposal. The previously proposed cafeteria commons building and two levels of below-grade parking have been eliminated; that site would remain a surface parking lot for the near future and could become the location of a future building. The parking lot would be lowered and renovated with added trees, and the potential for a vehicle-pedestrian conflict at the parking garage entrance would not be introduced. The cafeteria would instead be renovated in its current location in the academic building and would also extend to occupy part of the proposed atrium courtyard; this configuration is more efficient and will help to activate the atrium. A second major change is the preservation and adaptive reuse of the historic power plant, which was previously proposed for demolition to provide a site for an auxiliary gym. Instead, the power plant would be rehabilitated as an exercise-fitness center and the auxiliary gym would occupy half of the historic rose garden; the smaller open space would no longer be called a rose garden, but Mr. Graae said it would nonetheless have a strong character including a greenhouse laboratory. A third major change is the raising of the entry plaza and the addition of an outer lobby, which responds to the Commission's concerns in the previous review that the sunken plaza was too deep, the entrance canopy was weak, and the entrance appeared insignificant. He expressed appreciation for the Commission's advice which encouraged the design team to develop this improved proposal, adding that the outer lobby would be a useful space for the arriving students as they wait to clear the security screening. A smaller change involves improvements to the design of the proposed band room addition at the performing arts center on the northeast corner of the campus; the proposed entrance terrace at the performing arts center has also been lowered to eliminate steps and improve the relationship of the terrace to the site. A wall would be removed from the new gymnasium to expand its interior space; a connection would be added between this gymnasium and the historic power plant; and team lockers previously proposed at the athletic field would now be located in an existing basement space. The revised proposal also includes additional green space on the site and a green roof on the proposed auxiliary gym.
Mr. Graae said that circulation through the building complex—another concern of the Commission—would be improved by the revised proposal to provide additional corridors on the ground floor and above the historic arcaded corridors. The proposed upper connecting corridors would be pulled back from the historic facades and would be light in appearance, enclosed with glass, and smaller in scale than the historic structures to provide contrast; he said they would appear to be clerestories. The proposed second-story corridor connecting the academic building with the visual and performing arts center would have a stepped roof to reflect the ramped corridor beneath it.
Mr. Graae said that, based on consultation with the staffs of this Commission, the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, and the National Capital Planning Commission, the design team has omitted new openings that had been proposed in existing windowless major facades at the gymnasium—formerly the auditorium—and the power plant; instead, windows would be introduced into secondary walls to increase the amount of light entering these spaces. He added that the existing windows on the power plant would be lowered.
Mr. Graae described further details of the proposals at the main academic building. The shape of the proposed entrance lobby would reflect the radiating curves of the skylight over the atrium. New high-performance replacement windows on the entrance facade would replicate the appearance of the historic windows. As in the previous concept submission, the conversion of the central courtyard in the academic building into an enclosed atrium is an important feature of the design. Ms. Nelson asked about the conditioning of the atrium; Mr. Graae said its climate would be controlled, noting that the introduction of the atrium would eliminate heat loss and gain from the four walls that are currently exposed to the weather.
Ms. Nelson said that the rehabilitated facility would be an attractive place to attend to school; Mr. Belle commented that the design has improved greatly and the proposal is well-conceived. He noted the complex programmatic requirements of a modern high school and said that the proposal presents an ingenious way of breaking down open spaces and connecting them to academic spaces, reducing the apparent scale of the very large building complex. He supported this design direction and encouraged retaining the sense of dispersal and multiple levels as the proposal is further developed. Mr. Rybczynski joined in supporting the proposal. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised concept.
At this point, Mr. Belle departed the meeting.
G. District of Columbia Public Library
1. CFA 18/FEB/10-11, Washington Highlands Neighborhood Library, 115 Atlantic Street, SW. New replacement building. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/NOV/09-2.) Mr. Luebke said that the Commission has previously reviewed this project on two occasions and may wish to act on the final design submission without a presentation. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the submitted design.
2. CFA 18/FEB/10- 12, Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library, 3660 Alabama Avenue, SE. New replacement building. Final. (Previous: CFA 21/MAY/09-9.) Mr. Luebke said that the footprint and facade design for this branch library have been revised since the previous review by the Commission in May 2009 and noted the Commission's additional concern with the treatment of the entrance. He introduced architect Austin Harris of David Adjaye Associates to present the final design proposal.
Mr. Harris described the revisions to the project since the previous review, noting that his firm is working with the local architecture firm Wiencek + Associates on the design. The window pattern in the children's area has been revised to provide additional openness and to relate to the overall facade pattern in response to the Commission's recommendation; the proposal now includes seating and reading niches that provide views to the adjacent park. The number of skylights has been reduced to five for cost reasons. The size of the glass panels in the curtainwall system has been regularized on each side of the building based on consultation with manufacturers; he provided samples of the clear and reflective glass panels that are proposed for the facades. He added that the facades retain the concept of a vertical transition from a compressed pattern in the lower part of the building to a more open appearance toward the top. He presented details of the proposed plantings as well as exterior benches on the building plinth.
Mr. Rybczynski asked about the purpose of the upper roof form; Mr. Harris confirmed that it would serve only as a shading device, with louvers placed between the structural elements, while the building roof is below. Ms. Nelson asked about the design of the benches. Mr. Harris responded that the material would be selected for durability; the benches would include dividers to discourage people from lying on them. Ms. Nelson asked about the railing along a portion of the podium edge. Mr. Harris responded that a portion of the podium abuts the property line at a steep dropoff to the adjacent park, making use of an existing retaining wall; the railing is necessary for safety in this area. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about service access for the building; Mr. Harris indicated a proposed service door near the staff area for routine daily deliveries including books but said that a loading dock is not required. Ms. Plater-Zyberk requested clarification of the joints between glass panels on the facade. Mr. Harris responded that silicone joints would be used in the curtainwall system rather than mullions; the exterior appearance would be caulk joints, and the joints would not be apparent from the interior due to the wood panels that would extend across the non-vision glass areas and conceal the structural support system. He confirmed that the exterior surface of glass panels would form a smooth plane uninterrupted by structural elements.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk expressed support for the proposal, commenting that the resolution of the details will be critical to achieving the design intent. She said that the entry sequence could be problematic, with a single proposed walkway leading from the street to the center of the plinth while the entrance door is located toward the left end of the facade; she suggested adding a more direct walkway in order to eliminate the temptation of visitors to find a shortcut through the landscaping. Mr. Harris responded that the central approach is intended to give visitors a view through the building toward the park beyond, while the off-center entrance results from programmatic requirements for access control; he acknowledged the circulation concern but noted the flagpole, signage, and entry vestibule box that draw attention to the entrance location. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested that additional access could still support the desired view through the building, such as a walkway to the east end of the plinth that would allow visitors to walk along the length of the facade as they approach the entrance. She also questioned the proposed configuration of the sunscreen roof positioned above the actual building roof, commenting that the space between these two structures could be difficult to maintain; she said that a simplification to combine these planes would be feasible, and the cantilevered form would be sufficiently expressed if extending only from the upper part of the building, rather than being a completely separate plane.
Chairman Powell reiterated the Commission's support for the overall program of new library buildings initiated by the D.C. government; he and Mr. Rybczynski joined in their support for the design of this branch library. Ms. Nelson suggested that the Commission's comments could be provided to the project team while not delaying the Commission's approval of the final design. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the final design and encouraged implementation of the project while offering several suggestions for its further refinement.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:36 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Last Modified: March 29, 2010