Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
18 March 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 10:10 a.m.
A. Approval of the minutes of the 18 February meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the February meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, 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: 15 April, 20 May, and 17 June.
C. A report on the events planned for 19 May 2010 to commemorate the centennial of the establishment of the Commission of Fine Arts in 1910. Mr. Luebke reported that the Commission is partnering with the National Building Museum to present a day-long symposium on May 19; the speakers will address topics related to the Commission's one-hundred-year history. A related exhibit is also being finalized for a second-floor gallery at the National Building Museum.
Mr. Luebke noted that no site visit was held prior to the meeting. He said that the draft agenda has been modified to remove the proposed aquarium at the Commerce Department; the applicant, the General Services Administration, requested additional time to resolve outstanding issues.
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 said that there were no changes to the draft appendix. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the Direct Submission Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several changes to the draft appendix. The recommendation for case number SL 10-051 was changed to favorable based on changes to the location of the proposed antennas. Case number SL 10-054 was added to provide a cross-reference to a direct-submission project. The wording of case number SL 10-062 has been corrected to describe the proposed entrance as including canopies, not signs; the recommendation remains favorable. Two cases—numbers SL 10-060 and 10-069—involve outstanding design issues that can likely be resolved through further consultation, and she suggested that the resolution of these cases be delegated to the staff. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised appendix including the delegation of two cases to the staff.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported several changes to the draft appendix. Case number OG 10-102 was added with the response that it will not be visible from public space and therefore does not require further review by the Commission. A project with a negative recommendation—case number OG 10-050 at 2715 M Street, NW—was removed at the applicant's request to allow for revision of the proposal and further review by the Old Georgetown Board. The staff has made minor changes for other recommendations including updates in response to supplemental information, all of which has now been received. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
B. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 18/MAR/10-1, American Eagle Platinum Coin Program for 2010. Reverse design. (Previous: CFA 17/JUL/08-3.) Mr. Simon introduced Kaarina Budow of the U.S. Mint to present the reverse design alternatives for this non-circulating coin. Ms. Budow described the legislative authorization for the Mint to issue platinum coins. She said that the reverse design for the proof and uncirculated coins changes annually, while the obverse depicting the Statue of Liberty has been unchanged since 1997. She described the six-year program of reverse designs begun in 2009 exploring the principles of the preamble to the U.S. constitution. The 2009 theme was "To Form a More Perfect Union," and the current submission addresses the 2010 theme: "To Establish Justice." She said that Chief Justice John Roberts is preparing the narrative for each of the principles; she distributed the narrative for the 2010 theme. The design alternatives were then developed by the Mint's sculptor-engravers as well as outside artists working through the Mint's Artistic Infusion Program.
Ms. Budow presented the nine reverse design alternatives, noting that they include several text phrases referring to the platinum content as well as a small eagle insignia, a reference to the American eagle theme of the platinum coin series; prior to 2009, the reverse designs featured eagles. Several alternatives feature an allegorical figure of Justice holding a traditional scale, blindfolded to symbolize impartiality. Other design elements on the various alternatives include a torch, a statue grouping from the west pediment of the Supreme Court building, and a depiction of the building's sculpted bronze doors illustrating the evolution of justice in civilization.
Mr. Belle supported design #4, depicting the figure of justice with the scale and a shield. Ms. Plater-Zyberk and Ms. Nelson supported design #8 featuring a torch with the text "Justice, the Guardian of Liberty." Ms. Nelson commented that the overlaying of the text across the torch is awkward and should be revised to separate these elements. Mr. Powell commented that the figure of Justice in design #1 is compelling; Ms. Nelson noted the allegorical figure on the existing obverse design and recommended against placing another figure on the reverse. Mr. Powell and Mr. McKinnell supported design #8; Mr. Rybczynski agreed subject to the text location change as recommended by Ms. Nelson. Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted that the text varies among designs, and the shorter phrase "To Establish Justice" could be used for this design. Ms. Budow said that the Mint would consider various versions of the inscription, and the size of the torch might need to be altered to accommodate the Commission's request to separate the text and torch.
Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission recommended design #8 subject to eliminating the overlapping of text across the torch.
C. National Park Service
CFA 18/MAR/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. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/FEB/10-2.) Mr. Luebke introduced the proposed final design for improvements to the area east of the Lincoln Memorial, including completion of the security perimeter around the memorial; rehabilitation of the Reflecting Pool and new walkways alongside it; barrier-free access between the memorial's plaza and the Reflecting Pool; a new water filtration system; and improvements to the Elm Walks. He said that the design team has developed a preferred design for each of these components in response to the Commission's comments the previous month. He noted the Commission's interest at the February meeting in choosing between granular material or solid paving for the walkway surfaces. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation. Mr. May said that the submission is intended to respond to all of the concerns that were raised in the previous review; he introduced Alan Ward of Sasaki Associates to present the proposal and noted the presence of John Piltzecker, superintendent of the National Mall & Memorial Parks, to answer questions.
Mr. Ward summarized the overall proposal and said that the presentation would emphasize the Commission's previous comments as well as provide further detail on some design features. He indicated the proposed security line—allowing removal of temporary barriers as well as some existing bollards—and the proposed configuration of walks and perimeter security walls. He said that the sections of these walls have been developed further, and the proposed walls nearest the existing site walls would encase the structural security bollards in a solid block of stone, matching the solidity of the existing site walls. Other proposed walls would use stone veneer encasing the security bollards, allowing for a two-inch reduction in the wall height—34 rather than 36 inches. The elevated grading along the proposed walls adjacent to the curved paths is also designed to reduce the walls' apparent height. He noted the usefulness of these walls for seating, particularly along the west plaza.
Mr. Ward presented the proposed materials. The stone for the walls and west plaza paving would be Milford Pink granite, relating to the existing historic site walls, stairs, and paving, as recommended by the Commission in February; the plaza paving would have panels of Milford granite of contrasting finish to continue the geometry suggested by the existing stairs leading toward the memorial. The Elm Walks would be asphalt to match some of the adjacent walks through West Potomac Park. The proposed curved sloping walks would be poured-in-place concrete with a fine gray exposed aggregate to match other existing walks in the area; this material would continue to the edge of the lower plaza and is also proposed for the new walks along the Reflecting Pool, instead of a granular material as preferred by the Commission. He noted the historic concrete walks at the east end of the Reflecting Pool, which will be extended by the new walkways to accommodate the desired route of visitors; the proposed width of 13'-4" for these walks, as previously supported by the Commission, has been confirmed as adequate through additional analysis of typical dimensions for groups of pedestrians, and would supplement the Reflecting Pool's existing three-foot-wide coping.
Mr. Ward described the design team's further study of granular material for the Reflecting Pool walks, as requested by the Commission. He presented examples of crushed stone used for park walks in other cities, noting his firm's involvement with some of these projects. A plaza adjacent to a baseball stadium in Cleveland uses crushed stone successfully, but pedestrian traffic is heavy only on relatively few occasions during the year; the more heavily used areas toward the perimeter of the site are paved sidewalks. A waterfront park in Charleston, South Carolina has also been successful with crushed stone and requires maintenance three times per year, but he noted that the warm climate eliminates the maintenance issue of snow removal that would be a concern in Washington. Crushed stone is used extensively in Paris parks but he noted that the primary pedestrian routes in these parks are paved.
Mr. Ward presented the Washington example of the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art, with major walks paved and minor walks constructed of crushed stone; the photographs in snowy conditions demonstrate that the paved walks were cleared but the crushed-stone walks were not. Similarly, snow was not consistently cleared from the crushed-stone walks on the National Mall, portions of which were unusable for an extended period of time. He added that the National Park Service treats the surface of these walks once per year, although the preferred maintenance schedule would be three times per year; he noted that funding for construction of the Reflecting Pool walks does not include ongoing funds for maintenance and the National Park Service is concerned about future maintenance costs throughout the National Mall. He emphasized the importance of the Reflecting Pool walks for visitor circulation among the memorials in West Potomac Park and said that the surface material should be usable even under adverse weather conditions. He cited the additional example of the Enid Haupt Garden south of the Smithsonian Castle, originally designed by his firm with crushed-stone walks that were later changed to brick paving due to issues of heavy use and accessibility.
Mr. Ward then presented a section illustrating how a crushed-stone walk would be detailed along the Reflecting Pool. He noted that the slope would have to be away from the pool to avoid the maintenance problems of introducing gravel into the basin; as a result, gravel would tend to wash into the adjacent grass. A curb would help to address this issue but might become a tripping hazard or an obstruction for bicyclists. The extensive clay in the soil would also be problematic for drainage of crushed-stone walks. He acknowledged the general modern preference for permeable surfaces to reduce the need for treating stormwater, but he noted that paved paths at this location will simply drain toward the adjacent grass areas rather than collect stormwater for municipal treatment. He emphasized the heavy use of walks in this area and said that the design team's preference continues to be for a paved surface, particularly poured-in-place concrete, which he said would be constructed on new piles to provide a durable and stable surface.
Mr. Ward described the proposed details for the Elm Walks, including the asphalt surface with a flush granite band on the edge; he said that the dark color would allow the walks to blend in with the landscape. He presented the plan for siting lights at approximately 100-foot intervals, and configuring the benches in pairs; trash and recycling bins would be spaced between the other elements. He presented the proposed light pole design, with the simpler form and low illumination level that the Commission had preferred.
Mr. Ward presented samples of the proposed materials for the Commission's inspection; he noted that no sample was available of the gray concrete, but an onsite mockup would be prepared.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk acknowledged the practical advantage of establishing a durable surface in the initial construction of a project—such as driving piles to support paved walks along the Reflecting Pool—rather than relying on the uncertainties of future maintenance which would be necessary for crushed-stone walks. However, she observed that runners tend to create new paths in the softer ground adjacent to paved surfaces—particularly concrete but also asphalt, as shown in the photographs of the existing asphalt Elm Walks. She said that the appearance of the proposed paved walks should therefore be considered in combination with the inevitable dirt paths alongside, which would not be a factor with crushed-stone walks. Mr. Ward responded that the behavior of runners varies; some prefer the softer ground surface, but due to the ground's potential unevenness some runners prefer to stay on paved surfaces. He anticipated that the majority of runners would use the paved walks, and that the National Park Service could address the repair of lawn areas damaged by other runners.
Ms. Nelson noted that bicyclists tend to use the walks and asked if this practice would continue. Mr. Ward responded that bicyclists would be encouraged to use the Elm Walks rather than the proposed new walks along the Reflecting Pool; a signage program, currently under development, could be used to communicate this guidance. Ms. Nelson commented that additional signage may be needed to identify the barrier-free route within the proposed path system. Mr. Ward responded that the accessible route would be self-evident as the only readily available alternative that people will see upon approaching the stairs near the plaza; the design team's hope is therefore that signs will not be necessary to indicate this route.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk questioned the proposed grading along the curved perimeter security walls, as illustrated in the perspective renderings; she said that the elevated grade, intended to partially conceal the walls, might appear strange—particularly as seen from the lower vantage point of the plaza at the west end of the Reflecting Pool. She recommended lowering the grade so that it does not conceal as much of the walls. Mr. Ward responded that the design team has debated this issue, and in the resulting proposal the grading would conceal approximately half the height of the wall. He emphasized that this grade change is only eighteen inches and is spread across a significant distance; the rendering may give the impression of compressing the distance and exaggerating the slope of the grade. He said that additional perspective studies may be helpful in evaluating and adjusting the proposed grade; the solution may be to reduce the elevation of the grade by one foot, still leaving a modest grade change on each side of the wall to convey the impression that it serves as a retaining wall while not introducing an overtly artificial berm. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that similar low site walls appear at various locations in the vicinity and do not necessarily need to be hidden. Mr. McKinnell agreed with Ms. Plater-Zyberk's concern and said that the proposed grading has the appearance of a berm, while the straightforward appearance of the wall would not be objectionable.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk questioned the proposed location of benches, lights, and trash receptacles along the Elm Walks, commenting that their various spacing patterns result in an excessive number of separate elements. She suggested grouping these elements together to allow longer uninterrupted stretches that emphasize the normal edge condition for the walks. Mr. Ward responded that this issue too has been a topic of debate within the design team. He noted that the proposed paired placement of benches is consistent with this suggestion, compared to the current condition of single isolated benches. The benches are intentionally sited away from the trash and recycling bins due to the potential for odors and flies, particularly during the summer. Adequate lighting for the benches is considered a safety issue, resulting in the proposed placement of the paired benches flanking alternate light poles. He said that these design intentions resulted in the proposed configuration but could be adjusted further; for example, if the goal is to avoid drawing attention to the light poles, it may be advantageous to place some of them where they will be perceived in the context of the trees without other nearby distracting elements such as the trash bins. He added that trash and recycling bins are currently located near each end of the Elm Walks, especially near the Lincoln Memorial, and it may be feasible to retain this pattern by eliminating some of these elements that are proposed toward the central portion of the walks. He also noted that all of these site furnishings would be located only on the side of each Elm Walk opposite the Reflecting Pool; Ms. Plater-Zyberk acknowledged that excluding such furnishings from the edges toward the Reflecting Pool would be a big improvement over the current condition.
Mr. McKinnell asked if the concrete aggregate mix could be adjusted to achieve a lighter tone that more closely resembles the Milford Pink granite. Mr. Ward responded that such a color would be feasible but may create undesired visual emphasis on the paving. This would be particularly problematic for the proposed new paths along the Reflecting Pool; the historic condition provides a darker-colored landscape frame for the pool's light-colored coping, and the proposed color for the new paths is intended to associate them visually with the landscape rather than appear as an extension of the coping material. Chairman Powell commented that the appropriateness of these proposed materials would need to be tested on site. Mr. Ward responded that mockups at the site would be prepared as part of the construction process. Chairman Powell said that the Commission could approve the design intent of the current submission and then inspect the mockups at a later date. Mr. Belle agreed that inspection of mockups would be necessary to finalize the decisions on materials.
Mr. Rybczynski supported the proposal to pave the paths rather than use crushed stone, acknowledging that the concentration of pedestrian traffic along these paths provides justification for this choice. However, he said that the additional justification of wanting all paths to be accessible to all types of users at all times is unconvincing, and he cautioned that this logic would require paving all of the Mall's paths, which would be an undesirable result. Mr. Powell and Mr. McKinnell joined in supporting the proposal for paving. Mr. Powell emphasized the importance of color tones as the remaining issue to be resolved, requiring inspection of an on-site mockup.
Mr. Belle asked for details of the lighting proposal along the Elm Walks. Mr. Ward confirmed that the pole is one of the options previously seen by the Commission; the LED bulb would provide a very low lighting level—50 watts or less—and additional baffling would reduce its visibility. Mr. Luebke noted that the availability of such a bulb for this light pole was uncertain in the previous review; Mr. Ward confirmed that this issue has since been resolved, adding that the design of the baffle is still being studied to avoid creating hot spots. Mr. Powell asked about the color of the light; Mr. Ward responded that it would be white.
Mr. Ward then presented the final design for the water system. He noted the goals of improving the quality of water in the Reflecting Pool and reducing the use of municipal potable water to supply the pool. The proposed water system configuration continues to be the preferred option presented the previous month, including a water-treatment facility to be located in the National Park Service maintenance and stables area for the park police force's horses. He said that this area is already partially concealed by evergreen plantings; additional plantings would be included to further screen the proposed new building. He presented several views of the existing and proposed conditions and provided samples of the proposed building materials.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that the existing entrance to the maintenance and stables area is a large eyesore; he asked if additional landscaping could be included to reduce the width of the entrance. Mr. Ward offered to study the turning movements of vehicles in this area to determine whether a narrower entrance would be feasible; he noted the large size of the vehicles used for the horses and their supplies.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk questioned the proposed orientation of the water-treatment building, suggesting that it be rotated ninety degrees so that it does not extend as far into the landscape. The engineer from the Louis Berger Group, Lou Ragozzino, responded that different orientations were considered and the resulting proposal was selected because the two short facades of the building would face the center of the Mall and Independence Avenue. He also provided further information about the proposed materials, confirming that the roof would be standing-seam metal and would be painted to be similar to the roof of the existing stables building. Mr. McKinnell asked about the material of the stables; Mr. Ragozzino responded that the roof covering is asphalt shingles, and the facades are wood.
Mr. Belle asked if the design of this building is still being developed and could be improved; Mr. Luebke said that working drawings have been submitted for approval. Mr. May of the National Park Service said that this building is being treated as utilitarian in the current submission; in the long run, the National Park Service is considering significant improvements to this area, and the building might be reclad or refinished. Mr. McKinnell asked about the likelihood of such an improvement. Mr. May responded that it is part of the National Mall Plan, and the National Park Service is optimistic that this plan will be fully executed; he acknowledged that no priority sequence has been established for implementing the plan's projects. Mr. McKinnell asked for clarification of the scope of the National Mall Plan proposal affecting this site; Mr. May responded that the intention is to address the overall stables area, which includes various temporary and unattractive structures. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked what the National Mall Plan suggests for this location. Mr. Piltzecker, superintendent of the Mall, responded that the plan focuses on concepts rather than design; it proposes interpretation of the stables facilities related to the history of the mounted police patrols. He said that this area could be designed to encourage visitors to approach, including the opportunity to view the horses, rather than have the appearance of a work zone; he noted that an improved design would also benefit the police and the horses.
Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's encouragement of making the maintenance and stables area more attractive. He recognized Kent Cooper, who asked to address the Commission. Mr. Cooper said that he became closely familiar with this maintenance area through his work as architect of the Korean War Memorial, located immediately to the west. He described his effort during the memorial's design process to encourage the National Park Service to develop a master plan for this area, which he said is a notably undeveloped location within West Potomac Park. He said that the current use continues to be inappropriate for the long term, and the site would be uniquely suitable for a major memorial or related cultural use. He said that the proposed water-treatment facility, with its extensive infrastructure connections, would be costly to relocate once constructed. He recommended instead that the water-treatment facility be sited adjacent to the World War II Memorial's restroom building, which currently is a prominent eastern terminus to vistas through the park; the new building could be designed to form a condensed cluster rather than having buildings scattered through the park. He noted that this location also provides more convenient access to existing plumbing infrastructure. He summarized the importance of his proposal in helping to realize the full potential of the Mall's west end over the coming century, which would become more difficult if the water-treatment facility is built in the stables area.
Chairman Powell invited Mr. May to respond. Mr. May said that the National Park Service has considered the possible relocation of the stables and concluded that a significantly distant location would reduce the effectiveness of the mounted police unit, while alternative locations in the immediate vicinity are constrained by several existing and planned memorials nearby. He therefore concluded that the current location is the most logical long-term solution for the necessary utilitarian structures such as the stables.
Chairman Powell recognized Judy Scott Feldman, chairman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall. Ms. Feldman discussed the relationship of the National Mall Plan to the current proposal for the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool area, and to the overall Mall and the Commission's review process. She noted the review agencies' support for the National Mall Plan as providing a vision for the Mall for the 21st century and said that the Coalition disagrees; she criticized the plan as focusing only on the National Park Service's property and interests while not addressing Mall-wide principles such as sustainability, materials, lighting, and management. She acknowledged that the entire Mall is in need of improvement after ongoing overuse and insufficient maintenance; she recommended more careful development of an overall plan for improving the Mall before moving forward with the current proposal, which addresses the large and symbolically important portion in the vicinity of the Lincoln Memorial. She noted the National Park Service's preference for a design that minimizes maintenance requirements by emphasizing engineering solutions and durable materials, and objected that alternatives have not been fully discussed that might improve maintenance protocols and staffing to allow for a more sensitive design solution. She recommended allowing some portions of the proposal to move forward while deferring others until further consideration of alternatives can be considered; she offered the examples of considering unpaved surfaces for some paths, narrower paths, and another location for the water-treatment facility in conjunction with restudy and possible relocation of the stables area. She expressed disappointment that the National Mall Plan rejects the Coalition's repeated suggestions over the past three years to develop a future vision and alternatives.
Ms. Feldman questioned the National Park Service's cost estimates for the project, noting that the estimate for some components has been unchanged for five years. She expressed concern that financial constraints would result in only some portions of the proposal being implemented, or portions being started but left incomplete, such as reconstruction of the Reflecting Pool. She therefore suggested that, for both planning and financial reasons, the project be undertaken in stages, which would allow the Commission further opportunity to make decisions on materials, sustainability, and management that would have long-term implications for the National Mall.
Chairman Powell invited Mr. Piltzecker to respond. Mr. Piltzecker said that the National Park Service, in developing the National Mall Plan, looked at the planning efforts for the broader area—including the National Capital Framework Plan—and involved representatives of related properties and organizations to be involved in the planning process. He said that the National Park Service is seeking approval of the entire proposal in order to obtain construction funding through the American Relief and Recovery Act, and the proposal is intended to address critical resource issues, visitor needs, and improvements to the area while funding is available.
Mr. Powell acknowledged Ms. Feldman's comments that the grand vision for the National Mall would need to evolve. He commented that the current proposal is not a hurried solution; the National Park Service and Sasaki Associates have been developing it over a period of several years, and the resulting design shows great sensitivity and thoughtfulness, reflecting the historical legacy of the Mall's design. He expressed support for the National Park Service's intention to improve the maintenance and stables area but said that alternative siting options for the water-treatment facility have already been studied extensively.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked for further response to Mr. Cooper's proposal to site the water-treatment facility near the World War II Memorial bathrooms; she noted the potential efficiency of using this location due to existing plumbing and asked about its design character. Mr. Ward responded that the two ancillary buildings in this area are part of the World War II Memorial composition; their facades are granite and they are not intended to be background utilitarian buildings. He said that locating the water-treatment facility in this area would therefore mix a utilitarian structure with the existing buildings that are at the forefront of the visitor experience; the new facility in this location would need a different design treatment, including granite facades, which he characterized as an inappropriate upgrade to this utilitarian structure. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that the appearance of the water-treatment facility would of course need to be reconsidered for a more visible location and cited the history of utilitarian buildings being treated as "honorable architecture." Mr. Ward also noted that introducing a third building near the World War II Memorial would be contrary to the open-space character of the Mall; the two existing World War II Memorial buildings, prominently visible from Independence Avenue at 17th Street, already have high visual impact on the context. Mr. Luebke added that at least some of the existing utilitarian functions of the maintenance and stables area would need to remain on the Mall, and retaining the current consolidated location—with augmentation for the water-treatment facility—may be less problematic than designating one or more new locations, which could involve entirely new impacts to the Mall's resources.
Mr. Rybczynski expressed support for Mr. Cooper's aspirations for the area south of the Reflecting Pool, commenting that the water-filtration facility would be inconceivable on the north side of the Reflecting Pool due to the proximity of memorials in that area, yet the proposed site is also near memorials. He agreed that in the long term, perhaps 50 to 100 years, the maintenance facilities—which he characterized as a parking lot with trucks and horses—would not remain, with the exception of the proposed water-treatment facility due to the large infrastructure investment that it requires. He said he sees no apparent reason for keeping the horses on the Mall; mounted police are prevalent in many cities without stables being located in downtown areas, and the horses could perhaps be brought in by truck. He expressed reluctance to delay the project because of this siting issue but asked if the project could somehow include flexibility on the location of the water-treatment facility.
Mr. May responded that stables for mounted police in other cities, although not specifically studied by the National Park Service, are likely nearer than one might expect to the areas that are patrolled, even if not prominently visible. He noted the additional National Park Service stables in Rock Creek Park, which was considered as an alternative location, but this solution was deemed impractical; he said that this decision could be reconsidered if another use emerges for the West Potomac Park stables site. He emphasized the intention to treat the stables as part of the visitor experience, showing the public where the horses for the mounted police are housed, rather than being merely an operational facility. He declined to offer a fifty-year prediction for the site but noted that even plumbing can be relocated if necessary; he added that the National Park Service has removed or changed some major projects when necessary in recent decades. He acknowledged the difficulty of siting a utilitarian building and said that the proposed site has the advantage of being clustered with other utilitarian functions, rather than inserted into the more public setting of the World War II Memorial ancillary buildings. Mr. Powell emphasized that the proposed site would be acceptable with the provision that future relocation would be considered as part of developing a design opportunity for the maintenance and stables area, in conjunction with the larger vision for the National Mall that Ms. Feldman had recommended; Mr. May agreed.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked for further discussion of the character and massing of the proposed water-filtration building, commenting that schedule and low cost seem to be the driving factors. She asked if the program could be placed underground, noting the recent prevalence of underground visitor centers. Mr. Ragozzino responded that alternatives for an underground facility were considered during the environmental review process but were not preferred; the water movement is achieved through a combination of gravity and pumping, and a lower elevation would require more extensive pumping equipment and ramped service access that would expand the footprint of the facility, impacting a nearby soccer field as well as negatively affecting the operating cost and performance of the facility.
Mr. Belle commented that the poor visual character of the maintenance and stables area is largely due to the existing conditions, rather than the proposed addition of the water-filtration facility. He agreed that the equestrian functions could be treated attractively, and recommended that the Commission request that the National Park Service seek funding to plan for this area; Mr. McKinnell, Mr. Powell, and Ms. Plater-Zyberk agreed. Mr. Belle suggested that such a plan develop an interim design for the next fifty years—including the opportunity for visitors to see horses—until a longer-term use emerges. Chairman Powell suggested that such a request be included as a supplement to the Commission's motion, noting the National Park Service's agreement that such a study would be desirable.
Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's consensus to support the proposal. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the final design subject to the comments concerning the grade against the curved security walls, the future planning for the maintenance and stables area, and review of an on-site mockup of proposed materials. Chairman Powell clarified that the Commission is supporting the design team's preference for paving the paths, subject to further review of the materials in the mockup, but this action does not constitute general support for paved walks in other parts of the National Mall. Mr. Luebke noted that this approval concludes a multi-year process of designing overall perimeter security for the Lincoln Memorial.
D. General Services Administration
CFA 18/MAR/10-3, St. Elizabeths Hospital, West Campus, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. Perimeter security fence, gates, and guard stations. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/FEB/10-5.) Ms. Batcheler introduced Mike McGill of the General Services Administration to begin the presentation of the final design for perimeter elements at the west campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital, reviewed by the Commission as a concept design in February. Mr. McGill summarized the scope of the project which includes perimeter security for the campus and the restoration of several gatehouses as part of the perimeter security system. He introduced architect Tom Mozina of Perkins + Will and landscape architect Tom Amoroso of Andropogon Associates to present the design.
Mr. Mozina presented the site plan of the campus and indicated the location of the six entrance gates as well as the perimeter fence alignment, which moves away from the campus boundary at some locations. He said the presentation would address changes since the previous month's review, a more comprehensive description of the landscape design, and samples of proposed materials.
Mr. Mozina summarized the types of fencing and multiple layers that would be required, including anti-vehicle barriers and an inner barrier of no-climb fencing to prevent pedestrian access. The north and south fencing, located in less-visible forested areas, would be chain link; the east barrier along Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue would incorporate the existing historic masonry wall, supplemented by a new barrier within the campus; and the west barrier would use a decorative fence design with retaining walls along the planned access road for the campus. He noted the locations of guard booths, the eight-foot spacing of vertical posts, the eight-foot height of the fences, the twenty-foot clear zone between the inner and outer fences, and the patrol path that will provide access to the guard booths and much of the fence area.
Mr. Mozina said that the supplemental fencing along Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue would have a decorative picket design. Mr. Belle asked if openings for visibility would be provided in this fence. Mr. Mozina responded that the proposed fence provides views at a perpendicular angle, although the required narrowness of gaps in the fence material results in an opaque appearance when viewed obliquely; in addition, the historic solid brick wall will remain. He provided a sample of the tightly woven no-climb chain-link material that would be used for the inner fencing in the forested areas; he noted that the fence alignment has been adjusted to avoid conflicting with large existing trees, and the lower tree limbs will be removed where necessary to prevent being used for climbing over the fence. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the human figures shown between the fence lines in the section drawings. Mr. Mozina clarified that they are included to indicate scale, but the clear zone would not have people in it except for occasional maintenance or in response to an alarm indicating an intruder; routine visual surveillance of the clear zone would be provided from the guard booths, supplemented by cameras. Mr. Rybczynski asked if the clear zone would be lit. Mr. Mozina responded that small low-level lights would be installed to enable operation of the cameras and sensors that would be located on the guard booths; the lights—with an illumination level of approximately one foot-candle—would face inward toward the campus in order to avoid being obtrusive in distant views toward this edge of the city's topographic bowl. Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted that one foot-candle is a typical illumination level for parking lots; Mr. Mozina said he may be misstating the number but, in conjunction with the technology used, the amount of lighting would be very low and subdued.
Mr. Mozina explained the need for guard booths around the secure perimeter and the network of paths that will allow vehicles to reach them. He said the path network would incorporate existing roads where possible, but some new paths would be introduced. The paving material for these new paths would be based on the context: brick in the historic setting of the east fence, and concrete or asphalt where the paths tie into existing roads with these materials.
Mr. Mozina described the proposed final design for each of the gate houses, noting the design modifications subsequent to the concept submission the previous month. Several gates would provide access to the internal shuttle-bus system for the campus. Ms. Nelson asked what size of bus would be used; Mr. Mozina responded that the General Services Administration has not yet determined this.
Mr. Mozina described the revised design of the security screening building at Gate 4, a major employee entrance leading to the planned 2,000-car parking garage and adjacent to the planned Coast Guard headquarters; the concept design had included a folded roof plane that turned to become a wall, echoing an entrance feature of the Coast Guard headquarters design. In response to the Commission's comment that this treatment confuses the building entrance with the screening facility, the proposed final design eliminates this feature and treats the roof and wall as separate planes; a continuous band of clerestory windows has been introduced to give the roof a floating appearance. He presented several rendered perspectives, indicating the Coast Guard project's stormwater retention pond that would substitute for the inner security fence at this location. Mr. Mozina noted that the wall height has not changed but may appear taller due to the different configuration of adjacent trees; and the shape of the pond and adjacent berm has been adjusted to reduce the visible height of uninterrupted wall surface that results from the revised roof form.
Mr. Mozina presented the design changes at Gate 5, which would provide access to the daycare center as well as a fire lane. As at Gate 4, the concept proposal for the security screening building included a folded roof plane which was not satisfactory to the Commission, and the new design separates the roof and wall planes. He confirmed that this screening facility would be used by children.
Mr. Amoroso of Andropogon Associates presented the proposed final landscape design for the areas affected by the proposed perimeter elements. He said that the master plan and a Cultural Landscape Report, developed in 2008, formed the basis of the Landscape Preservation and Management Plan and the Landscape Integration Plan, which will guide construction on the site from 2009 through completion in 2016. He presented the landscape typologies for the campus: the upper plateau on the east, the largest area, has a collection of large historic trees on lawns; the edge around the plateau will be developed as a short-grass meadow to dissipate stormwater flows before they reach wooded slopes; and the slopes to the south and the northwest have remnant forests and young woodlands. He said that the historic cemetery on the west is an additional landscape typology.
Mr. Amoroso said Gates 1, 2, and 3 would have a historic lawn and tree landscape, and Gates 4, 5, and 6 would have a woodland landscape; open landscapes would adjoin the security fence, and in the 20-foot clear zone between the fences there would be mostly lawn or ground cover, with stone used on some steeper slopes in the woodlands. He said there would be limited restoration of the woodland, and its historic open character would be retained for security reasons. He illustrated a plan depicting the campus in 1937, within the site's period of significance, when the plateau had a dense tree canopy, much of which has been lost. The historic tree locations would be used for siting new trees, which would be of the same type or of similar character. Historic paving of roads would be restored where feasible; new paving would be concrete and would match the color of the historic paving.
Ms. Nelson asked about the selection of tree species in comparison to the 1937 plan. Mr. Amoroso responded that the trees in 1937 were an arboretum collection with many non-native exotic species. On the plateau, the historic species will be planted in accordance with the 1937 plan if they are available; otherwise the proposed trees will be of similar form and characteristics. In areas other than the plateau, native species will be planted.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked why the perimeter barrier along the west side of the site includes a stone wall surmounted by a fence along only a portion of the boundary and does not extend north of Gate 6. Mr. Mozina responded that a planned warehouse for the campus will be located behind this fence segment, and due to the character of this facility a more industrial type of fence is proposed rather than including the stone wall; additionally, no retaining wall function is necessary within this northern segment of the west perimeter. Ms. Plater-Zyberk commented that the entire west street frontage would be a public face of the site and should have a uniform design treatment to reflect the single campus within, regardless of whether the particular use behind the fence happens to be a service area; she therefore suggested extending the stone wall feature along the full length of the property on the west side.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the character of the landscape outside the wall facing Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the area around Gate Houses 1, 2, and 3. Mr. Mozina said there is a narrow planting strip here that is under the jurisdiction of the D.C. government, and planting in this area is not part of the federal government's project. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked whether responsibility for this planting strip, along with the historic boundary wall, should be assumed by the federal government. Shapour Ebadi of the General Services Administration said that this question will be covered in the final agreement that will be made with the D.C. government.
Mr. McKinnell asked whether climbing plants will be grown on the security walls along the west side of the site. Mr. Amoroso responded that vines would be planted along the stone walls—including the inner and outer barriers—and would be trimmed so they do not extend up onto the metal fence.
The Commission members expressed appreciation for the changes that were made to the buildings in response to their suggestions. Mr. Rybczynski said he was particularly impressed by the landscape study, adding that he suspects many alternative uses for the site would not have included such a thorough report. Mr. Powell noted that he found it interesting that the 1937 historic plan depicting an arboretum style of landscape design has been used to inform the current design.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked whether the proposed zinc panel material, proposed for the roofs of several screening buildings, would be used across the entire roof surface. Mr. Mozina clarified that Gate Houses 4 and 5 would have green roofs with a zinc fascia used to create an enclosure deep enough to hold the soil. Mr. Luebke added that the consulting parties for the project have not yet had an opportunity to review materials closely; the Commission may wish to provide guidance or delegate this review to the staff. He noted that the inspection of materials is also pending for the previously approved Coast Guard headquarters project. Chairman Powell asked the staff to continue with this process in conjunction with the consulting parties, including inspection of an on-site mockup when made available by the General Services Administration. He acknowledged that an approval by the Commission should be subject to such further inspection.
Mr. Powell questioned the design character of the screening building at Gate 5 serving the daycare center, commenting that it has too brooding a quality for a building serving children; he suggested that a "lighter touch" might be more appropriate. Mr. Ebadi clarified that most children would reach the daycare center through the Coast Guard building; only five percent of children coming to the campus would enter through Gate 5. Mr. Powell commented that five percent would still be a significant number, and he asked the designers to restudy this building. Mr. Belle and Mr. McKinnell agreed, and Mr. McKinnell commented that the brooding effect is created by the four punched windows in the front elevation. Mr. Belle said he did not find the change from the previous design to be an improvement, and coming here would be an unfriendly experience for a child who would probably be visiting a public building for the first time. Mr. Luebke said that in consultation meetings the Commission staff had asked the designers to simplify some elements of the design in response to the Commission's guidance, including a more limited palette of materials and a more consistent treatment of entry elements; he anticipated that this design refinement process could help to resolve the Commission's concern about the character of this screening building.
Mr. McKinnell asked whether the buildings and landscapes in this submission would be all that the general public will see of the complex. Mr. Ebadi confirmed that the interior of the campus will be closed to the public, with the exception of occasional escorted tours of certain areas such as the cemetery, the prominent overlook point, and several historic buildings. Mr. Belle asked how visitors would circulate within the campus; Mr. Ebadi said they would ride a small bus or walk, depending on the destination.
Mr. McKinnell asked about the remaining steps in the design process; Mr. Ebadi responded that the design would be completed in late April, followed by bidding for construction, and he assured that the approved design is what will be built. Mr. McKinnell said that the project will inevitably undergo value engineering, but the buildings in this submission are the extent of what the public will generally see of the campus. He emphasized that priority should be given to retaining the design features of these publicly visible elements. Mr. Ebadi agreed, adding that the designs for this project have not required cost-saving alterations in response to construction bidding during the past eighteen months, and this situation is likely to continue for the coming year due to the economic conditions.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. McKinnell, the Commission approved the final design subject to the comments provided and to more detailed review of the materials by the staff in conjunction with other consulting parties.
E. Department of Defense / Armed Forces Retirement Home
CFA 18/MAR/10-4, Scott Building, Scott Road, NW. Replacement building. Concept. (Previous: CFA 27/JUL/06-7: Building alterations and addition.) Ms. Batcheler introduced architect Joseph Woo of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) to present the concept for a new building to replace the existing Scott Building on the campus. Mr. Woo said that the proposal is undertaken in conjunction with implementation of the recently approved master plan, which includes consolidation of facilities toward the north end of the campus. This consolidation will result in a reduced footprint of facilities, increased operating efficiency, and reduced travel distances between buildings—an important consideration in a retirement community.
Mr. Woo said that the existing Scott Building, dating from the mid-20th century, has become antiquated and would be demolished. The smaller replacement building would incorporate state-of-the-art concepts in the design of retirement homes and would enhance the living quality of residents. He said that AFRH has hired project management services from the General Services Administration, which has contracted with architecture firm DiMella Shaffer, specialists in retirement-home design. He introduced architects Alex Adkins and Frank DiMella of DiMella Shaffer to present the proposal.
Mr. Adkins presented the program and context for the project. The consolidation of uses would allow the southern part of the campus to be made available for long-term leasing and development as envisioned in the master plan. The proposed new Scott Building would have common facilities serving all categories of independent-living residents on the campus and would also contain a "care center" that would be home for sixty residents, approximately a fifth of the campus population. The common facilities would include dining, fitness and wellness, a swimming pool, a medical center, activity and game rooms, administrative and business offices, and support spaces. The care center portion, which is proposed for the upper part of the building, would employ a "small house" concept which involves a configuration of ten to twelve rooms grouped around a common living area that would include a living room, dining room, and kitchen; he contrasted this with the institutional hospital setting of double-loaded corridors that is provided in the existing Scott Building. Staff offices would also be included in the care center.
Mr. Adkins described the sustainability benefits of the project, which is being designed to achieve LEED certification. The smaller size of the replacement building will provide the opportunity to increase the extent of permeable surface on the site and develop a stormwater retention system. The new building may also contain a green roof above part of the commons portion of the building; this would provide walking terraces accessible from the upper residential portion, which has a much smaller footprint. Solar panels are under consideration to provide hot water, which is in high demand at such a facility; and the design provides the opportunity to maximize daylight and views.
Mr. Adkins described the city and neighborhood context. The elevated campus along North Capitol Street provides broad south views toward the Capitol and Washington Monument. The site had been a farm owned by the Riggs family, including a surviving cottage now known as the Lincoln Cottage, prior to acquisition of the land in the 1840s to create the military retirement home. The early military development occurred near the Lincoln Cottage on the ridge at the north end of the campus, and included the Sherman Building, a hospital quadrangle to its south, and late-19th-century dormitories to its north; small cottages were constructed toward the east and west sides of the campus. Following World Wars I and II, larger-scale buildings were constructed, including the Scott building and several others, often with little sensitivity to the historic scale of the campus. He presented a map of areas that are considered historically significant or contribute to the historic district on the campus.
Mr. Adkins said that several design goals have resulted from the context study. One is to improve the views toward central Washington, particularly the historic view from the Lincoln Cottage that is currently obstructed by the Scott Building; this requires pushing the proposed massing toward the eastern end of the existing building's site. Another is to reinforce the north-south axis of the campus and the pattern of quadrangles along it; the new Scott Building provides the opportunity to redefine the southern edge of the central quadrangle. A third goal is to mediate between the more formal character of the eastern portion of the quadrangle and the more informal meadow-like character toward the southwest. He noted that the existing northward view from the historic Rose Chapel includes the Scott Building's loading dock. He also indicated existing mature trees that would likely be retained. He presented views of the quadrangle and noted that the proposed Scott Building would be comparable to the three-and-a-half-story height of the historic Sherman and Grant buildings. He noted the historic materials of light-colored stone—marble and limestone—and cast-iron grillwork at porch and entry elements. He noted that many residents will walk between the Sheridan Building to the east and the proposed commons facility in the new Scott Building, either at grade or via an existing tunnel; he emphasized the importance of minimizing this walking distance.
Mr. Adkins described several additional design goals. The commons facility should have a strong visual identity when seen from the quadrangle. Access to daylight is an important consideration, particularly for the deep plan of the first floor; strategies for improving daylight are being studied in conjunction with the proposed green roof for this area. Another goal is to minimize the visual impact of loading and ambulance traffic.
Mr. DiMella then presented the proposed building design in more detail. The common facilities and care center would each occupy two levels, although two-thirds of the total floor area would be occupied by the common facilities. He noted that placing the new building toward the eastern end of the site fulfills several goals: restoring the panoramic view from the Lincoln Cottage, reinforcing the north-south campus axis, and placing the common facilities as close as possible to the residential Sheridan Building, home to ninety percent of the users. He noted that the Sheridan Building itself, another large-scale mid-20th-century building, might be replaced in the future, but it would likely to continue to be the site of a large portion of the campus residents.
Mr. McKinnell noted the angled path between the center of the quadrangle and the existing Scott Building entrance, deviating from the overall geometry of the quadrangle; he asked if this path would be realigned in response to the shifted siting of the new building. Mr. DiMella responded that this path was constructed in response to the angled composition of the Scott Building; the design team has discussed its treatment extensively and tentatively prefers to change its alignment. However, the design scope does not extend into the quadrangle, and therefore no change is currently proposed. He noted the varying viewpoints on its treatment: a realignment would be desirable due to the lack of relationship between the existing path and the proposed north entrance to the new Scott Building, while some consider the existing path's alignment to have historic significance as a vestige of the campus plan as altered for the existing Scott Building. Ms. Nelson expressed support for straightening the path's alignment as part of the overall goal of strengthening the quadrangle design.
Mr. McKinnell asked for clarification of significant pedestrian movements involving the proposed building. Mr. DiMella said that the major flow is residents walking between the residential Sheridan Building and the common facilities of the Scott Building, where all of these residents' meals are served. The street between the buildings can be crossed at grade or using the lower-level tunnel; the dining room in the Scott Building is at this same lower level, and most residents therefore use the tunnel.
Mr. Belle asked about the Scott Building's relationship to the Sherman Building to the north, which frames the north side of the main quadrangle. Mr. DiMella responded that there is little functional relationship between these buildings—the Scott Building is functionally much more closely related to the Sheridan Building—but he cited the formal and axial relationships involving the Sherman Building and other historic buildings of the campus. He said that, other than the small cottages, the historic buildings have a civic scale despite their original residential use; they typically have a grand appearance with high floor heights, exaggerated features, and symmetry with center entries. The proposed Scott Building design uses this design vocabulary on the north side, facing the quadrangle, while having a more informal character facing the pastoral setting on the south.
Mr. DiMella described the proposed north facade, including the central three-story porch and entrance that is aligned with the north-south axis of the Sherman Building. A first-floor arcade extending the length of the north facade would accommodate the east-west pedestrian movement that is prevalent in this area. The design team is exploring the opportunity to extend the north facade above the roof height where it would conceal the mechanical penthouse; the extent of rooftop mechanical requirements is still being studied, with the possible elimination of cooling towers if a geothermal cooling system is used. He said that this extension of the north facade could help to reinforce the civic presence of the Scott Building on the quadrangle.
Mr. DiMella then presented views of the more informal sides of the building, where the major spaces of the common facilities are expressed. He indicated the porte-cochere, a functional requirement for the building, which is proposed for the east side rather than interrupting the primary north facade. The service area would be on the west side of the building at the lower level, nineteen feet below the quadrangle level, with access from the lower roadway as provided for the existing Scott Building. He said that trucks entering the service area would not be visible from the quadrangle due to the topographic change. The landscape plan is still being developed, but he emphasized the intention to provide access for the upper-story residents of the Scott Building to green roof areas.
Mr. DiMella said that the primary material on the north facade would be compatible with the existing stone architecture of the major buildings on the campus; the material may be a cast stone rather than natural stone. On the south facade, this stone would be used only at the base of the building. Window proportions would be related to the predominantly vertical proportions of the historic buildings.
Mr. Adkins then presented a separate component of the project: the existing Scott Building contains the chilled-water plant that also serves the Sheridan Building; due to the proposed demolition of the Scott Building, the chilled-water plant would be relocated to the Sheridan Building, requiring an at-grade cooling tower that is proposed within the parking lot on the east side of the Sheridan Building toward North Capitol Street. He presented two alternative locations in this area, noting that the AFRH preference is the location further east, away from the Sheridan Building; the proposed design for the structure to enclose the cooling tower would have metal siding above a masonry base.
Mr. Rybczynski expressed support for the proposed design of the Scott Building's southern side, commenting favorably on the massing and configuration of roofs stepping down to the meadow setting; he said that this design has a human scale. He questioned the proposed character of the north facade, commenting that the campus pattern of central entrances is not a general architectural tradition but an indication of the historically institutional character of hospitals. He noted that the interior of the building is deliberately designed to reject the institutional approach of double-loaded corridors in favor of a small-scale domestic configuration, and the exterior therefore does not need to suggest an institutional character. He said that the great emphasis on the central entrance is a weak feature of the design; he supported the proposed arcade and said that it would be sufficient as a design gesture relating to a north entrance without presenting an institutional character. He said that the perception of the north-south axis is arbitrary and should not be treated as a major feature of the building. However, he supported the siting of the building to better define the quadrangle, and he emphasized his overall support for the building's scale.
Mr. McKinnell agreed, describing the north facade and its central porch feature as misconceived and an inappropriate reading of the campus. He said that a major feature of the site is the extraordinary view toward the south and predicted that the destination feature in this area would be the overlook being created to the northwest of the new Scott Building, where the quadrangle would open to the southern view. He therefore suggested that the entrance on the north facade should be located at the northwest corner, where it will relate to the convergence of paths and interest associated with this overlook; this shift in the entrance would also help to reduce the monumentality of the north facade. He also questioned the proposal to place the service area below the overlook, where people may see it and smell truck fumes at an otherwise attractive location. He also questioned the inclusion of an overhang on the proposed porch at the north facade, noting that it is unrelated to the prevailing east-west pedestrian pattern that was described.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk offered a contrasting viewpoint, commenting that the axial features of the design could be developed more carefully rather than deemphasized. She suggested that the ground-floor plan be revised to more carefully respond to the north-south and east-west patterns; she observed that the axis of the north entrance could be extended through the building to a dramatic southward view, but is instead terminated by a small room. The east-west circulation could also be further developed, such as be placing the porte-cochere along the main circulation route to serve as an entrance feature, and possibly terminating this route with a view out to the west. She noted the importance of making the building easy to navigate, such as using a gridded pattern to locate the various facilities; she recommended clarifying the plan to achieve this.
Mr. Belle supported Ms. Plater-Zyberk's comments, adding that many of the architectural problems can be addressed during the design development process. He said his primary concerns pertain to the siting concept, which he said is a lost opportunity to relate more creatively to the historic context. He recommended breaking the large program into smaller elements, perhaps separate buildings, that could be sited to shape the new and existing spaces more carefully; he acknowledged that this may involve extending the project beyond its current boundary. He observed that combining the two unrelated program components into a single building isn't necessarily problematic but said that there is no apparent reason why two is the appropriate number. Ms. Plater-Zyberk supported the potential for reconceiving the plan and program.
Mr. McKinnell summarized an apparent consensus that the monumental character of the north facade is not successful, and that a less institutional character for the facades would be welcome. He said that this guidance still allows the opportunity to incorporate views of the exterior into the east-west and north-south axes, noting that the functional importance of the east-west movement in this building. Ms. Nelson commented that the north facade appears "foreboding" while the remainder of the building has a more welcoming character. Chairman Powell noted the consensus to request further study of the north facade.
Mr. DiMella responded that there is a functional need to include the skilled-care residents in this building because they are not able to go elsewhere for their meals. He said that the plan of the residential third floor is carefully organized to achieve the 12-bedroom groupings, and this plan affects the layout of other parts of the building; the configuration will be used for other retirement homes being developed for the armed forces. He noted that the optimal organization of the upper floors results in symmetry that is appropriately expressed on the north facade. He added that the quadrangle has symbolic importance to the residents, which is intentionally reflected in the design.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk commented on the proposed cooling-tower enclosure for the Sheridan Building, suggesting that its masonry be stone in keeping with the major buildings in the vicinity, rather than introducing a small amount of split-face block at this location; similarly, the metal detailing should relate to that of the existing buildings. She also recommended that its orientation be orthogonal to be consistent with the other buildings of the campus.
Chairman Powell suggested that the staff consolidate the Commission's comments, noting the support for the treatment of the building's south side and the careful thought that has gone into the project. Ms. Nelson emphasized the concern of placing the loading dock near the overlook. Chairman Powell said that the Commission would look forward to further review of a revised design. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
F. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 18/MAR/10-5, Pennsylvania Avenue, from 3rd Street to 15th Street, NW. Bicycle lanes. Concept. Mr. Simon introduced the proposal to create designated bicycle lanes along Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House. He described the existing streetscape that was implemented in the 1970s and 1980s by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation, a simple design that serves as a neutral element within this important view corridor and as an uninterrupted surface for inaugural parades. He said that the proposed bicycle lanes could involve protective stanchions and coloring of the pavement as well as painted markings for the lanes. He noted a letter from several members of Congress supporting the proposal, and a letter from the Committee of 100 expressing concern with the visual impact. He introduced Jim Sebastian, manager of the bicycle and pedestrian program at the D.C. Department of Transportation, to present the design.
Mr. Sebastian said that the project originated with a request from a member of Congress to make Pennsylvania Avenue more conducive to bicycling; the design was then developed in coordination with several review agencies and others having a role in downtown planning. He presented historic photographs of the avenue, indicating the transition from multiple modes—including streetcars and horse-drawn vehicles—to the modern emphasis on accommodating cars. The current cartway is more than ninety feet wide; the number of lanes varies but is typically eight, including turn lanes.
Mr. Sebastian described the purposes of the proposal. Dedicated bicycle lanes would provide greater clarity to bicyclists and motorists, typically resulting in a reduction in collisions for all categories of users; he cited an improvement of safety in other cities when dedicated lanes are created, regardless of whether the bicycle lanes are physically separated from vehicle lanes. He added that the proposed location of the bicycle lanes toward the center of the avenue would reduce the potential conflict between bicyclists and the opening of car doors, as well as conflicts with buses, parked cars, and drop-off at restaurants. The bicycle lanes would also encourage more bicycling and reduced dependence on travel by single-occupant vehicle, furthering a goal of the D.C. Department of Transportation and many federal agencies.
Mr. Sebastian described the option of marking the lanes with painted stripes, with a special paving color and texture, or with a physical barrier; he said that some cyclists are uncomfortable riding in lanes that are not physically separated from motorists. He presented images of bicycle lanes in other cities including New York and Portland, Oregon, indicating the varying design and configuration of the lanes.
Mr. Sebastian presented several renderings of the proposal for Pennsylvania Avenue using the existing left vehicular lane in each direction; the ten-foot-wide lanes would be converted to seven-foot-wide bicycle lanes and three feet of hatched marking to provide a separation between bicycles and cars. Mr. Rybczynski asked about the use of the center portion of the street. Mr. Sebastian clarified that this flush median area would remain and is used as the central alignment for inaugural parades; it generally does not accommodate traffic but is used for traffic signals and left-turn lanes, making it difficult to use for bicycle lanes. He emphasized that the proposal is to use the left traffic lanes in each direction rather than the median area; the moderate traffic level on the avenue—30,000 cars daily—could be handled adequately in the remaining lanes. He described the proposed paving condition at intersections and noted that the traffic signals would remain in their current locations; the signals would be adjusted to include left-turn arrows at all intersections in order to prevent conflicts between bicycle through-traffic and left-turning cars. He confirmed that the crosswalks would remain and could be used by bicyclists to turn onto cross-streets.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about alterations to the avenue for inaugural parades; Mr. Sebastian responded that all infrastructure elements such as traffic signals are removed, and the street is also typically resurfaced. The pavement markings would be renewed at these four-year intervals, or when needed; and the periodic resurfacing would provide a particularly convenient opportunity to change the design if necessary.
Mr. Sebastian noted that other cities have developed special treatment of the bicycle lanes and median areas, including colored paving and, on New York's Broadway, even tables and chairs. He said that red-colored paving is common in European cities, while green is becoming the preferred color in the U.S.; he presented renderings of the various colors, including a potential tan color for the median, as well as the possible use of stanchions.
Ms. Nelson commented that the stanchions might not be durable. Mr. Sebastian agreed with this concern and suggested two options: omitting the stanchions initially and, if drivers do not respect the bicycle lanes, adding the stanchions later; or constructing the stanchions initially and, if they tend to get knocked down, removing them later. He emphasized that drivers would need to learn how to respond to the bicycle lanes.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the use of color for other bicycle lanes in Washington. Mr. Sebastian responded that none are colored currently, but a green color is being considered for bicycle lanes currently proposed for 9th, 15th, I, and L Streets. He confirmed that the color has been requested by the public. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if surface-mounted reflectors could be placed in the pavement to demarcate the lanes; Mr. Sebastian responded that these are not being proposed due to potential problems of maintenance, snow-plowing, and their visual effect.
Ms. Nelson described the two issues involved in the lane markings: clarity of separation between bicycles and cars, which might suggest the use of color; and the street's prominence as a view corridor toward the U.S. Capitol, one that is very highly photographed. She recommended that the pavement coloring be omitted along Pennsylvania Avenue, even if it will be introduced for other Washington streets. She suggested that the color for the other streets be a more muted green than shown in the renderings, such as a gray-green. Mr. Sebastian provided samples of the colors being considered, including bright and dull shades of green as well as two shades of red; Ms. Nelson reiterated that none would be appropriate on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Mr. Rybczynski agreed with Ms. Nelson's conclusion, noting the Commission's consistency in discouraging strong design elements along Pennsylvania Avenue such as a large identification sign for the Newseum, while supporting the design aside from the proposed color. Mr. Belle commented that the avenue has had a variety of design treatments in its history, and the colored paving could be considered if it serves a useful purpose in defining the bicycle lanes. Ms. Nelson emphasized the need for subtlety in the design and suggested that a better shade could be selected; Mr. Sebastian responded that the supplier is willing to provide any color desired. Mr. Powell offered support for the proposal but said that the color would be unnecessary, with bicyclists and drivers having sufficient guidance from the demarcation lines; he added that the color could be considered later if necessary, after the lanes have been in operation. He commented that the stanchions are similarly an unnecessary expense and would likely not last long. Mr. Luebke noted the additional option of coloring the median area; Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that no special pavement color should be added. Mr. Sebastian noted that the project is relatively straightforward to implement—particularly if only paint is involved—and the final design will therefore be similar to the concept and will be brought forward quickly due to the desire to install the bicycle lanes as soon as possible.
Chairman Powell recognized Jo-Ann Neuhaus, a former long-term employee of the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC), who asked to address the Commission. Ms. Neuhaus noted the additional paving materials along the avenue that could be incorporated into the design: unpolished granite in oval areas around the traffic signals in the median; and red brick at the crosswalks, which has now been replaced with red scored concrete, surrounded by a granite border. She said that PADC gave great importance to the avenue's view corridor through careful consideration of the design elements, including the treatment of lighting, limitations on signage, and materials for paving including simple consistent treatment of the sidewalks. She acknowledged the importance of promoting bicycle use and of adequately protecting bicyclists from collisions with motorists; she noted that the unprotected bicycle lane along 9th Street, NW, which is between parked cars and a bus lane, is not well used. She supported the proposal to separate the bicycle lanes from left-turning vehicles. She recommended that the Commission approve the proposal as a temporary measure, with a more permanent design to be developed in response to the observed operation of the bicycle lanes; the permanent design could incorporate the materials already used along the avenue, such as the granite border. She recommended the example of bicycle lanes in Denmark designed by Jan Gehl, who had presented his work to PADC.
Mr. Powell acknowledged the more detailed description by Ms. Neuhaus of materials along the avenue, and he suggested that a new design for the median might be appropriate as a future project. Mr. Sebastian responded that others have similarly suggested that the bicycle lanes be part of an overall redesign of the Pennsylvania Avenue streetscape, and such a project could incorporate the Commission's guidance such as the avoidance of vertical barriers. Mr. Powell acknowledged the careful attention to protecting bicyclists from turning cars, but also raised the issue of bicyclists not obeying traffic rules. Mr. Sebastian acknowledged this concern and said that the D.C. Department of Transportation has an education and enforcement program to promote safe behavior by bicyclists.
Chairman Powell noted the consensus of the Commission to approve the proposed concept and to delegate approval of the final design to the staff; Mr. Luebke said that any substantial change to the design would be brought to the Commission for further review. Mr. Sebastian noted the desire to complete the project in time for "Bike to Work Day" at the end of May. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the concept with the comments provided and delegated review of the final design to the staff.
G. District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities
CFA 18/MAR/10-6, Washington Canal Park, 2nd Street between I and M Streets, SE. Art installation for new park. Concept. (Previous: CFA 17/SEP/09-7: Park design concept.) Ms. Barsoum introduced the proposed concept for a sculpture installation in Washington Canal Park which is an addition to the overall park design by the OLIN firm, approved by the Commission in September 2009 as a concept. She asked Rachel Dickerson of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) to begin the presentation. Ms. Dickerson introduced sculptor David Hess along with Chris Van Arsdale, the executive director of the Canal Park Development Association which is collaborating with DCCAH on the sculpture project.
Mr. Hess noted the park was the site of the old Washington Canal and the approved park design will refer to the historic canal bed through the use of such features as a water channel; he said his proposed sculpture is also intended to recall the water that once flowed through the site. The artwork would be comprised of five separate pieces—identified as sculptures A to E—arranged on the three blocks; each would be made of 4.5-inch-diameter rolled stainless-steel pipe. He said that the overall concept is a water pipe or garden hose running through the park and occasionally emerging from the ground; he presented a drawing that depicted the imaginary underground path traced by the pipe. He presented a model of the proposal, noting that the pieces in the model are set closer together than they would be in full size.
Mr. Hess presented the location of each of the proposed pieces. Sculpture A would be placed at the north end of the park, near the large lawn that will be used as a gathering place to watch movies; he said that, though it would resemble a coiled spring, and would be welded so children could safely sit and climb on it. The middle block would contain Sculptures B and C; Sculpture C would be located near a lawn which will serve as a play area, and children would be able to climb on this piece. Sculptures D and E would be placed within a grove of trees in the water feature and winter skating rink at the south end of the park; skaters would move in a figure-8 pattern around one sculpture and near another.
Ms. Nelson expressed concern that the proposed steel pipe would not express the idea of water; she said the steel pieces embody springing and energy but did not think they would be consistent with the park's references to the canal and barge-like pavilions. She recalled that Mr. Hess had presented a previous sculpture proposal for this site using conical shapes which she said would be more appropriate for the park. Mr. Hess responded that the park design is now very different, and his current idea is to create a foil to the axial, rectangular geometry of the new park design which is meant to recall the form of the historic canal bed; the artwork is intended to be interactive and engaging for visitors, in contrast to the monumental and monolithic character of his previous proposal. He said the idea of a buried garden hose is intended to achieve a quality of movement and fluidity that might not be perceptible in the model, which shows the pieces placed closer together than they would be when built. Ms. Nelson observed that the pieces would not all be seen simultaneously on the site.
Mr. Belle asked about the three-dimensional character of the space and the relationship of the sculptures to nearby buildings. Mr. Hess indicated the location of structures in and around the park, and said the sculptures would be located at least 75 to 80 feet from other park structures and also would not be near the buildings that are separated from the park by the surrounding streets.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk supported the idea of artwork progressing through the park, but said that the proposal "almost seems redundant" with the varied and complex park, which she characterized as a complete design; she said the proposal to add sculpture to the park was surprising. She expressed concern about the relationship among the different objects in the park and said it was not clear how they would all go together, adding that Mr. Belle's question about the relation of the sculptural pieces to the buildings and spaces is part of that concern. Mr. McKinnell agreed that the addition of the whole sculpture to the park design could be excessive. Ms. Nelson said she had thought the pavilions, the skating rink, and the other features of the park design were themselves meant to be the art.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk acknowledged that Mr. Hess has nonetheless been commissioned to create artwork for the park, and further guidance should be offered; she asked if the sculpture proposal could be reviewed in combination with the overall park, because simplification of the design might involve not just the sculpture but the entire composition of the park. Mr. Luebke said that the final design proposal for the park may be presented to the Commission in April. The Commission members agreed that it would be better to review the sculpture and the park design together at that time.
Mr. Rybczynski said the appropriate counterpoint to the park's linear design would be a composition of one or two events, not a sculptural sequence which extends throughout the park; everything in the park design is linear, whereas the sculpture would be yet another linear element threading through it. He suggested designing the artwork as an event in the park or otherwise simplifying it. Mr. Luebke asked if DCCAH had required the sculpture to be either a linear or singular element, or whether this had been left to the sculptor's discretion. Ms. Dickerson responded that Mr. Hess had been selected to develop artwork for the previous park design and was asked to continue with the new designer, the OLIN firm, to integrate a sculpture into the new park design. Mr. Hess said that OLIN had asked him not to use his previous sculpture proposal but to develop a new concept; he had proposed to OLIN a few options for a singular sculpture, such as a water feature or an architectural piece at the south end, but a sculpture at that location was infeasible due to structural conflicts with the underground pumping equipment. Mr. Hess emphasized that the proposed park extends for several blocks and the sculptures would not be seen simultaneously; people would recognize the relationship among the pieces because they would use the same material and similar forms. Chairman Powell noted the Commission's past support for the previous proposal by Mr. Hess but said that the Commission is not suggesting a return to that design.
Mr. Rybczynski asked how the curved pipes would be fabricated; Mr. Hess responded that they would be formed by feeding steel into a three-roll bending machine. Mr. Rybczynski said he was not convinced about the technology, adding that stainless steel tubing would be an unpleasant material to climb on because if children attempted to slide down the pieces they would burn their hands; the pieces also do not appear to be climbing objects because they lack hand-holds. Mr. Hess said the pieces are not intended to be jungle gyms and children's hands may be too small for easy climbing on this material, but people could sit on the sculptures and touch the surfaces.
Mr. McKinnell expressed concern that the sculptures might fall into the category of an "attractive nuisance" because they would encourage people to climb, perhaps leading to falls and injuries. Mr. Van Arsdale responded that this issue had presented a conflict for the Canal Park Development Association, which has asked for artwork that people will interact with through touching; he noted the decision not to put play equipment in the park, and said that Mr. Hess's piece strikes the right balance. He added that OLIN had objected to a proposal to put sculpture in the southwest corner because that area of the park would have many other design features, potentially leading to confusion with the addition of a sculpture.
Chairman Powell said that this relationship of the artwork to other park features is the reason for the Commission's request for a combined review. Mr. McKinnell commented that each sculptural piece is very handsome and that the combination of pieces could be wonderful, but the work nonetheless may be inappropriate in this setting by adding to the visual noise of the park. Chairman Powell offered the Commission's appreciation for the presentation but concluded that no action would be taken, with the sculpture proposal to be reviewed in conjunction with the submission of the park design at a future Commission meeting.
H. District of Columbia Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization
CFA 18/MAR/10-7, Howard D. Woodson Senior High School, 5500 Eads Street, NE. Replacement building. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/SEP/09-10.) Mr. Lindstrom said that the Commission had approved the concept submission for this high school in September 2009 with recommendations for further study of the landscape features, the walks in front of the building, and the main entrance. He introduced architect William Spack of Cox Graae Spack to present the final design.
Mr. Spack summarized the major features of the design: a compact three-level plan; a strong central axis; and several components accommodating community uses, including a public pool and an auditorium, to be located in secondary wings on either side of the main building facing 55th Street. The exterior would use a simple palette of five materials: a brick base; large ground-face concrete masonry units above; cast stone for the belt-course, wall copings, and entrances; a single color of metal for the panels at the canopy entrances and for the columns; and both clear and high-energy-efficiency glass.
Mr. Spack described the changes to the project in response to the Commission's September review. In the design of the landscape, the planters at the auditorium entrance have been reconfigured to provide a central approach for pedestrians. The extent of lawn area has been reduced and the landscape plan has been refined, with planters used at the main entrance plaza to help define ramps and stairs. Landscaping would be used to screen the rear of the building and at various entrances, and that there would be rain gardens in some areas. The elevation details have also been refined, particularly at the entrances; in response to the Commission's comment, the canted columns at the front entrance were changed to vertical columns. Windows have been added to the rear of the auditorium and the pool, and screens around the mechanical units on the roof were eliminated because this equipment would not be visible from the street. He said some of the proposed green roof area was changed to a membrane in conjunction with a system that would collect water from the pool and roof for use as gray water in the building. Other modifications to the rear facade include reducing the amount of glass in one bay; integrating the mechanical systems and louvers into the fenestration; and changing the proposal for a green screen to a masonry wall screened by plants, which was done because the green screen would have required more irrigation than is appropriate for achieving an environmental rating of LEED gold.
Mr. Rybczynski asked about the playing field south of the baseball diamond; Mr. Spack responded it would be a shot-put field, adding that the D.C. high school record for the shot-put had been set at Woodson. Ms. Nelson asked if the ramps and wall caps would be detailed with bumps to prevent their use for skateboarding; Mr. Spack said this is not currently part of the design. Ms. Nelson commented that the glass along the interior balconies of the main staircase would require extensive maintenance.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk said she continues to support this project as a well-resolved design. She questioned the detailing of the lawn areas illustrated in the perspective view of the front elevation, commenting that the lawn previously provided a broad setting for the paved entrance plaza, but this plaza is now so large that the lawn has the modest scale of a planter without being edged like a planter. She suggested either shrinking the pavement area to have a subordinate appearance to the lawn, or treating the lawn as a raised planter that is a figure within the field of pavement. Mr. Spack said he would prefer to develop the lawn areas as planters because the landscape plan already includes a vocabulary of planters; he emphasized the need for extensive pavement in this area due to the large number of students using the main entrance. Ms. Plater-Zyberk commented that the planter detailing would have the benefit of protecting the lawn.
Mr. McKinnell asked whether street trees are typical in this part of Washington; Mr. Spack responded that they seem prevalent and that street trees are included in the landscape design to define the street edge, although the rendering in the presentation did not illustrate this effectively. Mr. McKinnell and Ms. Nelson agreed that street trees should be completed in the design along the public street frontages.
Chairman Powell summarized that the design team has addressed the Commission's concerns and noted the Commission's support for the project. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the final design.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:57 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Last Modified: May 7, 2010