Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
21 October 2010
The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 9:17 a.m. (The starting time of the meeting was published as 9:00 a.m., one hour earlier than usual, due to the anticipated length of the agenda.)
(Due to the absence of the Chairman during the first part of the meeting, the Vice-Chairman presided through agenda item II.C.3.)
A. Approval of the minutes of the 16 September meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the September meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Mr. McKinnell. Mr. Luebke said that the minutes will be made available on the Commission's website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: 18 November, 20 January, and 17 February; he noted that no meeting is scheduled during December.
C. Confirmation of the approval for objects proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Luebke reported the Chairman's approval of an acquisition by the Freer Gallery for its permanent collection: a red Raku tea bowl from Japan dating from the 18th century, with both an original and modern storage boxes. The bowl was offered to the Freer Gallery as a gift and will complement an earlier Raku tea bowl that is already in the collection. Ms. Nelson expressed interest in seeing this new acquisition; Mr. Luebke offered to arrange a viewing of the bowl at the Commission's next visit to the Freer Gallery.
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 substance of the draft appendix, only a minor update to a location name. Ms. Nelson noted the proposal on the Consent Calendar from the U.S. Secret Service for a trailer to be used for screening visitors to the White House; she expressed dissatisfaction with such structures associated with the White House grounds and suggested that the Commission's letter be forceful in accepting the proposal only as a temporary structure that will be removed. Mr. Lindstrom suggested that the staff prepare a separate letter in conjunction with the standard approval letter for the Consent Calendar item; Mr. Luebke said the request could be for a more comprehensive proposal for the treatment of this area. Ms. Nelson and Mr. Belle agreed with this suggestion. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the Direct Submission Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several changes to the draft appendix. Two residential projects (case numbers SL 10-152 and SL 10-154) were removed to allow additional time for resolution of outstanding issues. The recommendation for an automated teller machine at 600 Maryland Avenue, SW (case number SL 10-153) was changed from unfavorable to favorable based on the anticipated receipt of supplemental materials; she requested permission to continue working with the applicant to resolve this case. A project at L'Enfant Plaza, previously listed as a single submission, was split into two listings (case numbers SL 10-159 and SL 11-008) corresponding to separate scopes of work; a favorable recommendation is proposed for both cases. The recommendation for the Fairfield Inn (case number SL 11-001) was revised to add a request for removal of existing internally illuminated signs that were not approved and are not allowed within areas covered by the Shipstead-Luce Act. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda item II.I for an additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported several changes to the draft appendix. Three projects were withdrawn at the request of the applicants to allow more time to respond to the Old Georgetown Board's comments. The staff has updated some recommendations in response to supplemental information. For several other projects, the necessary supplemental information remains outstanding; he requested authorization to finalize these recommendations after verifying that the requested design revisions have been made. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised appendix including authorization for the staff to finalize the outstanding recommendations based on anticipated supplemental information.
Mr. Luebke introduced the cases on the agenda for review by the Commission; he reported that an additional project in Georgetown—a proposal for tree fences submitted by the D.C. Department of Transportation—is listed on the agenda but has been withdrawn by the applicant (agenda item II.H.2). He suggested that, in consideration of the lengthy agenda, the Commission may wish to act on the bus facility submitted by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (agenda item II.G) based on review of the submission materials without the scheduled presentation; he noted that the project is too large to be eligible for inclusion on the Direct Submission Consent Calendar. Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the Southeastern Bus Garage and Maintenance Facility.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 21/OCT/10-1, Washington Monument grounds, 15th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. Visitor screening facility. Information presentation. (Previous: CFA 19/SEP/02-1.) Mr. Luebke introduced the information presentation on creating a screening facility for visitors to the interior of the Washington Monument, replacing the existing temporary structure that was installed in 2001 without Commission review. The screening facility would supplement the vehicular barrier system that was designed by the Olin Partnership and constructed in 2004-2005. He said that in February 2002 the Commission approved the preliminary concept for a below-grade screening facility that would be entered from a glass pavilion to be added to the rear of the Monument's historic Monument Lodge at 15th Street; a below-grade pedestrian tunnel would lead to the base of the Monument, and a small interpretive center would be included. However, in September 2002 the Commission did not approve a revised design for this project, questioning the appropriateness of the tunnel and the proposed 185-foot-long skylight that would have been inserted into the lawn of the Monument grounds. The new design effort includes five alternative strategies for creating a visitor screening facility, none of which include a long tunnel. He introduced Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation, and noted that Mr. Belle is recusing himself from this case due to his firm's involvement in the project.
Mr. May acknowledged the inappropriateness of the current visitor screening facility at this central location within the Mall. He said that the National Park Service is now able to renew the design effort to address this problem; the information presentation is being offered early in the design process to obtain the Commission's comments on several options. He introduced architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle to present the alternatives.
Mr. Hassan provided a brief historical overview of the Washington Monument and its grounds, as well as an analysis of the site and context. He noted the changes made to the Monument's foundation when construction resumed in 1878; the foundation has a stepped configuration with buttressing on all four sides. He also indicated the Monument Lodge, built of leftover stone from the Monument's construction. He presented photographs of the existing screening facility, describing it as unfortunate but a necessary requirement that has "impacted the simplicity and the purity of the Monument and its plaza." Ms. Nelson noted the small size of this facility and asked if it is sufficient for the visitor screening function; Mr. Hassan said it is barely sufficient in size and is undesirably located directly at the base of the Monument adjacent to its door.
Mr. Hassan emphasized the success of the Olin Partnership's design and said that a new project should be sensitive to this recent construction. He indicated the formal system of oval paths that resulted from this work, incorporating the site's perimeter security, and other paths on the Monument grounds. He indicated the elevated position of the plaza at the Monument's base; the plaza's surface is not visible to people approaching from lower elevations, and the plaza's extent is therefore initially expressed only by the ring of flags encircling it. He emphasized that the pure geometric forms of the composition—the square base of the historic Monument and the concentric circles of the modern plaza—result in a design that has a contemporary character of simplicity. He presented photographs illustrating the importance of mature trees in views of the Monument. He indicated the small paved area that was created around the Monument Lodge in conjunction with the recent path system, in anticipation of an addition at this location to accommodate visitors entering the Monument. He described the materials and textures at the site—historic and modern stone walls, the stone paving of the plaza, the paths, and the grass and other planted areas. He said that the new design work is maintaining this palette and not introducing new materials.
Mr. Hassan presented the five options for a new visitor screening facility. In Option A the screening facility would be located beneath the plaza, reached by ramps at the plaza's edge, and no changes would be made to the existing system of oval paths. Due to screening provided by the topography, the new construction would be only minimally visible in views from 15th Street. Visitors would be able to see the Monument's historic foundation as they move through the screening facility. Mr. Rybczynski asked if the project would include other facilities in addition to visitor screening; Mr. Hassan responded that only screening is proposed, with no other uses such as restrooms or a gift shop. Ms. Nelson asked about interpretive displays. Mr. Hassan said that the design has not yet been developed to address this, and the proposed area of the facility is limited, but some kind of interpretation could be feasible; he confirmed that information about the exposed foundation could be an example, and he noted the existing interpretive information within the Monument at the plaza level and toward the top. Mr. Rybczynski asked about the potential extent of an interpretive area; Mr. Hassan responded that its size could be very limited.
Mr. Hassan added that Option A provides the opportunity to leave the stone doors at the plaza-level base of the Monument permanently open with a glass infill, allowing visitors to view the existing interior lobby at any time without requiring a ticket or screening; outside of normal visiting hours, the elevator could be set at this level with both sets of doors open, allowing a view through the interior to the statue of George Washington on the lobby's west side. He said that this opportunity would enhance the experience of the many visitors who are not able to obtain a ticket for ascending the Monument's interior. He clarified that several of the options being presented would provide the opportunity for this visitor experience.
Mr. Hassan presented Option B, which introduces an east-west path from the Monument Lodge to the visitor screening facility entrance at the base of the Monument's plaza. He noted that such a path had existed historically but acknowledged that it would be out of character with the current system of oval paths, disrupting the simplicity of the landscape. The new path would follow the existing topography to rise halfway up the hill, and would then split: the center portion would descend to the visitor entrance, and the side paths would continue up to the plaza. He presented a view from 15th Street, indicating the visible portion of the new entrance and altered landscape. The view of the visitor entrance from the Monument Lodge would be partially screened by the topography, but the entrance would become more apparent when moving toward the Monument.
Option C is similar to Option B but the east-west path would be set within retaining walls and graded to reduce its visibility, with the entrance located within the landscape at a distance from the plaza edge. The disadvantage of this design is that the entrance experience would have the character of approaching the Monument through a sunken path and underground portal, while the purpose of the project should be to provide a more dignified entrance experience. He noted that the entrance would be visible in the distant view from 15th Street.
Mr. Hassan presented Option D, which would insert a descending ramp within the plaza to reach the visitor screening facility below; there would be no alteration of the landscape outside the plaza. Little or no change would be visible in distant views; however, people within the plaza would see the protective railing around the ramp, which could be designed as a glass railing.
Option E provides an at-grade screening facility on the plaza, rather than locating the facility below grade. Mr. Hassan acknowledged the geometric complexity of designing such a facility, which would need to reconcile the purity of the Monument's square form and the plaza's circular shape. The suggested form is a glass pavilion which visitors could enter from the south for screening, and then exit from the north after visiting the Monument's interior.
Mr. Hassan said that the five options provide a varied range from among the fifteen to eighteen that were studied; he acknowledged the assistance of the staff in consultation meetings. He said that the project team has no preference at this early stage and wants to hear the Commission's advice. Ms. Nelson expressed appreciation for the thoughtfulness of the options and the beauty of the drawings.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the current and proposed configuration of elevator service at the base of the building. Mr. Hassan confirmed that the elevator does not extend below the plaza-level entrance of the Monument, and alterations to the foundation would be necessary to extend the elevator to serve a below-grade level which is proposed in each alternative except Option E. Ms. Plater-Zyberk observed that all of the presented options would locate the new visitor entrance on the east side; she asked if any alternatives were studied that would place the entrance elsewhere, such as on the west side. Mr. Hassan responded that other directions for the entrance were briefly considered early in the design process and could be developed further, but the preference was to locate the entrance on the east side to correspond to the existing plaza-level door. He added that an additional problem is existing infrastructure beneath the north and west portions of the plaza, which may pose difficulties for the construction of a below-grade level in these areas.
Mr. McKinnell asked if the National Park Service foresees operational problems with any of the alternatives that have been developed. Mr. May responded that the Park Service has not yet studied the alternatives closely; Options A, B, C, and D appear to be similar for operational purposes, all involving a below-grade entrance in the same general location, while Option E may raise issues with the use of a glass structure to house security operations that might better be shielded from public view. He asked Steve Lorenzetti, the deputy superintendent for the park, to comment further. Mr. Lorenzetti confirmed that the transparency of the pavilion in Option E may be problematic, and the resulting design would likely be more opaque than is shown in this presentation. He added that Option E, placing the screening operation closer to the Monument entrance than any of the other options, may be problematic because it provides less time for security officials to respond to an intruder rushing toward the Monument's interior. He said that routine maintenance of the glass pavilion in Option E would be more difficult than the other alternatives due to the extent of glass walls; maintenance of the railing needed in Option D could also be a concern, depending how this design detail is developed, and the interruption of the plaza space at the base of the Monument in this option could also be a concern.
Mr. Rybczynski asked if the functions currently housed in the Monument Lodge would move into the new visitor screening facility. Mr. Lorenzetti said that the ticketing facility for visitors to the Monument is located at the Monument Lodge and the intention is not to relocate it. He emphasized that the program for the visitor screening facility is being kept to a minimum, in contrast to the proposal from 2002 which included a larger underground space containing restrooms, a gift shop, staging areas, and a student classroom area. He said the existing screening facility is very cramped, and the proposed facility will therefore be slightly larger but not by a large amount [later stated as 10,000 square feet compared to the current facility of approximately 1,000 square feet]. Ms. Nelson expressed support for this intention to minimize the program for the new screening facility.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if the 2002 design was considered as part of this new design exploration. Mr. Lorenzetti responded that the 2002 design was one of the numerous alternatives that were considered in developing the five that are being presented; in addition to the design problems of the long tunnel and intrusive skylight, subsequent legislation denied funding for construction of the long-tunnel solution, and the new options therefore do not use this configuration. He characterized Options A and B as simply forward extensions of the existing front door, and shifted to a lower level; he said the entrance experience in these options would be comparable to the existing plaza-level approach to the Monument's east doorway, whereas the 2002 design would have created a very different experience for entering the Monument. He added that the options being presented are probably more sympathetic with the recently built design from the Olin Partnership.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about potential concern with altering the Memorial's foundation to provide a new below-grade entrance route. Mr. Lorenzetti responded that the engineering issues were studied extensively in conjunction with the 2002 design, using an engineering firm that has been studying the Monument's foundations since the 1930s; the conclusion was that a below-grade entrance would be feasible. Ms. Nelson commented that Options B and C include prominent new paths that appear to interfere with the existing landscape design, while Option E may be problematic due to the creation of a permanent pavilion on the plaza.
Mr. Rybczynski expressed appreciation for the helpful range of options in the presentation, and supported the overall approach to the project. He offered a preference for Option A as the most compelling design direction, although it has an overly monumental character as currently depicted. Mr. McKinnell joined in supporting the "exemplary presentation," commenting that the images are both clear and beautiful. He said that the ideal solution would simply be the removal of the existing screening pavilion, although this solution apparently is not possible; the best feasible design would therefore be the one that least intrudes on the familiar visual form of the Monument. He said that Option D appears to be the least intrusive, because the descending ramp is not readily apparent until the visitor has already reached the Monument's plaza; the entrance to the interior would therefore be appropriately treated as an adjunct functional element for those who arrive at the Monument, not part of the view from a distance. He expressed confidence that the detailing of the entrance would be developed in an appropriately graceful manner.
Mr. Hassan responded with a further explanation of the principles underlying the options. Options A, D, and E bring visitors first to the Monument's plaza, and then to the entrance for interior visits. In some of these options, those not entering the interior would be able to view the historic interior lobby through the glass infill of the open doorway. For all visitors, arrival at the plaza would be an important destination; this would be consistent with the system of oval paths that is designed to bring visitors to the plaza. Mr. McKinnell commented that the entrance in Option A would nonetheless be visible from a distance, which would not occur in Option D. He emphasized the familiar visual sense of the Monument as a visually heavy object resting on solid ground; Option A would undermine this sense by creating a readily apparent visual opening beneath the Monument, while Option D would not result in this appearance because the opening would descend downward into the plaza. He said that this visual problem is difficult to solve and characterized Option D as an extraordinary solution.
Ms. Nelson commented that the Washington Monument serves as a visual icon for the nation and the city, while only a small number of people actually enter its interior for the ascent. She said that the primary purpose of the Monument's design setting should be as a national symbol rather than to serve the people who enter it; Mr. Rybczynski agreed.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked for further information about the historic east-west path between the Monument Lodge and the Monument, which might result in further consideration of Options B and C. Mr. Lorenzetti responded that the path was slightly north of the direct line between the two structures; the path became an automobile road that was used until 1959 by visitors driving onto the Monument's plaza. He added that the Monument Lodge was originally the house for a watchman, and is now used for restrooms as well as the ticketing facility.
Mr. Lorenzetti said that National Park Service representatives, accompanied by Mr. Hassan, recently presented these design options to landscape architect Laurie Olin; he said that Mr. Olin commented favorably on Option A as well as Option D, which he said would least affect his landscape design although it would alter his plaza design. Mr. Lorenzetti said that Mr. Olin suggested further study of the grading in Option A to create berms that would better screen the entrance in views from 15th Street, consistent with the topographic features of the overall landscape that he designed; the National Park Service intends to pursue this design suggestion. Ms. Nelson added that treating the entrance walls as green walls may also reduce their visual prominence. Mr. Lorenzetti added that the Park Service is considering a variety of materials in order to avoid the appearance of the new entrance area mimicking the character of the historic Monument. Mr. Hassan reiterated the design goal of not introducing new textures and said that the low barrier walls in the Olin Partnership design can serve as models for the treatment of walls associated with a new visitor entrance, establishing a general pattern of low walls with varying height that extend through the site and up to the plaza.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk expressed concern that the visible walls around the entrance in Option A would become larger as the design is developed and structural clearance dimensions are determined; the sketch, while showing a graceful design, suggests that the entrance would be only slightly taller than a person's height. She said that the new entrance elements in Option A would be much more extensive than the simple existing opening at the base of the Monument, questioning the desirability of placing such a large opening immediately beneath the Monument plaza and directly on axis. She agreed that Option D, with the entrance descending from the plaza, may be the least disruptive to views of the Monument. She said that the axial solution may be feasible if it is developed in a very minimal manner, emphasizing that the development of details for this project will be very important.
Mr. McKinnell said that any of the alternatives could be detailed beautifully; the important initial issue is the concept for the design. He said that any of the options that provide a lower-level entrance on the east axis of the Monument would introduce an ambiguity for the visitor of whether to approach that entrance or ascend to the Monument's plaza; detailing might emphasize or lessen this ambiguity, but the problem would be inherent to these concepts. He reiterated his preference for Option D due to its treatment of the entrance as an adjunct facility that is discovered upon reaching the plaza rather than seen from a distance, and therefore does not disturb the familiar established image of the Monument.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that one of the best features of the current plaza design is that its edge directly adjoins the grass of the landscape. He said that several options would introduce extensive railings along the edge of the plaza, for perhaps half its circumference, harming the beautiful open character of its edge; Option D would have a lesser extent of railings, located along the slot for the descending ramp.
Mr. Lorenzetti noted that post-and-chain fencing is currently located along the east and west faces of the plaza in order to discourage visitors from establishing trails within the grass; he acknowledged that a safety railing along a one-story vertical drop at the edge of the plaza would have to be more substantial in appearance. Mr. McKinnell said that the character of post-and-chain fencing is appropriate within a landscape, while a safety railing would have a much different character.
Vice-Chairman Nelson summarized the range of comments and the Commission's appreciation for the thoughtful presentation and desire for replacement of the existing screening facility with a more elegant design. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
2. CFA 21/OCT/10-2, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. Independence Avenue, SW, at the northwestern rim of the Tidal Basin. Revised attributions for inscriptions. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/SEP/10-3.) Mr. Luebke said that the revised submission addresses part of the series of outstanding design items requiring further review as a condition of the Commission's approval of the final design in September 2008. The submission includes the graphic layout of text to be inscribed on the memorial's walls, and revisions to the attribution text associated with the memorial's quotations from Dr. King. He introduced Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation; Mr. May asked Dr. Ed Jackson Jr., executive architect of the memorial's sponsoring foundation, to present the proposal.
Dr. Jackson summarized the Commission's concern in the previous month's review that the attribution text was too lengthy and should be limited to the city and year. He said that he presented this proposal to the Foundation's board the next day; one board member is from Birmingham, Michigan, which highlighted the problem of city names that are not unique to one place as some of the proposed quotations are associated with Birmingham, Alabama. The Foundation therefore proposes to identify the state, rather than the city, in conjunction with the year of the quotation; for the foreign location of Oslo, Norway, the country name would be used. He added that the attributions for quotations from Dr. King's written works would be shortened to only the year.
Dr. Jackson presented the overall layout of the inscriptions, including the identification of the memorial's name at each end of the nearly 600-foot-long inscription wall ensemble. He said that the size of the attribution text has been reduced and noted small corrections to the wording of two quotations.
Mr. Belle asked about the position of the text in relation to a person standing in front of the inscription wall. Dr. Jackson responded that the bottom of the text would be at the height of the upper part of an adult's body; Ms. Nelson noted that the text would therefore be above the height of small children. Dr. Jackson also clarified that for the panels containing the inscriptions, the height of the wall varies from two to twelve feet. Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted the importance of considering the entirety of the layout on a single drawing rather than only studying it in segments. Mr. May added that the lettering position within the panels has been adjusted from an earlier presentation in order to eliminate the placement of letters across the stone joints; he confirmed that this modification was already incorporated into the previous month's submission.
Mr. McKinnell commented that the inscriptions of the memorial's name may be unnecessary, because visitors will certainly be aware of the memorial's subject; he deferred to the Foundation's judgment of whether such identification signage is necessary. Dr. Jackson responded that the memorial's subject is not readily apparent at the entry points from the southwest and northeast; the identification inscriptions would be placed at these locations, and visitors would see this text first as they move toward the memorial's plaza. He said that the identification is intended to be very subtle, and at other entrance areas the identification text would be located on a curb rather than being elevated. He confirmed that the Foundation is satisfied with the proposed identification signage. Ms. Plater-Zyberk commented that the National Park Service need not add any further standardized identification signage in the area; Mr. Belle agreed. Mr. May responded that the signage incorporated into the memorial design would be sufficient.
Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the text and layout. Mr. Luebke noted that Nick Benson, the designer of the inscriptions who has previously presented to the Commission, was recently awarded one of the MacArthur Foundation's well-known "genius grants," announced the previous month; Vice-Chairman Nelson noted Mr. Benson's passion for his work.
C. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
Mr. Simon introduced Kaarina Budow of the U.S. Mint to present the next three submissions, which include alternative designs for two Congressional gold medals and the reverse designs for the next set of circulating quarters in the America the Beautiful series. He noted that the obverse of the quarters will remain unchanged, and the reverse designs follow a template that the Commission has previously reviewed.
Ms. Budow introduced John Mercanti, the Mint's chief engraver, who is visiting from Philadelphia and available to answer questions regarding artistry and the production process.
1. CFA 21/OCT/10-3, New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal to honor: Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., Michael Collins, and John H. Glenn, Jr. Design for a gold medal and bronze duplicates. Final. Ms. Budow noted that representatives of the National Aeronautics And Space Administration (NASA) are present to hear the Commission's comments and respond to technical questions. She summarized the authorizing legislation for the gold medals to be presented to four astronauts on the occasion of the recent 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing: John Glenn whose pioneering Mercury Atlas 6 earth orbit mission occurred in 1962, and the three astronauts of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission in 1969—Neil Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, and Michael Collins. The legislation emphasizes the importance of these astronauts in influencing future missions, contributing to the advancement of American science and technology, and inspiring the American people.
Ms. Budow said that the Mint consulted with NASA to develop the potential design elements of the medal, including the names and dates of the two missions and the phrases "We Came in Peace" and "First So Others Could Follow." The Mint's artists had flexibility in choosing which of these elements to use. She presented the four alternatives for the obverse design, each with the names and portraits of the four astronauts along with various combinations of text and depictions of the moon, earth, and the spacecraft. Vice-Chairman Nelson suggested continuing with the presentation of the reverse alternatives, so that the Commission could discuss them together. Ms. Budow described the themes for the reverse—peaceful exploration of space, and the role of the United States in breaking the boundaries of human exploration of space—and presented the seven alternative designs. She said that the preference of the honorees is for obverse #1 and reverse #7. She read excerpts of the statement from NASA describing the rationale for these preferences, including the obverse composition's depiction of the relationship between the two missions and the reverse's use of the two text mottoes to frame the scene of an astronaut on the moon looking toward the two spacecraft and the earth. She confirmed that the medals would have a diameter of three inches, as depicting in full size on the corner of each page in the submission materials.
Ms. Nelson acknowledged the preferences of the honorees but commented that reverse #7 does not appear to be drawn well. She expressed a preference for obverse #2 and reverse #2. She said that the collage-like composition technique, while conveying a lot of information, does not work well for the design of a medal—which she said should be iconic, clean, and clear. She said that reverse #2—showing the earth and moon from the viewpoint of an astronaut, and with the simple phrase "We Came in Peace" alongside—would be effectively paired with the simple forward-facing portraits of the astronauts on obverse #2. Mr. Belle agreed, commenting that the subject of the medal is quite complex and would best be conveyed through a simple compositional style which is not apparent in the alternatives.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk supported these comments while offering suggestions to improve the alternatives preferred by the honorees. She said that obverse #2 is appealing because of the simplicity of its composition, with the four portraits and the single additional element of the rockets in the background; she suggested that the surrounding text on this alternative be simplified by omitting the dates of the missions. She said that obverse #1 would be improved by simplifying the multiple elements in the lower part of the composition, such as by including only the moonscape. She supported reverse #1 and #2 as the simplest alternatives, and asked if the omitted phrase "First So Others Could Follow" should be included, perhaps replacing the phrase "Act of Congress 2009." Ms. Budow responded that the reference to Congress is traditionally included on such medals, although it is not required.
Mr. McKinnell supported obverse #1 due to the near-profile pose of the portraits, which he said is appropriate for the medal. He said that the repetition of the space capsule on the obverse and reverse would be problematic. Ms. Nelson supported the artistry of the profiles in obverse #1 but expressed concern with the shoulder and head of various astronauts protruding into the circular border of the medal, resulting in awkwardly resolved edges; she suggested revising the design to have a complete circle framing the design. Mr. Mercanti responded that the design of medals typically has more freedom and abstraction than the design of coins. Mr. Rybczynski supported obverse #1 and reverse #2, with simplification of obverse #1 by removing the capsule and earth which would both be depicted on reverse #2.
Ms. Budow introduced Bert Ulrich, a curator with NASA, to address the Commission's comments. Mr. Ulrich emphasized the advantage in obverse #1 of separating Mr. Glenn's portrait from those of the three Apollo 11 astronauts; the other obverse alternatives create the impression that all four astronauts were part of the same mission. He acknowledged the problem of depicting the same spacecraft on both the obverse and reverse, which he said would be resolved in finalizing the design.
Mr. Mercanti provided further comments on the alternatives. He said that the lunar landing capsule on reverse #2 is difficult to see, while reverses #1 and #4 provide the abstract character that is desired for modern medals. He supported obverse #1, acknowledging the busy design but commenting that its unusual composition is desirable for a medal.
Mr. Luebke noted that the two separate missions honored by the medal are most clearly conveyed in reverse #1; some of the other alternatives combine the elements of both missions into a single scene, giving the appearance of a battle between spaceships. Ms. Nelson questioned the two curved forms of reverse # 1, with the moon appearing to grow out of the earth; Ms. Budow responded that these would be depicted with different levels of relief. Ms. Plater-Zyberk added that the foreground capsule in reverse #1 appears out of scale, comparable in size to the moon, while the composition of reverse #2 is preferable because it does not suggest a scale comparison of the design elements. Ms. Budow responded that the design elements are intended to be sufficiently large to allow legibility and depiction of details; she emphasized that the medals can have more significant relief than is included on coins.
Vice-Chairman Nelson suggested that the Commission consider the strong preference of the honorees and support obverse #1 with simplification; Ms. Plater-Zyberk added that the simplification should eliminate the redundancy of design elements with the reverse. Vice-Chairman Nelson summarized the consensus of the Commission to support obverse #1 with the removal of the capsule and earth from the lower portion and simplification of the border, and reverse #2 . Ms. Plater-Zyberk emphasized the concept in this combination to depict the astronauts on the obverse and their missions on the reverse.
2. CFA 21/OCT/10-4, Congressional Gold Medal for Arnold Palmer. Design for a gold medal and bronze duplicates. Final. Ms. Budow summarized the authorizing legislation for a Congressional gold medal to honor Arnold Palmer in recognition of his service to the nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf. She summarized his career, family life, charitable work, and his popularity as a public figure. She presented the three alternatives for the obverse and four alternatives for the reverse. She said that Mr. Palmer prefers obverse design #1, depicting him while swinging a golf club, and reverse design #4 with a golf scene, crossed clubs, a ball, and several inscriptions describing the legislation and his competition victories.
Ms. Nelson supported the preferences of Mr. Palmer, commenting that the text on reverse #4 would appropriately summarize his achievements. She suggested that the golfing scene in the upper part of reverse #4 be simplified by removing the sun to provide more emphasis on the golfer's swing above a simple horizon line. Mr. Rybczynski suggested omitting this scene entirely, noting that obverse #1 would provide a similar depiction of golfing; this simplification would provide greater emphasis on the text of the authorizing legislation that describes his contributions beyond the statistics of his victories. Mr. Belle supported this recommendation. Ms. Plater-Zyberk agreed, suggesting that the lettering of the legislation text be enlarged to add emphasis, and further recommended that the obverse and reverse typefaces be coordinated. Mr. Belle said that this revised reverse composition would provide a good contrast with obverse #1.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk offered support for obverse #2, commenting that the overlap of image and text—such as on obverse #1—is disturbing and too informal for a medal that should be treated with more formality. Ms. Nelson noted the prevalence of this overlapping design technique. Mr. Belle noted that obverse #1 is Mr. Palmer's preference; Ms. Plater-Zyberk questioned whether that preference extends to having his hands obscure a portion of his name.
Vice-Chairman Nelson summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend obverse #1 with elimination of the overlapping elements, and reverse #4 with elimination of the upper golfing scene and enlargement of the legislative text, with further coordination of the obverse and reverse typefaces.
3. CFA 21/OCT/10-5, 2012 America's Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Program. Reverse designs for five coins: Puerto Rico, New Mexico, Maine, Hawaii, and Alaska. Final. (Previous: CFA 21/JAN/10-1.) Ms. Budow summarized the authorizing the legislation for the America the Beautiful series of 56 quarters depicting federally protected sites in each of the states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. She confirmed that the first coins in this series have already entered circulation. The sequence of coins is based on the chronology of establishing the depicted locations as federal sites.
El Yunque National Forest (Puerto Rico)
Ms. Budow presented the five alternative reverses depicting El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico; the subjects include the La Mina waterfall, tropical forest vegetation, a coqui frog, a local parrot, and an observation tower. She said that the depiction of the waterfall in alternatives #1 and #2 would be stylized with minimal detail and would be polished on the proof coins to convey the appearance of water. Ms. Nelson asked about the legibility of the frog in alternative #1; Ms. Budow confirmed that it would be emphasized through higher relief.
Mr. Belle supported alternatives #1 and #2 depicting the waterfall. Ms. Nelson agreed, commenting that the polished finish could be interesting; she expressed a preference for alternative #2 because it does not include the frog, resulting in a simpler design that is more appropriate for this small coin. She also supported alternative #4 due to the profile of the parrot, which is an important animal in the park. Ms. Budow responded that this coin is likely to be the only one in the series with the opportunity to feature a parrot. Ms. Plater-Zyberk supported alternative #4 as a unique depiction of this park, commenting that the waterfall in #1 and #2 is similar in appearance to waterfalls in other parts of the United States. Mr. Belle said that the frog and parrot are unique elements that should be included. Ms. Plater-Zyberk added that the foliage that is clearly depicted in #4 is also unique, and she emphasized that each coin should depict distinctive features that will not be repeated on other coins in this series; several Commission members agreed. Ms. Budow responded that the Mint is making an effort to choose distinctive elements in the overall context of the series.
Vice-Chairman Nelson summarized the Commission's consensus to recommend alternative #4 for El Yunque National Park. Ms. Plater-Zyberk added that a fern leaf toward the left side is awkwardly positioned behind the frog, appearing to emerge from it, and should be adjusted.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park (New Mexico)
Ms. Budow said that the park was originally established as Chaco Canyon National Monument in 1907, and was expanded and redesignated as an historical park in 1980 as the extent and sophistication of the Chaco civilization became better understood; the civilization flourished between 850 and 1200 A.D. and extended across a 40,000-square-mile area. The park protects the distinctive massive masonry ruins that survive, with complex architecture and exceptional planning, engineering, and execution. She presented the four alternative reverses depicting the Chaco structures and a prominent butte in the park.
Ms. Nelson acknowledged the challenge of depicting this park on a coin. She supported alternative #4, commenting that it captures the vastness of the natural setting as well as the human contribution of a Chaco structure. Several Commission members supported this preference, with no recommendation for modifications. Vice-Chairman Nelson summarized the Commission's consensus to recommend alternative #4 for Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Acadia National Park (Maine)
Ms. Budow presented the five alternative reverses for Acadia National Park, depicting various combinations of scenic beauty, an historic gatehouse along a carriage road, and the Bass Harbor Head lighthouse.
Ms. Nelson commented that the strongest alternative is #3, depicting the lighthouse atop a cliff; she said that the rocky coast is emblematic of Maine, and the lighthouse is an iconic feature of the park. Mr. McKinnell and Mr. Rybczynski supported this recommendation. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested that the composition be shifted to the right so that more of the ocean could be depicted on the left part of the coin; she said that the submitted design gives excessive emphasis to the rocks. Mr. Belle agreed, adding that the tree at the upper right edge of the design could be omitted.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk commented that alternative #2, depicting the rocky coast with ocean spray behind, is an iconic view that may not be legible on a coin. Ms. Budow noted that a lighthouse was included in the previous series of 50 state quarters, and officials of the park suggested that another design feature could be preferable. Ms. Plater-Zyberk acknowledged this concern but said that the ocean spray in #2 is too problematic in its rendering, resulting in her support for #3.
Vice-Chairman Nelson summarized the Commission's consensus to recommend alternative #3 for Acadia National Park, with the request to shift the composition in order to provide more space for the depiction of the ocean. Ms. Plater-Zyberk added that this shift would also move the lighthouse tower away from the center of the coin, appropriately reducing its importance in the composition.
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)
Ms. Budow described the park which extends from sea level to an elevation of nearly 14,000 feet, encompassing two active volcanoes as well as archaeological sites with significance to native Hawaiian culture. She presented the five alternative reverses with depictions of the volcanoes, lava flows, and native Hawaiian dances, noting that the stylized depictions of the lava flow would be polished on the proof coins to suggest the liquid state.
Ms. Nelson asked for clarification of the surface detailing in alternative #4, depicting an exploding volcano. Mr. Mercanti responded that the background would be textured, the mountain would be modeled, and the lava flow would be polished; he described the composition as very stylistic. Ms. Nelson asked about the relief treatment; Mr. Mercanti confirmed that the mountain would be raised above the background.
Ms. Nelson recommended alternative #4, commenting that this single image of a volcano would be the most compelling composition for the small coin, resulting in a unique and interesting design. Several Commission members agreed. Mr. McKinnell added that this alternative is perhaps the first presented to the Commission in recent years that has the stylization that is appropriate to coin design, rather than the more typical effort to convey a narrative. Vice-Chairman Nelson summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend alternative #4 for Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
Denali National Park (Alaska)
Ms. Budow said that the park was initially established as Mount McKinley National Park and was the first to be created as a wildlife refuge; the mountain itself was not included in the park until its boundaries were expanded in 1980. She presented the five alternative reverses depicting the mountain, a Dall sheep, and a hiker.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk recommended alternative #2, while Ms. Nelson supported #5 due to the high quality of the drawing; she questioned the composition of #2, with both the mountain and the sheep toward the center of the coin. She said that the composition in alternative #1 is more dynamic, but the sheep may be too small at the scale of the coin. Mr. Rybczynski supported #2 because the sheep is largest in this alternative; he commented on the simplicity of this design and said that the sheep could be shown even larger. Mr. Belle also supported #2. Ms. Nelson suggested that the background depiction of the mountain in the alternatives should be deemphasized because many coins will depict mountains which will be difficult for the public to distinguish. Ms. Budow responded that the mountain would be rendered in low relief, providing greater emphasis to the sheep; Ms. Nelson and Mr. McKinnell supported this design effect as helping to strengthen the composition. Ms. Budow agreed to convey the request to the artist to deemphasize the mountain by using low relief.
Vice-Chairman Nelson summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend alternative #2 for Denali National Park, with the suggestion to enlarge the depiction of the Dall sheep.
Mr. Luebke suggested a formal vote on the recommendations that were offered for all five America the Beautiful coins. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Mr. McKinnell, the Commission adopted the recommendations and comments that were provided during the discussion.
(Chairman Powell entered during the presentation of the following agenda item and presided over the remainder of the meeting.)
D. Department of State
1. CFA 21/OCT/10-6, Main Headquarters Building, 23rd and C streets, NW. Perimeter security barriers and streetscapes. Reaffirm concept for overall plan. (Previous: CFA 18/NOV/04-1, overall concept.)
2. CFA 21/OCT/10-7, Main Headquarters Building, 23rd and C streets, NW. Perimeter security barriers and streetscapes--Phase 1A (D Street) and Phase 1B (C Street). Final. (Previous: CFA 18/NOV/04-1, overall concept.)
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the two related submissions for the Department of State headquarters building. He said that the Commission had approved the concept plan for perimeter security and screening facilities in November 2004; because the Commission's approvals remain in effect for only four years and has expired, this overall concept plan is being resubmitted with updates for a renewed approval. The other submission is the final design proposal for the first implementation phases of this overall plan, including the north side and much of the south side of the building. He introduced Robert Sanders of the Department of State to begin the presentation.
Mr. Sanders said that this building has stringent level-five security requirements. The interior renovation includes hardening of the building, which will supplement the security provided by the proposed perimeter barrier and visitor entrance pavilions. He said that the phasing sequence is being coordinated with the interior renovation work and with the practical requirements for construction staging on this constrained site. Ms. Nelson asked if other Department of State facilities around the city have the same security requirements. Mr. Sanders responded that in the local area, the level-five designation applies only to this headquarters building; the recently completed Department of State facility across from the United Nations in New York is also a level-five building. He introduced architect Enrique Bellini of Karn Charuhas Chapman & Twohey and landscape architect Faye Harwell of Rhodeside & Harwell to present the design.
Mr. Bellini summarized the context and site conditions and described the existing building, which was built in phases in the 1940s and 1950s. He presented views of the existing conditions, indicating the temporary barriers, guard booths, and screening facilities around the site. He described the concept plan for the sitework, which he said is generally the same as the plan that was submitted and approved in 2004; he highlighted the several changes that are included in the current submission. Screening pavilions are proposed at five locations around the building, replacing the existing canopies. The east side along 21st Street would have permanent barriers, extensive landscaping, and a new guard booth and truck-inspection facility to replace the existing temporary treatment. C Street on the south would remain closed to public vehicular traffic and would be designed to have the character of a boulevard, extending the treatment of the block to the east between the two Federal Reserve buildings. The new south entrance pavilion would be aligned with 22nd Street, and the existing guard booth in this area would be eliminated. Along 23rd Street on the west, the existing temporary barriers would be replaced with permanent barriers and extensive landscaping. On the north along D Street, a new entrance pavilion is proposed, accommodating service by Department of State shuttle buses; a new small park would be provided for public use adjacent to 23rd Street. The curving highway ramp from the E Street expressway to Virginia Avenue would be realigned to address the dangerous existing configuration which combines faster-moving highway traffic and slower-moving shuttle buses.
Mr. Bellini described the changes from the 2004 concept plan. The corner signs for the building have been refined as the Commission had requested, and would be constructed of granite and stainless steel. The vehicular barrier design has been refined at several entrance locations. Two trees that were proposed for the east side of 21st Street at Virginia Avenue have been removed at the request of the National Capital Planning Commission, in order to avoid encroaching excessively on the view along 21st Street. The existing statue of Bernardo de Galvez in the park area to the north of the building, previously proposed for relocation, would instead remain in place. A previously proposed official parking lane along the south side of the building has been eliminated from the program; this portion of the site will be landscaped. Finally, the previously proposed recessed vehicular barriers within the 21st Street cartway have been eliminated from the proposal.
Ms. Nelson asked how diplomats would approach the building and form their first impressions of it. Mr. Bellini responded that the size and shape of each entrance is designed to support a particular use; the south entrance along C Street would continue to be the main diplomatic entrance and is the largest of the proposed security screening pavilions. He added that each of the five entrances would nonetheless be able to accommodate both employees and visitors, which is particularly important during the extensive construction process when an entrance will often be closed.
Mr. Bellini presented more detailed information on the elements of the perimeter security system, including the various types of bollards and their configuration within a fence at some locations. He said that the required security height of 39 inches can be slightly reduced when the bollard is located within two feet of a curb, which can contribute to the required height. He said that the retractable bollards at each end of C Street would generally remain in place except for major diplomatic visits, special occasions, or emergencies. Ms. Nelson asked about the material of the fence; Mr. Bellini responded that it would be made of stainless steel and granite. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the fence's alignment; Mr. Bellini said that the fence and bollards would be located two feet from the curb and would be designed in both solid and open configurations. He clarified that the barrier would be set within the landscaping area that is proposed along the curb; this location is proposed in order to provide the greatest feasible distance between the barrier and the building, which enhances the security. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if the barrier could be moved closer to the curb in order to avoid placing this feature in the middle of the landscaping strip. Ms. Nelson agreed, noting that the appearance of solid barrier elements emerging from the landscaping is odd. Mr. Bellini said that this proposal is illustrated in more detail in the proposed final submission in a later part of the presentation.
Mr. Bellini described the overall character of the proposed entrance pavilions. The materials will be granite, glass, and stainless steel; in addition, bronze would be used at the entrance to the 1940s portion of the building due to the use of bronze for doors and windows in this area. The proposed guardbooths would use the same palette of materials, and adjacent to some of the guardbooths would be small kennel structures for guard dogs.
Mr. Bellini described the proposed phasing; the initial phases include the western portion of the north frontage, and the south frontage with the exception of the C Street entrance pavilion will be part of a later phase. He noted that streetscape improvements will also likely be developed for 22nd Street extending southward from the Department of State to Constitution Avenue; this component is still being developed in conjunction with the two adjacent organizations—the American Pharmacists Association and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Two additional vehicular barriers will also be required on the NAS site in order to complete the perimeter protection for the Department of State, due to the vehicular access configuration; these barriers will be submitted separately.
Ms. Harwell presented the more detailed final design proposal for the first phases of the perimeter security project, including a set of material samples. She said that the plantings are intended to make the site more humane and comfortable than it is now. Existing trees would be retained where feasible but many would need to be removed due to the construction of bollards. The proposed plantings have been coordinated with the General Services Administration (GSA) and further refinements may be considered based on consultation with GSA's new horticulturist. She said that the alternation of barrier walls and openings would resemble the recently constructed barrier at the National Museum of American History. She described the proposed materials, including granite at the curb-cuts and two-foot-square precast concrete pavers for the sidewalks. Where a barrier wall is near the street, granite pavers would be placed along the curb to accommodate people getting out of cars and to provide an improved setting for the base of the wall; the planting area would be on the other side of the barrier. The proposed fence configuration would have planting on both sides and has horizontal railings toward the curb side of the bollards; she said that these details are still being studied and could be revised. She added that the height of the plants would be low due to security concerns. She indicated the delta barriers that are tolerated in the design in their standard form, and the standard D.C. streetlights that will be used for both C and D Streets. The proposed benches would be stainless steel with a two-sided configuration; the benches would be either surface-mounted or placed on a granite slab. The corner signage structures would incorporate bollards within their design. She said that the design of elements in the D Street park is kept very simple in order to emphasize the plantings. The proposed paving near the entrance pavilions is treated as an extension of the interior floor paving. She described the proposed green roof on the D Street entrance pavilion, adjacent to the lobby skylights; the plantings would be small, with a soil depth of approximately four inches.
Mr. Bellini described the proposed D Street entrance pavilion in more detail; the design includes a main pavilion and a lower skylit connecting link that will suggest the appearance of the main pavilion floating separately from the building. He indicated the existing entrance canopy and said that the new pavilion would be in the same location and would be somewhat larger to accommodate the programmatic requirements. Employees would enter in the center to reach the existing building lobby; visitors will enter from either side of the pavilion for additional screening. The exterior would be granite with two types of finish; the interior would be black and white terrazzo.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that the renewed submission of the overall concept plan appears straightforward. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that the proposed green roof on the D Street entrance pavilion results in a heavy appearance for this roof, contradicting the intended floating appearance which was described in the presentation and was characteristic of the original canopy at this location that would be removed. Mr. Bellini acknowledged that the green roof results in a roof structure that is deeper than the original canopy but said that sustainability features are desirable, and the Department of State wants this design to establish a precedent for future projects. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that a change from the existing canopy design would be acceptable but the visual weight of the roof structure should nonetheless appear to be appropriately supported by the pavilion beneath; the proposal instead shows a heavy roof above a light and delicate base. Mr. Rybczynski said that elimination of the green roof might allow for reducing the depth of the roof structure; Mr. Bellini responded that this could be partially achieved, subject to the depth requirements of the mechanical system. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked how the proposed cantilevered edge of the pavilion roof compares to the existing canopy edge; Mr. Bellini said that they have very similar profiles of approximately eleven inches as well as comparable lengths from the column line to the edge of the cantilever. Mr. McKinnell asked if the depth of the green roof could be accommodated by lowering the ceiling within the pavilion rather than raising the roof profile. Mr. Bellini offered to study this option, noting the problem of mechanical systems and major beams that would be located within the roof structure. He said that the use of glass for the pavilion walls is part of the security requirement, resulting in somewhat inefficient thermal performance that necessitates a substantial air-handling system. Mr. Sanders added that GSA's chief architect, Leslie Shepherd, reviewed the design of this project and recommended raising the ceiling height and configuring the ceiling as a continuous horizontal plane extending between the interior and exterior; the design was revised to incorporate these recommendations. Mr. Bellini said that these refinements resulted in expressing the structural beams rather than containing them within a deeper ceiling structure.
Ms. Nelson asked whether the purpose of proposing the green roof is to gain points in the LEED environmental rating system; she said that design decisions based on such scoring systems can be problematic. Mr. Belle agreed, commenting that the price of earning this points is too high. Mr. Sanders acknowledged the complex issues of promoting sustainability and LEED certification, including the difficult targets that have been established by Executive Order; he said that eliminating the green roof would make the sustainability scoring target even more difficult to achieve. He emphasized that the proposed green roof makes a worthwhile statement even if it could also be characterized as "gratuitous." He noted that Department of State employees move frequently between the headquarters building and numerous other facilities around the world, and the presence of this green roof outside some office windows may influence the design decisions that are made worldwide. Mr. Belle reiterated that the problematic visual effect of the green roof outweighs its benefits. Chairman Powell observed that the planted surface of the roof would not be visible from the street and therefore would not provide any direct benefit to pedestrians nor people in vehicles. Mr. Luebke clarified that elimination of the green roof would not eliminate the need for the secondary parapet, but would reduce its depth. Mr. Bellini said that the depth reduction could be significant, particularly from distant viewing angles
Mr. McKinnell said that the Commission's concern with the entrance pavilion design relates to respecting the very handsome character of this 1950s portion of the headquarters building; he said that this period of architectural history is now being restudied and its beauty and character are being better understood. The aesthetic of the time was a floating entrance feature, while the proposed pavilion is contrary to that intention and instead appears heavy due to the thick parapet. He acknowledged that an enclosed pavilion would not be able to achieve the same floating character as the original entrance canopy but said that a thinner roof structure would be "less clunky" and more consistent with the original design. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that this could be achieved by eliminating the green roof component of the design, or by reconfiguring the areas of green roof in relation to the structural requirements below in order to reduce the overall depth required for the roof structure. She emphasized that the design as proposed is not an acceptable resolution of these issues.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk raised an additional concern with the paving details: the presentation described precast concrete pavers for the sidewalks, and granite pavers between the barrier wall and curb as shown on drawing 4-E; drawing 4-D, however, suggests that all such paving would be concrete. She recommended uniform concrete paving as a preferable design choice, with granite to be used for vertical rather than horizontal surfaces. She also commented that the closely spaced configuration of ramps near the street intersections could result in dangerous sidewalk geometries, and suggested that a simpler enlarged ramp configuration be used at these locations. Mr. Bellini responded that the design previously had this arrangement, but the Department of Transportation insisted that this be changed to the two-ramp configuration to avoid directing wheelchair users toward the middle of the intersection. Several Commission members questioned this direction; Ms. Harwell agreed but said that the D.C. officials were very specific about the configuration that they require. Chairman Powell said that the Commission may nonetheless wish to raise this concern as part of its action.
Ms. Nelson and Mr. Belle noted the Commission's concern earlier in the discussion with the placement of bollards within landscaping. Ms. Harwell offered the solution of including pavers—concrete instead of granite, in accordance with the Commission's preference—between the curb and the line of bollards, to correspond with the similar paving detail proposed between the curb and barrier walls; this would eliminate the appearance of bollards emerging from an entirely planted setting. Ms. Nelson agreed that this solution would address the Commission's concern.
Ms. Nelson questioned the proposal to include standard delta barriers in the project. She noted that such barriers are present at U.S. embassies around the world, and the Department of State could take the opportunity to develop an improved design that could be used at our embassies as well as at the headquarters building. Ms. Harwell and Mr. Bellini offered to consider this suggestion in consultation with Department of State officials. Mr. Bellini noted that the proposed barrier design is the shortest and least obtrusive of the options currently recognized as providing sufficient security; a more objectionable design had been included in the earliest stages of the project. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested that the barrier at least be painted black, commenting that it will be readily apparent even without a brighter color. Ms. Nelson added that the barrier would effectively stop a vehicle regardless of its color; she added that the proposed striping gives the appearance of a construction site.
Mr. Sanders introduced Joseph Zaranka, from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the Department of State, to respond to the concern with the delta barriers. Mr. Zaranka said that these barriers need to be clearly marked due to occasional problems of pedestrians walking into them or being unaware that the barriers are being operated. Sirens are also used to identify the operation of the barriers, but nonetheless people sometimes do not notice them. Ms. Nelson emphasized that these barriers are large elements within the sidewalk. Mr. McKinnell suggested that retractable bollards be used. Mr. Zaranka noted that the proposed barriers would be retractable but are not in the form of bollards; he said that this is due to maintenance and operational concerns, with delta-barriers being more resilient than bollards. Ms. Nelson cited the retractable bollards at the White House and suggested that a designer of delta barriers could produce an improved proposal. Ms. Plater-Zyberk added that the issue involves not only aesthetics but also the image of the nation; Ms. Nelson agreed, adding that the typical delta barrier design at U.S. embassies suggests a fortress-like appearance and undermines the diplomatic goal of establishing friendship between nations. Mr. Zaranka offered to study this design further. Mr. Bellini added that the delta barriers are located at the front of the vehicle checkpoints, a significant distance from the primary streets and sidewalks around the site; he acknowledged that pedestrians would nonetheless have the opportunity to walk very close to the barriers.
Mr. McKinnell said that the important broader issue raised by the Commission's comments is the public perception of the Department of State, both at the headquarters and at embassies abroad. This project embraces the issue of perception by including an inconsequential green roof on an entrance pavilion, while not considering the public perception of the delta barriers which will be very visible sidewalk elements that send people a powerful negative message. He emphasized that these issues extend to U.S. embassies worldwide, citing his own experience designing three embassies which involved working within significant security-related design constraints. He reiterated the serious ongoing problem of how the nation represents itself through architecture.
Chairman Powell suggested separate motions on the two components of the submission. Mr. Luebke summarized the Commission's concerns that pertain to the overall concept plan, including the design of delta barriers and bollard treatments; the remaining comments concern particular features of the final design submission, such as the D Street entrance canopy and details of the barrier design and paving materials. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. McKinnell, the Commission reaffirmed its 2004 approval of the concept plan including the subsequent revisions. For the recommended further study of the final submission, the Commission considered delegating subsequent review to the staff but decided that it would be important to have the revisions presented for further Commission review. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission requested a revised submission of the final design proposal to address the concerns that were raised.
Chairman Powell commented that the National Gallery of Art was able to find a relatively elegant delta-barrier design; the barrier was installed approximately two years ago, and it provides sufficient security protection with reasonable cost. He offered to arrange for Department of State officials to see it and obtain more information about it. Mr. Lindstrom said that the Commission staff is aware of the National Gallery's barrier and has recommended its design to others.
E. General Services Administration
CFA 21/OCT/10-8, GSA Headquarters Building, 1800 F Street, NW. Building modifications and additions for retail space. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 17/JUN/10-3.) Ms. Batcheler summarized the Commission's comments from the previous review in June 2010 of the proposed retail bays on the E Street facade of the General Services Administration (GSA) headquarters building: the Commission generally supported the concept of adding retail use along this facade but suggested further study of the design of the retail bays to clarify their relationship to the historic building architecture and the proposed glass-walled infill structures to be placed within the building's open courtyards; the Commission also requested more detailed study of how the bays would intersect the existing window openings of the historic building. She introduced Mike McGill of GSA to begin the presentation.
Mr. McGill said that GSA is establishing a new Office of Planning and Design Quality within the National Capital Region division, to begin operation the following week; the reorganization will consolidate the design, environmental, and historic preservation work into a single office that will work closely with the Commission and its staff, and will emphasize the importance of planning and design for GSA. He added that GSA employees for the National Capital Region will gradually be consolidated into the GSA headquarters building upon completion of the current renovation project. Mr. Luebke noted that this consolidation would involve vacating the current GSA regional office building at 7th and D Streets, SW; Mr. McGill confirmed that the regional building would become available for other purposes.
Mr. McGill said that the previous submission for the E Street facade of the GSA headquarters building included two alternatives: one with retail uses, and one without. GSA has now decided to proceed with the proposal to introduce retail uses. He said that the design solution for creating retail storefronts has involved extensive consultation with the staffs of the Commission, the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, and the National Capital Planning Commission. He introduced architect Shalom Baranes of Shalom Baranes Associates to present the proposed design.
Mr. Baranes summarized the existing conditions and previous approvals for modifications to the building. He indicated the existing small elevated entrance on the E Street facade, which he said is not often used. A submission several years ago included an enlarged E Street entrance with ramped access, while not significantly altering the remainder of the facade. The submission in June 2010 included a different configuration of this E Street entrance to accommodate the introduction of retail bays. In addition to the Commission's comments on this proposal, other review agencies provided comments on the retail bays; the concerns included excessive height and an overly large scale for the bays, and obscuring too much of the existing stone facade at the ground level. He noted the intention to pursue the current proposal including retail space along E Street, superseding the alternative designs without retail that were previously submitted for Commission review.
Mr. Baranes described the revisions to the previously reviewed design. The tops of the retail bays were previously aligned at a constant height matching an existing belt course; with the sidewalk sloping approximately three feet across the retail frontage, the resulting height of the bays varied from fifteen feet to more than eighteen feet. The bay size was studied further in response to the concerns about scale, and a preferred height of fifteen feet was identified to accommodate a flexible range of retail requirements including restaurant storefronts that could be opened entirely. The revised design maintains a bay height of approximately fifteen feet; each group of bays would reach different coursing levels on the facade. He said that the height relationship between the bays and pedestrians would therefore be relatively consistent, and the height of the proposed entrance to the building would appear more monumental in relation to the bays, appropriately marking this central feature. He noted that some bays would terminate below the existing window toward the eastern end of the facade, resulting in a transom window configuration; the upper portions of the window openings toward the western end of the facade would be encapsulated by the bays. An additional change was to reduce the width of the bays to allow more of the existing exterior wall to remain exposed. A third change was to revise the design character of the bays in response to the Commission's comments; the metal framing system has been simplified to reduce the complexity of shadow lines, and reveals rather than projections between framing elements would be used to generate visual interest. The design character of the bays is now lighter to relate more directly to the curtainwall facades of the planned courtyard infill additions, with less similarity to the historic building's stone and window detailing. He also indicated that perimeter security elements have generally been eliminated from the design around the entire building; the only elements remaining in the proposal would be retractable bollards at the two service entrances along E Street that lead into the building's courtyards. He said that GSA is satisfied that the existing areaway around the building will provide sufficient protection, making another barrier layer unnecessary; GSA's decision to introduce retail space into the building also corresponds to a more flexible concept of security requirements.
Mr. Belle asked for further information on the size of the retail bays. Mr. Baranes responded that the bays would be approximately forty feet wide and would project eight to ten feet beyond the property line; the interior height would be 13.5 feet. Mr. Belle asked how this width could be adjusted for varying retail space requirements. Mr. Baranes indicated the articulation of the each retail bay into three segments, each of which could accommodate a separate entrance; therefore any of the retail areas—which range in size from 2,800 to 3,900 square feet—could be divided into several separate spaces. Ms. Nelson asked about parking; Mr. Baranes confirmed that street parking is available along E Street.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted the Commission's previous concern with the intersection of the retail bays with the existing windows, which are grouped in pairs; she asked for clarification of how the clerestory window configuration would be designed. Mr. Baranes responded that this detail has not been drawn but would involve removal of alternate piers and the introduction of a steel frame on which the remaining stone would rest. He said that this detail was not included in the submission because it would be on the interior. Mr. Belle commented that this detail is important to the design; Ms. Plater-Zyberk added that this detail will affect the perception of the building from the exterior. She supported the revision to the bay heights, noting that this had not been a previous concern of the Commission, and suggested that the resulting clerestories of varying heights be closed off to avoid having to address a messy and inconsistent condition in the facade design; the result could then be a solid beam into which each bay is framed. She clarified that the infill of the windows could be stone panels that are either flush or recessed from the surrounding stone wall. She emphasized the complexity of detailing the varying window configurations and the unsatisfactory situation of a masonry pier resting on a steel plate. Mr. Baranes responded that this design approach is different than that recommended by the D.C. Historic Preservation Office staff, which recommended retaining some legibility of the original facade condition rather than filling in the window openings with stone. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that this design approach could be pursued, and should result in developing an appropriate base on which the masonry pier would rest; the solution should relate to the character of the building and of the materials. She acknowledged that the existing construction is likely steel frame with a stone veneer, but emphasized that it is designed to convey the appearance of the stone's weight being carried downward, and this design aesthetic should be maintained.
Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission had requested further study of this facade detail at the previous review, and the lack of a well-documented design proposal is problematic; he added that this problem extends to other issues raised by the Commission such as the relation of the proposed bays to the curb, property line, and areaway.
Mr. Belle commented that the location of air-handling equipment may be an additional factor affecting the design of the bays; he noted the functional need to locate vents close to the glass facades of the retail spaces. The most likely place for associated ducts may be in a soffit of the type described by Ms. Plater-Zyberk. Mr. Baranes responded that the bays would include a ceiling space with sufficient depth for structure and air-handling requirements. He confirmed that the vents would be directly behind the glass facades of the proposed bays.
Mr. Rybczynski asked about the treatment of the existing windows toward the western end of the retail frontage, where the windows would be completely enclosed within the bays. Mr. Baranes said that the proposal is to insert a simple lintel to support the upper stone pier; this detail would occur ten feet behind the new facade but would be visible from the exterior through the glass. Mr. Rybczynski asked if a small portion of the window would remain above the lintel; Mr. Baranes clarified that an opening would remain but the window would be removed. Mr. Rybczynski tried to compare more carefully the treatment of the window openings at the various bay height conditions, concluding that more information is necessary in order for the Commission to understand the proposal. Ms. Plater-Zyberk agreed, noting that the design results in four different height conditions; she recommended further study of these details. Mr. Baranes noted that the elevation provides a simple line-drawing depiction of these different conditions. The Commission members studied the elevation further; Ms. Plater-Zyberk emphasized that the drawing scale is too small to convey the varying conditions of the details. Mr. Belle said that critical drawings are not available, such as sections through the retail bay facades.
Mr. McKinnell recalled the Commission's previous support for the curtainwall infill facades as an effective contrast to the heaviness of the existing limestone building, and the suggestion to use a similarly modern vocabulary for the new retail bays. He said that the revised design for the bays continues to be heavy in appearance and—like the State Department entrance pavilion that was reviewed earlier in the meeting—the roof structure appears heavy and overemphasized. He said that the heaviness is exacerbated by the overhanging exterior elements in the bay design and the substantially size of the vertical mullions in the retail bays, which are shown in the elevation but are not apparent in the perspective views. He suggested further study of the design character, noting the potentially attractive relationship of the recessed infill facades and the protruding bays as a lightweight contrast to the historic stone building.
Mr. Baranes responded that the mullions in the retail bays are designed to be large enough to accommodate the attachment of folding doors for restaurants that may want to open their seating areas to the outdoors. He said that another issue is the D.C. government requirement that these bays extending into the public right-of-way be removable upon request within 24 hours; the design solution to this requirement is a modular system of pieces that can be lifted from hooks and trucked away if necessary, resulting in substantial structural framing that could be supplemented by temporary cross-braces. He said that elimination of this government requirement would allow for reduced framing in the bays. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked how the voids in the facade would be treated if the bays are removed; Mr. Baranes responded that he is not aware of the D.C. government ever actually requiring removal of such structures, but nonetheless the design must accommodate the potential for removal. He added that the apparent reasons for the requirement include accommodating the placement of utilities beneath a sidewalk, or allowing for construction of a Metro tunnel close to the face of a building. Mr. Belle commented that the willingness to bear the expense of addressing these requirements suggests that a surprisingly high value is being placed on providing retail space at this location. Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted that there is a vast number of people in the area but no nearby retail space; Mr. Baranes confirmed this characterization, noting that the area has approximately 50,000 federal employees. Chairman Powell noted the nearby office building for a labor union, which recently proposed adding a restaurant in its ground floor.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk summarized the Commission's support for introducing retail space along E Street—which was one of two options in the previous submission and is now the only proposed option—and continuing concern with the design of the retail bays. Ms. Nelson questioned the proposed stepped heights of the retail bays, commenting that the variety of upper window configurations would be awkward. Ms. Plater-Zyberk agreed that the tops of the bays should consistently align with a horizontal band on the facade; she noted that one obvious architectural purpose of such bands is to accommodate this type of change to a building. Mr. Baranes responded that this configuration would result in varying proportions of the bays, with the shortest one appearing squat and inelegant. Mr. McKinnell suggested that a higher point be chosen for aligning the tops of the bays, such as using the highest bay of the current multi-height submission; this would be similar to the previous proposal, which Mr. Baranes said was unsatisfactory to the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. Mr. Luebke suggested that the staff discuss this issue with the other agencies involved; Chairman Powell supported this suggestion in order to avoid an unresolvable conflict in the design process. Mr. Rybczynski and Mr. Powell confirmed their support for a consistent alignment of the tops of the retail bays; Mr. Powell also supported Ms. Plater-Zyberk's suggestion to simply fill in the window openings where necessary. Ms. Plater-Zyberk added that the desire to preserve a sense of the existing window openings—like the desire for a green roof in the State Department project—has become overemphasized as a goal that interferes with the overall success of the design; she encouraged further staff-level dialogue among the review agencies. Chairman Powell noted that the question of the bays being too tall is another issue that needs coordination among agencies; the Commission appears satisfied with taller bays while the National Capital Planning Commission staff had objections.
Mr. Baranes asked for the Commission's response to the simplified details of the proposed retail bays, resulting in a flatter facade with a more modern character which he understood to be the Commission's guidance. Ms. Plater-Zyberk reiterated the Commission's advice to relate the bays to the planned courtyard infill facades but said that the scale of the submitted drawings is too small to provide a basis for evaluating whether the proposed revision is satisfactory. Mr. McKinnell commented that the design is moving in the desired direction toward a lighter character, which could be achieved even as the overall proportions of the bays become more vertical. He emphasized his support for the ongoing development of the design; Chairman Powell said that the Commission members share this encouragement.
Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's guidance to work with the staffs of the review agencies to resolve conflicting guidance, and to provide a further concept submission for review. He acknowledged the potential frustration of the complex review process and emphasized the Commission's support for the overall improvement in the design. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
F. District of Columbia Courts
CFA 21/OCT/10-9, The H. Carl Moultrie I Courthouse. 500 Indiana Avenue, NW. Building addition and site modifications. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/FEB/09-a.) Mr. Lindstrom asked architect Michael Kazan of Gruzen Samton to present the proposed addition to the south face of the Moultrie Courthouse. Mr. Kazan introduced other members of the design team who will be participating in the presentation: architect Scott Keller of Gruzen Samton and landscape architect Roger Courtenay of AECOM.
Mr. Kazan acknowledged the assistance of the staff in bringing together the multiple agencies involved in the review of the building addition and related sitework; the submitted design responds to the concerns of these agencies. He said that the proposed addition, a "lamination" to the Moultrie Courthouse, has been under consideration for nine years as part of a comprehensive master-planning effort by the D.C. Courts. Federal legislation in 2001, the Family Court Act, called for the development of a consolidated Family Court facility; this goal resulted in an overall reorganization and renovation effort for the several D.C. Courts buildings around Judiciary Square, including the rehabilitation of the vacant Old City Hall which now houses the D.C. Court of Appeals. The master plan identified the Moultrie Courthouse as the best location for the Family Court due to the existing support functions in the building. Activities in the Moultrie Courthouse that did not require such support—including the Probate Court and Small Claims Court—have been moved to other buildings as renovation occurs; this provides the flexibility within the Moultrie Courthouse to undertake the currently proposed addition to accommodate the Family Court.
Mr. Kazan said that the Commission, along with the National Capital Planning Commission, had recommended during the master planning process that the D.C. Courts take the lead in planning for the entirety of Judiciary Square including the Moultrie Courthouse; the goal has been to create an overall environment that provides an appropriate setting for the courts and the public space. He said that the master plan—including the proposal for the addition to the south side of the Moultrie Courthouse—was approved in August 2005, and implementation has been ongoing since that time.
Mr. Kazan said that the six-story addition would be the final phase for accommodating the Family Court and would include 111,000 square feet of new construction plus the renovation of 65,000 square feet on the south side of the existing building. The program includes Family Court office space and courtrooms, as well as support functions such as jury and childcare facilities.
Mr. Keller said that the design process included several major issues: resolution of the complex internal configuration and adjacency requirements of the court operations; development of an appropriate architectural language for adding to the existing building; relating the project to the context of C Street and more widely to the overall Judiciary Square area; incorporating principles of sustainable design; and creating a "wonderful" new space for the courts. He described several existing conditions that affect the design of the addition. The courthouse's main entrance is on the north side, facing Indiana Avenue at Fifth Street. The grade descends approximately thirty feet toward the south side, and the new C Street entrance will therefore be significantly below the main entrance level. On the south side of the street, the Canadian embassy is set back thirty feet south of the property line, while the recently constructed Newseum is directly at the property line and reintroduces a tighter definition of the street wall. He noted the varying functions on the C Street side of these buildings, including offices, multiple loading docks, and residential space. He described John Marshall Park to the southeast as a very beautiful plaza; the courthouse addition is designed to respect it by setting back from the existing building's southeast corner to maintain the existing views and character of the park.
Mr. Keller described the characteristics of the existing building. He noted its large size, typical for courthouses, and its facades—which appear to be concrete—are actually limestone. The massing is articulated by pulling various elements out of the main block of the building; the proposed height of the addition would match the height of some of these existing projecting elements. The addition would continue the existing building's module of slightly under four feet as part of the office layout configuration; the relatively shallow depth of the addition is sufficient for most of the required office functions. However, the courtrooms require much deeper space; the proposed configuration is to create four courtrooms stacked on two levels toward the southeast corner of the building, connecting to the existing service circulation system and adding new public circulation that would become a distinct two-story-high element of the south facade. The main entrance would remain at Indiana Avenue; a C Street entrance would be included in the addition, with anticipated use primarily by employees arriving from the Archives Metro station.
Mr. Keller described additional features of the proposed addition. The design includes a recessed ground floor to provide a trellised garden along C Street; the main facade of the addition would begin one level above. The length of the addition's facade would be relieved by the projecting two-story public circulation area for the new courtrooms, including an open interior stair that would be visible from the street; and by notching and a small garden at the jury room that would be aligned with the axis of the C Street and Indiana Avenue entrances. He said that this would be a subtle but effective design that would make the key public elements apparent to people approaching the building, while not introducing an inappropriately glorified facade to C Street. He described the C Street entrance in more detail: the new lobby and screening area entered directly from the sidewalk level, which is not aligned with the existing building's floors; beyond the security screening, an internal ramp and stairs would descend four feet down to the existing building's "C" level and therefore no ramping would be needed on the exterior. Above the lobby, the double-height public circulation space for the new courtrooms would be reached directly from the building's main atrium at the Indiana Avenue entrance level. He indicated the dispersed seating areas and views outward from the interior public spaces as well as their design features that would be seen from the street and John Marshall Park. He emphasized the transparency of the facades at these public areas with ample light, air, and views—which will be welcome amenities for people waiting to enter the courtrooms under sometimes difficult circumstances. The curtainwall facade would include vertical fins attached to the mullions, providing the facade with a greater sense of solidity when viewed obliquely and helping to reflect sunlight deeper into the building. A light shelf would similarly help to direct sunlight into the building while providing shading for the windows immediately below. He indicated the extensive areas of judges' chambers which are nearly identical in size to those of the existing courthouse, noting that the equal size is an important consideration for the judges.
Mr. Keller presented perspective views of the proposal. The addition would be set back from the existing building's corners which would continue to be legible when viewed from Pennsylvania Avenue and John Marshall Park. The significant view southward from the Old City Hall terrace would be unaffected by the proposal.
Mr. Keller described several the sustainability features of the design. A green roof would be provided on the addition where visible from existing office windows, and the roof would also include solar panels. The light shelves would work in conjunction with the ceiling and clerestory windows to bring daylight deep into the rooms of the judges' chambers. Light shelves adjacent to the courtrooms would bring indirect sunlight and a sense of space to these interior rooms. The exterior fins would improve the quality of light in the interior rooms. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked why the section drawing at the courtroom entrance areas indicates a dropped ceiling above the public circulation space. Mr. Keller responded that the ceiling is required to prevent people in the hallway from holding something up that would be visible within the courtroom, and similarly to provide better acoustic separation between the hallway and courtrooms; he added that some of the section drawings may not be fully accurate. He asked Mr. Courtenay to describe further sustainability features that extend into the site design.
Mr. Courtenay described several issues that the site plan needs to address, primarily at the C Street frontage. The building's interior "C" level is generally below the C Street sidewalk level, and a sunken garden is therefore proposed to provide for views from windows. The proposed C Street entrance is aligned with the sidewalk height, resulting in a bridged walkway across the sunken garden. The C Street sidewalk itself has a slope of approximately five feet across the site. The courthouse, like others in Judiciary Square, requires a perimeter security barrier. Finally, the character of C Street is in need of improvement; he noted that this segment of the street is only a few blocks long and is terminated at each end, with many loading docks for major buildings.
Mr. Courtenay described the features of the proposed site design. A ten-foot-wide sidewalk would be provided, and street trees would be integrated with low-impact-development techniques to filter stormwater through the tree pits. Perimeter security would be located at the back of the sidewalk so that the public realm would be as extensive as possible; landscaping would be placed alongside the building. The sunken garden along C Street would include groundcover planting and small flowering trees, and is intended primarily for viewing rather than for general public access. He said that the C Street cartway is currently placed asymmetrically within the historic right-of-way; the north curb line would be adjusted to narrow the cartway and eliminate this asymmetry. The result would be a 38-foot-wide cartway with a driving lane and parking lane on each side. The north curb would be approximately forty feet from the addition's ground-level facade and fifteen to sixteen feet from the line of the cantilevered upper stories, providing the required amount of blast security distance for a facility of this type. The barrier behind the sidewalk would be what he called a "fence-wall" consisting of segments of stone-clad wall and fencing incorporating bollards into the design. He noted that the bollard spacing is currently shown as five feet which does not correspond to the building module of nearly four feet; these dimensions will be studied further. He said that the modulation along the length of the fence-wall would help to animate the streetscape. Street trees and streetlights would conform to D.C. government standards; he clarified that the streetlights would not be hardened to serve as part of the perimeter security barrier. Ms. Nelson asked about other exterior lighting for the building; Mr. Courtenay responded that the C Street entrance would be lit, and possibly the sunken garden area for security reasons.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if the proposed perimeter security barrier would extend around the other sides of the Moultrie Courthouse. Mr. Courtenay responded that this submission includes the first phase of the building's perimeter security; the treatment of the other sides has been studied conceptually, and the current proposal would establish the precedent for the remainder of the barrier.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk expressed support for the thoughtful resolution of the deep courtroom configurations in relation to the shallow addition, and for the proposed narrowing of the C Street cartway. However, she questioned the proposed architectural character of the addition's exterior. She said that the massing of the existing building already includes many parts, and the building's vocabulary could therefore readily be adapted to accommodate the proposed addition; however, the addition is treated as an entirely new architectural form. Mr. Keller responded that many alternatives were considered; one option was the continuation of limestone across the new facade, but this made the big building appear even bigger and had a somewhat oppressive character along the constrained space of C Street. He acknowledged that such an approach would be feasible but said that the design team's conclusion was to use a lighter design vocabulary that would provide more reflectivity and a more contemporary aesthetic. Ms. Plater-Zyberk compared this project to additions recently reviewed by the Commission for other buildings of a similar or slightly later period, sometimes described as "overly resolved" buildings that could not easily accommodate additions; the Moultrie Courthouse, however, already incorporates a design language that can accommodate expansions.
Mr. McKinnell agreed with Ms. Plater-Zyberk's comments; he accepted the careful and ingenious resolution of the addition's interior configuration while noting that the Commission's concern is with the exterior appearance. He expressed dissatisfaction that the facade design reflects a conceptual decision to provide only two scales—a 3'-10" module and the overall 425-foot length, with very little that is between these two scales. He said the design is legible in elevation but lacks the intermediate scale that is implicit in the existing building, and lacks elements that correspond to a person's walking pace along this very long facade. He also disagreed with the statement that using stone on the exterior would be inconsistent with the desire to create a contemporary architectural expression; he said that stone could be used for all or part of a contemporary facade, and would then appropriately be treated as a cladding rather than as an implied supporting material. Mr. Keller responded by emphasizing the effort to break the facade into segments, with the recessed central portion resulting in the creation of two pieces. Mr. McKinnell acknowledged this gesture but noted that the two pieces are each approximately 200 feet long; he emphasized the need for a more human-scaled sense of measurement, as provided in the existing building. He said the unfortunate result of the proposed design would be an oppressive presence on the street.
Mr. Rybczynski agreed and suggested more variation in the plane of the facade; he said that the decision to place most of the facade on a single plane is adding to the difficulty of addressing the addition's large scale. He noted the varying programmatic components behind different portions of the facade and suggested that this could generate a more varied massing. He observed that the addition is very small in relation to the existing building, and covers only one side of it; the proposal to introduce a new massing concept is therefore questionable but he offered support for the effort to use a modern architectural language for the addition. He emphasized that the Commission's concern is the effect of the addition on the street; the proposal would create a very large scale rather than the existing building's mix of larger and smaller elements.
Mr. Belle noted that earlier studies of alternative designs were mentioned in the presentation; he said that including images of such alternatives in the presentation would have been helpful. He said that close study of the context can often be helpful; here, the context demonstrates that the court complex has historically expanded by adding new buildings of comparable scale to their predecessors, rather than by using additions to form a single larger building. The result at Judiciary Square is a series of buildings that are delicately set within the landscape. He said that a separate building would be worth considering or may have been among the alternatives that were already explored. He criticized the character of the proposed design as "scale-less" and expressed regret that its mass was not broken down further.
Ms. Nelson questioned the use of berms as part of the landscape design along C Street, which she said is otherwise a relatively unintrusive design. Mr. Courtenay responded that the berm eliminates the need for a retaining wall along the edge of the sunken garden; the berm provides for a more pleasing from the building's windows and simplifies the accommodation of the sloping alignment of the C Street sidewalk. He said that a retaining wall could be made attractive if the Commission prefers such a configuration; Ms. Nelson acknowledged that the berm serves a useful purpose. Mr. Courtenay added that the undulating shape of the proposed berm is more flexible and would be studied further. He emphasized the design goal of an interesting and pleasant appearance for the garden. Mr. McKinnell said that the quality of the garden's appearance is the key concept because it would be prominently visible to people walking along the C Street sidewalk. Mr. Courtenay noted that a varied planting plan is intended for this garden, although the plant selection has not yet been developed as part of the submission.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if the face of the addition's cantilevered upper floors could be extended downward to the ground. Mr. Keller responded that this configuration would be feasible but would exacerbate the problem of the alignment difference between the sloping C Street sidewalk and the windows of the interior rooms on the building's "C" level. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that one concern is the difficulty of maintaining a landscape located beneath the cantilevered building addition above. Mr. Courtenay responded that the proposed garden would be open to the south and therefore would be viable. He said that an additional reason for the proposed configuration is to provide the desired minimum distance of twenty feet between the building face and the perimeter security barrier.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to request further study of the concept for the addition, with particular attention to reducing the monolithic character of the design and drawing on the qualities of the existing building. He suggested that concept alternatives be provided for further review by the Commission. He expressed support for the improved accommodation of the important services provided by the D.C. Courts. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
G. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
CFA 21/OCT/10-10, Southeastern Bus Garage and Maintenance Facility, D.C. Village Lane at Shepherd Parkway, SW. New buildings and parking structure. Final.
The Commission acted on agenda item II.G earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following item II.A.
H. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
1. CFA 21/OCT/10-11, Barracks Row Mural Project. Southeast Freeway bridge at 8th Street, SE. Murals. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 15/JUL/10-8.) Ms. Fanning summarized the previous review of the proposal in July 2010: the Commission approved the treatment of the underpass in concept with the recommendation that the murals in this area be developed conceptually as artwork in an interior room, with an additional recommendation for improved lighting; and did not approve the concept for the north face of the bridge, requesting a revised concept submission for a treatment that would more boldly frame the underpass. She introduced Martin Smith, executive director of the Barracks Row Main Street organization which is co-sponsoring the mural, and artist Byron Peck to present the revised concept proposal.
Mr. Peck said that the proposal now includes four additional murals along both the north and south faces of the bridge depicting the history and activities of the neighborhood. Much of the ornamental and trompe l'oeil artwork that was previously proposed on the north face has been eliminated from the project. One ornamental component to remain is the undulating motif symbolizing the nearby river, which was desired by the Main Street organization; he said that this motif would help to draw people toward the southern end of 8th Street and contribute to establishing a gateway character for the bridge. He supported the improvement of the lighting within the underpass as the Commission had recommended but said that this work would be the responsibility of the D.C. Department of Transportation and could not feasibly be included in the budget for the art project. He said that he is considering the addition of color to portions of the concrete walls to provide a subtle emphasis within the large-scale structure. The artwork would also help to articulate the structural form of the bridge.
Mr. Peck summarized the technique of the murals as previously presented; painting as well as mosaic tile would be used with the intention of attracting the eye without being overly distracting. The forms have generally been simplified, and an abstracted sailboat motif has been added as an additional reference to the nearby waterfront. Ms. Nelson asked if the proposed pattern is intended as a site plan of a waterfront location; Mr. Peck responded that the pattern is a geometric abstraction of vegetation but acknowledged that it could be interpreted as a map of the river.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the construction method for the artwork panels; Mr. Peck responded that they would be high-density concrete panels, approximately a half-inch thick, that would be anchored into the concrete walls. The painted portions would use a mineral paint which is guaranteed to be durable for 100 years; he said he has been using this paint in murals since 1986. Ms. Nelson asked if the painted and mosaic surfaces would be flush; Mr. Peck responded that the plane of the mosaic surface would be slightly forward of the painted surface. Ms. Nelson asked about the treatment of the mosaic edges; Mr. Peck said that they would have a very shallow bevel which would be sufficient due to the very thin construction of the mosaics, and he confirmed that this treatment would result in the desired integration between the painted and mosaic surfaces.
Ms. Nelson questioned the treatment of the bridge's columns and asked if the mosaic treatment could extend to these areas. Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted that the columns are structural elements and said that the proposed decorative pattern—with no relation to the structural form—has an odd appearance; Mr. Belle agreed. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested a more geometric type of abstract pattern that would relate to carrying weight down to the ground, with the more purely decorative forms used only near the pictorial artworks. Ms. Nelson agreed that the organic character of the proposed decoration seems inappropriate for the columns; she added that the mural designs appear to be much more successful, particularly if appropriate lighting is provided. Mr. Peck responded that the decorative treatment could be further revised; the proposed motifs are intended to provide an Art Deco-like stylization of plants and leafs which would relate to the gardens adjacent to the bridge. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that Art Deco motifs typically relate to the structural form, such as by recalling the capital of a classical column; she reiterated the suggestion that the decoration respond to the column's role in bringing weight to the ground rather than rely on complete abstraction with an effect like "wallpaper." Mr. Belle said that Art Deco motifs include implied engineering details such as rivet heads or angles, giving strength to the design; he encouraged further effort to relate the decorative treatment to the existing form of the bridge. Ms. Nelson added that the bold forms proposed at the top of the bridge could extend downward into the columns.
Mr. McKinnell emphasized the importance of appropriate lighting in making the art project worthwhile. Mr. Smith of Barracks Row Main Street responded that the lighting has been a difficult issue. The existing wall-mounted lighting was installed by the U.S. Department of Transportation; his organization worked with the D.C. government to add standard Washington streetlights within the underpass in 2005 in order to improve safety as part of an overall streetscape reconstruction in the area. He said that the options are limited by the small range of fixtures authorized by the D.C. Department of Transportation and the need for ease of maintenance such as replacing bulbs. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that the range of authorized fixtures should nonetheless include more options than have been shown; she encouraged further coordination to select a better fixture or even to adjust the spacing of the fixtures to correspond to the artwork size. Mr. Rybczynski suggested converted the existing wall-mounted fixtures to a new type that would direct light down or up onto the artwork, while continuing to use the existing power supply; Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested locating the new fixtures on the ceiling of the underpass. Chairman Powell emphasized that the comments reflect the Commission's support for the artwork and desire to have it seen in a fitting way. Mr. Peck said that—based on his experience with another highway mural project nearby—resolving the lighting as part of the artwork project is difficult, but after the artwork is installed it may be easier to coordinate with the transportation agencies to improve the location and direction of fixtures. Chairman Powell offered the Commission's assistance in this effort, noting the frequent interaction between the Commission and the D.C. Department of Transportation; Mr. Peck and Mr. Smith responded that the Commission's support would be welcome.
Mr. Rybczynski commended the strength and simplicity of the artwork within the underpass, successfully working within the limitations of the space. However, he said that the proposed abstract treatment of the exterior faces, in addition to being generally unsatisfactory, has the effect of weakening the interior. He characterized the exterior treatment as having a home-made rather than professional quality, detracting from the overall cityscape. He said that the exterior treatment does not serve to prepare the viewer for the artwork within the underpass; he suggested that bare concrete walls on the exterior—with the underpass murals coming as a pleasant surprise to viewers—would be preferable to the proposed exterior treatment. Mr. Peck responded that one major purpose of decorating the outer face of the bridge is to encourage people at distant points along 8th Street to move toward the bridge. Mr. Rybczynski said that the bridge is such a powerful work of engineering that any effort to embellish it ends up overwhelmed by the large scale of the engineering and appears to be merely graffiti. Mr. McKinnell agreed with this concern and reiterated Ms. Plater-Zyberk's suggestion that a decorative pattern more closely related to the bridge's engineering and construction would be more successful.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend that the artwork for the exterior faces of the bridge be revised or eliminated, and to reaffirm its support for the interior treatment along with a renewed request for improved lighting. Mr. Smith noted that the grant application for the project focused primarily on the enhancement of the bridge's north face, with improvement of the underpass to be only a small part of the project. Ms. Nelson and Mr. Powell said that artwork sometimes goes in different directions than planned; Mr. Powell said that if treatment of the bridge's exterior must be part of the project, then a new concept should be developed. Mr. Peck said that he would consider alternatives of leaving the existing off-white paint in place, or adding another tone of paint in selected areas to reinforce the bridge's basic geometry of vertical columns and horizontal spandrels. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested delegating the further review of the project to the staff; Ms. Nelson said that delegation would help to move the project forward more quickly. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised concept subject to the comments provided for the exterior treatment along with a request that the D.C. Department of Transportation provide an improved lighting system for the artwork within the underpass; the Commission also delegated review of the final design to the staff. Mr. Smith said that the Commission's request for the lighting would be helpful in obtaining funds for this improvement.
2. CFA 21/OCT/10-12, Old Georgetown Historic District Tree Fences. Standards for fencing around tree beds in various sites. Concept.
This project was withdrawn by the applicant prior to the meeting but after the publication of the final agenda.
I. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
S.L. 11-004 and S.L. 11-005, Office Building, 500 North Capitol Street, NW. Additions and facade alterations. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the two related submissions for renovation of the office building at 500 North Capitol Street, NW; they are submitted as alternative concepts and the applicant will decide later which alternative to pursue based on the selection of a tenant for the building. Scheme A, intended for a single-tenant occupancy, would involve complete recladding of the building and the addition of a ninth floor. Scheme B, intended for multiple-tenant occupancy, would provide more limited changes to the facades including new windows. The site improvements are the same in each alternative. Ms. Batcheler noted that the building is part of the architectural frame of the open space between Union Station and the U.S. Capitol; she characterized it as a background building but a highly visible one. She introduced architectural historian Anne Adams from the law firm Goulston & Storrs, representing the building's owners, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Adams said that the building's owners hope to pursue Scheme A upon obtaining a single tenant for the building; however, the Commission's approval of both alternatives is requested. She acknowledged the assistance of the staff in preparing the submission. She introduced architect Jeff Barber of Gensler to present the alternative designs.
Mr. Barber said that the presentation would include a more detailed discussion of Scheme A, followed by a briefer presentation of Scheme B because the alternatives have some features in common. He described the site and context of the building; its east facade along North Capitol Street overlooks Union Station and the south facade is on E Street. Immediately across North Capitol Street is a surface parking lot associated with the U.S. Capitol; he said that this parking may be moved to a below-grade structure in the future, which would be a welcome improvement to the context of the office building. The southeast corner of the building has an unimpeded view to the Capitol along North Capitol Street. He presented a series of photographs illustrating existing views from the sidewalks as people approach the building from the north and west as well as from the open space on the east; the submission also includes depictions of each alternative within these views. He indicated the building's existing facade of precast concrete with glass and a small amount of metal.
Mr. Barber described the proposed alteration of the ground floor in Scheme A, which would include a distinctive lobby configuration for the building's single tenant. He indicated the deeply recessed existing ground-floor facade which is in deep shadow; the proposal is to move this facade forward to the rear of the ground-floor perimeter columns. He noted the sloping sidewalk which drops significantly toward the southwest corner of the building.
Mr. Barber described the changes to the facades on the upper floors in Scheme A. The existing south and east facades, facing the streets, are aligned with the backs of the columns; the new facades would be located at the outer faces of the columns and would be a glass curtainwall system with the same proportions as the existing windows. The west and north facades, internal to the block, would also be replaced; these new precast concrete and glass facades would similarly be realigned to the outside faces of the columns and would provide improved energy efficiency. The existing building has eight floors and is ninety feet high; the proposal would add a ninth floor for a height of 105 to 106 feet, within the allowable limit of 110 feet. The building's mechanical system would be replaced and the new rooftop mechanical penthouse above the ninth floor would be set significantly further back from the east facade than the existing penthouse above the eighth floor; the new penthouse's height above the roof would be approximately the same as the existing penthouse's height.
Mr. Barber described the proposed materials of the curtainwall facing the streets: panels of glass and white metal articulated to suggest subdivisions that relate to the typical width and character of other buildings in the neighborhood. Two types of glass would be used with differing reflectivity to emphasize the separate facade planes; both glass types would be clear with a slight tint but not reflective, and fritting would be used for the lower portion of each story to obscure views of furniture from the exterior. The emphasis on glass at the southeast corner of the building would take advantage of the view toward the Capitol. The special facade treatment of the ground-floor retail space would extend upward to the second-floor office space. The proposed ninth-floor addition would be taller than the other floors and would accommodate a conference center for the building tenant; the ninth-floor glass facades would extend upward and could serve as a railing for the roof deck. He presented views of Scheme A from the sidewalk and emphasized that the proposed penthouse would not be visible in contrast to the visible penthouse of a neighboring building. He indicated the 26-foot-wide alley between the building and its neighbor to the north; the proposed glass treatment of the street facades would extend to one 25-foot bay of the north facade in response to the visibility of this corner along the alley—which would convey the appearance that the facade has character and depth rather than being a superficial wallpaper. He acknowledged that more of the alley facade would be visible from the street but said that the proposed 25-foot bay of the glass facade, in conjunction with the typical shadow condition for this north facade, would provide a sufficient sense of completion to the building's expression. A similar one-bay extension of the glass facade treatment is proposed on the west along the 15-foot-wide alley at E Street.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked why particular bays were selected for introducing the clefts that subdivide the building's street facades. Mr. Barber responded that the intention was to generate pleasing proportions for the facade components—he indicated one of the areas that would be approximately a double-square—and to encompass the building's entrance, located at the center of the east facade, entirely within the facade's larger subdivision.
Mr. Barber noted that the renderings are not entirely consistent with the proposed landscape plan; ginkgo trees are proposed along E Street, matching some existing trees, and oak trees are proposed along North Capitol Street. The sidewalks would be replaced with pavers. He indicated the large raised planters in the North Capitol Street sidewalk at the neighboring building to the south, emphasizing that such planters are not proposed in this project. He said that landscaping would not be placed near the ground-floor facade in order to encourage the introduction of retail use in this space.
Mr. Barber presented the features of Scheme B. A simpler lobby is proposed for the multiple tenants. A roof deck would be added above the existing eighth floor and the existing rooftop penthouse would remain. The existing deep recesses of the first and eighth floors would be eliminated. Metal framing would be used to highlight the facades of the lower two floors and the eighth floor. All other windows would also be replaced but their alignment would remain the same as the existing condition at the back of the perimeter columns. The spandrels of the other floors would generally be precast concrete but the center three bays of the east facade would have glass curtainwall spandrels to emphasize the building's entrance. He confirmed that the existing north and west facades would not be altered in Scheme B. Ms. Plater-Zyberk observed that the proposed treatment of the eighth-floor facades in Scheme B includes elimination of the existing masonry parapet at this level.
Ms. Nelson asked about the current building tenant; Mr. Barber responded that it is the Internal Revenue Service, which will be vacating the space. Ms. Nelson commented that the roof deck with views of the Capitol would be spectacular. Mr. McKinnell asked why the treatment of the facades would be so different for a single-tenant or multi-tenant building. Mr. Barber responded that the issue is cost; Scheme A is significantly more expensive than Scheme B, and the added cost would be justified for a single tenant that wants high-quality space with a very transparent facade. Without such a tenant, the more limited scope of Scheme B is financially preferable. Mr. Powell expressed hope that a single tenant would be found.
Mr. Rybczynski expressed support for the proposed facade materials but regretted that this design was not used with more confidence as a simple consistent new skin for the building. He criticized the facade articulations as "gratuitous gestures" and emphasized his general dislike for treating a facade as a surface for overlaid geometries. He said that the articulated elements bear no relation to anything but will be highly visible because the building forms part of the overall street facade around Union Station. He observed that all of the nearby buildings deal honestly with their role in framing the open space while the proposed design is merely "showing off." He said that this building is really a loft-type building and would benefit from the good curtainwall design that has been developed; the proposal should stop with that gesture rather than try to break up the facade and give the appearance of multiple buildings. He said that the merit of the existing building was becoming more apparent as the presentation progressed, adding that it is an honest building while the proposal is not.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk acknowledged these concerns and noted that the stated reason for the articulations in Scheme A was to suggest the scale of other buildings in the neighborhood. She said that the strategy of suggesting multiple buildings might be feasible, but this approach would suggest that the different large components of the facade would be made of different materials, rather than repeating the same curtainwall design for each portion. Mr. Barber acknowledged that the articulated corner block could be treated with a different material but said that the goal was to convey a general sense of scale for the multiple elements rather than suggesting actual separate buildings. He said that the proposed solution is therefore a glass skin with slight modifications in reflectivity and metal accents. He confirmed that the length of the east facade is approximately 210 feet.
Mr. Powell expressed support for Scheme A as an aesthetic improvement on the existing building, which he said he does not find appealing. He described Scheme B as a compromise and reiterated his preference for Scheme A. Ms. Plater-Zyberk agreed that many of the proposed alterations are desirable, such as the creation of a two-story scale for the building's base although the renderings of this feature are partially obstructed by the depiction of trees. She said that the paving and landscape proposal may be overly complex, and the street trees should simply continue the pattern from adjacent buildings; Mr. Barber said that the proposal is intended to be coordinated with the context. Ms. Plater-Zyberk emphasized that the paving and landscape design toward the street should be treated consistently across the block and should be considered part of the city rather than part of this individual building, even though the improvements are provided as part of this project. Mr. Barber offered to prepare a landscape plan that extends to the neighboring buildings.
Mr. McKinnell expressed unwillingness to approve Scheme B because it does not offer any substantial improvement to the character of the existing building, such as its proportions; he questioned why Scheme B would be worth executing. He said that the complete recladding in Scheme A results in an elegant design, while acknowledging uncertainty whether the proposed articulation of the facades is appropriate for a speculative office building. He characterized Scheme A as an improvement on the existing building, particularly with the addition of the ninth floor which improves the building's proportions; Scheme B, however, retains the "turgidness" of the existing building.
Mr. Barber emphasized that Scheme B includes bringing forward the deeply recessed existing facades of the ground and eighth floors, as well as marking the building's central bays to highlight the centered entrance which is not acknowledged in the existing design. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that Scheme B addresses these issues neatly and efficiently with a modest budget, emphasizing her support for eliminating the recessed alignment of the ground-floor facade.
Chairman Powell suggested a consensus of the Commission to support the concept of Scheme A and request further study of Scheme B. He reiterated his view that Scheme A is an elegant solution while Scheme B is only a modest alteration to a building that is not particularly attractive currently. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if the Commission would offer suggestions for improving Scheme B, commenting that no such suggestions are readily apparent. Mr. Luebke noted that the proposed variations in the facade details in Scheme B are quite subtle and may be indistinguishable from a moderate distance; he suggested that more texture or color might therefore improve the intended articulation. Mr. Powell reiterated that the problem with Scheme B is its similarity to the existing condition; he encouraged the applicant's effort to find a single tenant for Scheme A.
The Commission considered delegating subsequent review to the staff but, noting the prominence of the site, concluded that the next submission of either alternative should be presented to the Commission itself for further review. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. McKinnell, the Commission approved the concept of Scheme A and requested further revision to Scheme B in consultation with the staff for a new concept submission. Mr. Rybczynski voted against the motion.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:57 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Last Modified: December 2, 2010