Related Topics

Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts

21 April 2011

The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 10:07 a.m.

Members present:
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Pamela Nelson, Vice-Chairman
Hon. Diana Balmori
Hon. Witold Rybczynski

Staff present:
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Eve Barsoum
Sarah Batcheler
Kay Fanning
Mary Konsoulis
Jose Martinez
Susan Raposa
Tony Simon

I. Administration

A. Approval of the minutes of the 17 March meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the March meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson. 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: 19 May, 16 June, and 21 July.

C. Report on the Commission membership. Mr. Luebke announced the President's appointment of Edwin Schlossberg to the Commission for a four-year term. He summarized Mr. Schlossberg's training, publications, and professional activities, and the work of his firm ESI Design in creating interactive environments for learning, discovery, and communication. He said that Mr. Schlossberg would be able to begin attending the Commission meetings in the coming months.

Mr. Luebke added that Mr. Schlossberg replaces John Belle, who has served on the Commission since the April 2005 meeting; he noted Mr. Belle's presence in the audience. Chairman Powell read a letter of appreciation to Mr. Belle and presented it to him. Mr. Belle acknowledged the good wishes of the Commission and staff, and he urged them to always bear in mind the uniqueness of Washington; he emphasized the importance of improving the city's public environment.

D. Report on the 2011 Charles H. Atherton Lecture on 7 April 2011. Mr. Luebke reported on the presentation earlier in April of the annual Charles Atherton memorial lecture, given at the National Building Museum in honor of the Commission's long-serving Secretary. The lecture by Jan Gehl, a Danish architect, planner, and author, provided examples of incremental steps to transform cities to be more hospitable to pedestrians and less dominated by automobiles.

E. Report on the approval of objects for acquisition for the Freer Gallery. Mr. Luebke reported the Chairman's previous approval of two artworks that the Smithsonian Institution sought to acquire at auction for the permanent collection of the Freer Gallery of Art, in accordance with the requirements of Charles Freer's will. He said that the Smithsonian was subsequently unsuccessful in bidding for the two objects, which included an early-17th-century painting from India and a late-19th-century Persian watercolor. He noted that photographs of the artworks are available in the Commission's files.

II. Submissions and Reviews

A. Appendices

Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.

Appendix I – Direct Submission Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom said that there were no changes to the draft appendix, which he noted had been sent out in two parts due to the anticipated government shutdown. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. McKinnell, the Commission approved the Direct Submission Consent Calendar.

Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several changes to the draft appendix. Two projects were removed to allow time for further consultation to resolve design issues; these include case numbers SL 11-059 and 11-078. The recommendations for two other projects were changed from unfavorable to favorable based on the receipt of supplemental information; these include case numbers SL 11-071 and 11-084. She noted the one unfavorable recommendation remaining in the appendix, for the Embassy of Kazakhstan (case number SL 11-074) which has insufficient information in the submission. The Commission approved the revised appendix upon a motion by Ms. Nelson. (See agenda item II.G for an additional Shipstead-Luce Act submission.)

Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported the changes to the draft appendix. Several recommendations have been updated in response to supplemental materials. Three projects have been added that were recently submitted for review in May but are not visible from public areas, and therefore do not require further review by the Old Georgetown Board; an additional project was added to record that it has been withdrawn by the applicant. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the revised appendix.

Mr. Martinez noted an additional issue discussed by the Old Georgetown Board: a tentative proposal by the Washington Gas Company to relocate gas meters to the exterior of buildings in conjunction with current road reconstruction work. Due to community concerns, Washington Gas withdrew this proposal and instead asked to extend an agreement from 2001 that would keep meters on the interior of buildings; any exterior work would be delegated to the staff for review and, if problematic, would be brought to the Old Georgetown Board for public review. He distributed a draft letter describing this arrangement and confirmed that the Board is satisfied with it. Chairman Powell asked if these cases would be included in the appendix of Old Georgetown Act cases. Mr. Martinez responded that they would not be part of the normal appendix because Washington Gas does not have to submit applications for D.C. government permits, which is the source of the appendix listings; however, these cases could be included as a separate list attached to the appendix.

B. General Services Administration

1. CFA 21/APR/11-1, Mary E. Switzer Federal Building, 330 C Street, SW. Landscaping and perimeter security. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/FEB/11-3.) Mr. Luebke introduced the proposed final design for site improvements at the Switzer Federal Building, a continuation of the overall building modernization project and part of the effort by the General Services Administration to improve the streetscape of the area centered around 3rd and C Streets, SW. He summarized the Commission's approval in February 2011 of the concept for a unified public space along C Street to be coordinated with the future site improvements for the Cohen Building on the north side of the street, with the recommendations to reinforce the proposed oval geometry of the landscape, clarify the character of the pedestrian walks parallel to C Street, and keep the perimeter-security and sustainability elements as simple as possible. He asked Mina Wright, director of the Office of Planning and Design Quality in the General Services Administration (GSA), to begin the presentation.

Ms. Wright acknowledged the multiple submissions of the project to the Commission and noted the project's importance as a demonstration of her newly created office's role in improving design; she said that an early version of the project included a parking lot at the front of the building, while the current proposal emphasizes the creation of a new public park—a rare opportunity. She said that the related site-improvement project for the Cohen Building is not yet scheduled, but GSA intends to extend the Switzer Building's site design to the north side of C Street when possible. She expressed appreciation for the Commission's comments, particularly the advice to simplify the design, and introduced landscape architect Jeff Catts of HNTB to continue the presentation.

Mr. Catts summarized the design revisions since the initial presentation to the Commission in September 2010; he acknowledged the addition to the design team of AECOM, which recently designed the streetscape for Federal Office Building #8 immediately east across 3rd Street and is currently working on the design of the Eisenhower Memorial to the northwest. He noted the overall changes of eliminating the parking area in front of the Switzer Building and designing the site in conjunction with the Cohen Building, as presented in February 2011; the current submission extends to the area immediately north of C Street, although the remaining area between C Street and the Cohen Building would be part of a future unscheduled project. He introduced Ryan Bouma of AECOM to present the design.

Mr. Bouma indicated the site constraints along C Street including the underground service area, the ramp leading down to this area, and the ventilation shafts that rise above grade. He described the large oval form that would organize the open space along C Street, to include the Cohen Building yard on the north, and the crosswalk between the buildings at the center of the 600-foot-long block. He indicated the generally diagonal routes that visiting pedestrians are anticipated to take between the future Eisenhower Memorial, the Disabled American Veterans Memorial to the east, and the nearby Metro and commuter rail stations. He added that the buildings in the immediate vicinity, with a population of several thousand workers, would generate additional travel paths to the building entrances and the adjacent bus stops; he indicated the pair of major entrances on the north side of the Switzer Building and the single centered entrance on the south side of the Cohen Building.

Mr. Bouma described the effort to strengthen the park design at C Street, as requested by the Commission. The east-west geometry has been simplified in order to place greater emphasis on a single overall character for the space between the two buildings. Additional trees along the elliptical walkways would add further emphasis, and the alignment of trees along C Street and adjacent to the building has been adjusted to improve the spatial definition; the result is that a pedestrian entering this large open space, whether from the building or from the nearby streets, would arrive through a threshold of trees into a large clearing flanked by sweeping lawn panels. The previous design for paired walks along C Street has been revised to a single walk across the length of the site, allowing for increased green space while accommodating the anticipated circulation patterns. He presented perspective drawings of the pedestrian's view when approaching the open space along C Street; the tilted planes of the lawn panels and plantings would hide the walks and give the appearance of a single continuous sweep of planted area. He indicated the diagonal walks which he said would provide a subtle connection between the offset entrances of the Switzer and Cohen Buildings.

Mr. Bouma described the central area near the mid-block crosswalk, now revised to be a simple symmetrical space that would provide a central focus at the heart of the larger site; the park's special paving and the planted areas would be extended to the curb line in order to suggest the continuity of the park across C Street. The site's utilitarian structures would be specially treated to form four lantern-like pavilions that would frame this central area. He acknowledged the Commission's previous guidance to minimize the architectural expression of these vertical elements and said that the proposal greatly reduces their scale but nonetheless continues to include seating and canopies. He said that their location is determined by the infrastructure requirements of the below-grade service area; louvered panels accommodate air intake and steam exhaust, and these are located at a substantial height to avoid problems from proximity to pedestrians. The boxy intrusion of these elements is necessary and the proposed design would extend these elements into taller shapes with narrower proportions that would have a better appearance within the park. The proposed cladding would be limestone; inset translucent panels would relate to the fenestration of the existing building and could be backlit to provide an inviting character after dark, which would be particularly beneficial on late afternoons in winter when many workers are present in the area. The proposed seating and canopies would provide a waiting area protected from the sun and rain, benefitting workers who are waiting for a bus, taxi, or other vehicle; he indicated the nearby drop-off area along C Street. He emphasized that outdoor seating would be an important amenity for the neighborhood, noting his observation that workers sometimes eat lunch while sitting on the edge of a loading dock at a nearby building; he added that the D.C. Office of Planning agrees with the goal of providing a variety of outdoor seating opportunities. He also noted that a smoking area is a necessary feature outside of a federal building, and this proposal would incorporate it gracefully into the existing infrastructure feature instead of creating a new pavilion elsewhere on the site. He said that the arc-shaped canopies would be oriented to tie the site together and suggest gateways along the site's walks.

Mr. Bouma presented the proposed treatment of perimeter security around the Switzer Building. The security line would be located between the building and sidewalk except along D Street, where the narrow setback distance requires an alignment near the curb. On the north, the perimeter security would be incorporated into the sloped panels and would not be an obtrusive element. The edge walls of the slopes would be faced in limestone, providing seating as well as perimeter security, and the raised grade would accommodate trees above the roof of the underground service area.

Mr. Bouma indicated the bioswale that is proposed between the walks and trees; he acknowledged the Commission's previous skepticism toward this feature but said that it would be important for collecting stormwater runoff on this relatively flat site. He said that simple drainage toward the curbs would not be feasible, and the bioswales would be preferable to drains within the landscape. The collected water would be used for site irrigation, reducing the need for additional water supply and improving the sustainability of the project. He said that in response to the Commission's concern, the proposed plantings within the bioswale have been revised to be more uniform.

Mr. Bouma indicated the seating area at the corner of 3rd and C Streets, noting that the previous proposal for a coffee kiosk at this location has been deleted; infrastructure would be provided to allow for a future vending system at this location. The corner would provide for flexible use while not requiring the maintenance and securing of the kiosk structure. He clarified that a food cart—possibly several—could be provided near 3rd Street and could change with the seasons.

Mr. Bouma described the proposed plantings. The selection of street trees would be an extension of the decisions previously approved for Federal Office Building #8 (FOB 8): elms on 3rd and 4th Streets, white oak along C Street, and plane trees along D Street. The trees along the ellipse would also be elms, reinforcing the character of the park design. The building yards along 3rd and 4th Streets would include plantings along with the garden fences and walls that would provide perimeter security; the tree planting areas would each have two trees as at FOB 8, providing a unified character for 3rd Street. He indicated the permeable paving and the design of the tree wells to receive water runoff from the street through openings in the curb. Along D Street, the perimeter security line would be staggered with the tree planting areas, and a minimum setback of three feet would always be provided from the curb to accommodate the opening of car doors. He said that the design detailing of the perimeter security would follow the pattern established for FOB 8: relating to the street if near the curb, and relating to the building if on the inner side of the sidewalk.

Mr. Bouma offered to present additional site sections; Ms. Balmori said that the sections provided in the advance submission materials appear satisfactory. Mr. Bouma provided samples of the proposed paving materials for the Commission's inspection.

Ms. Nelson asked about the proposed material of the pavilion canopies near C Street. Mr. Bouma responded that they would be glass with a stainless-steel structure; Ms. Nelson observed that the glass would not provide extensive shade. Mr. Bouma said that fritted and tempered glass would be used to provide some shade while not giving the appearance of a solid roof. He emphasized that the glass would provide a distinctive luminescent feature that would add to the character of C Street; at FOB 8 to the east, a new glass entrance atrium will serve a similar purpose, and the proposed seating pavilions could help to unify the streetscapes surrounding the 3rd and C Streets intersection. Ms. Nelson noted that a smoking pavilion would inevitably have a large receptacle for cigarette butts; Mr. Bouma acknowledged that this feature would be included but is not shown in the rendering.

Ms. Balmori asked for clarification of the outdoor seating locations, noting that temporary tables and chairs may not remain on the site over the long term. Mr. Bouma indicated the proposed cafe seating area and said that the tables and chairs could be anchored to the ground, rather than moveable. Ms. Balmori said that these amenities may nonetheless be subject to elimination due to budget constraints. Mr. Bouma indicated the more permanent seating areas in the design, including wooden deck benches set within two niches along the elliptical walks. He estimated the total length of seating at each niche as approximately thirty feet, half of which would have backs and half without to accommodate flexibility in seating configurations. He added that the design had previously included two additional niches near the building entrances but these were removed in response to the Commission's request for simplification of these areas. He indicated additional seating that is proposed along the 3rd and 4th Streets edges of the site. Ms. Nelson noted that the benches might accommodate approximately fifty people, perhaps insufficient for a nearby worker population of 4,000; Mr. Bouma clarified that the retaining walls along the raised planter areas would provide extensive additional seating, and the lawn areas themselves would be suitable for informal use. Ms. Balmori recommended that the benches in the two niches be lengthened to provide additional seating, which would be particularly desirable in these shaded areas rather than near the street edges of the site; Mr. Bouma agreed that this change would be feasible.

Ms. Balmori asked for clarification of the extent and edge treatment of the proposed tree boxes. Mr. Bouma responded that the tree wells would be depressed approximately one foot below the sidewalk level, and tree fences are shown to prevent pedestrians from falling into these areas. Ms. Balmori asked if the fences could be eliminated; Mr. Bouma said that this detail is typical of low-impact-development systems designed by AECOM for other Washington projects, and clarified that the depressed grade is necessary so that water will flow from the street level into the tree planting area. Ms. Balmori agreed that collecting runoff from the street is a valuable feature; Mr. Bouma said that the grade change therefore results in the requirement for fencing, as requested by the D.C. Department of Transportation for past projects. He said that the proposed fence height is one foot; Ms. Balmori said that this seems excessively tall, and Chairman Powell acknowledged the Commission's past consideration of the tree fence height for other projects. Mr. Bouma noted that some officials at the D.C. Department of Transportation would prefer a height of 1.5 feet; he said that AECOM has successfully negotiated a one-foot fence height in past projects and does not intend to increase the height further. He added that the size of the tree boxes would be augmented by structural soil cells beneath the sidewalk that accommodate the tree roots and promote the health and longevity of the trees.

Ms. Balmori offered overall support for the proposal, emphasizing its improvement from earlier submissions and the desirable open-space amenity that will be provided for the public. She recommended providing more seating with backs, increasing the opportunity for public enjoyment of the park; she suggested a minimum of 20 to 25 feet of seating with benches in each of the two niche areas. She added that the current preference for seating in parks is to provide a variety of options but with a predominance of seating with backs.

Ms. Balmori recommended varied planting for the proposed lawn areas, such as a prairie type of planting, in order to reduce maintenance requirements and improve the technical performance for issues such as nitrogen use. Mr. Bouma responded that some areas would be attractive for more intensive use and would be treated as relatively conventional lawns; a hybrid would be chosen that has low water requirements and would be supported with subsurface irrigation and geotextile fabric. The remaining areas could have another type of ground cover that is suitable for less intensive use; possibilities include a sedum blend that could tolerate extensive sunlight and would have a short height. He said that the desired design character is a planar sense when seen from a distance but variable depth and interest, as well as seasonal variety, when seen closely. Ms. Balmori noted that sedum typically does not have the appearance of a lawn; she suggested a mix of grasses and plants that would have desirable nitrogen-fixing properties, long life, low maintenance requirements, durability in an urban setting, and would appear more like a lawn. She added that this treatment could serve as a model for a more contemporary type of planting in urban areas, and commented that typical ground-cover plantings require substantial maintenance.

Ms. Balmori commented that the proposed design for the pavilions appears excessive for what are, in effect, chimneys. She acknowledged the value of using them to provide additional seating and of providing shade for the seating, although the proposed glass may be ineffective; she suggested that a more straightforward means of providing shade be considered. Overall, however, she said that these pavilions are too large and prominent within the park design. Mr. Rybczynski agreed that the pavilions are questionable; he said that their design is not sympathetic to the building and therefore doesn't provide a positive contribution, while the placement of seats and shading so close to the street appears accidental rather than a desirable place for such amenities. Ms. Balmori noted that this location would nonetheless be convenient for people waiting for buses, emphasizing that she is not entirely opposed to the proposed treatment. Mr. Rybczynski supported the gestures of additional seating in the park and of lightening the design such as through the proposed window effect of the recessed glass panels; Ms. Balmori agreed. Mr. Rybczynski emphasized that the problem is with the canopy form which he said is too fussy; Mr. Powell agreed, commenting that the canopies appear tenuous and frivolous while the overall treatment, including the provision of shade, is reasonable.

Mr. Luebke summarized the Commission's apparent consensus to support the design generally while offering recommendations on some of the proposed details. He confirmed that the submission is intended as a final design but noted that some elements have not been fully defined in the submission; he advised that the Commission not grant final approval and instead require some degree of further review, which could be delegated to the staff. Ms. Balmori supported this approach. Mr. Luebke suggested that the elements for further review could include the pavilions, the site furniture, the tree fences, and planting selections.

Ms. Nelson expressed concern about the diagonal paths leading from the building entrances toward the mid-block crosswalk; she noted the interrupted route and commented that people will likely try to walk more directly by creating paths through the landscape. Mr. Bouma said that a combination of flush and raised curbs would be used in this area along with substantial plantings that would be higher than a lawn, serving to discourage people from walking through the landscaped area; he offered to look at adjusting the curb configuration to further encourage people to stay on the paved walks. Ms. Nelson said that the muddy condition of the lawn corners on the National Mall demonstrated the problem of not adequately controlling pedestrians.

Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's overall support for the design and concern for refinement of some of the project details; Ms. Nelson supported the delegation of this further review to the staff. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission commended the design and gave conditional approval to the final submission subject to further review of the elements that were discussed, and delegated this further review to the staff.

2. CFA 21/APR/11-2, Department of Homeland Security, Nebraska Avenue Complex, 3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW. Master plan. Concept. (Previous: CFA 18/OCT/07-3, perimeter security.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the draft master plan, submitted by the General Services Administration, to accommodate the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the Nebraska Avenue Complex (NAC). She summarized the history of the NAC site: it was developed as the Mount Vernon Seminary School for Girls, a private school founded in 1916, and was acquired by the federal government in 1943 to become a naval communications center. Since 2005 it has been used as the main headquarters of DHS; the thirty buildings on the campus encompass 650,000 square feet and accommodate approximately 2,400 employees. Fifteen of the buildings are designated as contributing resources to the NAC historic district, and most of these will be renovated to provide slightly over 500,000 square feet; an additional fifteen buildings would be demolished. The draft master plan includes three alternatives for new development on the campus; Alternative B, preferred by the applicant, would result in 1,220,000 square feet of space to accommodate 4,200 employees. She noted the site's adjacency to Glover-Archbold Park, a National Park Service property, and the potential for a new building that would face Ward Circle at the intersection of Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues. She asked Mina Wright of the General Services Administration (GSA) to begin the presentation.

Ms. Wright said that this campus would be one of the seven to ten locations at which the Department of Homeland Security would be consolidating its operations; another is the St. Elizabeths Hospital campus, which has been the subject of extensive review. She said that an overall issue for this consolidation is the acceptable density of development at each location; while the particular concern is the number of employees that could be accommodated, GSA has developed various ways to accommodate employees within a facility, and she therefore asked the Commission to focus on the design implications of the proposed master plan rather than the space needs of DHS. She noted that issues involving traffic and the surrounding neighborhood will be studied further. She added that the three submitted alternatives have been developed from twelve that were initially considered, and the presentation will focus on the one preferred alternative. She introduced James Clark of MTFA to present the master plan.

Mr. Clark described the goal of optimizing the use of the NAC in support of the regional DHS consolidation, which was directed by legislation in 2006; security of the site is an important consideration. He also described the site's two periods of historical significance—as a girls' school which resulted in some of the existing Georgian Revival-style buildings and landscaped courtyards, and as a naval cryptanalysis center during World War II. He presented a site plan identifying the buildings that would be demolished, of which three are contributing buildings to the site's historic designation; he said that all three have lost most or all of their historic fabric. He described the context of the NAC, including two churches, American University, an NBC broadcasting facility, residential areas, and Glover-Archbold Park. He said that views into the facility are somewhat shielded by vegetation on all sides.

Mr. Clark described the no-action alternative that is provided for comparison in the draft master plan. The site would contain 653,000 square feet, accommodating approximately 2,400 employees; features to remain would include the surface parking lots, untended landscaping, courtyards filled with mechanical equipment and infrastructure, and the unattractive view of the campus from Ward Circle.

Mr. Clark then described the three alternatives for development. Alternative A would have the lowest density, totaling 1.1 million square feet to accommodate 3,700 employees; several new buildings would be constructed to reinforce the form of the campus, and the site near Ward Circle would be used for a "very well-designed" parking structure that would accommodate the consolidation of existing surface parking. Ms. Balmori asked about the height of this parking structure; Mr. Clark responded that it would have four levels, of which two would be below the Ward Circle level due to the dropping topography, and two levels would be visible from Ward Circle. He described Alternative B, the preferred middle-density proposal with 1.2 million square feet accommodating 4,200 employees; the site near Ward Circle would be developed with an "architecturally significant" building, and the parking structure would be placed toward the back of the campus. He noted the Comprehensive Plan policy that encourages the siting of major federal buildings to face the city's squares and circles, which would be achieved in Alternative B. Alternative C is a higher-density proposal with 1.3 million square feet for 4,500 employees; it includes a below-grade parking garage with a green roof for the site near Ward Circle, effectively treating this site as an open space in contrast to the proposed major building of Alternative B. He said that even higher density was studied initially but is not included in the master-plan alternatives. He added that Alternatives A and B would extend the NAC's historic pattern of courtyards and would preserve the site's wooded buffers, while Alternative C would place denser new construction near the wooded areas.

Ms. Nelson asked if the entrance to the parking garage would be solely from Massachusetts Avenue. Mr. Clark responded that this is currently the primary entrance route, which has been the cause of community concern; the proposal is to provide access from both Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues, which would help to balance the traffic. Ms. Nelson asked about turns into the parking entrance roads; Mr. Clark confirmed that both entrances would be only for right turns. He said that the parking access roads within the campus would be sufficiently long to accommodate the queuing of entering vehicles, so that vehicles would not have to wait on the avenues before turning into the campus.

Ms. Balmori asked about the intended design character of the parking structure. Mr. Clark responded that the garage in Alternative B would have a landscape character, similar to the garage at Reagan National Airport. The garage in Alternative C would have a two-story height when seen from within the NAC, but its green roof would be at the same grade as Ward Circle.

Mr. Clark presented further details of Alternative B, the preferred scenario. New buildings would be below the height of the cupola on Building 1, the oldest building on the campus; he presented sections to illustrate the siting of new buildings within the topography of the campus. He said that the proposed buildings would fill in the campus, reinforcing and completing its design. The overall campus organization would include a primary and secondary axis, reinforced by the proposed buildings; the primary axis would include a long-distance view toward the National Cathedral. He indicated the proposed siting of Building A which would help to define the axes more clearly.

In contrast to the current vehicular orientation of the campus, the proposal is for a pedestrian-oriented park-like setting that returns to the spirit of the school that historically occupied the site. Mr. Clark presented a diagram of campus zones, including the peripheral areas most visible from the adjacent avenues and Ward Circle, as well the central portion of the campus which is the focus of its day-to-day operational use. This central portion would be organized around the primary axis of the campus. The existing courtyards would be cleared of mechanical equipment and restored to their original simplicity and beauty. He added that the proposed access road would be graded at a low elevation to avoid interrupting the view from Nebraska Avenue toward the NAC's historic buildings.

Mr. Clark said that transportation has been a major issue of the master plan and is the primary concern of the community. DHS and GSA have been meeting with Congressional and D.C. government officials as well as the community to address this topic and create a transportation plan. The emphasis is on public transportation, with the number of parking spaces to remain at the current level even as the number of workers at the NAC increases. Security is another concern, with the requirement for a 100-foot setback around the campus; this requirement has the beneficial effect of establishing a desirable buffer zone between the campus and the surrounding community. He noted that the same buffer zone is being promoted by the community for the adjacent American University campus, even without the security requirement. He said that a general principle of the master planning is to add most new development toward the back of the site, to avoid interfering with the views from the avenues; however, the presence of the park at the rear is also a constraint, and the buffer zone and existing trees along the park would be maintained.

Mr. Clark described the proposed sustainability features encompassing the conservation of materials and resources, water protection, increased energy efficiency, and improved indoor environmental quality; he noted that GSA's goal is a LEED environmental rating of gold for the campus. Proposed techniques for stormwater management, which is not currently addressed on the site, include rain gardens, bioretention ponds, bioswales, and infiltration planters. Porous paving and green roofs would also be used, although green roofs would not be appropriate for the historic buildings. Rainwater would be used for irrigation systems. The appearance of utility systems would also be improved, such as by relocating the visible temporary emergency generators to underground locations. Cooling equipment would be consolidated to five buildings and then distributed to the other buildings; heating would be provided at each building rather than from a central plant. Ms. Balmori asked about the source of energy for heating and cooling; Mr. Clark responded that the energy source would presumably be the same as at the current central plant, but this would be studied further in the next phase of the master plan to consider more sustainable sources such as solar power. Ms. Balmori emphasized the importance of this issue in achieving a more sustainable campus design.

Chairman Powell asked about the relationship of this master plan to the ongoing redevelopment of the St. Elizabeths campus for DHS occupancy. Ms. Wright responded that the sequence of consolidation and relocation is not certain; the most straightforward sequence would be to redevelop the NAC after the St. Elizabeths campus is occupied, but budget constraints may change this plan and could result in concurrent development of the two campuses. She confirmed the long-term intention for both sites—in addition to others in the region—to be used by DHS.

Ms. Balmori raised several concerns that could be addressed as the master plan is developed from draft to final stage. She described the campus form as "a particular American invention" that is characterized by a mutually supportive relationship between open spaces and buildings. She observed that the master plan clearly describes building locations and massing but does not define the site's landscape character, other than mentioning the intention to restore the courtyards and retain mature trees. She recommended further development of the landscape concept with defined open spaces having a clear relationship to the buildings, which she said are the features that make a campus interesting. She supported the intended use of traditional campus design as the basis for developing the landscape concept. Mr. Clark responded that the historical research shows that the campus landscape originally had a much more open character with fewer trees; this design approach will be considered further in the next phase of the master planning process, along with more effort to define the individual open spaces. Ms. Balmori added that the open spine along the primary axis is a particularly good opportunity for creating a beautiful space, but its character is not addressed at all in the current submission.

Mr. Rybczynski asked why the master plan proposes to concentrate parking in a single structure rather than at several locations. Mr. Clark responded that several options were studied, including the continued use of the surface parking lots. The choice of structured parking allows for a more park-like character for the campus, which he noted is not a very large site. He added that a small number of vehicles would be accommodated in other parts of the campus, such as vehicles for high-level officials or security needs; he indicated the surface parking lot behind Building 3 that would accommodate 100 spaces.

Mr. Rybczynski acknowledged that Alternative B, the applicant's preferred option, is the most promising. However, he questioned the logic used in selecting the alternatives, noting that the most prominent building site in Alternative B is instead shown as the parking garage site in Alternatives A and C; he said the range of alternatives appears to be "throwing dice" rather than a serious set of proposals. He questioned whether a prominent building is appropriate for the area adjacent to Ward Circle, describing its placement as haphazard; he observed that its location is off to the side of the campus rather than reinforcing its central focus.

Mr. Rybczynski supported Ms. Balmori's comments concerning further development of the campus-style character, observing that the proposed building forms near Glover-Archbold Park do not contribute to this concept; he recommended that the new buildings incorporate a stronger sense of the courtyard idea. He acknowledged that the current submission is only diagrammatic but said that the diagrams can greatly influence the future design of the buildings. He noted that the modest size of the campus creates a good pedestrian-scaled environment.

Ms. Nelson asked about pedestrian access and the site's relationship to the Metro system. Mr. Clark indicated the direction of the Tenleytown station, approximately a twenty-minute walk from the campus, and the secured pedestrian entrance along Nebraska Avenue. Ms. Nelson noted the importance of this access and recommended that the master plan emphasize pedestrian convenience.

Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to support the further development of Alternative B with the recommendations provided, particularly for further definition of the open spaces; he noted that the master plan would be submitted again for further review. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the draft master plan with this guidance.

C. District of Columbia Courts

CFA 21/APR/11-3, The H. Carl Moultrie I Courthouse, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW. Building addition and site modifications. Concept. (Previous: CFA 18/NOV/10-6.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal for the Moultrie Courthouse, which was last seen in November 2010 when the Commission recommended developing an alternative that was included in the submission booklet but had not been presented. He noted that the project was submitted as a final design but is listed on the agenda as a concept submission because none of the previous concepts was approved by the Commission. He asked architect Michael Kazan of Gruzen Samton to begin the presentation.

Mr. Kazan summarized the proposal to add approximately 110,000 square feet on the southern side of the courthouse along C Street, incorporating altogether 200,000 square feet of construction extending back into the existing building; the space would primarily include courtrooms, judges' chambers, and office space. He noted the tight schedule for moving forward on the project. He introduced architect Scott Keller of Gruzen Samton and landscape architect Mark Pelusi of AECOM to present the design.

Mr. Keller said that the new submission responds to many of the Commission's comments; the addition would respect the original building design while reflecting the program. He described the existing building's tripartite organization with a series of added masses that break down its scale, and said that the addition is intended to use the same principles. Stone-clad masses will extend the building and provide a frame for the prominent glass element which will extend from it for a width of over 200 feet. The existing building is sheathed in limestone and the windows are expressed in strong vertical groupings; he said that a similar pattern and massing is proposed for the addition so that it will be perceived as an integral part of the existing building. The vertical rhythm in the proposed facade is developed from the program and reflects the hierarchy of the internal spaces, from the large windows of the judges' chambers to the smaller windows of offices. He indicated the proposed lobby in the center of the C street facade, placed on axis with the main Indiana Avenue entrance lobby at the north.

Mr. Keller said that to accommodate the two new courtrooms—which will be larger than the courtrooms in the existing building—a portion of the facade would be cantilevered forward from the addition's primary facade; while the courtrooms would be contained within the main volume of the addition, the cantilevered portion would contain a corridor and waiting areas. He said this projecting element would be constructed of metal and a very transparent low-iron glass in contrast to the prevailing limestone facade. He described the effort to modulate the expression of the 200-foot-long cantilevered area by varying its ceiling height to respond to the courtroom entrance locations and provide seating areas in the corridor; the ceiling configuration also contributes to the use of daylight for the interior courtrooms, one of the energy-conservation techniques that will contribute to the goal of a LEED environmental rating of gold. The typical office windows would be similarly designed with light shelves to provide solar screening while also reflecting daylight deep into the interior spaces. He presented views of the facade and corner treatments to illustrate the overall modulation of the addition's scale, noting that C Street is relatively narrow and the long elevation would not be perceived in a frontal view; he said that the viewing angle of the pedestrian has been considered in designing the landscape and lighting.

Mr. Pelusi presented the proposed landscape design, which he said responds to the Commission's previous recommendation to consider a more pedestrian-oriented scale. He indicated the fence and sunken linear garden along much of the C Street sidewalk, interrupted by the proposed entrance where the building would directly address the street. The linear garden would be a visual amenity for the occupants of the building's lower level, set a half-story below the sidewalk level, but would not be for public use. The 42-inch-high metal fence would be set within limestone piers which alternate between larger and smaller dimensions, intended to establish a rhythm for this long frontage; the larger fence piers would correspond to the vertical piers of the building's architecture, and the piers generate the organization of other streetscape features along the sidewalk. Street trees would be at 36-foot intervals, and the precast concrete sidewalk would follow D.C. government standards.

Mr. Pelusi presented perspective views of the linear garden. Ms. Balmori asked why the topography would be mounded; Mr. Pelusi responded that a portion of the building extends below the garden nearly to the sidewalk, constraining the soil depth, and the berms therefore are necessary to accommodate the proposed trees. The berms would also soften the garden's appearance, and their design would vary in response to the grade change along the length of C Street; the height difference between the sidewalk and the lower-level windows ranges from four to ten feet.

Mr. Pelusi described the proposed adjustment to C Street, which currently has a 50-foot-wide cartway accommodating two travel lanes in each direction and parallel parking on each side. The proposal is to reduce the cartway to its historic 19th-century width of 38 feet, providing one traffic lane in each direction and retaining the parallel parking; this would realign the cartway to its historic centerline which would be consistent from 3rd to 6th Streets, allowing for a symmetrical streetscape treatment.

Mr. Pelusi presented several additional details of the landscape proposal. Stainless-steel bollards would be placed at the new south entrance, similar to those on the building's north side; the limestone walls flanking the entrance would have structural steel to continue the perimeter security. A roof garden on top of the addition would include solar panels and sedum-planted areas; the roof is not intended for occupancy. He summarized the landscape materials, including the concrete pavers and a granite curb to support the limestone and metal fence; the limestone would match the building facade material.

Ms. Balmori asked for further information about the proposed street trees; Mr. Pelusi said they would be willow oaks, probably a variety with a high, uniform canopy that would allow for planting a double row of trees on the western part of the C Street frontage—within the linear garden as well as along the curb. On the east, the trees within the garden would be two or three varieties of flowering trees such as dogwood or serviceberry, with a mix of groundcovers. He added that the street trees would alternate with streetlights, which would be sixteen-foot-high Washington Standard poles with Washington Globe lamps as specified in the D.C. streetscape manual. Ms. Balmori asked about the details of the street tree planting beds; Mr. Pelusi confirmed that the soil would be continuous, extending beneath the paving to accommodate root growth. He emphasized that the perimeter security would be on the inner side of the sidewalk, resulting in uninterrupted soil width of approximately fifteen to sixteen feet back from the curb. Ms. Balmori asked whether the sidewalk paving would be porous, allowing the soil below to be replenished with water; Mr. Pelusi responded that the concrete slab would not be porous but the tree boxes would capture water runoff from the street, accommodating a water depth of approximately two to six inches.

Ms. Nelson asked if the south side of the building would have a prominent identification feature, such as flags or signage; she noted the issue of visitors being able to identify the building when approaching it from the C Street corners, as well as the potential for an excess of signs. Mr. Kazan responded that overall signage for the D.C. Courts buildings has been planned, and the major identification sign for the courthouse would be on the north side facing Indiana Avenue; along C Street, the only sign would be an address sign placed on the building.

Mr. Keller presented the proposed lighting. The exterior of the building would generally not be illuminated, other than by street lighting; some perimeter lighting would be provided including step lights at exits, down-lighting beneath the cantilevered structure and the entrance canopy, and up-lights onto the building's name. He invited the Commission members to inspect the model and samples of the proposed materials.

Mr. Rybczynski asked if the new limestone would match the limestone on the existing building; Mr. Keller responded that Indiana limestone would be used, as in the existing building, but the specific quarry has not yet been determined. He confirmed the intention to match the existing color, but a smooth finish is proposed in contrast to the vertical striations on the existing facade; he said that the grooves tend to catch dirt. Ms. Nelson asked if the addition would appear significantly lighter than the existing building; Mr. Kazan responded that the building's exterior is now being cleaned, and all of the limestone would have a similar color at the completion of this project.

Mr. Powell observed that the sample of proposed glass is quite transparent rather than tinted. Mr. Keller clarified that two types of glass would be used: the clear low-iron glass for the prominent glazed areas at the courtrooms and entrance lobby; and a more conventional glass for windows set within the limestone wall, which he said would be less expensive and have better thermal properties. He added that low-iron glass has been used recently for the renovation of the building's Indiana Avenue entrance, and it is also used on other prominent buildings in the neighborhood. Ms. Balmori noted that the low-iron glass would result in an enormous amount of heat gain on the interior, particularly at the corridors along the courtrooms. Mr. Keller responded that some type of interior solar shading device would likely be added as the design is developed further. Mr. Rybczynski and Ms. Balmori recommended consideration of external fins to provide solar shading, with the additional benefit of providing modulation to the extensive glass facade area.

Chairman Powell commented that the submission responds to the Commission's previous recommendations, and suggested approving the submission with further review delegated to the staff to accommodate the project schedule. Mr. Luebke noted the staff suggestion to treat this submission as a concept rather than final design; Chairman Powell clarified that the current approval would be at the concept stage, with the final approval being delegated. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the concept with the recommendations provided, and delegated the final approval to the staff. Mr. Rybczynski and Ms. Balmori emphasized the importance of modulating the projecting glass facade; Ms. Balmori also emphasized the need to review the tree bed details to ensure a continuous soil area, which she said is an important issue for urban trees.

D. University of the District of Columbia

1. CFA 21/APR/11-4, University of the District of Columbia, 4200 Connecticut Avenue at Van Ness Street, NW. Van Ness Campus Master Plan. Concept.

2. CFA 21/APR/11-5, University of the District of Columbia, 4200 Connecticut Avenue at Van Ness Street, NW. New student center. Concept.

Mr. Lindstrom introduced the two related submissions from the University of the District of Columbia. The university is planning to construct a new student center at the Van Ness campus; the lack of a master plan for the campus became a concern during the funding process for the student center, and the university is therefore preparing a master plan as well. He asked the university's project manager, Erik Thompson, to begin the presentation of the two concept proposals. Mr. Thompson said the student center would be a valuable facility for the students, the overall university community, and the city. He introduced planner and architect Douglas McCoach of RTKL to present the draft master plan.

Mr. McCoach described the background for the project: the campus was founded and constructed in the mid-1970s, and no master plan was required at that time; the campus has not had significant physical changes since then. The current initiative to construct a student center has resulted in funding for a master plan, which involves review by the community and numerous regulatory and oversight agencies. He noted the aggressive schedule for the student center, which is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2012. Several other future projects are also addressed in the master plan: construction of student housing; renovations and improvements throughout the campus, including improved environmental performance to meet D.C. government objectives; and the accommodation of an increased population of students, faculty, and staff. He said that the population increase would return to the level of the mid-1990s; in recent years, the campus population has dropped as portions of the program have been spun off to form a new community college system located elsewhere. The goal is for the Van Ness campus to become the selective-admissions flagship of the university's city-wide system. He said that the current student population of 2,200 is expected to grow to 6,500 in ten years; the master plan proposes a maximum of 8,000 full-time-equivalent students. Limited student housing is currently provided by leasing apartments in a nearby building; this program will be phased out as on-campus housing is created, addressing the concern of community impacts from the student leasing.

Mr. McCoach described the existing campus, a complex of buildings organized around Dennard Plaza at the center; the buildings are of similar age, style, and height, and they include a library, theater, athletics complex, and academic buildings. Below the plaza is a three-level parking structure that provides covered access as well as service and loading for all of the buildings. The site is adjacent to the high-density mixed-use corridor of Connecticut Avenue; apartment buildings are to the east, and the chanceries of the International Center are to the west and south. Further west, and also to the north, are single-family homes; office and mixed-use buildings provide buffers to some edges of the campus. He said the university does not plan to expand the campus beyond its existing boundaries. The varied topography is a significant feature of the campus. Dennard Plaza serves as a common datum for the campus at the upper level of the site; the university's frontage along Connecticut Avenue is significantly lower, and connecting these two levels is an important issue. The current link is a covered escalator and stair system, which he described as unattractive and "foreboding." He said that the open spaces on the campus are integral to its character; they include Dennard Plaza, a plaza along Connecticut Avenue, athletic fields, tennis courts, and a significant stand of trees in a steeply sloped area toward the north.

Mr. McCoach discussed the siting of the planned student center and the residential building. The topography was studied for opportunities to minimize the impact on the surrounding community and to create a dynamic configuration for the student center. Three locations were studied as potential building sites: the plaza along Connecticut Avenue, where the student center is proposed; a site on the southwest corner of the campus between the library and the International Center, where the student housing is proposed; and the steep wooded area, which was rejected due to its remoteness from the center of the campus and Connecticut Avenue, its proximity to neighborhood homes, and the great value of its existing character. He noted that the proposed site for the student center provides the opportunity to create a highly visible building along Connecticut Avenue that would establish a public image for the university, and to define a public space along the avenue; the student center could also serve as an entrance from the avenue to Dennard Plaza, and its program would reinforce the dynamic commercial district along Connecticut Avenue. The site west of the library would be less appropriate for the student center due to its remoteness from the university's more public face along Connecticut Avenue, but would be more appropriate for the housing because of the surrounding buffer of institutional uses; he noted that the grade of this site is thirty feet lower than the residential areas further to the west, providing the opportunity for student housing that is focused eastward toward Dennard Plaza which would minimize the impact of the housing on the surrounding community.

Mr. Rybczynski noted that the substantial increase in the campus population would suggest that additional sites may be needed for future buildings; he asked if the steep wooded area would remain as a potential site in the future. Mr. McCoach responded that construction at this site would be theoretically possible in the future but it is not well suited for development. He noted that the campus was planned for a population of 8,000 in the 1970s; the currently planned increase would simply bring the population to the level that was originally intended and the master plan therefore focuses on only a limited range of new construction.

Mr. McCoach discussed the transportation issues at the campus. The parking structure beneath Dennard Plaza contains 758 spaces which the university is only now beginning to manage actively; a Metro station is adjacent to the campus along Connecticut Avenue, and he noted the nearby bus service and the intent to increase bicycle use. The master plan therefore calls for relying on the existing parking at the campus, a strategy that is supported by the D.C. Office of Planning and the Department of Transportation. The university would develop a transportation demand management program to promote additional measures such as ride-sharing and short-term car rentals as well as transit. He added that the proposed student center would make use of the existing loading and service facility within the parking garage. He presented the proposal to simplify the intersection of Veazey Terrace and Connecticut Avenue adjacent to the campus service area and the Metro entrance, based on coordination with D.C. government agencies, in order to improve safety and better accommodate pedestrian flow to the student center and the campus.

Mr. McCoach discussed the environmental improvements to the campus, which have already begun with the renovation of Dennard Plaza currently underway to increase its landscaping and enhance its rainwater collection and reuse; the project includes rain gardens and cisterns, and the rainwater would be used for irrigation. The university is also installing green roofs on five buildings, with construction to begin shortly. The proposed student center is intended to achieve a LEED environmental rating of platinum. The master plan shows that the amount of pervious surface on the campus would be increased by over 100,000 square feet, a significant portion of the total surface area of 950,000 square feet.

Mr. McCoach described the numerous pedestrian access points to the campus: the escalator from Connecticut Avenue to Dennard Plaza; a ceremonial entrance and porte-cochere along Van Ness Street; and secondary entrances further west on Van Ness, to the north on Yuma Street, and at Windom Place near Connecticut Avenue. He said that improvements to wayfinding and identity elements are envisioned in the master plan. Perimeter landscaping improvements are also proposed, with the character differing along each edge of the campus; he presented the phasing plan for the landscape, including coordination with the proposed new buildings and with the D.C. government's streetscape standards.

Mr. McCoach introduced the architects of the student center, Roland Lemke of Cannon Design and Michael Marshall of Marshall Moya Design, to present their proposal. Mr. Marshall described the existing campus as receding from the public realm of Connecticut Avenue; in contrast, the student center would bring the campus out to the avenue. Its shape would respond to the L-shape of the office building at the northeast corner of Connecticut and Veazey, resulting in the implied definition of a large rectangular public square spanning the intersection; this open space would provide a focus and identity for both the university and the community. Immediately to the north of the student center would be a sloping smaller-scale plaza serving as a front lawn to the building and a front porch for the overall campus. The project would include a monumental outdoor staircase ascending approximately twenty feet to Dennard Plaza, and a vertical tower to provide a focus for the gateway and the public square. The staircase would provide space for students to gather, and the upper plaza at the top of the stairs would serve as an outdoor room and an extension of Dennard Plaza. He added that the staircase and sequence of spaces could become part of the procession for campus rituals such as graduation or other ceremonies. Mr. Lemke described the university president's three goals for the project: to create a place for students beyond existing facilities such as the library; to achieve the high environmental rating of platinum beyond the D.C. government's typical goal of silver; and to create a new image and gateway for the campus.

Mr. Marshall described the proposed configuration of the student center with the various uses grouped around a central atrium rising from the Connecticut Avenue plaza level; the building's middle level would connect to Dennard Plaza, and its top floor would extend to span above the monumental outdoor staircase, adding emphasis to this campus gateway. The student center would be aligned with Connecticut Avenue, while the other campus buildings are oriented to the orthogonal city grid; this results in a triangular space along Van Ness Street between the student center and the adjacent campus building, to be developed as a rain garden. Other edges of the project would include low-impact-development features such as bioretention areas. The need for cooling towers on the building would be eliminated by constructing a geothermal facility beneath the campus athletic field; the roof of the student center would include landscaping and photovoltaic cells which would not be visible from the ground level. The atrium would provide extensive natural light to the interior spaces. Mr. Lemke noted the loss of an existing grove of cherry trees on the proposed site, a concern of the community; an arborist is being consulted to determine which trees could be transplanted elsewhere on the campus.

Mr. Lemke described the student center's interior spaces. The lowest level would contain mechanical space and the service connection to the nearby existing loading dock. The Connecticut Avenue level would contain a large dining facility as well as smaller dining rooms, meeting rooms, and takeout food; in addition to the main building entrance, a smaller entrance would lead directly into the dining area which he said would contribute to the urban character of the building. He noted that the building is set back eighteen feet from the Connecticut Avenue property line to allow for the proposed height in accordance with the regulations for the site's residential zoning; he said that this required setback, in conjunction with the ample sidewalk width, provides space for a generous landscaped buffer paralleling the building. This level would also contain a skylit space for student organizations as well as activities such as billiards and lounge space, and would open to the rain garden which connects to Van Ness Street; a location is also provided for an exhibit on the university's history and future, visible from the exterior windows. The building's middle level, aligned with the extension of Dennard Plaza at the top of the monumental staircase, would contain additional student organization space and a large south-facing physical-fitness facility that would be prominently visible to people traveling northward on Connecticut Avenue. Ms. Nelson asked about the intended character of the large skylight at this level. Mr. Lemke responded that it would be a figural or sculptural object within the plaza extension, providing views into the student activity space below; it would not be designed as a surface to walk on, due to maintenance and durability concerns. He then presented the upper-level plan, indicating the bridge structure with study rooms, lounge space, and a shaded open terrace; the south end of this level would include a ballroom accommodating 400 to 500 people along with several smaller meeting rooms and support spaces. The roof would have elevator and stair access to a terrace that would be available for student use, as well as an extensive green roof and the photovoltaic array.

Mr. Marshall presented the proposed elevations and sections, indicating the prevailing use of brick and curtainwall. The south elevation would include a large box-shaped frame around the fitness center and ballroom windows; the frame's bronze color is based on the mullions of the existing campus buildings. He concluded with perspective views of the exterior as well as the atrium space.

Ms. Balmori commented that the proposed student center would benefit the context in a variety of ways, such as by addressing Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness Street; however, she said that the spaces between buildings are less satisfactory, particularly the leftover triangular space on Van Ness Street. She said that the original campus plan uses the buildings more carefully to define the open spaces, a defining characteristic of American campuses, but the current proposal is awkward. She also observed that the master plan focuses on buildings and circulation but lacks a figure-ground reversal that would emphasize the open spaces as a feature to be designed; she emphasized the importance in campus planning of the relationship between spaces and buildings and recommended that this be considered further as the draft master plan is refined.

Mr. Rbyczynski commented that the student center design includes an interesting language of brick and glass for the facades, and generally addresses the street edges successfully. However, he said that the large rectangular frame on the south facade—which he compared to a "big television screen"—seems out of character with the rest of the design and interrupts the overall rhythm of the facades. He noted that the framed area is actually two separate interior spaces and does not require such a large exterior gesture facing the side street, adding that the problem involves urban design as well as the building's architectural vocabulary. Mr. Marshall acknowledged that this feature has been a difficult part of the design process and said that the intention is to express some of the activities that occur within the building; Mr. Rybczynski agreed that a glass wall at this location is appropriate. Mr. Marshall said that other design have involved continued the brick facades across this area, with the interior activities expressed in some other manner.

Ms. Nelson commented that the design of the student center is well developed for the concept stage and succeeds in bringing the campus into the neighborhood, improving the avenue, and providing an amenity for students. She suggested more boldness as the design is further developed. For example, the monumental staircase is not as grand as it could be; special materials might be helpful, such as risers made with bronze as seen on the window frames of the existing buildings. She said that the clock tower could also be bolder: it is currently shown with a very small clock, but this feature could instead be a major beacon for the neighborhood with a large clock. She emphasized the goal of marking this as a unique and special building; Mr. Marshall agreed, adding that this location is intended to be an expression of the city's university. Mr. Lemke added that the tower design is also related to various environmental factors: its south face would contain solar thermal panels to heat water, and the overall tower could serve as a solar chimney to exhaust hot air from the atrium. Ms. Balmori supported further exploration of these functions.

Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's consensus to support the concepts for the master plan and the student center; he agreed with Ms. Balmori that the triangular rain-garden space is awkward and should be studied further. He emphasized the importance of the project for the city and congratulated the design time on the interesting proposal. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the two concepts with the recommendations provided; Mr. Luebke said that the comments would be conveyed in a single letter on both the master plan and the student center.

E. District of Columbia Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization

(At the request of the submitting agency, the Commission reversed the order of the next two agenda items.)

2. CFA 21/APR/11-7, Barry Farm Recreation Center, 1230 Sumner Road, SE. New recreation center and site alterations. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for the Barry Farm Recreation Center at a site adjacent to Birney Elementary School as well as Suitland Parkway, a National Park Service property; it would be the first project to implement a master plan for redevelopment of the Barry Farm neighborhood. She asked Sanath Kalidaas of the D.C. Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization to introduce the proposal. Mr. Kalidas said that his agency is implementing the project on behalf of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation; he introduced Sarah Alexander of Torti Gallas Urban to present the design.

Ms. Alexander described the context of the seven-acre site and indicated the existing recreation center and pool which would be replaced. The proposed construction would occur toward the center of the site and would not affect the Birney School building on the east, now used for two charter elementary schools and undergoing renovation; the west end of the site, with a pavilion and recently refurbished basketball courts, would also remain. The D.C. government plans to redevelop the neighborhood over the next ten years in accordance with a "New Communities" master plan, and the recreation center proposal is being carefully coordinated with this area plan; a linear park is planned as an organizing feature of the neighborhood, and the recreation center would form the northern terminus of this park.

Ms. Balmori commented that a benefit of linear parks is the opportunity to extend them; she asked if the planned linear park for this neighborhood could be envisioned as continuing further north in the future, rather than terminating it at the recreation center. Ms. Alexander responded that this concept was explored early in the master planning process, but was rejected due to the unappealing view to the north toward the Anacostia Metro station over the sunken Suitland Parkway. An additional concern was the need to accommodate numerous facilities on the site, but she offered to study this question further.

Ms. Alexander described the proposed organization of the site. The existing pool would be replaced by unprogrammed open space, responding to community input. Much of the site's open space would be organized as a combination of football, soccer, and baseball fields. The existing surface parking lot on the east would be shortened slightly to accommodate the playing fields, and the school's service area would be slightly reconfigured. An additional 37-space parking area is proposed between the school and the recreation center, providing a total of 65 spaces; 60 of these are required for the school, and five would be for the recreation center—a reduction from the normal requirement for nine spaces. She indicated the alignment of a potential future pedestrian bridge that would span Suitland Parkway and provide access to the Metro station; the pedestrian route would be adjacent to the playing field and unprogrammed open space.

Mr. Rybczynski asked about the landscaped area between the recreation center fields and Suitland Parkway. Ms. Alexander responded that it is a wooded hillside and is not available for recreational use; it serves as a buffer along the parkway. Mr. Luebke clarified that Suitland Parkway, like several other federally owned parkways in the region, includes a road passing through a stream valley along with adjacent parkland which is typically the forested slopes of the valley. Ms. Alexander confirmed that the project site includes additional federal land that is provided for the D.C. government's use as a local recreation area. She said that the National Park Service has requested specific design features for this project, including a setback from the parkway's existing tree line and the planting of an additional row of trees.

Ms. Alexander described the organization of the proposed building as three volumes. The tallest portion to the west, serving as the visual terminus of the future linear park, would contain the lobby, gymnasium, and game room. The middle portion would include community rooms and would have a green roof; the eastern volume would include support facilities for the outdoor pool, with a playground above. Due to the topography of the site, the playground would be directly accessible from the elevated grade and would provide views toward the U.S. Capitol. The building's wings would frame an outdoor courtyard that would be available for classes and group activities adjacent to the community rooms. She indicated the proposed bioswale along the rear of the building and the possibility of placing one along the street facade as well; the goal is to manage the building site's stormwater with the combination of the green roof and bioswale. She also indicated the small additional building that would accommodate storage for the playing fields as well as trash.

Ms. Balmori asked why the gymnasium wing does not have a green roof. Ms. Alexander responded that it would have a "cool roof" using a reflective roof material, but the weight of a planted roof is not feasible above the long-span structure over the gymnasium. Ms. Balmori asked if other features such as solar panels would be placed on this roof. Ms. Alexander responded that solar panels are not part of the project, adding that a LEED environmental rating of silver is being sought for this building; she noted the effort to include a limited range of environmental features within the project's limited budget.

Ms. Alexander presented elevations and perspective views of the proposal. She indicated the lantern-like feature above the entrance to provide an attractive terminus to the linear park; this may be developed further as a more colorful element, possibly including banners. She noted the effort to break down the scale of this relatively large building to blend in better with the small scale of the neighborhood context; she added that larger buildings are planned to the west as part of the neighborhood redevelopment. The three volumes would be articulated as masonry elements separated by hyphens of glass and metal. She indicated the continuous clerestory window encircling the gymnasium, and said the clerestory configuration is preferable to taller windows due to the presence of bleachers against the gymnasium walls as well as the intent to avoid introducing glare. She emphasized that the building is designed to be viewed from all sides, including from the playing fields and from the rising elevation of nearby streets. She presented sections demonstrating that the proposed building would not be visible from the parkway, responding to a concern of the National Park Service. However, the light poles for the playing fields would be near the parkway, similar to the existing field lights; the lighting will be carefully designed to avoid creating a distraction for the parkway. She also noted that the proposed building would not interfere with the view of the U.S. Capitol from an existing exterior stair at the Birney School.

Ms. Nelson expressed support for the submission. Ms. Balmori emphasized that linear parks can become significant forces in modern cities, sometimes overcoming predictions that a park should be terminated and an extension would never occur. She said that a community can sometimes be skeptical of the linear park at first, but after it is implemented there may be growing community support for extending it; she cited an example in her own work of a 14-mile linear park that grew to 21 miles and will soon add an additional 10 miles. She acknowledged that a circulation route is provided alongside the building to connect the linear park to the future bridge site, but expressed regret that the proposed organization of the site does not accommodate the direct extension of the planned linear park. She nonetheless observed that the proposed site plan is well organized and endorsed the design.

Ms. Nelson suggested that Ms. Balmori's concern could be addressed by shifting the recreation center to the east; Mr. Powell encouraged further study of this change. Ms. Alexander responded that earlier studies had included such a configuration and said that the problem would be adjusting the position of the football field, which would otherwise remain as the terminus of the linear park if the recreation center were moved; she noted that the football field would be enclosed by a fence, which would be unattractive as the visual terminus of the linear park. Ms. Balmori emphasized that her comment is intended to relate the project to the nationwide interest in linear parks, even if the issue cannot be resolved on this site. Mr. Kalidas from the D.C. government responded that various alternatives were considered but the site is constrained by the allocation of adjacent sites to other uses, such as housing sponsored by another agency of the D.C. government.

Mr. Rybczynski asked for clarification of the extended view along the linear park if the recreation center were moved; Ms. Alexander responded that the view would extend across Suitland Parkway to the Metro station and bus drop-off facility, an area which she described as an "asphalt jungle." Mr. Rybczynski expressed support for the proposed relationship of the recreation center to the linear park. Ms. Alexander said that linear parks are sometimes terminated by buildings and sometimes extend alongside them, and the design can be successful either way; the challenge for this project is to provide an attractive visual terminus.

Chairman Powell suggested approval of the proposal at the concept stage; Ms. Balmori asked that her suggestions be considered further as the project is developed, and reiterated her overall support for the design. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the concept for the recreation center with the recommendations provided.

(The Commission then returned to agenda item II.E.1. Chairman Powell recused himself from the review of this project, and Vice-Chairman Nelson presided for this agenda item.)

1. CFA 21/APR/11-6, Cardozo High School, 1200 Clifton Street, NW. Building modernization, alterations, and gymnasium addition. Concept. Mr. Simon introduced Lee Becker of Hartman-Cox Architects to present the proposed modernization of Cardozo High School, located on the escarpment at the edge of the L'Enfant city. Mr. Becker discussed the importance of the site as well as the building, noting the panoramic view southward from 13th and Clifton Streets. Cardozo was designed by William Ittner, a noted architect of schools, and was built in 1916; Ittner based the design on German models and included wide well-lit corridors as well as new features such as science classrooms, and the school is characterized by abundant light and open spaces.

Mr. Becker described the scope of the proposed modernization. The goal is to accommodate a capacity of 1,100 students, requiring approximately 170,000 net square feet of academic space which fits reasonably well within the 350,000-gross-square-foot building. However, the existing building does not have a gymnasium of sufficient size for modern needs—basketball games are currently played elsewhere—and a new gymnasium is therefore proposed. He indicated the stacked athletic spaces on the south side of the existing school, including a boys' and girls' gymnasium as well as a small swimming pool. The upper gymnasium would become a performing arts space, adjacent to the auditorium stage; the lower gymnasium would become an expansion area for the low wings on the south containing the school's construction academies. The swimming pool would be refurbished; a possible future project would be to construct a larger natatorium elsewhere on the site. Each of the school's two courtyards would be enclosed with a skylight to form an atrium; these would provide overflow space from the lower-level cafeteria.

Mr. Becker said that the modernization will encompass the site as well as the building. He indicated the 70-foot grade difference across the site and the historic terrace system to the east of the school. The south side of the site has a stadium-style athletic field which has recently been refurbished and would not be altered. The school's main entrance, from Clifton Street on the north, would be modified to provide barrier-free access to the school's entrance vestibule; the steps would be moved toward the street, and a shallow ramp would replace an existing areaway. The flanking areaway would be converted to accommodate bicycle racks.

Mr. Becker described the proposed exterior improvements: repairing the limestone, repointing the brick, refurbishing skylights, repairing limestone balusters and site walls, replacing metal lintels where necessary, and replacing all of the windows. Existing security screens on the windows would be removed; the historic design of windows and doors would be recreated. He said that the historic fabric would be retained where feasible so that the building's character would be apparent, but structural and mechanical soundness is also a priority. Existing exterior murals of Moravian tile would be restored.

Mr. Becker summarized the interior modifications. The existing classrooms would continue to be used, and the interior spaces are being coordinated with the existing window locations. The building's multiple staircases would all be retained; the submission booklet described the removal of some stairs but this is no longer proposed. A new central staircase would be added inside the main entrance to improve the legibility of the building's circulation and to accommodate after-hours community use of the auditorium without relying on stairs within the academic areas.

Mr. Becker described the proposed gymnasium addition. He noted the gymnasium's large size—a 30,000-square-foot footprint, compared to the 65,000-square-foot footprint of the existing school. Several locations were considered; the proposed placement is beneath the northwest corner of the school's site, and the addition would have an at-grade entrance from steeply sloping 13th Street in the middle of the block. The level of the gymnasium has been carefully planned to accommodate the necessary interior height while being unobtrusive within the site; he likened it to an additional terrace that would be consistent with the many others on the site. The entrance would reach a mezzanine level, with the gymnasium floor placed 10 feet below; he clarified that the overall height of the addition would include a 25-foot clear height above the gymnasium floor, plus approximately 8 feet of structure and roof above, resulting in a south facade height of nearly 25 feet. He presented several views of the addition's visible south facade, describing its character as derived from that of the existing school's architecture; he said it would be designed as a glazed entrance pavilion with a fieldhouse aesthetic.

Mr. Becker said that part of the gymnasium location is currently used as a parking lot which needs to be accommodated, and the roof of the gymnasium would therefore serve as a parking area for 86 cars that would be accessible at grade from Clifton Street; he indicated the access point and the proposed landscaping around the parking lot. He confirmed for Ms. Balmori that the proposed parking area would replace the existing surface parking that is already at this location. He noted that other locations for the gymnasium would be far more obtrusive and might result in obstructing the panoramic city views from nearby homes. Mr. Rybczynski asked about the addition's appearance from the west; Mr. Becker responded that a relatively small area of facade would be visible along the slope of 13th Street but would be partially obscured by fences and landscaping.

Mr. Becker discussed the possible siting of a future natatorium, which the design team was asked to consider although it is not part of this project and is not currently funded. The natatorium's footprint would approximately the same as the gymnasium's. The most feasible location would be on the east side of the school, set within the existing terracing, but its presence would be more obtrusive than the gymnasium's due to the topography's relationship to the existing school. Ms. Balmori asked about the treatment of the existing terraces in the current proposal; Mr. Becker responded that they would remain but would be renovated to eliminate the problematic current grading variations which produce ponding. A geothermal field would also be developed beneath the terraces, contributing to the LEED environmental rating of silver or possibly gold that will be sought for the school. He added that stormwater retention would be addressed elsewhere on the site, and the historic treatment of the terraces as lawns would continue rather than introduce a new type of planting.

Ms. Balmori asked if people would be able to use the terraces for activities. Mr. Becker responded that they would be used by the school, and possibly by the general public although this use would not be encouraged. He noted existing school-related uses of the terraces including a peace garden, memorial trees, and also the exterior space for a day-care center toward the lower end of the terraces; the proposal includes a small outdoor amphitheater on the top terrace that could be used for classes. Ms. Balmori emphasized the importance of providing open space for the students; she asked if the roofs of the lowest wings of the school could provide additional usable space. Mr. Becker responded that some of these roofs are obstructed with skylights and monitors—not shown in the computer-generated perspective drawings—that are beneficial for the industrial-arts educational spaces below; others are proposed as green roofs. Ms. Balmori offered overall support for the project but expressed concern that unprogrammed open spaces may be disappearing from the site, leaving only spaces for programmed activities; she suggested that open space be regained where possible as the proposal is developed further. Mr. Rybczynski noted that the proposed gymnasium addition does not contribute to this problem because it would replace an existing parking lot.

Ms. Balmori noted that the historic site design included terraces on both the east and west sides of the school, which Mr. Becker confirmed. Theresa Luther, project manager for the D.C. Office of Public Education Facilities Management, responded that the terracing on the west side of the site originally included a small parking area as well as tennis courts and a basketball court. She emphasized that the proposed location for the gymnasium was selected because this high point of the site provides the opportunity to place the addition entirely below eye level when viewed from Clifton Street, avoiding the obstruction of residents' views that would result from siting the addition on the school's east side. The proposal therefore responds to community needs as well as the needs of students and faculty. She noted that barrier-free access to the terraces is a challenging issue that is being studied. She cited examples of proposed improvements to the terrace system that will return it more closely to its early-20th-century appearance. She said that the proposed green roof location was selected because it is directly accessible from within the school, and it may be designed to encourage student use; the other roofs are generally not accessible accept by ladder. Mr. Becker added that the landscape design is at an early stage of development, and many of the site design issues are still being resolved. Ms. Balmori said that the Commission will need to review the proposal in more detail, and she reiterated the need to provide children with outdoor space.

Mr. Rybczynski asked about the activities occurring on the athletic field. Ms. Luther responded that it is used for soccer and football; the school also has a baseball team but it plays at another school because this site does not accommodate baseball. She noted that one proposal being developed is to excavate the area below the bleachers to create a stormwater retention facility; the water would be used to irrigate the athletic field.

Ms. Nelson asked for clarification of the proposed atriums in the school's existing courtyards. Mr. Becker responded that the existing cafeteria's kitchen would be enlarged, and the lost cafeteria space would be regained by adding cafeteria tables at the bottom of each atrium; the floor levels do not quite align, so the proposal also includes ramps. Ms. Nelson asked if students would have access to these tables for studying when not needed for dining; Mr. Becker confirmed that the tables would be available. Ms. Luther added that a similar treatment was implemented recently at Eastern High School, with two courtyards enclosed to form atriums, and noted that the atrium use requires special air-handling equipment. She said that both atriums would likely be used for special classes outside of dining hours.

Ms. Balmori commented that the conversion of these courtyards to programmed atriums is an example of the loss of open space on the site, reiterating the need to consider this issue. Mr. Rybczynski asked if the courtyards are currently used as open space; Ms. Luther responded that they have trees and benches but do not receive much sunlight and are damp, rarely used spaces. She said that one option that was considered was to enclose one atrium and leave the other as an open courtyard; however, the faculty and project team expressed a preference to enclose both courtyards and make them available for year-round use. Ms. Nelson asked if students are permitted to use the athletic field for unprogrammed activities; Ms. Luther responded that this is permitted, and access would become easier with the construction of the proposed gymnasium which would have an underground connecting corridor to the athletic field. Ms. Nelson asked if the general public can use the athletic field, such as for running on the track; Ms. Luther responded that public access is not currently allowed.

Mr. Rybczynski described the proposal as an ingenious and thoughtful solution. Ms. Nelson agreed, commenting that the proposal is consistent with the school's historic fabric and respects its special features such as the Moravian tiles; she also supported the proposed siting of the gymnasium. Ms. Luther emphasized the goal of designing the gymnasium's exterior to be sympathetic to the existing building, giving the appearance that it has always been there, rather than introduce a contrasting contemporary architectural style. Mr. Becker said that the intention is for the gymnasium to relate well to the site and not to compete with the existing building's strong character and prominent setting.

Vice-Chairman Nelson suggested taking action on the project and asked if the three participating Commission members are insufficient for a quorum. Mr. Luebke said that the meeting has a quorum, even though Mr. Powell is not participating for this agenda item, and an action would therefore be valid. Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept submission with the recommendation to further study the site's open spaces.

(Chairman Powell returned to the meeting, and the Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.F.)

F. District of Columbia Department of Real Estate Services

CFA 21/APR/11-8, E.L. Haynes Public Charter School (former Clark Elementary School), 4501 Kansas Avenue, NW. Addition and renovation. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 17/MAR/11-5.) Mr. Simon introduced the revised submission for the addition of a high school to a 1960s D.C. elementary school building to accommodate the expansion of a charter school program. He summarized the Commission's recommendations at the April 2011 review for a more sympathetic addition design, improvements to the site plan, and consideration of the project's appearance from the north. He introduced architect Milton Shinberg of Shinberg Levinas to present the concept proposal.

Mr. Shinberg emphasized the financial constraints that are typical of charter schools and said that this project is being designed with the very limited budget of $165 per square foot, which limits the range of design possibilities. The design nonetheless has some flexibility, and he said that the new submission has been improved in response to the Commission's previous comments.

Mr. Shinberg described the existing building, a concrete-frame elementary school from the 1960s; he characterized it as an "exoskeleton" design that is similar to many others across the city. He indicated the rhythmic expression of the concrete structure, which is painted, and the infill of glass and occasionally panels. The building is organized with a three-story main front bar and a rear auditorium, linked by a connecting corridor. He indicated the entrance located in this corridor, which will continue to serve as the elementary school's student entrance—appropriately small in scale for the younger children. He described the five-acre site, which he said is unusually ample for a charter school. Part of the site is open recreational space, and part is used for parking; both of these uses would be retained. Most of the site is defined by grid streets, and one side is bounded by the diagonal of Kansas Avenue.

Mr. Shinberg described the goal of translating the existing school's design characteristics into the new building while not creating a literal copy; he said that the buildings would be forty years apart in age and therefore have differences as well as similarities in their design issues. Concrete, brick, and glass, all used in the existing building, would be part of the addition's facades; the addition would also have warm colors as seen on the existing building. The existing configuration of concrete spandrels does not meet modern energy-efficiency standards, particularly with a LEED environmental rating of silver being sought, and the addition will therefore use a different facade system of white insulated metal panels.

Mr. Shinberg summarized the program for the project. The E.L. Haynes Charter School provides classes for kindergarten through high school; the junior high school is accommodated at a different site. The elementary school currently uses two floors of the existing building for 200 students. The high school, with a population of 400 students, would use the proposed addition as well as the third floor of the existing building; the addition is therefore designed as a rising form that connects to the existing building's third floor. He said that the program configuration appropriately keeps the younger children on the lower floors that require less climbing of stairs. The addition is primarily aligned with Kansas Avenue and deflects in response to the grid alignment of the existing school. The entrance to the high school would be on the south side, intentionally far from the elementary school's student entrance and appropriately related to the multiple transit and pedestrian routes that the older students would use to reach the school.

Mr. Shinberg indicated the proposed entrance plaza for the high school adjacent to the parking lot, and the staff and visitor entrance from the parking lot to the elementary school; the design has been refined to include a drop-off area near these entrances. A drop-off area is also proposed along Kansas Avenue for the elementary school's student entrance; he said that the D.C. Department of Transportation wants the parking lot entrance to remain on the 7th Street side of the site. He indicated the large amount of impervious play area which he said would be improved as part of the project, resulting in a significant reduction in impervious area. The existing playing field at the south end of the site would also be improved to accommodate more organized athletic activities for the high school. The high school's second-floor library would open to an elevated outdoor learning space; the area defined by the bent form of the high school addition would be treated as an urban garden. He added that some of the outdoor space could be used for growing food.

Mr. Shinberg described the interior configuration of the addition. The high school's entrance atrium would extend downward to the basement-level double-height gymnasium. The walls of the atrium would be heavy concrete construction to serve as retaining walls, providing the opportunity for expressive treatment of the concrete on the interior; he said that this treatment would be comparable to the expression of the concrete exoskeleton on the existing school. Bamboo would be used to provide an interior datum line at the second-floor level, encompassing the high school's library. The markings of the concrete formwork would relate to the brick coursing while not imitating it directly.

Mr. Shinberg presented a series of renderings and elevations to illustrate the relationship between the existing school and the proposed addition. He emphasized the similarities in height, materials, and organization, as well as the respect for the existing building's features. He indicated the reduced height of the addition so that it does not appear to overwhelm the existing building, responding to the Commission's concern in the previous review; he expressed appreciation for the staff's assistance in amplifying the guidance.

Chairman Powell commented that the design responds well to the Commission's previous comments. Ms. Balmori recommended providing more trees on the site. Mr. Shinberg noted the football field that occupies much of the site; Ms. Balmori said that opportunities should be taken to provide shade where possible. She questioned the appearance of a stepped landscape in the renderings, commenting that these small terraces would not be readily usable by the students; Mr. Shinberg responded that the computer-generated rendering technique has exaggerated this effect, and only a gradual slope is intended which will provide informal seating for students to watch games on the playing field. Ms. Balmori said that the seating would be better accommodated with actual stepping, even though this would reduce the general usability of the open space; she concluded that the intended gentle slope would be an appropriate design.

Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the new concept submission and delegated further review of the project to the staff, with the request that the staff report back to the Commission on the issue of providing more trees.

G. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act

SL 11-083, Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman, 2535 Belmont Road, NW. Building addition and landscaping. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for an addition to the embassy of Oman, located adjacent to Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway. The existing building is residentially scaled, and the proposal would add a new building of comparable size to be connected with the existing by a basement-level conference center. She introduced architect Gabriela Condrut of EFSI Engineering to present the proposal.

Ms. Condrut described the site's context, indicating the adjacent residential neighborhood including the residences of ambassadors, and the proximity to many embassies along Massachusetts Avenue; the architecturally distinctive Islamic Center, facing the avenue, is immediately adjacent to Oman's site. The rear of the site abuts Waterside Drive, which descends along the edge of the Rock Creek valley to Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway. The overall embassy property is one acre; the existing Colonial Revival building has three stories plus a basement. The proposal would require removal of some existing trees as well as some utility structures and a small building that contained a squash court. The site has a significant slope, and the proposed basement expansion would have an exposed facade toward the park.

Ms. Condrut presented the proposal for the upper portion of the addition, which would define a plaza space between the new and existing structures; she said that this plaza would include landscaping and could also be described as a green roof above the proposed conference center. The entrance area with portico would be between the levels of the plaza and the basement, providing public access to each of these areas when needed; the conference center would have cultural events that are open to the public. A landscaped lightwell within the plaza would bring additional light to the basement level. The proposed facade is based on that of the existing building, using brick and an arched entrance; she emphasized its role in establishing a gateway from the institutional character of Massachusetts Avenue into the residential Kalorama neighborhood.

Mr. Luebke noted the impending loss of a quorum and asked if the Commission would prefer to take an action on the project or defer the formal decision to the following month. Ms. Nelson noted that the Commission members have already looked over the drawings that were provided in advance of the meeting. Mr. Rybczynski said that the Commission's primary concern is the effect of the proposal on the adjacent national park; Ms. Nelson commented that the proposed design is respectful of the park. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the concept submission. Mr. Luebke added that the final design proposal could be placed on the Shipstead-Luce Appendix if the staff considers the future submission to be satisfactory. Ms. Condrut acknowledged the assistance of the staff in developing the concept submission.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.

Signed,

Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Secretary

grey divider line

Last Modified: May 27, 2011