Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
21 July 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 10:08 a.m.
A. Approval of the minutes of the 16 June meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the June 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: 15 September, 20 October, and 17 November; he noted that no meeting is scheduled during August.
C. Report on site inspections. Mr. Luebke reported on the Commission's three site inspections earlier in the morning, all associated with projects on the agenda under the Shipstead–Luce Act: the site of a proposed hotel at 850 D Street, SW, in the L'Enfant Plaza complex; the Watergate hotel building at 2650 Virginia Avenue, NW, where modifications are proposed; and the office building at 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, where facade alterations are proposed. Chairman Powell suggested discussing the inspections in conjunction with the review of the submissions. (See agenda items II.G.1, II.G.2, and II.G.3.)
Mr. Luebke also reported on the staff's site inspection of the lighting for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial; the staff's suggested recommendation to the National Park Service has been placed on the Direct Submission Consent Calendar (Appendix I) for the Commission's consideration. He said that the lighting installation responds to the Commission's guidance from the site inspection in February 2011; most of the lighting has now been installed in anticipation of the memorial's opening in late August but some adjustments are still possible. He said that the pole–mounted lighting of the central statue of Dr. King on the Stone of Hope provides good modeling, but the torso is over–lit in relation to the head; the recommendation calls for adjusting the lighting balance. The Mountain of Despair is lit from the berms flanking the memorial's entrance plaza; the soft lighting is generally appropriate, but the presence of direct light on portions of the side walls is distracting and diminishes the intended prominence of the Stone of Hope. The recommendation therefore calls for adjusting the lights to eliminate the areas of brightness along these side walls. The grade–level recessed lighting boxes for the inscription walls have been treated as the Commission previously requested, with the elimination of bright bands of reflection; the result is an even, consistent light along the length of the curving walls, and the neutral white color of this lighting is appropriate. The water features and associated lighting on each side of the Mountain of Despair were not yet operational at the site inspection; he described the proposed design and said that it would likely not be problematic. The accent lights within the plaza's landscape islands are of greater concern: they are excessively bright in highlighting the cherry trees from below, distracting from the views toward the Stone of Hope and inscription walls, and the recommendation calls for reducing their brightness. Similarly, the linear lights along the side walls of the memorial's entry court are excessively bright and should be dimmed substantially to avoid distracting from the view toward the primary elements of the memorial.
Mr. Luebke indicated the draft recommendation on the Consent Calendar that conveys this guidance, along with a favorable response to either of the two materials—granite pavers or cast–in–place concrete—being considered for the crosswalk between the support building and the memorial. Chairman Powell noted the consensus of the Commission members to support the staff's draft recommendation. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission could adopt the recommendation as part of the Consent Calendar rather than by a separate action. He confirmed that no further submission would be anticipated for these features of the memorial.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested that the wording of the recommendation be revised to suggest possible elimination of the problematic lighting at the trees and the entry court, rather than merely reducing the brightness; Ms. Balmori supported this modification. Mr. Luebke suggested revised wording that would provide flexibility, noting that some lighting may be necessary for accessibility; he summarized the overall intent that the lighting should focus attention on the central features of the memorial.
Dr. Ed Jackson Jr., executive architect of the memorial's sponsoring foundation, responded to the comments. He said that, following the discussion at the staff's site inspection, the project team studied the staff recommendations and is generally able to achieve the requested changes. For example, lighting at the planters will be reduced by 75 to 80 percent using a filter, while continuing to provide ambient light for pedestrians in this area. He said that eliminating the direct light and shadow lines on the inner faces of the Mountain of Despair is more difficult; he offered to work further on addressing this concern but said that the adjustments might introduce new problems. Chairman Powell acknowledged the effort to respond to the Commission's concerns. (The Commission's action on this project was included in the subsequent approval of Appendix I, agenda item II.A.)
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I — Direct Submission Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom noted several changes to the draft appendix. As discussed, the recommendation for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial was added and will be further modified in response to the Commission's discussion. For the submission from the University of the District of Columbia, final drawings have been received and are satisfactory; the recommendation has therefore been updated. He noted the numerous submissions from the D.C. government, including several local–interest projects that are recommended for concept approval; he suggested that the Commission may wish to delegate the final approval of these projects to the staff. Chairman Powell supported this delegation; Ms. Nelson agreed, noting that the Commission would not meet in August and the delegated authority would therefore be especially useful in expediting the project reviews. Chairman Powell added that the recent submissions from the D.C. government for schools and libraries have been of noteworthy quality. Ms. Balmori supported the delegated authority but asked for the opportunity to see the submissions for school projects. Upon a motion by Mr. Schlossberg with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised Direct Submission Consent Calendar, with the delegated authority for final review of several D.C. government submissions and with modified wording of the recommendation for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.
Appendix II — Shipstead–Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several changes to the draft appendix. The recommendation for 2557 Waterside Drive (case number SL 11–113) was tentatively changed to favorable based on a revision to the proposal; the recommendation will be finalized upon receipt of supplemental materials. A project was added to the appendix from the University of the District of Columbia; the proposal was reviewed as part of the Direct Submission Consent Calendar but was erroneously submitted under the Shipstead–Luce Act, and has been added to the appendix to close out the Shipstead–Luce file number. She noted several other minor updates in the appendix based on the receipt of supplemental materials; further materials are still pending for several projects, as noted in the appendix, and she requested the Commission's authorization to finalize these recommendations when the materials have been received. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Schlossberg, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda item II.G for additional Shipstead–Luce Act submissions.)
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. The recommendation for residential sitework at 1699 31st Street, NW (case number OG 11–237) was changed to favorable based on the receipt of supplemental drawings that conform to the recommendation of the Old Georgetown Board. He noted that several projects had also been included on the previous month's appendix pending the receipt of supplemental materials, which were not received until long after the Commission meeting; these projects have therefore been transferred to the current appendix, and supplemental drawings remain outstanding for one of them. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Mr. Luebke suggested that, in consideration of the lengthy agenda, the Commission may wish to act on the proposed tennis facilities at the Benning Stoddert Recreation Center (agenda item II.F), submitted by the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, based on review of the submission materials without the scheduled presentation; he noted that the project is too large to be eligible for inclusion on the Direct Submission Consent Calendar. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the proposal for the Benning Stoddert Recreation Center.
B. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 21/JUL/11–1, Star–Spangled Banner Commemorative Coin Program. Designs for a five–dollar gold and one–dollar silver coin. Final. Mr. Simon introduced Kaarina Budow of the U.S. Mint to present design alternatives for two non–circulating commemorative coins honoring the Star–Spangled Banner.
Ms. Budow provided the Commission with the newly struck medal commemorating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; the medal design was reviewed by the Commission in February 2011, and the medal will be made available to the public at the end of the summer. She noted the Commission's previous concern with the execution of the reverse design. She confirmed that the medals would be struck only as silver proofs, in accordance with the authorizing legislation. She said that the medals will be sold at the memorial being placed at the World Trade Center site, as well as through the Mint's website.
Ms. Budow introduced several people to assist in the presentation of the Star–Spangled Banner design alternatives: chief sculptor–engraver Don Everhart of the Philadelphia Mint's staff; and Bill Pencek and Katherine Marks of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. She summarized the authorizing legislation, with the coins to be emblematic of the War of 1812 and particularly the Baltimore battle in 1814 which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the lyrics of the Star–Spangled Banner, now the national anthem. Ms. Nelson noted the requirement to include various text phrases and the denomination of each coin; she asked if the size of these elements is mandated or is determined by the need for legibility. Ms. Budow and Mr. Everhart responded that the issue is legibility and spacing of the design elements rather than any specific requirement; the relative size of the elements is also a factor.
Ms. Budow presented the ten obverse alternatives for the five–dollar gold coin, depicting various battle scenes and allegorical compositions. She also presented the eight reverse alternatives for the gold coin, depicting Francis Scott Key or a stylized flag. She confirmed that the gold coin would be less than an inch in diameter, and would be smaller than the silver coin; Ms. Nelson emphasized that size is a significant design constraint for the gold coin.
Ms. Balmori commented that the Commission's recurring preference for simplification is particularly applicable to this small coin; she said that the design alternatives have far too much information, adding that the quality of the figure drawing is also not good. She said that obverse alternative #10 is relatively simple, with design elements that are sufficiently large to be legible; she said that the prominent flag of this alternative could suggest a pairing with the relatively simple and iconic flag designs of reverse alternatives #7 or #8. She suggested reverse alternative #7 as a particularly appropriate and iconic design to be paired with obverse alternative #10.
Ms. Budow discussed the preferences of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission for the gold coin. The obverse preference is alternative #10, with a beautiful allegorical image of Liberty and a recognizable depiction of Fort McHenry; the second choice is #9, with a similar design but a somewhat misleading depiction of the sun's position. The reverse preference is alternative #4, which would complement the obverse with an additional depiction of Fort McHenry; the second choice is #7 due to its simplicity and beauty. She noted that the dark depiction of lettering in this alternative is intended to represent a recessed treatment on the face of the coin.
Mr. Rybczynski supported Ms. Balmori's preference for pairing obverse #10 with reverse #7. Mr. Schlossberg supported obverse #10 and also suggested further consideration of obverse #8. Ms. Nelson supported obverse #8, commenting that the aerial view of Fort McHenry in obverse #10 may be seen merely as a star shape rather than as a fort. Ms. Budow noted that these alternatives do not include a flag flying above the fort, to avoid conflicting with the larger flag in the allegorical composition. Mr. Schlossberg described obverse #8 as the most coherent and balanced of the alternatives, particularly due to the placement of the text along the coin's circumference and the quality of the drawing; he said that the legibility of the fort is reasonable although less than would be desired, and suggested adding the text "Fort McHenry" to identify it. Ms. Plater–Zyberk joined in supporting obverse #8, commenting on the excessive complexity of the design elements in obverse #10. Ms. Balmori said that the plan view of the fort in #10 is more iconic than the low–level perspective view in #8, but she said that obverse #8 is an acceptable design and offered her support.
Mr. Everhart noted the concern with the legibility of the fort on obverse #8; he said that the trees depicted within the fort are historically accurate but could be omitted for clarity, resulting in an emphasis on the fort's buildings. Ms. Nelson agreed, commenting that the trees would be extremely small at the scale of the coin and would suggest the appearance of a forested island. Mr. Schlossberg reiterated his suggestion to add the label "Fort McHenry" on the wall of the fort, noting the current trend of students being unable to identify historical images; he said that the coin could help to address this educational problem. Mr. Everhart instead suggested that the land area in the foreground of the fort be extended to improve the composition's legibility, with the text label incused in this extended land area; he noted that adding the text at this location would avoid obscuring the image of the fort. Mr. Schlossberg encouraged some sort of identification to address his concern.
For the reverse of the gold coin, Mr. Schlossberg and Ms. Nelson supported alternative #8; Ms. Balmori supported this alternative, as well as reverse #7. Mr. Schlossberg commented that the text of the Star–Spangled Banner lyrics on #8 is too similar to the standard coin text in size and alignment, resulting in possible confusion; he suggested that the composition be revised to separate the lyrics from the standard text, with the denomination and "E Pluribus Unum" moved to the circumference and the text size of the lyrics reduced slightly. Ms. Nelson agreed while commenting favorably on the abstracted flag elements toward the lower part of the composition; she suggested consideration of adding the text "Francis Scott Key" to identify the author of the lyrics. Ms. Plater–Zyberk supported the revised composition for reverse #8. Mr. Schlossberg said that the phrase "E Pluribus Unum" could be placed as a continuation of the circumferential text "United States of America," which Ms. Budow said might require adjustment of the lettering size. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that the text could be placed at the bottom of the composition, and the flag design could be adjusted by making use of the space that would be freed toward the center of the coin; Mr. Schlossberg agreed. Mr. Rybczynski noted that reverse alternative #7 already includes this suggested composition, placing all of the standard text within a circumferential ring. Mr. Schlossberg suggested using the composition of #7 while placing the design elements of #8 in the center. Mr. Everhart responded that the ring of text in reverse #7 is feasible while the suggestion to place the standard text in only a portion of the circumference may result in a problem with the lettering size; Mr. Schlossberg said that the ring is an attractive compositional element.
Mr. Pencek asked to address the Commission. He reiterated the preferences of his group and said that the response was similar to the Commission's: a preference for simplicity and dignity. He noted that the allegorical figure of Liberty had been used previously in Maryland's centennial commemoration of the war, and his group's preferred pairing would include Liberty on the obverse and Francis Scott Key on the reverse. As a second choice for the reverse, his group considered both #7 and #8; the preference for #7 is due to its inclusion of 15 stripes and stars, a useful educational reference to the actual flag used at Fort McHenry. He emphasized education as one of the several purposes of the coin, noting a survey finding that most Americans are familiar with the Star–Spangled Banner but only one–fourth can associate it with the War of 1812 and the battle at Baltimore.
Upon a motion by Mr. Schlossberg with second by Ms. Plater–Zyberk, the Commission recommended that the gold coin include obverse #8 subject to consideration of labeling the fort; and, on the reverse, a combination of the ring of standard text from alternative #7 with the central design elements from alternative #8. Ms. Balmori reiterated her preference for obverse alternative #10.
Ms. Budow presented the six obverse design alternatives for the one–dollar silver coin, with an emphasis on the nautical fighting at Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812; she explained that the United States had authorized privateers to attack British ships, as noted in the inscriptions of some of the alternatives. She then presented nine alternatives for the reverse with various depictions of the historic and modern American flag which "represents the broad ideals and values of the nation."
Ms. Budow noted the preferences of the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission for the silver coin: obverse #2 due to the beautiful image and the text reading "War at Sea," with a second choice for obverse #1 which is also a beautiful image but with the potentially obscure "Privateers" reference; and reverse #1 which is simple and beautiful using the text "Star–Spangled Banner," with a second choice for reverse #3 although the combination of two flags may be too busy. Mr. Pencek confirmed these preferences and emphasized the importance of the U.S. Navy in the War of 1812 and in the modern bicentennial commemoration. He said that the broad reference to "War at Sea" would encompass both the U.S. Navy and the privateers, and would have a wide appeal to the public which would assist in the fundraising to be generated by sale of the coins. He also emphasized the simplicity of the historic flag on reverse #1. Ms. Nelson asked for Mr. Pencek's response to obverse #3; Mr. Pencek responded that the composition cuts off the bow of the ship which is artistically problematic.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested obverse alternative #1 with revised text to eliminate the reference to privateers. Mr. Powell said that the "War at Sea" text could be used; Mr. Schlossberg and Ms. Nelson agreed. Mr. Powell added that the simplicity of obverse #1 is very elegant. Mr. Pencek accepted this alteration, noting that his group had responded to the designs as presented rather than suggesting revisions. Mr. Rybczynski commented that depicting a maritime scene on a coin is inherently problematic; Ms. Nelson and Ms. Balmori agreed. Mr. Rybczynski expressed opposition to all of the obverse alternatives, describing them as "bad designs for coins." Ms. Balmori said that ships are an appealing image; Mr. Rybczynski added that the ships could be simplified. Mr. Powell suggested eliminating the extraneous second ship in the background to leave a strong depiction of a single ship; Ms. Balmori agreed. Mr. Pencek said that the foreground ship, a top–sail schooner, is iconic to naval enthusiasts and would be appropriate as the single design feature of the composition. Ms. Nelson noted that the foreground ship in obverse #1 also includes the American flag. Mr. Everhart said that the recommended elimination of the background ship and shortening of the descriptive text would suggest the opportunity to enlarge the depiction of the remaining ship, perhaps extending it further downward in the composition, in order to fit better within the circular coin. Mr. Pencek said that the text "In God We Trust" and "2012" could also be adjusted; Ms. Nelson agreed.
Ms. Nelson supported reverse alternative #1 as the strongest composition; Ms. Balmori agreed. Mr. Rybczynski suggested that the configuration of the reverse be the same as recommended for the gold coin which has the same theme. Ms. Nelson said that collectors might prefer variety in the designs; Mr. Rybczynski said that the Commission is nonetheless concerned with the aesthetics, and he preferred the recommended configuration of the gold coin. Ms. Budow said that the reverse themes of the two coins are different although related: the national anthem for the gold reverse, and the flag for the silver reverse.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that the simplicity of obverse #1 for the silver coin—particularly with the further simplification as recommended by the Commission—could be paired with the comparably simple reverse #6; Ms. Balmori agreed. Ms. Nelson asked if the tonal gradations of the drawing for reverse #6 could be conveyed on the coin; Mr. Everhart responded that the tones would be generated by texture, and the areas shown in white on the renderings would be polished. Several Commission members commented that the effect of these finishes would be beautiful. Mr. Everhart added that the Mint could also use laser–frost textures which would create additional visual effects. Mr. Pencek said that a recommendation for reverse #6 would generally be consistent with his group's wishes, but this design was not supported because the detailing of the partially depicted flag—with a white stripe directly beneath the field of stars—is not consistent with the configuration of the 15–stripe flag that was used during the War of 1812. Ms. Balmori noted that the coin would not convey colors, so this issue could be minor. Mr. Schlossberg recommended that the text in reverse #6 be moved to a circumferential ring; several Commission members agreed, and Ms. Nelson said that this adjustment would help to emphasize the image of the flag. Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested that the Commission's recommendation include the possibility of adjusting the stripe pattern on the flag.
Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission's recommended pairing—obverse #1 and reverse #6—would result in inconsistent typography. Mr. Schlossberg suggested that the serif typeface be used on both sides. Mr. Rybczynski emphasized the importance of this issue, commenting that the coin commemorating the September 11 terrorist attacks—provided to the Commission at the beginning of the presentation—has a disturbing mismatch of typefaces; Ms. Balmori agreed.
Chairman Powell summarized a motion for the Commission's recommendation on the silver coin: obverse alternative #1, with suggested consideration of changing the text to "War at Sea" rather than the reference to privateers, and with the background ship removed along with enlarging the primary ship and lowering the horizon line; and reverse alternative #6 with the standard coin text consolidated toward the perimeter of the coin. Upon a second by Mr. Schlossberg, the Commission adopted this recommendation.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked how artists could become involved in the Mint's design process for coins. Ms. Budow confirmed that members of the Commission have raised this question previously; she said that the Mint makes public announcements to recruit artists for its Artistic Infusion Program, and ten artists joined as associate designers in the previous year. She said that such recruiting is done at approximately two–year intervals, with annual evaluation of the artists in the program. The artists are contractors to the Mint and receive training on how to design for coinage and medals. Mr. Luebke added that the Mint also has professional engravers on its staff, including Mr. Everhart. Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted that the artists and engravers have different roles in the minting process; she has spoken with artists who have worked on non–government medallic sculptures and are not aware of the opportunities to work with the Mint. Ms. Budow offered to notify the Commission staff of future public announcements to recruit artists, and welcomed the assistance of the Commission members with the Mint's outreach effort.
C. General Services Administration
1. CFA 21/JUL/11–2, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street, NW. Security screening facility and accessible entrance. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the concept submission for a security screening facility and accessible entrance beneath the historic plaza of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB). He noted the visit of the Commission members to the site earlier in the morning. He asked Mina Wright of the General Services Administration to begin the presentation.
Ms. Wright said that this project is closely tied to other projects for the President's Park complex and is therefore on a tight schedule. She noted the importance of the building as a National Historic Landmark, resulting in few options for locating the screening facility; a goal of the design is to minimize any adverse effect and she said that the proposed design would be unobtrusive. She introduced architect James Timberlake of KieranTimberlake to present the design.
Mr. Timberlake noted that the new facility would be the front door to the north side of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, facing on Pennsylvania Avenue. He described the principles and goals which are guiding the design: it should respect the axis of the original entrance which includes a monumental stair, portico, and door; provide equal access for all visitors and staff, including those with impaired mobility; provide a dignified and welcoming experience; recognize the new and historic characteristics of the structure, minimizing disruption to the historic fabric; and, where new material and forms are introduced, the design should be contemporary but respectful of the historic structure. He added that the new facility should also be sustainable and functional, and provide a flexible space to accommodate future changes in security screening.
Mr. Timberlake discussed the project's context, indicating the location of the EEOB immediately west of the White House in the area called President's Park; he summarized recent changes that have been made to Pennsylvania Avenue on the north. He indicated the building's existing entrances with screening facilities and described the difficulties with the current entrance on the south side of the building. He said the new facility would consolidate these entrances and would replace a temporary screening structure—essentially a tent—that is currently on the EEOB's north plaza; the plaza is several steps below street level and the flanking lawn areas are lower than the plaza. He indicated the four historic but deteriorated magnolia trees that located on the lawns.
Mr. Timberlake presented an earlier stage of the design, including the concept of addressing the grade differences between Pennsylvania Avenue, the plaza, and the ground level with a series of ramps. He said the proposed facility is now much larger, in part because of a Secret Service requirement to include additional security points at both the entrance and exit, and the need to maintain a greater separation between the building and unscreened visitors. He described several options that were considered for structures above or below grade at various locations, including some that would have permanently closed the north plaza, but peer review panels and the General Services Administration had rejected these because of the difficulty of moving utilities and the lack of functional flexibility. The conclusion was that the best solution would be to locate the screening facility below the north plaza.
Mr. Timberlake described the concept in more detail. The existing steps between the sidewalk and the plaza would be moved slightly back toward the building, allowing for the construction of two new gates at the top of the new entrance and exit ramps; each ramp would have a small pre–screening facility, allowing flexibility in the use of the two ramps in case of emergency. He described the sequence of visitors moving into and through the facility: the main screening room beneath the plaza would be a large, flexible space with glass walls to provide daylight; from the screening room, a stair would lead into the former post office located below the historic vestibule of the EEOB, with additional access to an elevator.
Ms. Nelson asked about the need for two separate ramps; Mr. Timberlake responded that the entrance and exit have to be separated. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked how a person would get from the new entry level to the historic entry level. Mr. Timberlake indicated the route up into the former post office, from which visitors would move to the existing stairs and elevators within the building; he said that the lack of a more direct connection into the building results from the desire not to make another intervention in the building. Ms. Balmori asked the height of the ramping to the new facility; Johann Mordhorst of KieranTimberlake responded that the height would be approximately fourteen feet, constrained by the limited length of ramp within the available space and the desire for an eleven–foot ceiling height within the screening facility.
Mr. Timberlake said the slope of the lawns would be reversed from their current direction, so the lawns will slope down toward the new entrance. He added that the four historic magnolia trees would be replaced so that all of the trees would match. He said the existing hedge and perennial bed would likely be retained because the hedge conceals exterior lighting for the building; however, if another lighting solution is found, the hedge and perhaps the bed could be removed. Mr. Rybczynski asked for clarification of the proposed grading. Mr. Mordhorst responded that the lawns at their highest would be two feet below the plaza level, and three to three–and–a–half feet below street level. The existing grade would be maintained where the lawns meet the balustrade near the building; rather than keeping the existing upward slope toward Pennsylvania Avenue, the proposed grade would slope downward toward the lower runs of the proposed ramps. Mr. Luebke summarized the grade dimensions: an eight–foot slope across the lawn panels is proposed, in the reverse direction from the existing slope of approximately two feet.
Mr. Timberlake presented three options for treating the intersection of the ramps and plaza. The first option would replicate the style of the existing balustrade pier where the new wall would meet and defer to the historic balustrade. In the second option, the ramp wall would form a plane which does not replicate the historic pier, following the Secretary of the Interior's guidelines on historic preservation which recommend clearly distinguishing between old and new construction. The third option would use a post–tensioned concrete slab to carry the plaza, resulting in a thinner proportion which would provide the greatest flexibility; the structure would not be expressed on the exterior.
Mr. Schlossberg asked about the feasibility of maintaining the lawns at their current grade or a higher level, and allowing the two ramps to enter beneath the lawns, so that the historic lawns would be retained with no opening for glass walls or ramps. Mr. Timberlake responded that this was considered but not pursued because it would create an inhospitable slot–like entrance experience for visitors. He emphasized the importance of allowing natural light into the facility and also allowing views of the historic building from within, resulting in the proposed grading of the lawns. He indicated the proposed retaining wall along the side of the ramp, approximately three feet high and slightly battered. Mr. Rybczynski questioned whether daylight would be critical to the screening facility, commenting that the space would likely be filled with machinery that would obstruct the daylight anyway; but he acknowledged that an eight–foot–high wall next to the ramps would not be desirable, creating an unpleasant trench–like appearance.
Mr. Plater–Zyberk and Mr. Rybczynski discussed various possible configurations of the walls, ramps, and lawns. Mr. Timberlake said that the proposal avoids lowering the lawns near the existing building due to uncertainty about the condition of the existing walls; he added that another alternative was developed that would introduce a wall with a height of more than six feet, but this was rejected as an ungracious and inhospitable solution.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested designing the entrance and the new screening facility as if they were part of the historic building. She acknowledged that this approach runs counter to the current practice of historic preservation but observed that the Secretary of the Interior's standards for preservation are guidelines, not laws, so the designers could choose whether to follow the guideline of differentiating new construction from old. She said that this project presents many uncomfortable and unresolved issues with the intersection of old and new material. For example, the contrast of old and new would typically involve separate portions of a project, each portion having its own identity; but this proposal changes the context of the historic plaza—a structure that traditionally bears weight on the ground—to appear as if it were floating. Similarly, the piers would appear to be elevated in the air; she characterized the result as disturbing. She suggested using railings instead of a tall wall that adds excessive complexity. She commented that the top gates of the ramps appear to be cramped spaces, particularly due to the proximity of the fence across the plaza; she recommended a more spacious treatment of this area, suggesting that the relocated steps to the plaza could be moved further back. She added that the project should anticipate the future reopening of the plaza when feasible, and the fence alignment and gates should be designed accordingly.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that her comments were based on trying to make the space seem as gracious as the old building, rather than designing a minimal intrusion which, in the end, would not be minimal. Mr. Timberlake responded that the dimensions were not minimal but gracious; Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that the issue is scale, and a more generous character is needed at the top of the ramps. She suggested that the rails could be treated like a historic fence or balustrade so that people could see through them as they descend. She summarized her disagreement with the design team's stylistic approach to the project.
Chairman Powell noted that the submission is at the concept stage. He said that the materials would be very important, and commented that the ramps should not be entirely concrete. Mr. Timberlake said the ramps would be stone; he was unsure if the existing building's stone could be matched but said that the material could potentially match other stones used in the area of the EEOB; research is underway on whether the historic stone quarries are still operating.
Chairman Powell noted the tight schedule for this project. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may wish to delegate the review of the final design to the staff, particularly with no Commission meeting scheduled in August, and he requested the Commission's clear guidance on the design. He said that many people have been involved in the project, and the general consensus is that the proposed configuration is the most sensible solution. He summarized two fundamental issues that have been raised by the Commission: the extent of landscape manipulation, and the question of a historicist treatment or a differentiated modern treatment of the details. Chairman Powell suggested that the Commission ask the staff to work further with the project team. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said it was unclear whether the other Commission members agree with her recommendation to treat the new structure in a more historicist manner. Mr. Rybczynski said that entering the building through the basement would itself be a radical change, and it could therefore be appropriate that the architectural style would also change.
Ms. Balmori commented that a more graceful resolution is needed for the design of the plaza, which was previously set on the ground but would become a bridge floating on glass walls; she said that the proposal has an odd appearance. She emphasized that this is a major design issue that needs to be resolved, and suggested that the Commission could offer guidelines. She said that the proposed grading has no intermediate scale—noting the tall walls of windows that are proposed—and suggested consideration of placing the grade above the ramps and bringing light into the screening facility from the ceiling instead of the walls; she said that the result may be a less intrusive design. Mr. Timberlake responded that alternatives were studied for more extensive walls below the plaza with less glass; however, the result would be a much darker room. He noted the studies of daylight and energy, and the desirability of treating the sides of the screening facility as garden walls. He added that the glass would be set back enough to create a shadow line, noting that the existing plaza has a shadow line along its edge; the proposal is to set the glass back further than the existing dimension in order to cast an even heavier shadow line. He acknowledged that the structure would be only minimally expressed but said that the span is relatively short and the goal is to minimize the visual and physical obstructions between the interior of the screening facility and the lawns. Ms. added that the Secret Service prefers having the widest view possible, and it is important for the security personnel within the screening facility to be able to see visitors approaching from the switchback of the ramp.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested a downward extension of the piers along the plaza to suggest visual support for the plaza as a bridge structure but questioned whether this approach could be reconciled with the design principles of the project. Mr. Timberlake responded that the design team would continue to work on this issue and said that there may be a way to resolve the contemporary quality of the design with the historic fabric, allowing the fabric to exist without replicating it in a false manner. Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested working with Option 2 that was presented, which has a clear approach to the intersection of the new wall with the end of the historic fabric. Mr. Timberlake responded that the conceptual treatment was derived from the early decision to build beneath the plaza and develop a minimal expression with a dialogue between the historic and the modern structures; he acknowledged that this issue is not yet resolved. Ms. Wright added that security considerations may also influence the resolution of this question.
Ms. Nelson noted the many construction fences that the Commission members had seen on their site visit earlier in the day, and asked if construction has already begun. Ms. Wright responded that modernization of the EEOB has been underway for more than ten years; the current work is the completion of Phase 3, and construction of the security facility is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2012.
Chairman Powell noted that the proposal is not a final design submission; he suggested that the Commission approve the concept and see how the design team resolves the design in response to the Commission's comments. Ms. Balmori said that further comments would help the staff to work further with the design team; Chairman Powell agreed, noting the acknowledgement that the design is still unresolved, but emphasized that it has a clear basic concept. Mr. Luebke emphasized the staff's need for clear guidance from the Commission on whether complete differentiation between historic and modern construction is appropriate for this project, and for more direction on the question of the landscape treatment. Ms. Nelson asked if the Commission would see material samples in a later phase; Mr. Luebke said that could be arranged in conjunction with the delegated review.
Ms. Balmori added a comment concerning the proposed treatment of the magnolia trees, emphasizing that they are living things and not objects. She acknowledged that removing them might be reasonable if they are actually sick or dying, but those that are in good condition should remain; she said that they are beautiful historic trees, and there is no need for them to be identical. Mr. Timberlake asked landscape architect Hallie Boyce of OLIN to respond. Ms. Boyce said that three of the four trees were significantly compromised by last winter's storms, losing large portions of their leaf canopies, and an arborist who was consulted for the project expressed concern about their ability to survive in this location. She added that a contractor has said that the tree in the southeast corner could be moved to another location within President's Park; Ms. Balmori supported this solution.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk offered a motion to approve the concept with the recommendation to improve the resolution of the intersection of the new structure with the old; she added that the new work should respect the historic structure regarding how the space would have been handled if it had originally existed beneath the plaza. She commented that such a space beneath the plaza could be imagined as an historic condition, so the suggestion is to combine the new and old to create such a configuration rather than to contrast these elements. Chairman Powell clarified the motion as approving the concept with the comments provided and with the final review delegated to the staff. Mr. Rybczynski cautioned against diluting a strong conceptual approach with too many opinions, which results in a weak design; Chairman Powell agreed. Ms. Nelson commented that this project would be a major change to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Mr. Timberlake noted that the guidance from internal peer reviews was to make the design different and distinct from the EEOB, consistent with the Secretary of Interior's guidelines for preservation. Ms. Balmori commented on the problem of designing a wonderful glassed space that would become filled with ugly machines; Mr. Timberlake responded that the equipment continues to shrink in size, and Ms. Wright said that the Secret Service would likely ensure that the equipment and screening process is not visible to people outside the facility, including people at the sidewalk level. Ms. Nelson expressed regret that the security–screening facility would likely never be removed.
Ms. Balmori suggested a further statement in the Commission's action that any new and different structure that is added must be gracefully resolved with the existing design. She expressed concern that the proposed joints of the glass windows are not related to the rhythm of the existing details, emphasizing that the new design should have respect for the existing system.
The Commission voted for the motion as summarized by Chairman Powell, which he described as a second of Ms. Plater–Zyberk's motion to approve the concept subject to the Commission's comments, with review of the final design delegated to the staff.
Following the vote, Chairman Powell acknowledged the modern security needs but expressed regret that the main entrances of important government buildings in Washington are now being relegated to side doors or basements. Ms. Balmori agreed, and Ms. Nelson added that grand staircases now typically lead to locked doors.
2. CFA 21/JUL/11–3, Department of Homeland Security Headquarters, St. Elizabeths West Campus. On–site West Access Road from Firth Sterling Avenue to Gate 4, and other site alterations. Revised design – Concept. (Previous: CFA 18/MAR/10–3.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for an internal access road along the western edge of the West Campus at St. Elizabeths Hospital, which is currently being redeveloped as the headquarters for the Department of Homeland Security. The access road would extend for half a mile and would parallel the I–295 highway which is adjacent to the campus. The proposal also includes bus bays, lights, signs, realignment of the previously approved perimeter–security barrier for the campus, and reconfiguration of the intersection with Firth Sterling Avenue at the north end of the access road. She asked Tony Alonso from the General Services Administration to begin the presentation.
Mr. Alonso said that the access road would be critical to the expected opening in 2013 of the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, currently under construction on the campus. He noted the ongoing coordination of the proposal with the D.C. government. He introduced landscape architect Bruno Carvalho of Carvalho + Good to present the design.
Mr. Carvalho presented the context of the project and views of existing conditions, including the large construction site of the Coast Guard headquarters. The edges of the project area include the planned gate to the campus on the south; a retaining wall along I–295 on the west; a security wall for the campus on the east; and the intersection with Firth Sterling Avenue on the north. He said that the width of the project area is very narrow due to a requirement to minimize the project's impact; existing vegetation along I–295 would be preserved adjacent to the proposed retaining wall.
Mr. Carvalho described the proposed treatment at Firth Stirling Avenue, an area that is outside the campus boundary. Existing trolley tracks would remain in place. New landscaping is proposed; the design intention, still at an early stage of development, is to establish a gateway character for the entrance into the campus. He noted that the design is being coordinated with the D.C. Department of Transportation, which will be responsible for maintenance of this area, and ease of maintenance is an important issue in the extent and selection of plantings.
Mr. Carvalho presented the proposed design for the middle segments of the project, indicating the proposed retaining wall along I–295, the access road, sidewalk, and the western wall of the campus which would be topped with a "no–climb" fence. Trees would be spaced at approximately thirty–foot intervals, and light poles at an average interval of sixty feet. He described the relationship of the walls to the topography and emphasized the varying elevation difference of the proposed access road with I–295, as well as with the campus topography. He presented several sections illustrating the varying topography and the projected increase in the size of the proposed trees, and indicated the ten–foot–wide multi–use path that would parallel the access road.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted the proposed location of bus bays and asked if people arriving at this location would need to walk to a distant access gate on the south, labeled as Gate 4. Mr. Carvalho indicated a closer gate but said that general access to the campus would require using the security screening at Gate 4; he indicated an additional bus area that is adjacent to Gate 4. Another member of the design team, Durwood Dixon of WDG Architecture, clarified that the more distant bus bays would only be used for staging of buses and perhaps as an overflow bus stop when needed, but the primary bus stop for passengers would be at the location adjacent to Gate 4.
Mr. Carvalho described the design factors of the proposed wall between I–295 and the access road. In addition to serving as a retaining wall, the proposed stone–clad wall would extend 42 inches above the access road to provide a vehicular safety barrier. Mr. Luebke clarified that some type of vehicular guardrail would be needed, but it could be a different type of barrier rather than a vertical extension of the stone wall; he noted that the design speed of the road is 30 miles per hour, and a highway–scaled barrier is therefore not necessary. He confirmed that the height of the barrier must be at least 42 inches. Mr. Rybczynski asked for clarification of the purposes for the walls on the east side of the access road. Mr. Carvalho indicated the campus security wall, which would include a stone–clad retaining wall of varying height surmounted by the eight–foot–high no–climb fence; additionally, within the campus, a retaining wall would be provided intermittently where needed to accommodate site features such as a retention pond. Ms. Balmori asked about the height of the security wall; Mr. Carvalho responded that the total height of the retaining wall and eight–foot–high fence would vary from twelve to nineteen feet. He added that the maximum height of the retaining wall along I–295, which would not have any fence above the stone, would be slightly under twenty feet. Ms. Nelson asked about the proposed treatment of the wall's cap. Mr. Carvalho responded that it would typically be continuous and sloped rather than stepped; he provided a sample of the proposed Champlain blue stone from New York, which is also being used on the Coast Guard headquarters that is under construction. He added that the walls would be entirely clad in the stone veneer, with no exposed concrete. Ms. Balmori asked why the metal fencing is being combined with the stone wall; Mr. Carvalho said that the metal fencing is a special security requirement for the campus perimeter, and Mr. Luebke added that the security fence is part of the overall campus plan that was previously approved by the Commission.
Mr. Carvalho presented the proposed modification to the previously approved alignment for the perimeter–security fence, necessitated by the configuration of bus bays that has been developed; the two affected areas involve alignment shifts of nine and ten feet. He also indicated the linear biofiltration areas—serving to filter water runoff from the sidewalk and road—that would be provided as part of the overall sustainability measures for the campus, although the limited width of the access road project area is a constraint. Ms. Balmori asked if the tree planting beds would be continuous or separate; Mr. Carvalho responded that the planting bed would be continuous, and indicated the detail drawing in the proposal. He confirmed that the proposed trees would be within the biofiltration areas.
Ms. Balmori expressed support for the large size of the proposed trees; Mr. Carvalho emphasized the commitment of the General Services Administration to providing and maintaining a robust landscape. Ms. Balmori questioned the proposal for star magnolias at the bus turnaround, commenting that this tree is too small for this large–scale urban setting; she recommended that a larger type of tree be specified. Mr. Carvalho said that the star magnolia at this one location was intended to provide some variety, but he offered to consider the suggested revision. He noted the relationship of the proposed plantings to the landscape design being implemented at the adjacent Coast Guard headquarters. He also noted the technical details of the structural soil that would be provided in much of the project area, providing sufficient space for air and water to reach the tree roots.
Mr. Carvalho presented the proposed palette of site furniture and materials. The Metro system's standard bus shelters would be used, including the system map but not including the typical advertisements. The streetlights would be the standard double–masted teardrop design used by the D.C. Department of Transportation, with a height of 28.5 feet. He described details of the stone pattern, benches, trash receptacles, and tree grates. He concluded with several views of the proposed streetscape, including a distant night view to illustrate the limited additional light that would be generated by this project.
Mr. Luebke noted the overall significant impacts of the St. Elizabeths redevelopment, and the impact of the proposed access road which would add additional parallel paved elements to the existing paved corridor of I–295 in addition to requiring the removal of much existing vegetation. He summarized the staff's ongoing coordination with the General Services Administration and the effort to reduce this project's impact and improve its design. He said that a remaining issue is whether the stone–clad retaining wall along I–295 should be extended upward to serve as the vehicular barrier, or whether the wall should be lowered to slightly above the roadway height and topped with a different safety–barrier material such as metal. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if vegetation would be allowed to grow on the retaining walls; Mr. Carvalho said that such growth would happen, particularly on the wall along I–295. Ms. Plater–Zyberk offered support for the proposed upward extension of the stone–clad wall, which she said avoids the introduction of an additional visual element; she added that this area will likely not be maintained carefully, and the wall would likely have the best long–term appearance under such conditions. Mr. Schlossberg agreed that the extension of the retaining wall is the preferable solution, noting that the stone–clad wall would also serve to limit the horizontal transmission of sound. Ms. Balmori opposed the extension of the retaining walls, observing that they would block sightlines from vehicles; she offered a preference for a metal railing that would extent to the required 42–inch height. Mr. Rybczynski disagreed, commenting that the result of a shorter stone wall would likely be an unattractive highway barrier above, rather than a metal railing; he emphasized that the proposed stone wall would be preferable. He added that the potential gap for views beneath a metal railing would only correspond to the viewing height from relatively low cars. Mr. Luebke offered to work with the design team to reduce the height of the walls if possible, particularly due to the relatively low design speed for the access road.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk recommended that a lower height be selected for the streetlights, commenting that the proposed height of nearly thirty feet is more appropriate to a highway character; she suggested a height of fifteen to twenty feet as being consistent with the pedestrian character of the access road. Mr. Luebke noted that this height reduction might result in the need for more streetlights to provide the desired level of illumination. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that even if more are necessary, this would be preferable to having taller streetlights; Ms. Balmori agreed, emphasizing the desirability of establishing the pedestrian scale. Mr. Carvalho responded that the design intention is that the streetlights would generally be concealed by the trees; Ms. Plater–Zyberk emphasized the psychological effects of streetlight heights, particularly on drivers who typically associate higher streetlights with speed. She concluded that the lower streetlights would be more urban; Mr. Schlossberg said they would also be more park–like.
Mr. Luebke suggested that the review of the final design for this project be delegated to the staff, based on the Commission's recommendations for refining the design. Chairman Powell supported this delegation; Ms. Nelson agreed. Upon a motion by Mr. Schlossberg with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept subject to the comments provided, with review of the final design delegated to the staff.
D. United States Department of State
CFA 21/JUL/11– 4, Harry S. Truman Building, 23rd and C Streets, NW. Renovation of the 8th–floor terrace of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JUN/11– 3.) Mr. Simon introduced the revised concept design for renovation of the terrace adjacent to the Diplomatic Reception Rooms in the State Department's headquarters building. He noted the Commission's review of the project at the previous meeting and said that the revised concept responds to the Commission's comments. He introduced landscape architect Rick Parisi of M. Paul Friedberg and Partners to present the proposal.
Mr. Parisi presented a series of photographs of the terrace from the time of its construction in the early 1960s to the present, as previously requested by the Commission. He indicated the numerous changes over the decades, including the introduction of fish ponds that later became planters; the placement of chairs on the terrace facing outward; the change in finish materials for the walls and paving; and the addition of glass within the railing. Ms. Nelson commented on the current unattractive appearance of the terrace. Mr. Parisi also provided historic photos of the building lobby, which he said has also been changed.
Mr. Parisi said that replacement of the waterproofing beneath the terrace is now necessary, requiring the removal of the paving. The proposed new design for the terrace is intended to respond to the Commission's request to emphasize the linearity of the space. Various configurations of benches and modular planters have been studied, with the conclusion that moveable planters would be desirable to provide flexibility for changing the configuration of the space or closing off portions of the terrace. The proposal is for circular planters, surrounded by modular granite benches, to be placed beneath the circular skylights of the overhang above the terrace. He emphasized that the pieces of granite would be freestanding and could be moved with the strength of several people. He presented several options for the configuration of these elements, using either three or five planters spaced beneath the seven skylights, with higher or lower designs for the benches. The proposed paving as well as the benches would be granite; the planters would be stainless–steel bowls. He presented plans and perspectives of the proposal, including a night view illustrating the proposed lighting beneath the benches as well as the existing lighting within the overhang.
Mr. Parisi presented the proposed treatment of the terrace walls. The predominant cladding would be horizontal panels of honed black granite; he provided a sample to the Commission members. The base would be a narrow stainless–steel band, which would be increased to two feet beneath the proposed water features at the two existing niches; he described the simple configuration of the water features, which would provide sound and would be lit from below. He presented photographs of similar water features that his firm has designed for other locations. Stone panels within the niches would be carved with the names of donors. An additional stone panel at the west end of the terrace would be inscribed with the dedication of the terrace to the current Secretary of State. He presented two options for this panel: one would be centered beneath the alignment of the skylights, flanked by the existing marble; and in the second option, the panel would extend the full width of this wall. He indicated the proposed continuation of the stainless–steel base across the panel, with different height options; the treatment could be similar to that of the niches, which are similar in width. He described the various finishes that could be used for portions of the panel.
Ms. Nelson suggested retaining the existing marble wall without text, with the lists of donors combined into a single niche and the dedication to the Secretary of State placed in the second niche. Mr. Parisi responded that the list of donors is too long for a single niche, and the types of sponsorship are in two categories that should not be combined; Ms. Nelson suggested that a stainless–steel strip could be used to separate the two categories within a single panel. Mr. Parisi noted that the list of names in the presentation is preliminary and may become longer; the fundraising for the renovation is continuing in anticipation of the planned reopening of the terrace in October.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked for clarification of the stainless–steel base that is shown in the drawings. Mr. Parisi responded that it would replace the aluminum base which has already been removed to accommodate the repair of the waterproofing. Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted that the marble plane would shift slightly near the niches, as shown in the drawings, and the stainless–steel base would also need to shift; she suggested deemphasizing these areas by using a single height for the base. Mr. Parisi responded that the proposed height of the fountain cannot be lowered due to the necessary mechanical equipment, but a different material could be used across the base; Ms. Plater–Zyberk said it should be the same granite and base as the other wall surfaces. Mr. Parisi added that the slight change in plane may be eliminated as the design is resolved, based on further investigation of the existing conditions. Ms. Balmori agreed that the taller segments of stainless steel are unattractive at the base of the panels. Mr. Parisi noted that the construction detail for a stone face would be thicker than for stainless steel, reducing the area available for the mechanical equipment of the water features, but he offered to study this detail further. Mr. Luebke suggested omitting the higher stainless–steel base at the niches and extending the green marble downward to the paving level; Ms. Plater–Zyberk supported this solution.
Mr. Schlossberg commented that the revised proposal is responsive to the Commission's previous comments; Ms. Nelson agreed. Mr. Schlossberg said that the proposal for the text on the west wall continues to be unsatisfactory, and he supported the suggestion to consolidate the text to the niches so that the west wall could remain as solid marble. Mr. Parisi emphasized that the placement of this dedication panel is related to the typical circulation pattern along the terrace: visitors enter from a lobby at the west end, and then move toward the east to enter the reception rooms. He added that the dedication panel has a different purpose than the panels listing donors, and this distinction is important to the State Department. He clarified that the two sets of donors include those supporting the terrace renovation and those supporting other State Department activities; the proposal for three separate panels is therefore an important consideration.
Mr. Luebke noted that the panels in the niches are framed by returning walls of green granite; he suggested that the dedication panel could be similarly configured. Mr. Parisi responded that this option was considered but not included in the presentation, and offered to study it further. Ms. Nelson said that this configuration would provide a frame on the sides of the dedication panel, and Mr. Schlossberg joined in supporting this solution.
Ms. Nelson expressed a preference for the configuration of the proposed benches with a lower back; Mr. Schlossberg agreed. Mr. Powell recommended the configuration of five planters and benches; Ms. Nelson agreed, commenting that this arrangement would provide the most seating.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Schlossberg, the Commission approved the revised concept with the comments that were provided, and delegated the review of the final design to the staff.
E. District of Columbia Department of Real Estate Services
CFA 21/JUL/11–5, Draper Public School Campus, 908 Wahler Place, SE. New school building and site modifications. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced architect John Burke of Studio Twenty Seven Architecture to present the concept for a new building and site modifications at the Draper Public School campus.
Mr. Burke said that the existing building, a 50,000–square–foot public school built in 1952, was vacated in 2009 because of declining enrollment. The building is now leased by a non–profit organization and used as a charter school; the organization wants to build a second building and then rehabilitate or replace the existing building, with the goal of consolidating three charter schools into a single complex on this campus. He added that his firm has worked on several school projects that have been reviewed by the Commission including Douglass Junior High School, a former public school in Southeast which had design challenges similar to those of the Draper School.
Mr. Burke said that the five–acre site is situated on a plateau within a residential neighborhood that is undergoing much redevelopment. The first phase of the project, currently submitted, is to construct a new building adjacent to the existing school building; a future second phase would include demolition or redevelopment of the existing school. The proposed building would be configured along the site's perimeter and would define a central courtyard; a small portion of the courtyard would be included in the first phase. The form of the building would be stacked blocks containing the schools and oriented toward views outward from the plateau; the preschool and lower school would be in the lower blocks, while the middle school would be in the upper part of the building and the high school would remain in the existing building after the first phase.
Mr. Burke described the design components in more detail. The new building would have a community and multi–purpose room on the first floor; classrooms for the younger children on the first and second floors; and middle–school classrooms on the third and fourth floors. Color would be used on the exterior walls to articulate the different age–groups of the schools. He said that the exterior material has been revised from metal panels—as depicted in the submission booklets—to brick which would be a more cost–effective material; the fenestration pattern is also being refined.
Ms. Nelson expressed support for the concept of stacked schools, with the children rising through the building as they become older. But she said that the renderings do not show the trees that would be planted in the courtyard, giving the appearance of excessive hardscape. Ms. Balmori observed that very few trees are actually proposed; she supported the proposed configuration of the building to create the courtyard space but recommended more careful study of its design. She emphasized that the courtyard would be the center of the composition but does not appear to be a landscape or a real place; the small lawns or planting areas give it a cut–up appearance rather than suggesting a place where people would gather. She also recommended that the trees be planted in the first phase, even if much of the site design is not constructed until the second phase; the trees would be an important amenity prior to implementation of the second phase, and would then be mature when the overall project is completed. Ms. Nelson commented that the proposed landscape elements appear isolated, and suggested that the plantings could include a grove of trees. Mr. Burke responded that the site is heavily wooded and the intention is to avoid removing trees; he agreed that adding more trees would be desirable.
Mr. Schlossberg commended the building forms and the idea of creating a courtyard but questioned the placement of a basketball court as a focal element within the courtyard. Mr. Burke responded that the basketball court is a feature that was requested for the middle school. Mr. Schlossberg said that its proposed location would make it too important—particularly to those not using the courtyard for basketball—and would result in excessive programming of the courtyard space. He instead recommended making this area more flexible and treating the courtyard as an environmental amenity that could be transformed to accommodate many kinds of uses. Ms. Balmori and Mr. Schlossberg suggested locating the basketball court elsewhere on the site rather than within the courtyard.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked for clarification of the proposed parking. Mr. Burke confirmed that the existing parking—adjacent to two sides of the existing building—is shown as remaining in the project's first phase; he indicated the proposed new drop–off road and the stairs that would accommodate the sloping grade. The main entrance to the proposed building would be at the same grade as the adjacent parking area; he acknowledged the importance of studying the grades carefully to accommodate the convenient movement of students, such as the entrance route from 9th Street.
Mr. Rybczynski questioned the odd shape of the proposed building and the unclear relationship to the topography; noting the descending slope in the northeastern portion of the site, he asked if the proposed building volume in this area would have an additional lower level. Mr. Burke responded that the building design is intended to work with the existing grade and the plateau, with no additional lower level at this location; underground parking is also not proposed due to its cost. Mr. Rybczynski observed that the angled configuration of the building would result in an inefficient parking lot design, as shown on the second–phase site plan; he criticized the willful introduction of an extraneous geometry on this urban site. Mr. Burke reiterated the intention to respect the site's contours; Mr. Rybczynksi disagreed, noting the irregular angular building shape that would be imposed on the rectangular plateau. Ms. Plater–Zyberk added that the geometry of the proposed building affects the feasibility of retaining the existing building throughout the phased construction. Mr. Burke responded that the proposed inward focus toward a courtyard results from the observation that the existing building has relatively little street presence due to the hill and trees of the setting; the client has supported this approach. Mr. Rybczynski acknowledged that the angular form could be pursued if the client is willing to pay for it, but reiterated that the design has a willful appearance.
Chairman Powell expressed support for the proposal as an interesting concept. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Schlossberg, the Commission approved the concept while emphasizing the recommendation to improve the design of the courtyard. Chairman Powell confirmed that the Commission would see the project again for the next submission.
F. District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation
CFA 21/JUL/11–6, Benning Stoddert Recreation Center, 100 Stoddert Place, SE. New recreation and academic facility, and tennis courts. Concept.
The Commission acted on agenda item II.F earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following item II.A.
G. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead–Luce Act
1. SL 11–106, 850 D Street, SW (L'Enfant Plaza). 14–story extended–stay hotel. Revised concept. (Previous: SL 11–106, 16 June 2011.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the revised concept submission for an extended–stay hotel at L'Enfant Plaza. She noted the visit of the Commission members to the site earlier in the day and the Commission's review of the project at the previous meeting, adding that the design revisions and additional context information respond to the previous recommendations. She asked architect Andrew Rollman of SmithGroup to present the design.
Mr. Rollman presented a series of photographs depicting the context of the site among numerous large–scale buildings and two blocks south of the Mall. He said the challenge of this project has been to add a new building to L'Enfant Plaza that respects the scale and monumentality of the existing buildings; the resulting proposal is a glass and metal tower that would be orthogonal like its neighbors but slender and lighter in appearance, with a strong base tying into the existing plinth of the plaza. He said the hotel would be the same height as the existing east building in the complex—which contains office space and the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel—and would be aligned along its base with the north office building.
Mr. Rollman said that the base has been redesigned as a more solid element that would be clad with "Swisspearl," a cementitious composite panel system that would resemble the concrete of the existing plinth of L'Enfant Plaza; he provided a sample of the material and said that a warm tone would be selected to mediate between the pink concrete of L'Enfant Plaza and the gray concrete of the adjacent headquarters building of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He described the intention to treat the proposed base in a more refined way than the heavy existing plinth: instead of using pre–cast panels and cast–in–place concrete, the composite system would be articulated as a rain screen with open joints, while the appearance of its mottled surface would be similar to the existing concrete. The proposed module of the base would be five feet, similar to that of the existing plinth, and the material's thickness would be expressed by treating the edges to resemble beams. He noted that the previously submitted design had used several different materials, but the current proposal is to use only one material for the entire base and the exterior columns.
Mr. Rollman said the design of the base is more unified than in the previous submission and would create a strong entrance to the hotel as providing public access to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. Two levels above the street, the floor of hotel amenities would have recessed glazing to form a continuous band around the building, relating it to the east building of L'Enfant Plaza. The rear of the hotel would be articulated with metal panels, in contrast to the glass and metal used on the rest of the tower, and would have fewer windows.
Mr. Rollman discussed the vertical slot rising the full height of the north elevation, acknowledging the Commission's concern in the previous review that it could detract from the understanding of the north facade as the building's primary frontage. He said that the slot has been retained because it improves the proportions of the facade, relates the building to others in the vicinity (particularly the adjacent HUD building), and signifies the dual entrance configuration at the building's base. Ms. Balmori asked about the design details of this slot; Mr. Rollman responded that it would be set back by 12 inches and would be lined with metal to provide a clean edge. He indicated the continuation of the metal to bend at the roofline, forming a brow at the top of the building on the west side to emphasize the hotel entrance; this design would have a lighter character than the previous proposal for wood panels at the roofline.
Mr. Rollman discussed the improved circulation connections that would join the hotel with L'Enfant Plaza: the level of hotel amenities would be aligned with the existing plaza above the plinth, and the access to the Metro station would also connect to the extensive existing retail space within the plinth. Ms. Nelson noted that, during the Commission's site inspection, pedestrians walked between the Metro station and the street but not up to the plaza level.
Mr. Rollman noted the Commission's previous suggestion for a vehicular drop–off area at the hotel entrance; he said that D Street does not provide sufficient width, and the underground Metro vaults create an additional obstruction. Ms. Nelson asked if taxis would be able to serve this area without causing traffic jams; Mr. Rollman said the street frontage should be sufficient to allow for taxi queuing and passenger drop–off.
Ms. Balmori expressed satisfaction with the overall design of the tower but continued to question the proposed brow and the slot at the center of the north facade. She said that the site inspection made clear the importance of the datum level provided by the base, and she supported the proposed revision to a heavier, more integrated treatment of the base. However, she questioned whether the expression of two heavy horizontal bands, above and below the hotel amenities level, would lead to confusion over which datum is more important. She emphasized that the plaza level should be legible from the ground, and she recommended strengthening the corresponding horizontal band. Mr. Rollman responded that omitting the second line was studied, but the conclusion was that the proportions of the building would be improved by the additional visual weight that it provides. Rather than align the base precisely with the existing plinth, he said that the concept is to suggest a strong connection with the horizontal bands and the continuous line of recessed glass at the amenities level. Ms. Balmori reiterated that the result is not convincing.
Mr. Rybczynski agreed, observing that the proposed base has a layer that seems to float and creates uncertainty of whether it is actually a base and made of concrete. He commented that this design feature is merely cosmetic, as is the brow on top of the building, and he recommended either eliminating the second line or extending the visual expression of the columns through the amenities level to unify the two horizontal bands. Mr. Rollman responded that the brow is intended as a floating expression, and the design goal is to create an interesting relationship between the base and the roofline. He said that the design team has considered all of these suggested alternatives; Mr. Rybczynski said that they should be considered again because the best solution appears to have been missed.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that the initial presentation of this project did not convey how the building would fit into its context. The site inspection and the model have now made it clear that the large square building in the middle of the complex—the east building with office and hotel space—was intended to be the dominant piece; the other buildings, including the new hotel, are subsidiary. She expressed support for the simplicity of the design, particularly in contrast to the HUD building. However, she said that the building would be better if it were lower—comparable in height to the north building, although not necessarily matching it, in order to frame the courtyard that would be created between these two buildings. She said that the result would be a more dynamic skyline as these buildings are seen in perspective against the taller east building, helping the various elements of the complex to fall into place; she compared this skyline guidance to the improved relationship of the proposed base to the existing L'Enfant Plaza complex.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk acknowledged the design intention for the base and said that it could be further improved by adjusting the proportions of the horizontal bands, such as one band becoming thinner. She recommended that the base have the appearance of bringing the building's weight down to the ground, rather than being treated like wallpaper; she described the current proposal as a frame rather than a base, and said that the cantilevered corner further diminishes its strength as a base. She said that this further revision, in conjunction with dropping the hotel's silhouette below that of the east building, would lock the pieces into place. She added that the surfaces of the proposed building look beautiful.
Mr. Rollman responded by discussing the design constraints: to accommodate the Metro entrance, the proposed building must be raised by 23 feet; this provides the opportunity for an unusually tall lobby for the hotel, but prevents the placement of other hotel spaces below the third floor. He said that all of the rooms planned for the hotel are necessary to make the project economically viable, and the proposed height is therefore very important. He added that the 300–foot gap between HUD and the north L'Enfant Plaza building allows room for a tall structure to be built between them and concluded that the elegance of the proposed building results from its thin proportions. Ms. Plater–Zyberk reiterated her concern about the perceived relationship between the proposed hotel and the east building; she suggested that the new hotel might remain taller on the D Street side and then have a varying silhouette, dropping down toward the rear. She added that the model clearly demonstrates that nothing else near the east building is close to its height.
Mr. Rollman presented several alternative design variations and combinations that were considered: extending the base to match the existing plinth of L'Enfant Plaza; extending the cement material up to align the height of both bases on the proposed building; eliminating the horizontal slot of glass from the base; eliminating the vertical slot from the north elevation of the tower; or lightening the second line of the cement material in the base. Ms. Nelson suggested adding a column beneath the cantilevered corner above the Metro entrance; Mr. Rollman responded that this could not be done because of the presence of the Metro station below. Ms. Nelson said that the alternative without the central vertical slot on the north elevation is the most successful solution, commenting that this vertical slot is being overemphasized.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked for clarification of the proposed massing at the rear corner of the hotel, adjacent to the east building; Mr. Rollman said that it includes a slight setback of approximately one foot at the transition to the metal panel treatment. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that this gesture seems gratuitous when the actual need is for more distance between the two buildings.
Several Commission members suggested that the Commission approve the alternative design that does not have the central vertical slot on the north elevation; Ms. Balmori and Ms. Nelson added that columns should extend to the ground at all corners. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that the applied appearance of the base remains a concern, suggesting that the base should be more massive; it should appear to be weight–bearing rather than a willful application. She acknowledged that a column at the building's northeast corner would not be weight–bearing because of the subway station beneath, but suggested that a false column at this corner would be helpful. More generally, she reiterated her concern about the relationship of the proposed building to the context, having the appearance of being "jammed into" the east building as well as being too tall. She added that the vertical slot on the north elevation actually has the effect of reducing the apparent mass of the building. Mr. Rybczynski said the slot also changes the building's proportions, making it look taller; Ms. Balmori agreed.
Mr. Luebke said that the Commission, under its Shipstead–Luce Act authority, could provide advice on the proposed height. Mr. Rollman reiterated that the hotel would not built at less than the proposed height. Chairman Powell said that, if the height could not be lowered, there was no point in the Commission making this request; Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission's role is not to assess a project's financial viability.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk offered a motion to approve the concept submission with several recommendations: further study of the relationship of the base to the existing L'Enfant Plaza complex, with the goal of appearing more like a base than a surface; and consideration of lowering the building's height, particularly adjacent to the east building—changing its roofline to create a better composition and to clarify the building's role within the ensemble. She also suggested that the Commission express appreciation for the improvement in the revised submission and the responsiveness to the previous comments. Mr. Rybczynski commented that the project would likely not improve over the next few months; he asked if the Commission members would support the alternative of eliminating the vertical slot on the north facade, which he said would address many of the issues that were discussed.
Mr. Rollman requested the opportunity to present additional views toward the proposed hotel before the Commission's vote. He indicated that the hotel would not be visible from the north side of the Mall during the summer, and only limited views would be available from the south side of the Mall. He concluded that the slender volume of the proposed building would not have an adverse impact on views. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that the hotel clearly would improve the area, but several changes would provide additional improvement.
Andrew McIntyre of The JBG Companies, the developer of the project, asked to address the Commission. He urged the Commission to consider the limitations of the building envelope and emphasized that the project could not succeed economically if it were not built to the proposed density and height. He added that an extended–stay hotel that would be a welcome addition to an area on D Street that now has a large void. Chairman Powell and Vice–Chairman Nelson assured Mr. McIntyre that the Commission understands the dilemma. Ms. Plater–Zyberk objected that developers routinely tell review boards that, due to economics, a concept could not be built if it were changed.
Chairman Powell expressed support for the proposed vertical slot; he also supported the first option for the base, commenting that it makes the building look lighter than the squat structures of the existing L'Enfant Plaza complex. He offered to defer to the other Commission members on their preference for treating the base, while approving the vertical slot as preferred by the applicant; several Commission members agreed to support this recommendation. Mr. Luebke asked for clarification of whether the consensus is to approve the concept or request further study; Chairman Powell and Vice–Chairman Nelson said that the motion is for approval of the concept.
Mr. Luebke noted several issues to consider with this project. The allowable height is unusual for this site because the proposed building would be an addition to L'Enfant Plaza, which has a street–level measuring point that is 36 feet higher than if measured from D Street. However, he said that the unusual height calculation is a zoning issue and the Commission's concern is the appropriateness of the proposal's impact on the nearby federal buildings and the monumental core. He emphasized that the Commission is entitled to ask for a reduction in height, regardless of the applicant's objection. He summarized the overall compositional issue of whether the proposed building would be too tall, as Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented; the Commission could choose how to address this concern.
Ms. Nelson said that, due to the density of development in the area, the height of the proposed building would only be perceptible from across D Street. Ms. Balmori asked if Ms. Plater–Zyberk would prefer removing the brow from the top of the building, since this feature might call attention to the building's height. Ms. Plater–Zyberk reiterated her previous comments on the height issue; Mr. Powell, Mr. Rybczynski, and Ms. Balmori expressed satisfaction with the height as proposed. Ms. Balmori suggested removing the brow as an unnecessary element; Mr. Powell supported the brow as helping to complete the building.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Plater–Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised concept subject to the comments that were provided, with particular emphasis on further study of the base. Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted that her second was based on the expectation that the range of Commission comments would be provided to the applicant.
2. SL 11–118, Watergate Hotel, 2650 Virginia Avenue, NW. Building modifications and additions. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept design for modifications and additions to the Watergate Hotel, noting the visit of the Commission members to the site earlier in the day. She said that the 1966 structure would be rehabilitated as a luxury hotel which would involve numerous exterior changes, of which the most notable would affect the roof, the courtyard, and the lobby entrance. She asked architectural historian Emily Eig of EHT Traceries to begin the presentation.
Ms. Eig said that her firm had previously prepared the landmark application for the Watergate complex, and her firm's role as preservation consultant for the project would ensure that the historic character of the hotel is maintained during its rehabilitation. She introduced Jacques Cohen of Euro Capitol Properties, the owner and developer of the hotel. Mr. Cohen described the luxury hotels that his firm has developed in Paris and Washington, including the Hamilton Crowne Plaza at 14th and K Streets, NW. He noted the historic emphasis of all of his firm's major projects, and said that the Watergate hotel will be developed for a slightly higher end of the luxury market than the Crowne Plaza. He introduced architect Cory Kessler of Gensler to present the design.
Mr. Kessler provided an overview of the hotel's setting within the Watergate complex of residential and office buildings. He said that the boards of the three residential cooperatives in the complex have approved the proposal for the hotel, and confirmed that the boards had seen everything being presented to the Commission. He emphasized the need for the new hotel to be economically viable; he said that the predecessor hotel in the building had not been profitable in the luxury market in recent years, primarily due to the inefficiently large size of the guest rooms and the obstructive columns in the ballroom.
Mr. Kessler described the proposed changes to the B–1 level facing the lower courtyard of the complex. A double–height restaurant at this level would be augmented with a small terrace, and a secondary entrance would be re–graded and improved as an additional front door to the hotel, providing a connection to the lobby level above. He described additional interior changes to improve the view from the lobby to the Potomac River. The proposed new entrance canopy and doorways at the B–1 level would accommodate larger numbers of people coming to the ballroom, which would be renovated to increase its ceiling height and remove the interior columns. The proposed trusses for the ballroom ceiling would require altering the topography of the courtyard landscape above. The ground plane would be raised by 6.5 feet; he described the proposed landscape as a naturalistic topography and emphasized that the changed grade would not be significantly noticeable from the hotel, the residential buildings, nor Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway to the west. He said that an area of the courtyard that was previously altered with exposed roofing materials would be improved with landscaping, and the parapet facing the residential swimming pool would be raised by 2.5 feet; the proposed metal railing on top of the parapet would match others at the Watergate complex.
Mr. Kessler then described the changes at the main lobby level, one level higher. The canopy at the main entrance was originally designed with a large opening to the sky; this was later infilled with bronze–colored glass vaults to provide better weather protection, necessitating structural changes to the canopy. The new proposal is to create a frameless glass skylight supported within a light steel structure located in the canopy opening, which would restore the open–air character of the original design while continuing to provide weather protection. He indicated additional modifications to the entrance doors at this level.
Mr. Kessler described the changes to the guest–room levels of the building. The size of the rooms would be reduced, thereby making it possible to increase their number from 240 to 350. The balconies are configured as continuous horizontal elements of varying lengths, with privacy screens located to separate the balcony areas for each guest room; due to the changed configuration of the rooms, the proposal includes relocating and increasing the number of privacy screens. He said that this change would not have much visual impact, and the existing design of stuccoed plywood screens would be duplicated to the extent feasible. The proposal also includes adding more sliding glass doors to provide access from the rooms to the balconies, but these too would have little visual impact because the doors would be located behind the balcony rail. Ms. Nelson commented that the Commission members had seen extensive deterioration of stucco at their site inspection; Mr. Kessler responded that the exterior of the hotel will be cleaned and repaired. Ms. Nelson asked if cleaning the exterior of this building would result in a stark contrast with the other buildings of the complex. Mr. Kessler responded that one of the residential buildings was also cleaned in recent years, and the discussions with the cooperative boards may result in an agreement to clean the other buildings as part of the hotel rehabilitation project.
Mr. Kessler then presented the changes proposed for the roof. The existing air–handling units do not meet current standards, and new rooftop equipment is therefore proposed; it would be screened with a low wall. A new elevator would provide improved access for guests to the roof terrace; a new enclosure is proposed for the elevator and overrun space. An additional enclosed area would contain restrooms for hotel guests. The existing roofing would be removed and the deck would be paved, increasing its depth by four inches; as this increase would make the historic railing too low, the proposal includes adding a frameless glass rail, set back from the historic rail and not visible from the ground. This configuration would also improve safety and reduce the potential visibility of hotel guests on the roof from nearby residential balconies. Ms. Balmori expressed support for the proposed treatment of the rooftop enclosures.
Mr. Kessler concluded by describing the proposed locations for signage that would provide visibility to the hotel entrances along Virginia Avenue. He emphasized that the hotel does not have direct frontage on the avenue, and the signage is therefore an important feature. Ms. Nelson acknowledged the need to identify the hotel but said that the indirect entrance sequence is an interesting feature, conveying a sense of mystery and luxury; Ms. Balmori agreed, recommending restraint in the signage along Virginia Avenue.
Mr. Powell offered overall support for the proposal. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented on the difficulty of the project and said that all of the proposed changes appear to have been designed as well as possible, offering two suggestions for further consideration. She recommended that the elevator overrun and other new rooftop enclosures be curved, consistent with the historic rooftop elements. Ms. Eig responded that the rooftop additions are being reviewed under the tax credit program for historic preservation, and the administrators of this program prefer that the enclosures be rectilinear; she said that she would try to convince them to consider curved enclosures. Ms. Plater–Zyberk also commented that the existing treatment of the hotel's entrance drive from Virginia Avenue is unsatisfactory and perhaps should not be retained. Mr. Kessler responded that improvement to the arrival experience is part of the project scope; he indicated the unattractive temporary enclosures of residential balcony areas and said that negotiations are underway to improve this appearance.
Upon a motion by Ms. Plater–Zyberk with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept for the Watergate Hotel modifications.
3. SL–11–126, The Pennsylvania Building, 425 13th Street, NW (alternate address: 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue). Facade alterations. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept submission for facade alterations to an office and retail building on Pennsylvania Avenue at 13th Street. She noted the visit of the Commission members to the site earlier in the day and asked David Schwarz of David M. Schwarz Architects to present the design.
Mr. Schwarz noted the previous renovation of this building which resulted in the current postmodern appearance of the facades; he criticized this appearance as unsatisfactory, particularly the poor scale relationship of the facade openings with the building and with Pennsylvania Avenue. He welcomed the opportunity to improve the facades; half of the building will soon be unoccupied, and the project involves renovating the facades of the unoccupied floors facing Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th Street as well as the building lobby along 13th Street. He presented the existing and proposed elevations, indicating the elimination of the existing arched openings of varying heights on the lower three floors. He acknowledged that more extensive alterations to the facade would be desirable but said this would require excessive disruption to the remaining tenants in the building.
Mr. Schwarz discussed the stylistic choice of making the building either more modern or more traditional; the decision is to propose a more traditional design. He described the proposed facade treatment: a two–story base of rectangular openings separated by pilasters that would support a third floor treated as a belt–course of small rectangular windows. The new design of the lower floors would wrap around the corner of 13th Street to include the westernmost bay along E Street, and the proposal also includes pilasters and a molded surround at the garage entrance on the east end of the E Street facade; the existing materials would be matched, including limestone. He also presented the proposed canopy that would be added at the building entrance on 13th Street; the project also includes interior changes, such as expanding the lobby, but these would not affect the exterior appearance.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked for clarification of the materials at the base, noting that limestone would be an inappropriate material at the sidewalk; Mr. Schwarz responded that the lowest portion of the base would be granite. Ms. Nelson observed that the existing red awnings would be displaced by the project.
Mr. Luebke said that the staff concerns with the project are relatively minor, primarily involving the width of the canopy along 13th Street; the project has been placed on the agenda due to the site's prominence near the city's monumental core and within the Shipstead–Luce Act area of jurisdiction. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked about the canopy issue; Mr. Luebke responded that the proposed canopy would extend across seven bays, which may be excessively wide. Mr. Schwarz said that a three–bay width would be too narrow, but five bays would be reasonable; he described the issues as the relationship of the canopy to the proposed facade pilasters and openings, as well as the desire to provide protection from rain. The Commission members supported a five–bay width.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk offered overall support for the proposal, commenting that it would be an artful rehabilitation that is a noteworthy achievement as the third version of this building's facade. She suggested consideration of how the new facade treatment of the lower floors could be extended to the full height of the building, observing that the proposed third–floor treatment appears to establish a pattern that could be continued; Ms. Balmori agreed. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that the facades may have an unfinished appearance with only the three lower floors being modified, and asked about the feasibility of altering the rest of the facade. Mr. Schwarz responded that several additional floors would be vacant, but renovating only half of the building's middle portion would not be desirable aesthetically; he agreed with the long–term goal of altering the entire facades.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk reiterated her support for the project. Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the concept with the recommendation to reduce the width of the entrance canopy to five bays.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Last Modified: September 27, 2011