30 July 2012
Dear Mr. Whitesell:
In its meeting of 19 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the concept design for Phases II and III for the reconstruction of the National Mall, encompassing the lawn panels between 7th and 14th Streets. The Commission expressed appreciation for the thoroughness of the studies presented by the design team and approved a schematic direction for the overall configuration of the lawn panels to protect the character of this nationally significant landscape.
The Commission members emphasized that the long-term maintenance of the National Mall must rely primarily upon specific and stringent management practices that accompany any substantial physical changes. They expressed concern that any of the proposed alternatives would constitute a significant change for this iconic landscape, either in the creation of two 120-foot-wide paved areas crossing from north to south presented in Scheme 1, or with the development of a larger area of pavement associated with the crossing of the 8th Street axis as seen in Schemes 2 and 3. In order to minimize the impact of the changes, they recommended the development of Scheme 1 but with significant reductions in the width of all crossings, which they said could be balanced by paving the side panels at the 12th Street alignment to accommodate events, as seen in Schemes 2 and 3. Above all, the sense of continuity of the central greensward should be maintained.
The Commission members again expressed their overall support for the initiative to improve the sustainability of the National Mall landscape and encouraged the National Park Service to continue to look for alternative locations for events, such as along Jefferson and Madison Drives. They reiterated their past guidance to give priority to the long-term stewardship of the landscape in favor of the short-term accommodation of events, whose physical requirements will certainly change over time and can be controlled through careful management practices. They urged that the concept designbe developed in conjunction with a management plan to address specific conditions, such as limitations on performance stages and tents within the central axis of the lawn panels.
As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Steve Whitesell, Regional Director
cc: Suzette Goldstein, HOK
Last Modified: July 31, 2012