Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
19 July 2012
The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 9:04 a.m. (The starting time of the meeting was published as 9:00 a.m., one hour earlier than usual, due to the anticipated length of the agenda.)
A. Approval of the minutes of the 21 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 Mr. Freelon. 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: 20 September, 18 October, and 15 November 2012; he noted that no meeting is scheduled during August.
C. Confirmation of recommendations from the June 2012 meeting after the loss of a quorum. Mr. Luebke said that a formal action by the Commission is needed concerning three submissions reviewed the previous month without a quorum. He noted that the members present had made recommendations which were conveyed in letters sent to the applicants and distributed to the Commission. He listed the projects requiring action:
SL 12–100, 600 M Street, SW. Southwest Waterfront Development, Parcel 11a. New church. Concept. (Previous: SL 12–070, 17 April 2012.)
CFA 21/JUN/12–7, Southwest Waterfront Development public spaces and landscapes associated with Parcels 1, 2, 3a, and 3b, District Pier, and Transit Pier. Concept. (Previous: CFA 17/MAY/12–4.)
CFA 21/JUN/12–8, Southwest Waterfront Development public spaces and landscapes associated with Parcel 4 (The Mews) and Yacht Club Plaza. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/JAN/12–4, master plan.)
Mr. Luebke noted that all of these projects have subsequently been revised and resubmitted for the current meeting agenda, responding to the recommendations provided in June. Mr. Powell expressed support for the letters that were sent conveying the comments of the Commission members who were present. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission confirmed the June recommendations for these projects.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Direct Submission Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom said that the only change to the draft consent calendar was the removal of the project for the Stuart Hobson Middle School due to a delay in providing the complete submission materials; the project is now anticipated for the September agenda. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the revised Direct Submission Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead–Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several changes to the draft appendix. A project has been removed from the appendix (case number SL 12–115) due to a delay in providing the complete submission materials. The recommendation for 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (case number SL 12–117) has been revised to reflect the resolution of most of the design concerns; she said that the staff is still consulting with the applicant to address concerns with the details of the stone water table, and she requested authorization for the staff to finalize this recommendation after further coordination in order to avoid delaying the Commission's action until September. She also reported the recommendation for 8177 East Beach Drive (case number SL 12–119) has been changed from unfavorable to favorable based on the applicant's agreement to revise the design; the revised final drawings are anticipated shortly, and she requested authorization for the staff to finalize this recommendation upon confirmation of the design revision. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda items II.G.1 through II.G.4 for additional Shipstead–Luce Act submissions.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martínez reported the changes to the draft appendix. Several recommendations have been updated to show the receipt of supplemental drawings. One project (case number OG 12–279) has been removed at the request of the applicant, and a revised design will be submitted for review at the September meeting of the Old Georgetown Board. The revisions to a project at the Flour Mill office building (case number OG 12–275) have resulted in a more limited scope that will not involve changes that are visible from public space; the recommendation has therefore been updated to note that no Commission action is necessary. He added that this project would nonetheless be subject to approval by the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board. Mr. Powell noted his recusal from acting on this project and the additional project at the Flour Mill residential building (OG 12–276). Mr. Martínez noted that this residential project is being revised to eliminate the proposals that were not supported by the Old Georgetown Board; he requested authorization for the staff to finalize the recommendation upon confirmation of supplemental drawings and inspection of material samples. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the revised appendix; Mr. Powell did not participate in the vote.
Mr. Luebke suggested that, in consideration of the lengthy agenda, the Commission may wish to act on two projects (agenda items II.I and II.J) based on review of the submission materials without the scheduled presentations:
I. D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
CFA 19/JUL/12–9, Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, Fort Dupont Park, 3600 block of Ely Place, SE. New facility for baseball academy. Concept.
J. D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities
CFA 19/JUL/12–10, Connecticut Avenue, NW (between K Street and Jefferson Place). Public art installation by lighting designer Alexander Cooper. Concept.
Mr. Luebke noted that both projects are concept submissions, adding that the Commission may also wish to delegate review of the anticipated final design submissions to the staff. Chairman Powell suggested that the Commission approve both concept submissions and delegate the further review; upon a motion by Ms. Balmori, the Commission adopted this action.
B. National Capital Planning Commission
CFA 19/JUL/12–1, Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative. Sustainable urban development plan for a 15–block federal precinct south of the National Mall. Information presentation. Mr. Luebke introduced the information presentation on the Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative, a project of the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) that advances the proposals of the Monumental Core Framework Plan to transform the 10th Street and Maryland Avenue corridors south of the Mall. He noted that NCPC has been coordinating this initiative with the D.C. Office of Planning and numerous other local and federal agencies, including the Commission of Fine Arts staff.
Mr. Luebke summarized the goals of the initiative to create a model of sustainable urban development and infrastructure using innovative technologies—inspired by Executive Order 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Economic, and Energy Performance"—and to extend the civic qualities of the Mall into the Southwest precinct. The initiative envisions new places to live and work, a vibrant walkable neighborhood, multiple modes of transportation, and a mix of uses including significant cultural attractions. He asked Elizabeth Miller, acting director of physical planning at NCPC, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Miller noted that NCPC's most recent presentation to the Commission was in 2009 for the Monumental Core Framework Plan, which resulted from a successful collaborative partnership between the two agencies. She described the benefit of subsequently studying the Framework Plan principles more deeply in developing the Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative, which moves closer to the implementation stage. She said that the presentation would provide a brief overview of the initiative and noted that the draft planning document has been distributed to the Commission members. She introduced Diane Sullivan, the lead sustainability planner at NCPC, to present the initiative, and Otto Condon of ZGF Architects, the lead firm for the initiative's team of consultants.
Ms. Sullivan described the location and context of the study area, extending generally between Independence and Maine Avenues and between 4th and 12th Streets, SW. She said that the area includes ten million square feet of office space, most of it owned or leased by the federal government; aside from one hotel, there is little ground–level retail space or variety of uses. The "ecodistrict" name for the initiative relates to the goal of creating an environmental showcase of high–performance buildings and landscapes, as part of a sustainable and well–connected community with a variety of uses. She emphasized that planning at the district scale leads to better results than planning for individual buildings, particularly with improving environmental systems.
Ms. Sullivan indicated the existing barriers in the area: the Southwest Freeway, the railroad line, and the large super–block–scaled buildings. She noted that many of the federal buildings in this area are nearly fifty years old, the typical minimum age of eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. She said that the buildings are inefficient in their use of energy and water due to their age and their large size, which limits the availability of natural light. She also noted the heightened current interest in this neighborhood, as shown by the planned large private–sector investment in redeveloping the adjacent Southwest waterfront as well as the ongoing interest of memorial and museum sponsors in considering locations in this area. She added that the federal government is reexamining its space needs with consideration of changes in the workforce and the goal of meeting sustainability targets. The Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative provides a framework for such sustainability efforts as well as overall development of the neighborhood.
Ms. Sullivan presented further details of the neighborhood development topics, which include public spaces, land use, transportation, and the street network. New and existing public spaces would be linked with potential sites for cultural facilities. The land–use proposals would introduce a mix of uses, while emphasizing a federal and cultural character along Independence Avenue and at Banneker Overlook. Retail nodes would be established, and the ground floor of federal buildings would be activated. Some streets would have a more local character, while others—particularly those with significant views—would be more monumental and could be the setting for public events.
Ms. Sullivan summarized the study of environmental systems, including energy and water use, waste handling, and green infrastructure. Energy could be shared at the scale of the city block, taking advantage of opportunities for solar and thermal energy and making better use of the area's central utility plant which is operated by the General Services Administration (GSA) to provide heating and cooling to many of the federal buildings. The initiative includes consideration of expanding this central utility plant and allowing it to serve private buildings in the area; she said that the utility plant has an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Water issues have also been studied at the scale of the city block; stormwater runoff from buildings and streets would be captured, treated in planters, collected in cisterns under 10th Street using the existing space below the elevated roadway, and reused for non–potable purposes to meet 71 percent of the area's total water usage. She said that much of the area's waste could easily be diverted from landfills through improved recycling and composting programs. She described the proposed green infrastructure: a linked set of landscaped corridors that would provide wildlife habitats, improve the ecosystem, and benefit human health. The plan includes green roofs and walls, rain gardens, edible plants, native vegetation, healthy soils, corridors of shade trees, limiting the impervious areas as measured by a green–area ratio, and increasing the tree canopy ratio.
Ms. Sullivan said that the initiative's concepts have been used to analyze existing buildings in conjunction with GSA and private owners. The initiative proposes more substantial sustainability investments in buildings that are likely to remain for the long term, such as the headquarters of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; less investment is recommended at sites that are more likely to be redeveloped over time. She presented a map illustrating potential sites for redevelopment or expansion of existing buildings, as well as adaptive reuse of some buildings. She indicated the relation of these sites to the recommended improvements in the street network.
Ms. Miller presented a more detailed vision for four major redevelopment zones. The 10th Street corridor would become the cultural and sustainability spine for the ecodistrict, terminating at Banneker Overlook on the south and with a visual connection to the Smithsonian Castle on the north. This corridor is intended to extend the civic qualities of the Mall to the waterfront; the vision includes a mix of uses, active streets, and a setting for national and local special events as well as being part of the everyday life of the city. The corridor would also be designed to "reintroduce nature" to the city and increase public awareness of the function of an ecodistrict. As 10th Street crosses the Southwest Freeway, the street would be flanked by cultural institutions; Banneker Overlook would be the location for an especially important cultural destination and a special feature to terminate the view along the street alignment. She presented a rendering of Banneker Overlook, indicating the view to the Washington Monument and the use of steps, ramps, and landscape terraces connecting to Maine Avenue; she emphasized that Banneker Overlook would serve as a southern gateway to the Mall. The cultural building at this location would relate both to 10th Street at the upper level and to Maine Avenue and the waterfront at the lower level.
Ms. Miller presented the second major redevelopment zone, the current site of the Department of Energy at the northern end of 10th Street along Independence Avenue; the initiative names this zone the "Independence Quarter," which could include residential, office, and cultural uses. The 19–acre area includes the sunken highway ramp and Cotton Annex building between 11th and 12th Streets. The vision is to create a walkable mixed–use neighborhood, with a new Department of Energy headquarters on the east side of 10th Street and opportunity for private development on a deck above the highway ramp. Virginia Avenue would be reestablished between 9th and 12th Streets, with a triangular park at Virginia and Independence Avenues. The segment of Virginia Avenue would help to emphasize the importance of Reservation 113 to the southeast, an important site in the L'Enfant Plan at the intersection of Virginia and Maryland Avenues that could be reoriented toward the Mall.
Ms. Miller presented the concept for the Maryland Avenue and 7th Street corridors. The eastern feature of Maryland Avenue would be the Eisenhower Memorial, included in the ecodistrict using the memorial design that is currently being developed. The western portion of Maryland Avenue within the ecodistrict is currently occupied by the sunken railroad alignment; the avenue would be recreated, involving a reconfiguration of grades that is challenging but feasible. She noted that the D.C. Office of Planning has been the lead agency for the Maryland Avenue corridor and has developed a small–area plan that was approved by the District Council in June 2012; she emphasized that the NCPC and D.C. government planning efforts have been closely coordinated. She described the opportunity to create important civic spaces along this avenue, as identified in the Framework Plan, and to strengthen Maryland Avenue's identity as an important L'Enfant avenue within the monumental core. Infill development is suggested for several sites; the unusual shape and small size of these sites suggests that residential uses would be most feasible, which would result in an overall mix of uses along the corridor. The existing transit infrastructure, including the L'Enfant Plaza Metrorail station and the commuter rail platform, would be improved to create a well–connected intermodal hub. She presented drawings of a fourth rail track that could be added to improve the capacity of shared freight and commuter rail use along the corridor; solar canopies and permeable track beds would reinforce the sustainability emphasis of the ecodistrict. She also presented additional renderings of improvements to Reservation 113, which would become the central heart of the ecodistrict adjacent to the intermodal hub and with views to the Capitol and Washington Monument as well as proximity to the Mall.
Ms. Miller presented the fourth major zone of redevelopment along the Southwest Freeway; she indicated the wide highway and the adjacent frontage roads. The vision is to return this area to being part of the city fabric using private–sector air–rights development; the use could be residential, office, or educational. Connectivity across the highway would also be improved. Air–rights development is less feasible on the east as the highway grade rises; in this area, a solar canopy is proposed over the highway that would contribute to the energy needs of the ecodistrict and provide a buffer area.
Ms. Miller concluded by emphasizing the improved results from planning at a district scale rather than for individual building sites. She provided a statistical summary of the proposals. The existing 7.9 million square feet of office space would be retained, with some reconfiguration that could accommodate 1,900 additional employees within the same floor area. The proposed additional development includes approximately one million square feet of office space, which could be for either government or private–sector use; two million square feet of residential or hotel space; slightly over one million square feet for museums; and 14.3 acres of new and improved parks. She added that the ecodistrict would help to relieve some of the pressure on the Mall for siting new museums and memorials. The proposed connections in the street grid would result in 17 new intersections, improving mobility through this area. The proposed environmental strategies would reduce the area's emission of greenhouse gases by 51 percent; all stormwater would be collected and used within the ecodistrict, and the consumption of potable water would be reduced by 70 percent. The proportion of the area's waste being diverted from landfills could be increased to 80 percent. She noted the long–term implementation strategy that is included in the initiative, involving innovative public–private partnerships and a governance structure to implement ecodistrict–scale strategies. She said that a broad economic analysis has shown that the investments would be worthwhile over the time horizon of the initiative; NCPC expects to move forward with a more detailed economic analysis. The planning process is continuing with a public meeting later in the day, and the initiative is anticipated for final action by NCPC in January 2013.
Chairman Powell invited comments from the Commission members, noting that no action is needed on the information presentation. Ms. Balmori confirmed the great efficiency of studying an entire district; she asked for further clarification of the energy source that is anticipated for the district's needs. Ms. Sullivan responded that the goal is to emphasize renewable energy sources; 75 percent of the area's current energy is supplied by the local utility company, Pepco, primarily using coal which Ms. Balmori agreed is a problematic source. Ms. Sullivan said that the solar–energy proposals in the initiative would provide six percent of the total energy needs; more significantly, a cogeneration plant would use natural gas rather than coal, reducing the greenhouse–gas emissions, and geothermal energy would also be used for heating and cooling. As technology develops in the long term, she said that the cogeneration plant may be able to use a renewable energy source such as anhydrous ammonia. Ms. Balmori acknowledged the cogeneration plant as a significant improvement and asked for clarification of its energy use; Ms. Sullivan responded that the proportion of energy provided by natural gas would increase to over 70 percent from the current 24 percent, which Ms. Balmori supported.
Chairman Powell commented on the ambitious and exciting proposals and expressed support for their implementation. The discussion concluded without a formal action.C. National Park Service
1. CFA 19/JUL/12–2, Memorial to Victims of the Ukrainian Famine (Holodomor) of 1932–1933, Reservation #78, at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and F and North Capitol Streets. New memorial. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/OCT/11–2.) Mr. Simon introduced the final design submission for the memorial at the previously approved site on Massachusetts Avenue, a block west of Union Station. He noted the Commission's comments in October 2011 on alternative design concepts, resulting in the development of the preferred concept as a final design. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation. Mr. May noted the many consultation meetings in refining the preferred concept, and he introduced Mary Katherine Lanzillotta of Hartman–Cox Architects to discuss the design. Ms. Lanzillotta noted the presence of several additional people associated with the project: Larysa Kurylas of the Kurylas Studio, the competition–winning designer of the proposed memorial; Oresta Starak, First Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine; Michael Sawkiw of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America; and other members of the Ukrainian–American community. She added that Ms. Kurylas has been working with Hartman–Cox Architects in developing the design.
Ms. Lanzillotta described the site, a 3,000–square–foot grass triangle at the intersection of North Capitol Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and F Street, NW; adjacent to the west is the historic Childs Restaurant building, now occupied by a bank. The minimal features on the site include a flagpole and modest plantings; views from the site include the City Post Office building to the east and Union Station beyond. She presented a drawing from the original competition entry and asked Ms. Kurylas to discuss the design in more detail.
Ms. Kurylas said that the concept design presented to the Commission in October 2011 had retained the primary design features of her competition entry, most importantly the six–by–thirty–foot bronze bas–relief sculpture depicting a field of wheat. This sculpture and its framing wall is intended to achieve several goals: screen the memorial from the restaurants with outdoor seating on the south side of F Street; relate to the street and facade alignments of the city grid and Massachusetts Avenue; and define an area at the wider end of the site that would accommodate gatherings. The sculpture and backing wall would be placed on an 18–inch–high plinth that would emphasize the design's horizontality and low profile.
Ms. Kurylas described the concept of the bas–relief sculpture. It would depict a field of wheat, traditionally associated with Ukraine which had been considered the breadbasket of Europe; during the famine, wheat was used as a weapon to starve Ukrainian farmers. The wheat would be represented realistically and also abstractly to express the concept of famine; the stalks would be depicted at twice life size to create a sense of monumentality. The sculpted wheat stalks would make a transition from the left side, where they project eight inches in front of the frame, gradually receding to the right where they would be in eight–inch negative relief to underscore the deliberate nature of the induced famine. As this transition occurs, letters spelling "Holomodor"—the Ukrainian term for the famine—would appear in increasing relief at the bottom; the angled wall to the right would include text on the historical event. She emphasized that the viewer's understanding of the shifting relief requires a datum plane at the perimeter of the bas–relief, provided by the bronze border and the backing wall; she noted that the edges of the wheat sculpture would not be as sharp as the rendering implies. Visitors would be able to touch the sculpture to establish a personal connection with the historical event, and she said that the resulting lighter areas will create visual interest; she cited the precedent of a bronze sculpture that people touch at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. She indicated refinements from the concept submission, including the treatment of the ends and cap of the sculpture.
Ms. Kurylas described the features of the site design. A staggered row of purple–leaved "forest pansy" redbud trees would form a backdrop to the sculptural wall, replacing the purple columnar beech trees proposed in the initial design; the number of trees has been reduced to accommodate a pedestrian connection with F Street, and the shorter height and horizontal branches of the redbud trees would improve the relationship with the character of the sculpture. A plaza would be located in front of the sculpture, reconfigured from the concept submission; a reconfigured long bench would be along the west side of the site, providing views of the sculpture and Union Station. A standard National Park Service wayside sign would be at the northwest corner, relocated from the previously presented placement at the east corner. She noted the shallow slope of the site, which is now incorporated into the design details; the plinth would taper to accommodate the grade and provide a horizontal top edge, and drainage from the plaza would flow into the planting bed on the west side of the site. The plaza would be paved in granite with hammered furrows, now shown as running perpendicular to the sculpture; the texture would meet accessibility requirements, and the linear pattern is intended to suggest a barren field. Brick sidewalks would replace the existing concrete sidewalks along the streets, and the curbing around planted areas would be the National Park Service's standard rolled concrete curb.
Ms. Kurylas presented additional details of the backing wall's south face. She acknowledged that this side is of secondary importance to the memorial and would be partially obscured by low plantings; nevertheless the appearance from F Street has received much discussion, and the trees would be limbed above the height of the sculpture which would leave the upper portion exposed. The south face would be composed of thirty–inch–wide granite panels; the bronze cap would be visible on top. The proposal includes etching a geometric pattern into the surface of the panels to provide visual interest along F Street. The geometric motif is adapted from a textile pattern designed by the Ukrainian architect Vasyl Krychevsky in 1933, contemporary with the famine; Krychevsky had sought to develop a national style in architecture and he derived this geometric pattern from Ukrainian folk motifs used in textiles. Ms. Kurylas said the design's angularity would instill a subtle sense of unease, evoking the attack on Ukrainian culture caused by the Holomodor which extinguished the creative potential of millions of people.
Ms. Lanzillotta added further information on the wall, sculpture, and landscaping. She said that the method of creating the geometric pattern on the honed stone surface is still being explored; acid–etching may be used because sandblasting would result in excessive contrast. The bronze sculpture would have a dark patina at first but over time, as areas are touched, its color might change. The explanatory text proposed on the western panel of the wall would be in both English and Ukrainian, inscribed in a sans–serif font that would be legible from across the plaza. She said that an underplanting of nandina beneath the trees and in the bed on the west side of the plaza would provide interesting color and texture across the seasons, and would resemble a native Ukrainian shrub to provide another reference to that country's cultural heritage.
Mr. Powell commented that the design has been developed well. Ms. Fernández commended the design team for the refinements, commenting that the design is now cleaner, more effective, and more focused on content. She noted that every element, from the color of the leaves to the subtlety of the bronze in relation to the color of pavers, has been carefully chosen; she asked whether consideration has been given to lighting. Ms. Lanzillotta responded that the ambient street lighting is sufficient—perhaps more than sufficient—at this urban site.
Ms. Balmori joined in commending the design team and expressed appreciation for the improvements to the proposal. However, she questioned the frame around the bas–relief as excessively thick and heavy, detracting from the force of the sculpture; she said the granite edge would make the sculpture look like an old–fashioned painting and asked if the edge could be thinner or even eliminated. Ms. Kurylas emphasized the importance of the sharp–edged frame in establishing a datum plane for perceiving the projection and recession of the wheat in the bas–relief; Ms. Balmori acknowledged this concern but reiterated that the sculpture would be more forceful with a lighter frame.
Mr. Luebke said that the staff has not yet seen the full set of construction documents, and questions remain about details such as typography and stone jointing which the Commission typically considers in the review of a memorial design. He noted the Commission's apparent support for the submission and suggested that review of the final details could therefore be delegated to the staff. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the final design subject to the staff's review of these details.
2. CFA 19/JUL/12–3, National Mall. Center lawn panels (#18 through 26) between 7th and 14th Streets. Phases II and III, reconstruction of the turf and soil, and installation of an irrigation system and new granite curbs and gutters. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/FEB/12–2.) Mr. Luebke introduced the revised proposal for the reconstruction of the Mall's central lawn panels between 7th and 14th Streets. He noted that the first phase of Mall lawn reconstruction, from 3rd to 7th Streets, had been approved by the Commission in November 2010 and is now under construction. When the proposal for 7th to 14th Streets was presented in February 2012, the Commission expressed concern that the integrity of the Mall's continuous greensward should not be compromised by the introduction of large areas of pavement to accommodate temporary high–impact installations. The Commission had encouraged the National Park Service to find ways to control the impact of events through management practices such as limiting the size of tents and other structures, consolidating these temporary facilities, and providing special turf areas dedicated to event use. He said that the current submission attempts to address some of these issues and includes three new options which take into consideration the larger city grid that extends through the Mall, as well as the pedestrian's experience and views. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said that, since the previous presentation, the design team has conducted careful analysis of the types of events that need to be accommodated on the Mall. He introduced Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall & Memorial Parks. Mr. Vogel emphasized that this project is an important component of the recent comprehensive National Mall Plan. He said that the National Park Service is addressing all facets of turf reconstruction, including new drainage and irrigation systems and a detailed operations and maintenance plan for turf management; the permitting process is also being revised to assure protection of resources. Additional measures include an analysis of cost–recovery efforts to capture the true cost of Mall maintenance, and working with major event organizers to find solutions that will use hardscape surfaces more effectively to reduce impact on the turf. He asked Suzette Goldstein of HOK to present the proposal.
Ms. Goldstein illustrated the deteriorated condition of the lawn panels and the progress of reconstruction under Phase I, noting that similar work will be conducted for the panels between 7th and 14th Streets. She summarized the components of the project: re–engineering the soil, installing proper drainage and irrigation, creating granite curbs, and regrading the lawn panels to create a crowned effect that would visually extend the appearance of the central lawn and diminish views of the cross–walks. She said the intent of the work, based on the National Mall Plan, is to respect the history of the Mall while rebuilding it to meet current needs.
Ms. Goldstein said that the conclusion from analyzing past events on the Mall is that most, but probably not all, can be relocated away from the lawn panels. She presented a diagram of events during 2010 illustrating the time, location, and intensity of use for events in each week. She said that the larger events on the diagram indicate both more people and larger structures, and this analysis suggests the potential for significant improvements through managing the area. Mr. Rybczynski asked for further information on some of the bigger events in the diagram; Ms. Goldstein indicated the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival, the George Washington University graduation ceremony, and the Library of Congress book festival. She said some events are relatively contained while others are diagrammed as including the entire Mall, although that could indicate only a few tents with people roaming over the Mall distributing information; the number of visitors was used to estimate the potential magnitude of impact. She added that events can follow in swift succession, leaving insufficient rest periods for the grass. She noted the previous study of how tents might be reconfigured to fit on the Mall's paved walks or side panels, and said that none of the proposed reconfigurations would work unless the National Park Service more actively assists event organizers in reconfiguring their facilities—and even with this effort, the problem of excessive wear would not be entirely solved.
Ms. Goldstein presented the first of the three proposed alternatives. Scheme 1 creates a repeated hierarchy of hardscape areas with a regularized pattern of lawn panels. It responds to the larger city pattern, the main entrances into existing Mall buildings, and implied axes as at 8th Street. The design is based on close study of at–grade streets and tunneled crossings to determine how the design would be perceived at ground level. The result is an equal hierarchy of open spaces separated by 60–foot–wide paved walks; in two locations, above tunneled roads, the paved areas would be 120 feet wide. She noted that previous versions of this option had shown the width of the 12th Street alignment as paved from Madison to Jefferson Drives, while the current version would retain lawns on the side panels along this alignment.
Ms. Goldstein presented Scheme 2, with walks that are primarily based on the entrances of the buildings facing the Mall. This alternative uses a wider paved area to articulate the importance of the 8th Street corridor in the larger city grid, visible as an important axis from the Convention Center to the Navy Memorial, just north of the Mall, and carrying through the Mall as the two sculpture gardens of the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum. The configuration at 12th Street would be reversed from Scheme 1, placing the hardscape on the side panels and keeping more lawn panels along the center of the Mall.
Ms. Goldstein said that Scheme 3 presents a slight variation of Scheme 2, still acknowledging the importance of the 8th Street cross–axis. The 9th Street alignment would be treated similar to 12th Street: at both tunneled crossings, a smaller grass panel in the center would be flanked by walks that align with the extended city grid. On the 8th Street axis, smaller turf panels would surround a paved central panel, which might be occupied by some type of special feature.
Ms. Goldstein presented a graph depicting the potential loss of turf with each alternative. Currently the Mall's lawn panels between 7th and 14th Streets comprise approximately 30 acres of grass; Scheme 2, the alternative with the greatest amount of paving, would reduce the lawn area by 1.3 acres. She also presented an analysis of how events would be accommodated with each alternative. Many events, such as the Earth Day celebration, would fit primarily on the proposed paved areas; the Folklife Festival would require more use of lawn areas, although some tents could potentially be shifted onto Madison and Jefferson Drives. In each alternative, areas would have to be designated where event organizers would be responsible for replacing any lawn that is heavily damaged. She noted that the issues are minimizing the placement of event facilities on the grass, particularly for periods longer than nine days, and allowing time for the grass to regrow when necessary.
Ms. Goldstein presented video animations showing simulated eye–level views of pedestrians walking through the alternative designs, moving north from the Metro entrance along the 12th Street alignment, then east to 7th Street and back to 12th Street. She indicated the amount of turf and paving affected in each alternative, and how changes to the widths of lawn panels and paved walks would affect views. She noted that the video animations include modeling of the proposed crowning of the lawn panels to illustrate when the paved walks would disappear from view along the center of the Mall. Ms. Fernández asked for clarification of the paving widths in Scheme 1. Ms Goldstein indicated the 120–foot width at both 9th and 12th Streets; the walk aligned with 10th Street would be 60 feet wide; the 8th Street alignment would not have a walk; and an additional 60–foot–wide paved area would be added on the west side of 7th Street to accommodate events. In the animation of Scheme 2, she indicated the large paved area along the 8th Street alignment flanked symmetrically by two green lawn panels; an extra 25 feet of paving along 7th Street; 60–foot–wide paved walks along the 9th and 10th Street alignments separated by a grass panel; and a 60–foot–wide walk extending between the entrances of the National Museum of American History and the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. Luebke noted that walks in the first phase of the Mall reconstruction, currently being built, were previously described as 40 feet wide but are shown in the current presentation as 60 feet wide. Ms. Goldstein clarified that those walks are being constructed with 40–foot widths, matching the previously existing condition, but the current renderings illustrate that these walks could be widened to achieve consistency in the overall pattern. She said that 60 feet is the preferred width, as suggested in the National Mall Plan which recommends wider walks; because that plan had not yet been approved when the first phase of the Mall reconstruction was submitted, the wider walks were not included in that design.
Mr. Powell asked which alternative is preferred by the project team. Ms. Goldstein responded that neither she nor the National Park Service has a preference; any of the designs would be an improvement over current conditions and would, in conjunction with improved coordination with event sponsors, result in a better appearance for the lawn panels.
Ms. Fernández asked for further details of the amount of turf lost in each alternative. Ms. Goldstein indicated the graph of impacts: the loss in Scheme 1 would be slightly less than an acre; the greatest loss, 1.35 acres, would occur in Scheme 2; and a similar amount would be lost in Scheme 3.
Mr. Rybczynski asked about the significance of 8th Street in the historic planning for Washington; Mr. Luebke indicated its treatment in the McMillan Plan drawings displayed in the Commission's meeting room. Mr. Powell commented that 8th Street itself had only been built north of the National Archives building and had never existed across the Mall. Mr. Luebke noted that the importance of the 8th Street axis does not depend on the existence of the street itself but concerns the use of this secondary axis across the Mall to articulate the sequence of major public buildings. Ms. Balmori said that it works well; Ms. Goldstein added that the 8th Street axis is treated throughout the city plan in a special way. Mr. Powell commented that he is fascinated by its persistence. Mr. Luebke observed that the axis is punctuated on both sides of the Mall by two unusual features, the National Gallery of Art sculpture garden and the Hirshhorn Museum; both were intentionally designed to break the lines of buildings along the north and south sides of the Mall with more organic forms. He noted that the planning principle of observing the 8th Street axis had been carried out for more than a century. Ms. Goldstein said that the McMillan Plan, although never fully implemented, had presented a different kind of space in this location as a respite and had illustrated a water feature here; the more recent planning for the Mall by SOM had recognized that something special would happen on the 8th Street axis. She said that Scheme 2 is based on this concept and therefore includes additional walks to break up the area into smaller lawn panels.
Ms. Balmori offered support for considering the use of elements such as paved areas on the north and south to relieve the central lawn of the Mall from events; but she said that the introduction of 120–foot–wide walks would change the fundamental character of the Mall. She emphasized that the problem is a management issue, and a change is needed in the way the Mall is used. She acknowledged the strong effort to study the possibilities, but said that changing the Mall because of the way events are organized is the wrong approach to the problem. She supported the use of Madison and Jefferson Drives and a few of the side panels to accommodate events in a different way, and reiterated that improved management of events is critical while introduced 120–foot–wide paving across the Mall would give it the character of a "desert." She noted that events are regularly held in New York's Central Park without changing the layout of the park, and similarly the accommodation of events on the Mall needs to be much more flexible.
Ms. Goldstein responded that changes would be made in management practices as well as design; but she said that the impacts on the Mall could not be handled only through management practices. She said the project team has consulted with Central Park's managers and concluded that it has a very different level of activity than the Mall. She emphasized the benefits of following the recommendations of the approved National Mall Plan, which allows for changes to meet current needs.
Mr. Luebke noted the previously presented concept of "sacrificial panels" and said that the staff had supported this idea of a Mall lawn panel that could be used and afterwards replaced. Ms. Goldstein said that this features is still part of the alternatives; they are now called "designated use areas" but the idea remains that the preferred location for temporary structures, if not on paving, should be certain smaller lawn panels that would be easy to rehabilitate after events. She indicated the example from Scheme 3 of four smaller lawn panels around the 8th Street axis. She said that the use of designated turf areas would be critical to the success of rehabilitating the Mall, although back–to–back events could still be problematic. She emphasized that lawn panels need rest periods, but the current pattern of using the lawn areas does not allow time for grass to recover; Ms. Balmori agreed.
Ms. Balmori said one compromise might be to locate events on side panels instead of on 120–foot–wide walks across the central panels. Ms. Goldstein said that this is intended; the alternatives with less paved area in the center of the Mall include more designated use areas. She added that all large events also require ancillary back–of–house space, and a variety of spaces is therefore needed on the Mall.
Mr. Rybczynski said that he does not feel as strongly as Ms. Balmori that the 120–foot paving widths would be excessive; he offered support for Scheme 1 because it seems to maintain the continuity of the Mall. He questioned the emphasis in the other alternatives on the 8th Street axis, which he called a more radical change than adding an extra 60 feet of pavement—particularly because the primary view is horizontal and in foreshortened perspective. He cautioned that simply showing a feature on the 8th Street axis would result in it being built someday. Noting that all of the schemes are approximately equal in the amount of lawn that would be lost, he concluded that Scheme 1 seems to preserve the Mall best. Mr. Powell said that an additional advantage of Scheme 1 is that it retains slightly more of the grass area.
Ms. Fernández supported Mr. Rybczynski's comments and expressed concern with Schemes 2 and 3. She noted the Commission's responsibility to respond to the designs but observed that some features of Schemes 2 and 3 are only sketched in. She acknowledged that a 146–foot–wide paved area, as shown in Scheme 3 at 8th Street, would be an appropriate place for something like a water feature, but the treatment of this space has not been designed; the Commission is therefore asked to approve something undefined, replacing one problem with another that would drastically change the character of the Mall. She therefore would not support these alternatives and said that Scheme 1, although also potentially problematic, seems to be a more reasonable way of looking at the redesign of the Mall. She agreed with Ms. Balmori, however, that 120 feet would be very wide for Mall walks. While sympathizing with the design problem, she said that the information about the alternatives is not being presented side–by–side for easy comparison; for example, the management limitations would be applied to an event proposal in different ways for each alternative, and a comparison of the treatment of such events would be critical in evaluating the options. She added that the past events depicted on the graphs may be very different in ten years, resulting in entirely different needs, and therefore designing the iconic National Mall around a few events may be unrealistic. She discouraged an excessively short–term planning approach to the Mall and emphasized the need to consider a much bigger picture.
Ms. Goldstein acknowledged that the events being analyzed are temporary, but said that the non–recurring events tend to be replaced each year by something similar. She reiterated that the design team is studying at management practices simultaneously with design changes, and the need to make the Mall available for events does not require allowing an unmanaged situation; she said that the new management practices will set stricter consequences for damage. Ms. Fernández emphasized that many of the Commission members see the situation as a management problem, while the presentation is proposing design solutions. She suggested that the same amount of effort be given to exploration of different management approaches and to the development of a management plan rather than just rearranging information on graphs. She said that the design is not improving, and repeated presentations would not convince the Commission that 120 feet is acceptable as the width for a Mall walk.
Mr. Vogel noted that some of the events held on the Mall are Constitutionally protected, and their impact cannot be mitigated entirely through management. Chairman Powell acknowledged this concern and said that the range of ideas has been improving; he cited the commendable proposal to use Jefferson and Madison Drives as locations for event structures, noting that closing them briefly would not have a significant impact on traffic.
Mr. Luebke noted several issues raised by the alternatives, suggesting that the Commission provide guidance on how to develop the alternative design elements. While all alternatives reduce the total lawn area by a comparable amount—approximately one acre, or seven percent—the Commission has suggested locating the additional paving in the side panels rather than along the center of the Mall. Scheme 1 proposes some widening of each existing walk, as well as two 120–foot–wide paved areas, resulting in a substantial cumulative impact. Schemes 2 and 3 concentrate the additional paving at the 8th Street axis—perhaps the only appropriate location to accent a special point along the Mall, based on the historical planning precedents—and would otherwise retain more continuity of the lawn panels. Ms. Balmori agreed with this assessment of the issues. Mr. Rybczynski asked if alterations to the side panels would require removal of trees; Mr. Luebke and Ms. Goldstein clarified that the side panels under consideration as event locations are currently lawns without trees, and none of the alternatives would involve removal of trees.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk observed that Scheme 1, unlike Schemes 2 and 3, appears to be centered on the Smithsonian Castle due to the location of the two wider walks, and therefore any activity occurring on the Mall might be attracted to this area. In Schemes 2 and 3, the presence of multiple cross–walks near 8th Street would attract activities to this area, farther east and closer to the Capitol. She concluded that concentrating activities near the Castle, where many events currently occur, would be preferable. She commented that all of the proposal would be an improvement, and the chart comparing the three alternatives shows that their effects would be nearly the same. She recommended pursuing Scheme 1 and considering a reduction in the paved areas—such as reducing the proposed 120–foot–wide walks to 80 feet, still wider than the existing paving. She said that a more limited increase in the paving, in combination with further changes in management practices, could result in a solution that is less extreme than shown in the three submitted alternatives. Ms. Balmori and Mr. Powell supported this proposal.
Ms. Goldstein offered to pursue this recommendation, while noting that the bigger tents and some stages are as large as 80 by 100 feet; a more limited paving width may not accommodate these facilities, resulting in increased impact on the grass. Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested that the grass in these areas could be designed with additional stabilization infrastructure. Ms. Balmori observed that even 80 feet is double the current width of the walks.
Upon a motion by Ms. Plater–Zyberk, the Commission recommended the development of Scheme 1 with guidance for further modifications, including significant reductions in the proposed width of the walks, and paved panels only at the sides, along with additional information about improved management practices for Mall events. Ms. Fernández commented that the video animations were very helpful; Chairman Powell expressed support for the overall initiative to improve the Mall lawn panels, and he offered congratulations to the project team.
D. U.S. Secret Service / National Park Service
CFA 19/JUL/12–4, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street, NW. Two enlarged replacement officer booths on 17th Street side. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal to replace two security screening booths on the west side of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), submitted by the U.S. Secret Service in coordination with the National Park Service's Office of White House Liaison. He asked Michael Summerlin of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. Summerlin said that the National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for the maintenance and preservation of the White House and its grounds, and NPS works with the Secret Service to plan and design security–related projects. He said that many of the guard booths date from the 1960s with subsequent modifications; the Secret Service initiated a program in the early 1990s to replace these with new facilities that would meet modern–day security needs and incorporate new technology. He noted that the project team has also been working closely with the General Services Administration, which has jurisdiction over the location of the two booths being presented. He introduced architect Gunner Riggert of Leo A Daly to present the project.
Mr. Riggert said the two booths along 17th Street—identified as booths D3 to the north and D4 to the south—do not meet accessibility standards and are too small to accommodate new screening technologies. The booths have three main purposes: to support the security screening of delivery traffic entering the EEOB; to process the credentials of pedestrian pass–holders; and to provide a place for visual surveillance of 17th Street and the west side of the EEOB. He observed that the style of the existing booths does not reflect the Second Empire style of the EEOB; functionally, the existing booths only accommodate security officers and equipment, while pedestrian pass–holders must remain outside. He said that the proposed new booths would be contemporary in style but with recessed joint lines reflecting the rusticated stone on the first level of the EEOB. The granite plinths of the booths would be would be slightly darker than the granite of the EEOB, and the walls above the plinth would be precast concrete in a color matching the EEOB granite. The larger size of the booths—approximately 600 square feet—would accommodate four officers along with advanced screening equipment, compared to the one or two officers in the existing 100– and 125–square–foot booths. The proposed height of the booths is 11.5 feet, required for the equipment; he emphasized the effort to give the booths a low profile. The booth canopies could incorporate exterior light fixtures, cameras, and other equipment to help avoid a cluttered appearance on the exterior of the EEOB.
Mr. Rybczynski asked whether everyone entering the building would arrive through one of these two booths. Mr. Riggert responded that these two booths would only be for pass–holders, who typically enter the EEOB daily; visitors to the EEOB would use a different entrance. Mr. Freelon asked if the difference in the proposed colors of the plinth and the upper panels is intended to correspond to a color change on the EEOB; Mr. Riggert responded that the use of two colors would be a new design feature, not intended to duplicate any feature of the EEOB. Mr. Freelon asked about the relationship of horizontal joint lines on the EEOB and the proposed booths; Mr. Riggert confirmed that the joints would be aligned.
Mr. Riggert said that the proposed D3 booth would now be located to the south side of the vehicle drive, due to the larger size of the new booth and the current location's many underground utilities which would make construction difficult. The existing pedestrian gate on the north of booth D3 would also be moved to the new booth location. Pass–holders would enter the gate and then walk in front of the booth beneath a glass canopy to have their credentials checked at the service counter before entering the booth itself. Pass–holders would then leave the booth on the east side to enter the EEOB and White House complex. Pass–holders exiting to the street would have to present their credentials again to leave the complex; a covered area would be provided along the north side of the booth for the exit queueing. An eyewash and emergency shower would be located on the southwest side of the booth, out of view from the 17th Street sidewalk.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked about changes to existing posts and lights along the fence, as suggested in the renderings of the D3 booth. Mr. Riggert responded that these would not be changed; he reiterated that the only modification to the fence would be the relocation of the pedestrian gate, and a few modifications would be made to the existing drive with new pavers defining places for pedestrians to enter and leave the complex. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked for further clarification about how vehicles and pedestrians would enter the complex, and about barrier–free access at the booth; Mr. Riggert responded that when a vehicle enters the driveway an officer would leave the D3 booth to speak with the driver. The walks and booth would accommodate barrier–free circulation for the pass–holders, but this degree of accessibility is not needed for the security officers. He clarified that pedestrians arriving at the complex would pass through the interior of the booth, while people departing the complex would exit along an outside walk without having to go through the booth again.
Mr. Riggert presented the proposal for the D4 booth, which he said poses a more challenging problem for barrier–free access due to the steeper grade. The booth would be at the same location as the existing booth; it would be similar in style to the proposed D3 booth and would similarly have a vehicle drive and a pedestrian gate. On the north side, a walk with steps would provide access to the courtyard for security officers in the booth; additional plantings may be placed in this area to soften the appearance of the edge of the stairs. In front of the booth, a series of pedestrian ramps would lead from the sidewalk to the booth entrance. As at the D3 booth, pass–holders would enter the gate, walk up to the booth exterior, present their credentials, enter the booth for further screening, and then exit.
Mr. Freelon expressed support for the quiet approach to the architecture, but he questioned whether changes in color are needed in such small buildings. He commented that the design may have "too much architecture for a small structure" and suggested simplification, such as using the same tone across the entire surface, or eliminating the dark eyebrow accent along the canopy height and using only a darker plinth and lighter top.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented on the inherent problem of trying to relate the new booth to the old building with a design that is drastically different. She described three possible approaches to the booths: designing pavilions as the original architect of the EEOB would have created; designing the booths as entirely different, contemporary metal and glass structures; or choosing a middle way between these two design approaches. The apparent intent is a middle approach, but she commented that the details are not handled well: the proposed booths use stone piers to convey the vertical support, as in the historic EEOB, but the long–span stone along the roofline is not consistent with the historic treatment of this material. She added that the non–historic treatment of the long stone spans—using the stone as "wallpaper"—is also inconsistent with the effort to align the horizontal joints of the booths with the EEOB's stone joints. She suggested consideration of treating the upper part of the booths in the modern metal–and–glass character of the windows and overhangs. Mr. Freelon supported Ms. Plater–Zyberk's comments. Mr. Riggert said that a metal panel system was considered, but the design team was advised to use stone or precast concrete instead; he offered to consider alternatives.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk emphasized the goal of improving the relationship of old and new in this design approach, suggesting simplification of several design features to provide a more consistent and harmonious design. She cited the varying heights of fences and gates around the site; the recessed plane of the entrance door on the west elevation of the D4 booth; and the two separate canopies on this elevation, which could instead be treated as a single canopy extending the length of the booth's street facade. Mr. Riggert responded that the recessed plane of the entrance door results from the tight space restrictions of the ramp approaching this door; the recess provides necessary space to achieve the required accessibility dimensions.
Ms. Balmori noted that the security requirements are not themselves subject to the Commission's review, and are presented as a given for the design proposal; these requirements have also tended to grow over time. She commented that the proposed booths are of a size that is on the edge of being unacceptable at the proposed location, giving the appearance of building–sized structures next to the EEOB. She asked if the security screening equipment could be placed inside the EEOB, adding that placing such equipment inside buildings has to be considered as the ancillary security structures keep getting larger. Mr. Riggert responded that the intent of these booths is to eliminate threats from ever entering the EEOB. Ms. Fernández commented that the proposed structures are so large that they are no longer booths; Ms. Plater–Zyberk said they resemble "ranch houses."
Mr. Luebke noted the multiple projects related to security screening at the EEOB and the White House complex: the replacement of two smaller booths that were approved on the consent calendar earlier in the meeting, and a visitor entrance under the north plaza of the EEOB that was presented to the Commission in 2011. He added that the visitor entrance project may not be implemented, which could affect the program and size of the D3 and D4 booths. He emphasized that the Commission should provide guidance on the overall design direction for the booths. Noting that different architects are involved, Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested close coordination between that the design of the 17th Street booths and the visitor entrance. Mr. Luebke emphasized that three federal agencies are involved: the Secret Service; the National Park Service, which administers the land; and the General Services Administration (GSA), which administers the EEOB. He noted the presence in the audience of Mina Wright, director of GSA's regional Office of Planning and Design Quality.
Ms. Wright said that GSA supports coordination of the designs but noted that funding for the visitor entrance project beneath the EEOB's north plaza was cancelled subsequent to the design presentation. The design for that facility is being completed so that it can be built if funding becomes available; meanwhile, she confirmed that the loss of that project results in capacity issues for the other entrance points to the building complex. She emphasized that the available space along 17th Street is very limited, and GSA has to defer to the Secret Service on the programming requirements for these two booths. Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted the undesirable scenario of designing large 17th Street booths to compensate for the uncertainty of the north plaza project. Ms. Wright responded that the current submission may not be the worst–case scenario; the program requirements of the Secret Service could get even larger. Ms. Plater–Zyberk reiterated that the architects of these projects should coordinate their efforts in case all of the facilities are built; Ms. Wright agreed. Mr. Riggert responded that the projects are quite different because the north plaza facility would be below grade; Ms. Plater–Zyberk and Ms. Balmori commented that it would nonetheless be visible from the sidewalk, as previously presented.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk concluded by suggesting the development of alternative designs for the 17th Street booths in order to address the broad question of the booths' stylistic approach in relation to the EEOB; she reiterated that the current submission reflects a compromise approach that is neither entirely new nor entirely historicist. She acknowledged the difficulty of designing in the context of the EEOB.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that a booth is inherently an independent element having its own design character, independent of surrounding structures, and can be placed into any context. He cited the example of the classic British telephone booth: a well–designed small element that can be placed anywhere. He said that the existing 17th Street guard booths share that character; they are bigger than the British telephone booths but are nonetheless small–scaled. In contrast, he said that the proposed new booths are really buildings. He expressed concerned that the Secret Service would insist on the exact siting and dimensions as proposed; he emphasized that some flexibility is needed in designing a building. He concluded that the proposed designs should not be "dumped" alongside the EEOB and recommended that the Commission not approve the submission. He summarized that the proposed scale involves designing buildings, not telephone booths, and the design process requires flexibility and careful architecture—particularly at this important location.
Mr. Luebke noted the uncertainty of the programmatic requirements and the Commission's concern with the point at which the booths would be too large. He said that another approach, rather than designing permanent new booths, would be to use temporary trailers, and he raised the question of whether that approach would be better or worse. He added that the Commission's broad guidance to the staff would be useful even if the Commission is not willing to approve the concept design. Ms. Balmori reiterated Mr. Rybczynski's concerns and said that the Commission should not continue to approve proposals that would place a building of this size in front of a major Washington landmark. She emphasized the Commission's insistence that such projects be conceived differently: security facilities could be placed under a street, under a building, or inside a building. Ms. Plater–Zyberk agreed that the Commission should not approve the project, and Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to request further options for the project.
Mark Chaney, the White House deputy chief for the U.S. Secret Service, responded by describing the evolution of security needs in this area. When the existing booths were built in the 1960s they were simply observation posts without screening technology, and they are not large enough to contain modern equipment such as metal detectors. He said that the booths need to be upgraded at the 17th Street entrance points to accommodate the proposed program regardless of whether the visitor entrance is built under the EEOB's north plaza. Ms. Balmori reiterated the suggestion to explore placing the 17th Street security functions under the street or sidewalk, or inside the building, emphasizing that these options need to be studied seriously. Mr. Chaney responded that the security screening cannot be located inside the building, and an underground location could present other difficulties; he noted that an underground facility would not accommodate the additional role of the booths in supporting the screening of delivery vehicles.
Ms. Fernández suggested exploring a smaller footprint so that the structures clearly look like booths; this might be achieved by placing half the space underground, perhaps with an elevator to take people below. She said that constructing the proposed design would be regrettable, adding that the Commission is not questioning the need for a facility but is questioning the size and prominence of the structures. She acknowledged the importance of security but emphasized that the architectural issues are also important; the Commission's role is to respond that the proposed solution is not working.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to request additional design options for accommodating the apparently fixed program of security requirements; he noted the several approaches described by Ms. Plater–Zyberk for designing the booths in relation to the historic building. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that working in the context of such a landmark building is difficult, requiring advanced skills; but she emphasized that the Commission should demand such skill for this project due to its important location and context. She acknowledged that security elements should be visible and comprehensible but said that they should not play as large a role as they have in the recent decade. She added that the experience of approaching this building should not be debased, and emphasized the cultural value of incorporating security screening without exposing people to its most destructive influences.
Lydia Canda of the Secret Service's Technology Security Division added that the equipment dictates the size of the proposed structures, and the smaller, older booths cannot accommodate the type of screening that is now needed. The Secret Service wants the booths to be as small as possible for cost reasons, but the equipment requirements necessitate the 600–square–foot size of the structures. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked about any criteria for which types of buildings have security placed outside or inside, observing that many new government buildings in Washington have security located inside. Ms. Canda responded that an external location is required for the White House complex. Mr. Luebke added that security policy generally gives a preference, and in some cases a requirement, to place the screening outside of a building, and the White House complex is obviously a particularly sensitive location.
Chairman Powell reiterated the Commission's guidance to develop a more elegant design that relates more effectively to the EEOB, acknowledging the siting and size requirements of the booths. Ms. Balmori added that when security requirements result in proposed structures of such a large size, a more creative approach is needed in accommodating the requirements. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
E. District of Columbia Office of Planning
CFA 19/JUL/12–5, St. Elizabeths East Campus, 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. Master plan and design guidelines for the District–owned portion of the East Campus. Final. Mr. Simon summarized the background of the large St. Elizabeths campus, historically used for a mental hospital; the hospital function has now been consolidated to a smaller area at the eastern side of the campus. The property is divided by Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, into west and east campuses. The West Campus is controlled by the federal government and is being redeveloped for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as previously reviewed by the Commission. The East Campus is controlled by the D.C. government and contains several relatively small uses, including an area designated for additional DHS facilities that was reviewed by the Commission in May 2012. The current submission is a master plan for development of the remainder of the East Campus. To present the master plan, he introduced Ward 8 planner Evelyn Kasongo of the D.C. Office of Planning and project manager Ethan Warsh of the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
Mr. Rybcaynski asked if the proposal is a concept submission or for the Commission's information. Mr. Luebke responded that the master plan is listed as a final submission, a typical category for master plan reviews; the separate concept and final stages are generally used for construction proposals rather than master plans. He added that the Commission may take any action it chooses on the master plan submission, and any future construction proposals on the campus would be submitted for normal concept and final review.
Ms. Kasongo summarized the planning efforts for the East Campus over the past decade. A two–year planning process with extensive community involvement resulted in a plan that did not proceed to the District Council for adoption due to the evolving federal government plan for redeveloping the West Campus. A new framework plan was prepared in 2008 and approved by the D.C. Council, leading to the current master plan; the first phase of development is now anticipated for completion in 2014 or 2015. She said that the framework used some of the principles and goals from the initial planning process, such as the community's priorities: creating a sense of place; recognizing and preserving the historical aspects of the campus, including connectivity and open space; opening up the campus to adjacent residential neighborhoods; enhancing transportation options; expanding the retail, housing, and employment choices within Ward 8, particularly the availability of affordable housing. She cited the numerous meetings with the public and with designated community representatives during the planning process.
Ms. Kasongo presented the illustrative plan from the 2008 framework. The concepts include providing amenities on the East Campus to serve the federal workers on the West Campus; developing a walkable neighborhood; and incorporating opportunities for education, businesses, entrepreneurship, and innovative technology. The master plan advances these concepts with a refined proposal for land uses, development intensity, historic preservation, phasing, and transportation and utility infrastructure. She noted the challenges of the campus, including the stabilization and adaptive reuse of many of the site's historic buildings, and the significant cost of infrastructure improvements. The campus's historic buildings, encompassing 800,000 square feet of the proposed development, often have layouts that limit the potential for reuse. She indicated the Congress Heights Metrorail station on the edge of the campus, which provides an opportunity for transit–oriented development.
Ms. Kasongo presented an illustrative plan of the master plan proposal, noting that the drawing is not a final plan but only depicts an example of how the development program could be implemented on the campus. She indicated the major features established by the proposed road network, which has been refined in coordination with the D.C. Department of Transportation; 13th Street would be developed as a major corridor through the East Campus, and sidewalks would be designed to establish a commercial or residential character along the streets. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked about the relationship of the detailed street sections to the overall illustrative plan. Mr. Warsh clarified that the sections are drawn where new construction would face the street; at other locations, historic buildings and open spaces would remain. He indicated the color–coding of historic and new construction on the illustrative plan, confirming that the light green color is often used for proposed new buildings rather than for open space.
Ms. Kasongo presented a sector–based analysis of the master plan; the design guidelines have been adapted to the particular characteristics of each sector. She then presented a diagram of development parcels, which correspond to the design guidelines. The sector of community services and amenities would include shops, restaurants, and plazas and other open spaces; it is located to connect with the existing retail street of the Congress Heights neighborhood. A key site near the Metrorail station would be developed as a gateway to the East Campus, emphasizing transit–oriented development and intense use. A facility to support business opportunities, entrepreneurship, job training, and education—an "innovation hub"—would be located in this area, funded by a D.C. government grant. Other private–sector commercial and technology uses would also be accommodated. The residential sector would include an urban farm area with community gardens; an arts gallery would be provided, perhaps reusing the existing barns and cottages located at the north end of the campus. She indicated the graphic depiction of the design guidelines that mandate or encourage retail frontage in specific areas. She noted that zoning is not currently in place for the East Campus, and a zoning process will be pursued for the area based on the master plan.
Ms. Kasongo presented a diagram of planned building heights and densities. Taller buildings would be placed along the ravine to the east; medium density is planned along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue; and low density is proposed in most other areas. She summarized the total scope of planned development: 1.8 million square feet of office and technology space; 560,000 square feet of educational or institutional uses; 200,000 square feet of retail and amenity space; 1,300 housing units; and two hotels, designated for specific sites, including one boutique hotel and one larger hotel with conference space. She summarized the next steps for the project, including the zoning process and the initiation of the first phase of development including stabilization of some historic buildings.
Chairman Powell asked for clarification of the site's hospital use; Mr. Luebke indicated the modern hospital location at the eastern side of the East Campus. Chairman Powell commented on the large scale of the planned development. Mr. Luebke noted the extensive consideration involving multiple agencies to consider how the historic buildings—some more than a century old—could accommodate modern uses. He said that the consultation process has emphasized retention of historic buildings and the spirit of the historic landscape and circulation pattern while accommodating new development.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that the adjacent residential neighborhood to the south appears to be relatively low density, while the DHS headquarters involves large buildings; he asked how the planned building sizes for the East Campus were determined. Mr. Warsh responded that the master plan is intended to provide a transition from the lower density of adjacent uses on the south to higher density toward the east and north, where less housing is located; the planned scale also responds to the scale of existing housing along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue that has some variety and progression to medium–height multifamily buildings. He added that the planned lower–density residential area could allow single–family or townhouses. He also said that the Metrorail station is an appropriate location for more intense development, as seen elsewhere in Washington. The retail amenities along 13th Street and Dogwood Drive would encourage employees to walk between the Metrorail station and workplaces, such as the large new U.S. Coast Guard headquarters that will be occupied next spring. He summarized the development plan as part of the community and city–wide desire for walkable neighborhoods and improved amenities.
Mr. Rybczynski observed that the result of this planning approach is a sharp contrast between the existing low–scale adjacent neighborhood and the planned high–density development at the Metrorail station, resulting in a drastic change to the community that is being justified by the request for some additional amenities. He said that a more conventional developer's approach would acknowledge the single–family character of the adjacent neighborhood and the prevailing American preference for houses, and would therefore plan a development of primarily single–family homes with some apartments. He commented that the proposed development program appears to be "milking the site." Mr. Warsh responded that the master plan is pragmatically intended to achieve the highest and best use of this parcel and recover the substantial amount of investment required to develop the East Campus, including infrastructure and the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Mr. Rybczynski observed that the site is distant from downtown Washington, and the market demand may not justify the proposed development. Mr. Warsh responded that market studies have been done, and the proposed phasing is intended to respond to the level of market demand. He said that other development in Washington, and particularly on the adjacent West Campus and in the initial development phases of the East Campus, will contribute to a rising future demand for the planned development. He noted that the East Campus is the largest undeveloped tract in Washington that is currently being planned for development, and the location is only a ten–minute Metrorail ride from central Washington. He added that the planned business development facility would itself generate additional demand for the East Campus.
Mr. Rybczynski recalled the Commission's initial resistance to the amount of development planned for the West Campus in recent years for the DHS consolidation, although the density was accepted because DHS had programmatic space needs that had to be met. However, for the East Campus, he observed that no fixed program is applicable, and yet a comparable—and similarly objectionable—density of development is proposed. Mr. Warsh reiterated the development criteria that were presented, noting the density constraints imposed by the adjacent residential scale and the limitations of the transportation network.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if housing would be located in the historic buildings or only in new construction. Mr. Warsh responded that the intended zoning would be flexible and would allow housing in historic buildings, although the emphasis is on more intense economic uses within the core area of the campus. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked about automobile parking for the historic buildings. Mr. Warsh acknowledged that parking has been a contentious issue; the unusual solution is to propose an overall maximum of 4,800 parking spaces for the East Campus, exclusive of street parking, with no requirement to support a building's parking requirements within that building itself. As a result, the parking needs for an historic building could be arranged through an agreement with the developer of another parcel that would reserve a portion of a new building's parking. He confirmed the overall result that currently undeveloped parcels will have to accommodate the parking for historic structures.
Ms. Fernández said that providing comments is difficult due to the general nature of the master plan. She agreed with Mr. Rybczynski that the proposed distribution of uses and densities is questionable, citing the odd configuration of the outer elliptical edge that results in a strange pattern of movement through the campus. She asked for clarification of the planned art gallery; Ms. Kasongo said that the site does not currently have an art gallery, and Mr. Warsh said that the opportunity is to rehabilitate the existing barns or cottages as space for artists or galleries. Ms. Fernández asked if consideration has been given to arts and cultural uses within the prime central area of the campus, which appears to emphasize commercial uses. She discouraged the tendency to push the cultural uses and community centers to the fringe of the campus, noting that this problem is also prevalent for art departments on university campuses. She emphasized that the proposed location would discourage people from using or engaging with the arts uses, which should be brought to the middle of the campus in proximity to greater concentrations of people and housing; the goal should be for the arts to be part of how people move through the space rather than a remote destination. Mr. Warsh responded that institutional zoning is planned for the core of the campus.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk discussed an additional concern from studying the master plan, suggesting that the street network be treated more urbanistically in keeping with other aspects of the proposal. She said that the curved street alignments suggest a suburban character, while straight alignments would often be feasible; the result could be a more urban character with vistas terminated by buildings. She asked if such changes could be considered at this stage of the planning process. Mr. Warsh responded that much of the street network corresponds to the historic street pattern and has been refined through the historic preservation review process; he confirmed that Dogwood Drive is an example of a historic street. Ms. Plater–Zyberk acknowledged that pursuing this concern may be fruitless; she observed that the result is unsatisfactory connectivity with the adjacent streets outside the campus, perhaps contributing to the concerns expressed by Mr. Rybczynski. Mr. Warsh added that the proposed road network has already been subjected to an extensive environmental review process and would be difficult to reconsider at this stage of planning.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the presentation. The discussion concluded without a formal action.Southwest Waterfront Development
Ms. Batcheler introduced the multiple submissions for the Southwest waterfront, part of "The Wharf" redevelopment project. The current submissions include three buildings submitted as private–sector projects under the Shipstead–Luce Act, with the adjoining public spaces and piers submitted as D.C. government projects. The public space submissions include the Waterfront Park at Water Street and M Place, previously reviewed in January 2012 as part of the master plan presentation; all of the other currently submitted components were most recently reviewed in June 2012, at which time the Commission provided comments but did not approve the submissions. She noted that some of the reviews in June occurred without a quorum and the comments have now been confirmed by the Commission (see agenda item I.C); the current submissions have been revised in response to these comments. She introduced project director Shawn Seaman of Hoffman–Madison Waterfront, the master developer of The Wharf and of some of the individual buildings, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Seaman summarized the components of the presentation, all submitted for concept approval. The initial presentation will cover most of the open spaces and pier structures, followed by a presentation of the Waterfront Park design at the south end of The Wharf that would link the development project with the existing Southwest neighborhood fabric. The presentation of the three building designs will follow; these are the buildings that did not receive concept approval in June. He noted the numerous architects who would be presenting the proposals and additional members of the project team in the audience who would be available to answer questions.
F. D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development / Hoffman–Madison Waterfront, LLC
1. CFA 19/JUL/12–6, Southwest Waterfront Development public spaces, amenities, and landscapes associated with Parcels 1, 2, 3b, 4, and 5, District Pier, Transit Pier, 7th Street Park, and Yacht Club Plaza. Concept. (Previous: CFA 21/JUN/12– 7.) Mr. Seaman introduced architect Stan Eckstut of Perkins Eastman / EE&K to present the public spaces. Mr. Eckstut summarized the previous concerns of the Commission that are addressed in the revised submission: more focus on a simple and straightforward design with a lighter touch, and more consistency amongst the elements. He emphasized the importance of the ground floor of the buildings in place–making and animation of the development.
Mr. Eckstut described the wharf itself, extending along the waterfront edge, as the unifying and connecting feature of the development; the design goal is simplicity. Its functions are complex: movement; shared space for eating; and a place for trees and stormwater management. The proposed utility poles have been developed using a kit–of–parts concept that has now been extended to other elements of the wharf. The pole would be a simple metal structure configured as a frame with a metal base; fabric on the upper portion would convey a light character. The positioning of the poles is intended not to interfere with primary views. The pavilions have been revised with a similar vocabulary of a light frame with fabric. He said that the fabric would give the appearance of a lantern when lit at night. The fabric would be canvas, a traditional maritime material, and it would be specially treated for longevity and ease of maintenance. The posts on the piers would also be based on this design vocabulary, with infrastructure to support cabling, speakers, lighting, and other enhancements for special events. He said that the height of these posts has been lowered from 50 feet recently—and initially 60 feet—to 40 feet. The base of the posts would be metal instead of the previously proposed stone, and the dimensions of the base have also been reduced—from 8 to 6 feet in height, and from 3 to 2–1/4 feet in width. He compared the dimensions to the typical 35–foot mounting height desired for lights and speakers at special events, such as in New York's Bryant Park. The lighting on the posts has been simplified: protruding light fixtures have been eliminated, and the lighting would be provided within the vertical shaft. He noted the other materials that were considered for the posts: concrete, particularly when concrete was being proposed as the primary material of the adjacent music hall entrance, but this choice was rejected as potentially too rough and raw; and wood slats, but these might not have the needed durability.
Mr. Eckstut presented two options for the paving of the District Pier, both simplified from the previous submission which included decorative stone bands across the pier. The current design that is preferred by the project team has stone pavers at the edges of the pier, encompassing the post locations, and a wood surface extending along the middle; the alternative design would use wood across the width of the pier.
Mr. Eckstut described the simplified design for the Pierhouse at the Maine Avenue end of the District Pier. The design is now based on the kit–of–parts vocabulary of other open–space elements, and the horizontal emphasis has been eliminated. The lights would be slightly bigger in this area to signify the major entrance to The Wharf, and the slightly angled roof structure would provide weather protection for the stairs to the below–grade parking garage. The cafe pavilion would have a similar vocabulary with its own simple roof form. He indicated the forty–foot height of the revised post design. He emphasized the openness of views through this area. Materials would include wood and a local stone.
Mr. Eckstut presented the proposed dock master's building at the opposite end of the District Pier. The design would now have a slightly lighter character with simpler materials. The concept of bleacher seating and low posts remains part of the design. He noted that the roof at this structure would not be fabric due to the need to enclose interior space, but the lightness of character would still be evident.
Mr. Eckstut described the proposal for the Transit Pier. The ticketing pavilion would correspond to the kit–of–parts approach. He contrasted the simplified design to the complexity and curves of the previous proposal.
Ms. Balmori asked whether all of the pavilion structures would have elevators for barrier–free access. Mr. Eckstut responded that any occupied second level would include access from either an elevator or a ramp. Mr. Rybczynski expressed appreciation for the responsiveness to the Commission's previous comments. He said that the design of the District Pier entrance at Maine Avenue is greatly improved, adding that the low–key design would be effective in attracting people into The Wharf. For the decking of the District Pier, he offered a preference for the continuous wood alternative, which he said is simpler and has a more nautical character. He concluded that the kit–of–parts approach works well in developing the design elements for the open spaces.
Mr. Rybczynski summarized his satisfaction with the design; several Commission members agreed. Upon a motion by Mr. Rybczynski with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the concept submission.
2. CFA 19/JUL/12–7, Southwest Waterfront Development. Waterfront Park, Water Street and M Place, SW. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/JAN/12–8.) Mr. Seaman introduced Warren Byrd of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects to present the concept for the Waterfront Park. Mr. Byrd described the previous concept as presented in January 2012 and summarized the Commission's comments from that presentation: the need to strengthen connections between the park and the neighborhood; concern that the access road and turnaround for the adjacent police pier would have the effect of separating the park from the waterfront; and a request to improve the use of trees more effectively to form spaces within the park. He described the responses to these comments. The connections to the neighborhood have been increased to the extent that will be tolerated by the community; some of the neighboring residential complexes are opposed to the intermediate connections that would make use of what they consider to be their private property. The design of the access road has been revised and some of the access requirements to the police pier have been relaxed after further consultation with the police department, but he said that the overall issue of providing vehicular access through the park is unavoidable. The clarity of the park spaces has also been improved.
Mr. Byrd presented the new concept proposal for the park, including a diagram of pedestrian connections and internal paths within the park. The access road has been narrowed and would now have a meandering plan to give it a more park–like character. The turnaround area is treated as an urban plaza to replace the more suburban character that had concerned the Commission. The grading, trees, and pergolas have been developed to define distinct spaces. He indicated the emphasis on connections to the waterfront, including open views to the water and boats while screening views of the less attractive utilitarian piers in this area. The central lawn area would serve multiple uses; its elevated height would improve views and reduce the intrusiveness of the access road. He added that the road width has been reduced to 20 feet and would be paved in concrete embedded with oyster shells, resulting in a more park–like character than would be provided by asphalt paving. He indicated the location of a terrace adjacent to a potential cafe site. Secondary spaces would be available for recreation such as bocce, and the design includes garden areas and longer walks. An interactive fountain would be located adjacent to the pergola, providing a relationship to the waterfront setting and located at the focus of view corridors.
Mr. Byrd noted that the current design has been presented to local community members, who support the proposal. He said that community members have requested someplace with protection from rain, and a portion of the pergola may therefore be covered in glass although it would primarily be open. He added that the stepped grading of the park is intended to recall the geologic transition in the Washington area, which generates the falls upstream in the Potomac River.
Ms. Balmori expressed support for the proposal, commenting that the spaces in the park appear to be well defined and designed. She questioned the treatment of the vehicular turnaround area at the end of the access road, suggesting that it be designed to serve additional uses such as a play area. She supported the meandering alignment of the access road and the screening of views to the cars. She summarized that most of the design problems have been addressed well, with the exception of the turnaround area, and asked if the small central green space in this area could be larger. Mr. Byrd offered to continue discussions with the law enforcement agencies that use this area; he noted that their requirements include an open staging space and the ability to turn around a tractor–trailer truck, resulting in the infeasibility of adding trees or enlarging the central green space. He said that the extensive paved area is therefore intended to provide a more urban feel, and it would accommodate the staging of other events. He added that the shaping of this plaza has been revised to diminish the sense of it being a vehicular turnaround area.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if people could play games on the paved turnaround area. Mr. Byrd responded that this use may be limited to special–event days because police vehicles would use the paved area on a daily basis. Ms. Balmori emphasized the large amount of space that is being taken from the park for this use. Mr. Seaman responded that the primary issue for the size of the law enforcement needs is an annual disaster training event that is held at this location; the event involves large trucks, helicopter landings, tanks, and other specialized equipment. He emphasized the design effort to treat the area as a plaza rather than merely the turnaround that currently exists, and he offered to continue discussions with the law enforcement agencies. Ms. Balmori questioned why such equipment is brought to this location. Mr. Byrd clarified that the pier serves as police station and has fire and coast guard facilities; the annual training is apparently located here because of the potential for the Washington Channel as an evacuation route for the city.
Ms. Balmori reiterated the suggestion to minimize the area of the turnaround and to make it as useful as possible for recreation. Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested treating it entirely as a beautiful paved plaza and focusing on development of a good paving pattern; Mr. Rybczynski and Ms. Balmori agreed that eliminating the small grass area would be worth consideration. Mr. Powell suggested pavers that allow for the growth of grass. Mr. Byrd responded that this was considered and would be feasible for an area that only supports cars intermittently, but this plaza would have cars every day; Ms. Balmori agreed that this solution would be unsuccessful.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to approve the proposed concept and encourage further reduction and study of the turnaround plaza. Upon a second by Ms. Plater–Zyberk, the Commission adopted this action.
G. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Shipstead–Luce Act: Southwest Waterfront Development (continued)
1. SL 12–103, 900 Water Street, SW. Southwest Waterfront Development, Parcel 2. New residential and theater building. Concept. (Previous: 21 June 2012.) Mr. Seaman introduced Gary Handel of Handel Architects to present the proposed residential and theatre building for Parcel 2. Mr. Handel said that his firm has recently been collaborating with the other architects and landscape architects involved in the project to address the Commission's previous concerns.
Mr. Handel described the basic issues of this parcel to assist in understanding the design proposal. The parcel constitutes a large area and would contain retail, theater, residential, and support space. Above the podium, the site is bisected by a north–south view corridor that will be maintained from the Banneker Overlook. He summarized the Commission's previous guidance to focus on expressing these basic elements to generate a successful architectural resolution. The proposal is two clear residential blocks rising from a podium that extends to the edges of the block; the expression of the residential volumes has now been extended to the ground. The design of the retail facades has also been refined to express the use and better define the public space. The architectural language has been simplified and is used more consistently around the building; the materials would be brick with some precast concrete, metal panels, and glass. The penthouse structures and rooftop geometry have also been simplified. He presented a series of perspective renderings of the current proposal in comparison to the previous submission.
Mr. Handel presented the revised design for the music hall entrance, which he said is intended to define clearly the special function on the interior; he acknowledged the extensive discussion of this element in previous reviews. The entrance would be more clearly framed by residential facades; the lobby and entrance elements would project forward to be the most dominant features for pedestrians along the wharf. The entrance's pylons, signage, and lobby balcony have been revised in response to the Commission's concerns: the height of the pylons has been reduced from 90 to 60 feet, which aligns with the top of the building podium; the balcony would be treated as an inhabitable marquee rather than the "shards" of the previous proposal; and simple pedestrian–scaled blade signs would identify the music hall for people along the wharf, replacing the larger sign facing the waterfront.
Mr. Rybczynski asked for clarification of the music hall lobby treatment; Mr. Handel responded that a clear glass volume would project from the podium to the back of the pylons. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked about the proposed use of concrete for the pylons. Mr. Handel responded that board–formed concrete has been shown in recent submissions but may have been different in the earliest reviews of this building; this would be one of the very few locations in The Wharf to use this material. Mr. Eckstut added that the material would relate well to the interior design character of the music hall and the type of musical events that would be held there. Mr. Handel offered to explore further options as the design is developed. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if the reference to a marquee suggests the use of lights and words along the balcony; Mr. Handel indicated a red line at the edge of the balcony that could be the location for a scrolling illuminated sign that would list the events in the music hall. Mr. Luebke asked the height of this sign above the wharf level; Mr. Handel responded that it would be at approximately 20 feet, with the balcony floor at approximately 22 feet above grade.
Chairman Powell described the proposal as a significant advancement and noted the consensus of the Commission to support the design. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if the dark multi–story facade treatment at the base of the building extends beyond the retail space. Mr. Handel responded that the intention is to provide retail space throughout the dark–framed facade areas, with the layout details still being confirmed; the program includes double–height retail space entered at ground level, with additional restaurants reached from the upper levels of the music hall lobby. Ms. Plater–Zyberk recommended careful consideration of entrances, awnings, and signs as the retail facades are developed. Mr. Luebke noted that the residential entrances are somewhat undefined at this stage. Chairman Powell acknowledged that the design requires further development; Ms. Balmori suggested that these details be provided at the next presentation.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the concept for Parcel 2.
2. SL 12–105, 850 Water Street, SW. Southwest Waterfront Development, Parcel 3b. New hotel building. Concept. (Previous: 21 June 2012.) Mr. Seaman introduced architect Greg Cranford of BBG–BBGM to present the proposed hotel for Parcel 3b. Mr. Cranford summarized the previous design submissions and the current response to the Commission's comments. The clock tower has been a part of the design from the beginning; its location is intended as a civic gesture to the adjacent District Pier rather than as a marker of the hotel entrance. Throughout the design process, the facades have been simplified and the roof–level signage has been reduced. In the current submission, the clock tower has been further simplified and integrated with the building mass; the clock itself would be aligned with the upper–story bar level. He indicated the refinements to the overhangs and balconies to unify the building. The podium remains differentiated from the guest room floors, using more glass and bay windows for the meeting room floors. He also indicated the simplified design of the canopies, storefronts, and hotel entrance facade. The roof–level signage would be eliminated, with a logo provided instead.
Mr. Cranford presented a second option that would eliminate the clock feature and provide a different corner treatment facing the District Pier. He indicated details of the treatment of glazing, modules, and the upper–level bar in this option. He also noted the effort to relate the building to the residential designs on Parcel 2 and Parcel 4.
Mr. Rybczynski asked how the terrace areas would be used. Mr. Cranford responded that the fourth–floor terrace would be reached from guest rooms; the 12th–floor terrace would be reached from the hotel's event rooms and bar. He noted that the bar would have a separate ground–level entrance facing the District Pier. Ms. Plater–Zyberk expressed appreciation for the design refinement but questioned the zig–zag facade element above the hotel entrance, extending the height of the facade. Mr. Cranford responded that this feature is part of the language of towers that is being developed for the building, in conjunction with the corner clock tower at the opposite end. He added that the feature would also enhance the visibility of the hotel entrance, particularly from Maine Avenue. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that the design of this feature seems needlessly complicated and decorative but could nonetheless be revised to encompass the entrance to the Pier Mews on the northeast side of the building. She suggested that the Mews entrance be treated differently than other openings along the facade; Ms. Balmori agreed. Mr. Cranford asked if the advice is for simplification; Mr. Luebke clarified the concern that the hotel entrance is identified with a strong gesture while no gesture is provided at the adjacent Mews entrance, which should actually be designed to attract people. Ms. Plater–Zyberk added that the podium treatment of the building, as designed to face the wharf, should be extended around the corner to encompass the entrance to the Mews which should be understood as a continuation of the wharf's public activities. Mr. Cranford offered to adjust the facade accordingly.
Mr. Rybczynski expressed support for Option 2, which eliminates the exterior clock; Ms. Balmori agreed. Chairman Powell noted the Commission's repeated dissatisfaction with the clock tower proposal during the review process. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater–Zyberk with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved Option 2 with the request for clarification of the ground–level entrances.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk added that she entered Washington on the 14th Street Bridge earlier in the day and was reminded that the distant view of The Wharf's location is actually not very distant; she reiterated her support for the Commission's ongoing skepticism of large–scale design gestures at this sensitive location.
3. SL 12–118, 600 M Street, SW. Southwest Waterfront Development, Parcel 11a. New church. Concept. (Previous: SL 12– 100, 21 June 2012.) Mr. Seaman introduced architect James Clark of MTFA Architecture to present the concept for a new church; this project is coordinated with development of The Wharf while owned by the Vestry of St. Augustine's Church. Mr. Clark said that the design has now been improved in response to the Commission's previous comments. He indicated the site across from Arena Stage and backing onto a planned residential building, and noted the important views between the site and Maine Avenue, M Street, and the Southwest waterfront; he emphasized the significance of the location being at a major intersection of the city and in proximity to water, a symbolically important feature for the church that resulted in the proposal to place the entrance on the west corner of the building.
Mr. Clark described the refinement of the building design, including a greater emphasis on the rippled pattern of the facade in reference to the strong form of the Arena Stage building. The symbolic use of water and light remains part of the design; the previously proposed colored glass has been eliminated. The facade would now curve in two directions, and the elevated sanctuary volume remains a primary element of the composition. The height of the bell tower on the west has been reduced in response to the Commission's concern that it would compete visually with the sanctuary; as a result, the cross on top of the tower would be taller, and glass fragments have been introduced to enclose the church bells. He added that the revised tower design also improves the visual separation of the church from the adjacent planned residential building. He presented a series of perspective views of the resulting design in comparison to the previous submission. He also described the relation of the exterior to the interior layout, indicating the reorientation of seating in the sanctuary toward the room's prominent glass corner as suggested by the Commission.
Mr. Clark described the proposed materials: glass; bronze shingles; accents of brick and glazed block; and light–colored stone flanking the entrance, symbolizing open doors. A portion of the curved glass wall would be fritted to conceal the rooftop mechanical equipment. He also indicated the proposed open spaces at the west and east ends of the site that would relate to the church's entrance and multipurpose room.
Chairman Powell expressed support for the concept submission. Mr. Rybczynski questioned the proposed glass fragments, commenting that they probably could not be constructed with the delicacy that is depicted in the renderings, particularly if support for bells is also required. Mr. Clark clarified that the proposal is a structure of steel and glass that would hold the bells. Chairman Powell noted that the Commission will have the opportunity to review the project further as the design is developed.
Ms. Balmori agreed that the revised design is satisfactory as a concept. She recommended further study of the juxtaposition of shingles and brick on the facade, which she described as odd in this design. She also recommended refinement of the windows, commenting that they have the appearance of commercial drugstore windows as presented.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that the relationship of the church to the adjacent residential building remains unresolved, particularly because the church design would expose the blank party wall. She suggested that the church either treat the residential building deliberately as a backdrop or conceal it more completely, rather than having the unclear relationship of the current proposal; she added that the tower is a critical component of this relationship.
Ms. Fernández commented that the shortened tower design is less heavy and an improvement over the previous proposal; nevertheless, the tower has the appearance of being chopped off arbitrarily, and problems remain with its relationship to the residential building and church, as well as its design as an independent element. She concluded that reducing the tower's size, while helpful, has not resulted in integrating it into the overall design. Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested not treating the tower as a separate building element but instead simply extending the curving main facade to this area, with only the cross rising above as a tower element.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to approve the concept submission with the comments provided. He added that the Commission staff should work with the project team in the refinement of the design. Upon a second by Ms. Plater–Zyberk, the Commission adopted this action. Mr. Luebke noted that a public comment letter was received concerning the proposals for The Wharf; the letter was circulated to the Commission members prior to the meeting.
4. SL 12–121, 660 North Capitol Street, NW. New eight–story office building. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for an eight–story office building at North Capitol and G Streets, a half–block north of Massachusetts Avenue and a block west of Union Station. She noted the Commission's previous approval in 2004 for a similar building on this site with a loosely classical design character; that design was not executed, and the developer is now proposing a simpler and more modern design; she added that the building's plan and massing remain essentially as previously approved, and the only new element is the exterior treatment. She asked architect Lewis Goetz of Leo A Daly to begin the presentation.
Mr. Goetz introduced the design architect John Barbara of Leo A Daly and developer Steven Grigg of Republic Properties. He indicated the site and the buildings on the facing streets: the Postal Square development in the former City Post Office Building to the east across North Capitol Street, and the Government Printing Office building to the north across G Street. The site is vacant and would be developed as the second phase of the Republic Square development. Adjacent buildings on the triangular block include the completed first–phase office building of Republic Square, mid–block along Massachusetts Avenue extending to G Street, and another office building at the corner of Massachusetts and North Capitol Streets. He presented photographs of the context, noting the variety of historic buildings and modern buildings in a neo–classical style. Mr. Luebke indicated the nearby site of the Memorial to Victims of the Ukrainian Famine of 1932–1933, reviewed earlier in the day, located a half–block to the south across Massachusetts Avenue.
Mr. Goetz described the proposed site plan, with the building entrance along North Capitol Street and the loading dock and parking entrance along G Street. He presented the previous design that was approved in 2004 and slightly revised in 2009; the developer now prefers to use a more modern style in response to market conditions. The new proposal is a simple glass box building that would be a backdrop and contrast to the surrounding historic and neo–classical buildings; he presented a view along North Capitol Street, noting that the proposed building would fill in a gap along the street wall. He indicated the proposed articulation of the base and top within the simple glass form, relating to the classicism of the context; the lower two floors would be recessed by less than two feet. He indicated the special treatment of the spandrel at the third floor and the uniform glazing at the upper floors. The glass facade system would be used on all four sides of the building.
Mr. Goetz presented two alternatives for the articulation of the glass facades. Option 1 would have flush glass facades on the upper six floors of the building above the two–story recessed base. Option 2 would articulate the slab edges of the upper floors with a U–shaped channel, resulting in a greater sense of horizontality; he confirmed that the open face of the channel would be toward the exterior. With both options, the lower portion of facade on each floor would have a graduated frit pattern.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk observed that the columns are expressed on the lower two floors of some elevations but not on the east elevation along North Capitol Street, which has the building's main entrance. Mr. Goetz responded that the articulated columns provide a rhythm that is more beneficial on the longer north facade along G Street; the recessed column alignment is also less desirable for the layout of the upper floors, and is therefore only used along the west facade. He clarified that the proposed recess of the facade plane on the lower two floors is the same on each facade relative to the upper volume of the building, while the alignment of the columns is different along the east facade. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if the articulated columns would be fully exposed or embedded within the glass facade; Mr. Grigg responded that they would be embedded, and Mr. Goetz added that the columns would be clad with glass.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if the special shadow–box treatment of the third–floor spandrel should also be used at the upper part of the building; Mr. Goetz responded that the design intent is simplicity for the upper floors. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that a higher spandrel at the uppermost slab could serve to reduce the visibility of the building's mechanical penthouse; Mr. Goetz responded that the proposal is already at the maximum allowable height.
Chairman Powell asked if the design team has a preference among the two facade options that were presented; Mr. Goetz responded that Option 1 is preferred. Mr. Rybczynski and Mr. Freelon supported Option 1. Mr. Freelon noted the prevalence of glass boxes in past decades and questioned the proposal to treat all four facades with the same glass system, ignoring the issue of solar orientation. Mr. Goetz responded that the south and west elevations are heavily shadowed by adjacent buildings at very close proximity, and the north side is not subject to intense solar loads; therefore only the east facade is subject to substantial heat gain, and the issue is relatively minor for this building. He also confirmed that the proposed facade treatment would be permissible under the building code on all four sides.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk encouraged the use and refinement of the fritting of the glass window panels to conceal the clutter of the office floors. Upon a motion by Chairman Powell with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the proposal with Option 1 for the facade treatment.
H. District of Columbia Department of General Services
CFA 19/JUL/12– 8, Ballou Senior High School, 3401 4th Street, SE. New replacement school building. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposed new building for Ballou Senior High School to replace the existing building from the 1960s. He asked architects Curtis Clay of Perkins+Will and Calvert Bowie and Paul Lund of Bowie Gridley Architects to present the design.
Mr. Lund described the school's location at the center of the Congress Heights neighborhood in Southeast Washington, a few blocks from the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X Avenues. The neighborhood is comprised of small–scale commercial buildings, multi–family residential buildings, and single–family houses—primarily faced in brick and aluminum siding. The immediate context includes an elementary school, institutional uses, and duplex houses. The site is bordered by 2nd and 4th Streets, SE, with 4th Street as the primary edge, and is steeply sloped with a drop of 90 feet from north to south and 20 feet from east to west. The school currently occupies the northern half of the site and its athletic stadium is at the southern end. The new building would be constructed on the site of the stadium and playing field; following its construction, the existing school would be demolished and replaced by a new parking lot, playing field, and stadium that would be terraced into the hillside.
The architects described the organization of the proposed building. A central courtyard would be enclosed by three building wings housing academics, athletics, and the arts, representing the themes of mind, body, and soul. The school would have several entrances related to different programs and hours of operations. Due to the sloping site, the main entrance would be located at the uppermost third floor of the building, and the secondary general entrance would be located one floor below; Mr. Bowie noted the design challenge of positioning the secondary entrance without creating confusion about the location of the main entrance. He said that the multiple entrance sequence is the design's most important feature and has to allow for the separation of boys and girls upon arrival in the morning. These two entrances would be reached from a large cantilevered concrete canopy. A staff entrance on the second floor would also serve as the entrance to the fitness center in evenings and on weekends; an entrance leading directly into the theater may also be added. Another entrance along 2nd Street would provide access to STAY, an academy offering afternoon and evening classes for students who did not finish high school, and to the athletics wing after school hours. A service entrance would also be located along the 4th Street side of the building.
The architects described the facade concepts for the exterior and courtyard elevations in relation to the programmatic elements. A curving glass wall would run through the building from interior to exterior, linking the three wings; this wall would first be evident on the third floor near the main entrance. The cafeteria and gymnasium would be located on the second floor; the cafeteria would serve as a commons for the building, highlighted by the curving curtainwall form. The second floor would also be the location of the swimming pool, band room, choir rehearsal room, dance studio, and a series of art rooms opening onto an outside terrace along 4th Street; the building elevation would reflect these various functions. The north elevation, facing the playing field and containing the athletics entrance, would have a large vertical glass wall. The rehearsal room for the school's internationally known band, which regularly performs for the president and in New York's Thanksgiving Day parade, would occupy a prominent space. The primary exterior materials would be brick and cast stone, with glass for the curtainwall and storefront systems. Brick would be used to differentiate the academic wing; the larger public spaces would be identified by much larger windows. The roof form would create a gate to the arts center. Mr. Bowie summarized that the elevations would express a simple interplay of large masses, with large and small glass openings.
Mr. Freelon commented that the site's topography should be an important influence on the landscape. Mr. Lund responded that the landscape will be designed by Carvalho + Good; one concept is to retain the steep slope largely intact and design it as a rain garden to accommodate stormwater, providing an educational experience. Mr. Freelon observed that the rendered elevations do not appear simple, despite the architects' assertion that the design is a simple interplay of masses.
Mr. Rybczynski commented that the challenge presented by the building's functional planning has been addressed successfully; but the proposed design uses three distinct languages, too many for this one building, and the result is that each wing of the building appears to be designed by a separate architect. While each language is interesting in its own way, he said that together they form a collection rather than a building. He recommended establishing one design approach as predominant before exploring variations. Mr. Bowie responded that the design team is exploring how to unify the brick portions of the building, which might result in consolidating two of the wings and reducing the range of architectural expressions. He added that a second color of brick would probably be introduced to articulate the building's base.
Mr. Rybczynski offered an example of the design confusion where one corner of the facade is presented as an articulated shadow box while another corner is shown as smooth, apparently indicating some intention to make them different. He said that the design as a whole lacks a rationale: the brick volume appears to have shapes cut out of it, another part of the building looks like arbitrary pattern–making, and yet another is dominated by the canopy shape of the porch. He summarized his concern that the proposed design goes in too many directions. Mr. Lund agreed that the concept has too many ideas and will need simplification, but reiterated the basic idea of the differentiation between masonry masses, and the expression of the major program elements through larger windows and different materials.
Mr. Rybczynski questioned whether the program elements require so much architectural elaboration, asking whether these areas would be open to the public outside of school hours. Mr. Bowie responded that schools are evolving to contain an increasing number of public functions, such as media centers and athletic facilities; at Ballou, the fitness center may be opened to the community daily because no such facilities are available nearby. He said that the distinct design expressions for these functions are intended to break down the scale of the building.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that, in addition to having three volumes with three different meanings, the design provides a kit–of–parts vocabulary for public and less public functions, and the building could therefore have potentially five or six different architectural characters. She agreed with Mr. Rybczynski that the articulation of public entrances is unclear in relation to the programmatic elements, and the architectural vocabulary is being applied inconsistently.
Ms. Fernández agreed that that the combination of architectural languages is problematic. She said that a larger question is the crucial treatment of the negative space, including the space between buildings, their connections, and the spaces created by the shallow indentations at entrances. For example, she said that the curved forms make sense in the courtyard but not at the main entrance, where the curved facade would be unrelated to the setting. She said that the building periphery is being treated as a separate thing, pushing the architectural languages further apart; the important issue is not just how the three building wings relate to each other but how the interior and exterior treatments are related, similar to the idea of expressing public and private uses. Mr. Bowie asked if a response could be to amplify the organic form at the main entrance as a continuation of the courtyard expression; Ms. Fernández said that such an approach could be successful, while emphasizing that this organic form should not be just a symbolic gesture at the main entrance but should be carried through the building coherently. She reiterated her concern that the curved line at the front entrance is a decorative treatment rather than making sense as a three–dimensional element; she added that the heavy cantilevered canopy fights or negates the curved form, and concluded that the entrance design has not been considered carefully.
Ms. Fernández said that the project presents a good opportunity to develop a green building design, even within a limited budget; she suggested that the building provide a wider vision of what is possible in a city by using technology to achieve LEED certification and a longer lifespan than 50 years. Observing the extensive roof surface of the building, she asked if a green roof is being considered. Mr. Lund responded that the roof is being considered for photovoltaic cells and solar hot–water heating devices, and the landscape could be used to treat stormwater; the overall aspiration is to have no net energy consumption.
Ms. Balmori said that the landscape design would likely include many plants around the facades, but there is no apparent intention of creating a landscape that could be inhabited; as shown in this presentation, the landscape design is only an edge treatment and does not use the landscape as an integral part of the overall design. Mr. Bowie responded that a farmer's market, formerly held on the parking lot, could be revived so that the school would be an asset to the community; Ms. Balmori supported inclusion of a market.
Secretary Luebke noted that the staff had expressed support for the concept of a brick skin enclosing the academic wing, with other functions emerging in places; the submitted design now appears to be more complex. He added that the entrance proposal has been radically changed from an earlier north–facing proposal; the canopy would now face northeast and has become extremely thin while spanning a distance of perhaps 180 feet, which would be technically difficult. Mr. Bowie responded that the canopy slab would be supported by thin steel columns on the outside and inside, and the entrance curtainwall would be independent of this structure. He added that the canopy would relate to the student–center space in the courtyard. The shifted orientation of the entrance canopy is based on the recognition that people would typically approach the site from the northeast, where public transportation and the center of the neighborhood are located. Due to the difficulty of orienting an entrance to a corner, the organic form has been introduced so that the entrance can address the street in both directions. He added that the orientation of the entrance also helps to move students quickly toward the courtyard and to allow the separation of the girls and boys. Mr. Clay added that the client had criticized the earlier entrance design that had been discussed with the staff.
Chairman Powell summarized the evolving status of the design concept and suggested that the Commission provide its comments without an action. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that the clear parti should be retained as the design is developed: a three–piece building with embellishments, such as the entry features and the pieces in the courtyard, and an expression of public and private uses through the choice of materials. She suggested clarifying these design ideas for the next submission. She also questioned whether the entrance needs to be oriented at an angle, commenting that the curved glass curtainwall may be sufficient. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
I. D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
CFA 19/JUL/12–9, Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, Fort Dupont Park, 3600 block of Ely Place, SE. New facility for baseball academy. Concept.
J. D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities
CFA 19/JUL/12–10, Connecticut Avenue, NW (between K Street and Jefferson Place). Public art installation by lighting designer Alexander Cooper. Concept.
The Commission approved agenda items II.I and II.J earlier in the meeting without presentations, following item II.A.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:37 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Last Modified: September 24, 2012