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28 February 2013

Dear Ms. Wright:

In its meeting of 21 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a new concept submission for perimeter security and streetscape improvements at the Herbert C. Hoover headquarters building of the Department of Commerce at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The Commission commended the overall improvement to the design and approved the concept with several recommendations for further development of the proposal.

The Commission members supported the general language of the design elements and placement of the perimeter barriers. They expressed appreciation for the responsiveness to their previous comments, particularly in addressing the quality of the pedestrian experience along 15th Street facing the Ellipse. However, they commented that the proposed landscape features should be better integrated with the existing features of the historic building, such as the low walls flanking the entrance stairs and near the corners of the building; the height of the proposed barrier should be coordinated carefully with such existing design elements. They supported the proposal for wider areas of paving for pedestrians at some corners of the block while questioning whether the accommodation of bicycle racks would be appropriate at these locations. They acknowledged the value of sustainability in the design but noted the aesthetic challenge of integrating low–impact design (LID) at the site's perimeter within this urban setting, where simple lawn panels have been the traditional treatment. They also requested more careful study of the proposed street trees, commenting that too few are proposed along the great length of the east and west facades.

The Commission encouraged the General Services Administration to develop an overall design strategy for perimeter security throughout the Federal Triangle. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.

Sincerely,

/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Secretary

Mina Wright, Director
Office of Planning and Design Quality
U.S. General Services Administration
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407–0001

cc: Rod Henderer, RTKL

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Last Modified: March 1, 2013