27 June 2013
Dear Mr. Cohen:
In its meeting of 20 June, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a final design proposal for modifications and additions to the Watergate Hotel at 2650 Virginia Avenue, NW (case number SL 13–085). Although lacking a quorum, the Commission members present expressed their support for the design for alterations to this historic property and made suggestions for the development of two aspects of the design, recommending that the final approval of the plans be delegated to the staff.
The Commission members observed that the rehabilitation of the hotel building would be a positive development for the Watergate complex and commented that the design modifications made since the approval of the concept generally represent a clear improvement over the concept design. However, they expressed reservations about the design of the landscape above the expanded ballroom, commenting that the grading plan appears awkward and inelegant in the context of the expressive biomorphic forms of the existing Watergate buildings and landscape elements. They recommended that the proposed ground plane in this area be reshaped to ensure that the landscape design is compatible with the design of the complex as a whole and that it allows comfortable and direct access to the raised lawn. The Commission members also requested that the applicant consult further with the staff on the design of the proposed building identification signs. While endorsing the proposed location and materials for these signs, they recommended that the signs be simpler and less overwrought in form.
As there was not a quorum during the review of the project, this recommendation will be placed on the agenda for confirmation at the Commission's meeting of 18 July 2013. Please coordinate the submission of complete permit documents incorporating the design modifications as delegated to the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
cc: David Delcher, BBG–BBGM
Last Modified: June 28, 2013