28 March 2013
Dear Mr. Hanlon:
In its meeting of 21 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for an addition to and renovation of Powell Elementary School, located at 1350 Upshur Street, NW. The Commission approved the concept with several recommendations for the development of the design.
The Commission members supported the proposed approach of adding to the existing school building with a two-part extension to the west, and they endorsed the strategy of completing the intended massing of the original 1929 building. In their discussion, they acknowledged the challenge presented in determining the character of the various parts of the addition, noting that while it may be ideal to recreate the elements of the original Colonial Revival architecture, it would not be possible to replicate the original building exactly in material and detail. Nevertheless, they questioned the proposed window configurations in the front of the addition, including the proportions and detailing of the windows in the westernmost portion, and those in the portion adjacent to the existing building which are differentiated from the historic windows. While supporting the proposed solar chimneys and shading system, they expressed concern about excessive heat gain on the extensive glazed south facade of the addition.
Regarding the design of the landscape, the Commission members acknowledged the effort to accommodate more intense programming of the site, but they urged further attention to its public role. They observed that the parking lot appears inefficient and they recommended that a more neutral treatment as a court for games and activities would enable neighborhood use outside of school hours and reduce the visual impact of parking on adjacent residences. Noting the elevation of the building above the grade at the west end of the site, they suggested consideration of lowering this part of the addition slightly to integrate it better with the ground plane, both at the front along Upshur Street and at the terrace on the south facade.
The Commission looks forward to review of the next submission. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Brian Hanlon, Director
cc: Rick Harlan Schneider, IStudio
Last Modified: March 29, 2013