27 February 2014
Dear Mr. Battle:
In its meeting of 20 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for a new visitors screening facility at the main entrance to the Pentagon, adjacent to the Metro station. The Commission did not take an action and requested the submission of a new concept design, more carefully conceived and documented, that is worthy of the main entrance to this notable departmental headquarters building.
The Commission members noted that the proposed screening facility is part of a larger complex of additions to the historic main entrance; together, these elements will define what is experienced by many as the public threshold to the Pentagon and should preserve the dignity of that function. They found that the proposal–a minimally articulated box with very little natural light–has a simplistic character that appears to ignore the material and formal complexity of the historic Moderne–style architecture. Noting that the submission only addresses one part of a larger program to expand the main entrance facilities, the Commission members requested an overall plan that documents, at least at the schematic level, the full scope of intended construction; the presentation should include a detailed analysis of the pedestrian movement between building entrances, the Metro station, and the adjacent transportation complex.
As the architecture of the screening addition is developed, the Commission members asked for the development of a more thoughtful design to improve what they characterized as a compromised environment for visitors. They recommended that the revised design include more access to natural light, with additional windows or skylights, so that the facility does not appear unwelcoming; they also recommended careful study of the project's details as contributing to the visitor experience, such as the design of the pathway to the addition entrance, the scale of the new entrance roof in relation to the Metro canopy, and the relationship of the stone and window details to those of the original building. In summary, they asked that the new presentation clearly illustrate the proposal at multiple levels–including its context within the site, the elements of the entrance complex, the relationship of the new facility to the original building, and architectural details of what is proposed.
The Commission looks forward to the review of a revised design for this important project for the Pentagon. Please coordinate the next submission with the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
William J. Battle
cc: Jean O'Toole, Dewberry Architects
Last Modified: February 28, 2014