27 March 2014
Dear Mr. Ketchem:
In its meeting of 20 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a draft master plan for the proposed Foreign Missions Center on a portion of the former campus of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center bounded by 16th Street, Alaska Avenue, Fern Street, and Main Drive, NW. The Commission members present recommended approval of the plan while requesting further development of the design.
The Commission members expressed general support for the master plan and observed that establishing a predictable character for the project is critical for the creation of an excellent campus design. They emphasized the importance of developing a clear identity for the public spaces, particularly Dahlia Street, which will function as the primary organizing axis of the campus and should be consistent in its design across the site. They said that Dahlia Street should be the focus of the plan, rather than a separator between parcels; they commented that buildings should front directly onto this roadway wherever possible. They suggested that the wooded landscape character of the site's northwest portion could be extended further across the campus. Finally, they encouraged great flexibility in the size and combination of building lots, which may have the desirable result of increasing density in this urban location.
In order to establish a coherent and dignified character for this diplomatic campus, the Commission members requested the review of design guidelines which they said should be as specific as possible in defining public space: the regular dimension of setbacks, the components of the streetscape, and the design of such secondary elements as furniture, fences, security booths, and gates.
As there was not a quorum for the review of this project, this recommendation will be placed on the administrative agenda for confirmation at the Commission's meeting of 17 April. Please coordinate submission of the next presentation with the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Fredrick J. Ketchem, Acting Director
cc: Cliff Seagroves, Department of State
Last Modified: March 28, 2014