30 July 2012
Dear Mr. White:
In its meeting of 19 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for two security screening structures associated with the vehicular entrances on the west side of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) along 17th Street, NW. The Commission did not approve the proposal, instead requesting the submission of new design options that explore, programmatically and architecturally, more appropriate ways to achieve security for this highly significant building, which is both the location of the Executive Office of the President and a National Historic Landmark.
The Commission members expressed concern that the impact and design of screening facilities should not debase the experience of entering important civic buildings such as the EEOB. While noting that security requirements are determined outside the design review process, they found that the size of the structures proposed to replace the existing guard booths is unacceptably large within the narrow building yard of the historic property. Instead, they recommended the consideration of other design options to reduce the structures substantially as part of a comprehensive plan for security screening that may include the proposal for a consolidated facility beneath the EEOB's north entrance plaza. In general, they acknowledged the difficulty of accommodating the program suitably within the physical and aesthetic constraints of the context and emphasized that an acceptable solution requires great skill; they recommended that a new design be developed—whether historicist, contemporary, or mediating between these approaches—to accommodate the program in a more graceful manner.
The Commission encouraged the Secret Service and the collaborating agencies to reconceive the design effort and develop options to accommodate security screening within the setting of this National Historic Landmark property. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Michael C. White
cc: Peter May, National Park Service
Last Modified: July 31, 2012