28 September 2012
Dear Mr. Hanlon:
In its meeting of 20 September, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for an addition to and renovation of the Horace Mann Elementary School, located at 4430 Newark Street, NW. The Commission expressed appreciation for the thorough and thoughtful presentation and commended the general planning for the proposed expansion but did not approve the submitted design, offering comments for further development of the concept.
The Commission members found that the many architectural languages of the proposed addition would overpower the historic school building, and they recommended significant simplification in the range of forms, materials, and details on all elevations of the building. With the goal of a calmer, less frenetic composition for the school building and its site, they strongly suggested using fewer expressive architectural elements and greater care in integrating the design as a whole composition. In particular, they observed that the diagonal gestures of the stair volume and the wall of the auditorium do not relate to each other; they noted the arbitrariness of the protruding wall facing Newark Street; they suggested that the highly articulated vertical character of the auditorium volume could be revised to be more horizontal in relation to the surrounding residential context. Likewise, they suggested that large blank walls—such as the wall of the auditorium facing the historic community building and the site wall along 45th Street—should be articulated and lowered to create a more compatible addition to the neighborhood.
The Commission looks forward to a new concept submission that addresses these concerns regarding the refinement of the proposal. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Brian Hanlon, Director
cc: Charles D. Mikell, D.C. Department of General Services
Last Modified: October 2, 2012