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27 June 2013

Dear Mr. Acosta:

In its meeting of 20 June, the Commission of Fine Arts was pleased to hear an information presentation on conceptual designs for the improvement of 10th Street, SW, as part of the National Capital Planning Commission's Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative. The Commission commended the planning effort for this challenging area of the city, offering several comments for further development of the design.

The Commission members questioned whether the vision presented for 10th Street, SW, would be sufficiently compelling to encourage pedestrian movement between the Mall and the Southwest Waterfront. They recommended further consideration of the intended typology for this urban street, with greater attention to establishing its character as well as to improving its micro–climate. They emphasized the importance of activating the street edges, rather than focusing exclusively on the design within the streetscape itself. For the landscape, they suggested consideration of clustered trees and plantings rather than a uniform treatment along the entire length of the corridor. They also questioned whether the proposed symmetrical design, with three paths for pedestrians at the middle and sides, could be sustained in this context; they suggested that greater consolidation of the pedestrian activity may be more successful. They noted that the relationship of the street to the Smithsonian Castle does not require strict axiality and would not be compromised if pedestrian areas are organized into a more asymmetric configuration within the street right–of–way.

The Commission members also supported the intention to create an improved temporary pedestrian connection between Banneker Park and the Southwest Waterfront, and they recommended that a simple stair design be developed to correspond to the intended temporary duration. They also suggested that the stair be designed to invite people to congregate, through generous scale and a location that is not crowded against the other ramps in the vicinity.

The Commission looks forward to seeing the continued development of the Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative and the improvement of this prominent corridor within the monumental core of the nation's capital.

Sincerely,

/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Secretary

Marcel Acosta, Executive Director
National Capital Planning Commission
401 Ninth Street, NW, Suite 500–N
Washington, DC 20004

cc: Otto Condon, ZGF Architects
Peter May, National Park Service

Last Modified: June 28, 2013