Meeting of the Commission of Fine Arts
20 February 2014
The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 10:05 a.m.
A. Approval of the minutes of the 16 January meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the January meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Ms. Fernández. Mr. Luebke said that the minutes will be made available on the Commission's website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: 20 March, 17 April, and 15 May 2014.
C. Confirmation of recommendation from the January 2014 meeting due to the loss of a quorum: CFA 16/JAN/14–8, Chuck Brown Memorial Park (Langdon Park), 20th and Franklin Streets, NE. New memorial to musician Chuck Brown. Concept. Mr. Luebke said that a formal action by the Commission is needed for this review from the previous month without a quorum. He said that the members present had provided comments without recommending an action; the comments have been conveyed in a letter to the D.C. Department of General Services. Chairman Powell noted the consensus of the Commission to confirm the comments provided in January.
D. Report on the approval for objects proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Luebke reported the Commission's visit earlier in the morning to the Freer Gallery of Art to inspect two artworks proposed for acquisition as part of the museum's permanent collection, in accordance with the requirements of Charles Freer's will. The artworks, both depictions of fish from the late Edo period in Japan, include a scroll painting on silk and a woodblock print; both works are considered exemplary of the stylized rendering of aquatic life that was popular during this period. He said that Chairman Powell had approved the acquisitions, which may be included in an upcoming Freer exhibit. Chairman Powell commented on the beauty of the artworks and offered congratulations to the Smithsonian Institution on their acquisition.
E. Report on the inspection of exterior materials for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Mr. Luebke reported the Commission's inspection earlier in the morning of an outdoor mockup with alternative finishes for the corona panels along with material samples for other site elements of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. Chairman Powell suggested discussing the inspection in conjunction with the review of the submission. (See agenda item II.B.)
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Direct Submission Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom said that the only changes to the draft appendix are minor wording corrections. He noted that the appendix also includes the report of the staff's delegated approval of the final rooftop design for the National Museum of African American History and Culture; this submission is separate from the other components of the museum design that will be presented as agenda item II.B. Mr. Luebke confirmed that the rooftop design responds to the Commission's previous guidance. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater–Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised Direct Submission Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead–Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several substantial updates to the draft appendix, in addition to minor notations of dates for receipt of supplemental information. The favorable recommendation for alterations to a hotel at 2224 F Street, NW, has been revised to exclude the proposed through–wall air conditioning units (case number SL 14–035); a follow–up submission is anticipated for a revised air conditioning design. She added that the support for the remainder of this project is also contingent on review of the completed construction documents; she requested authorization for the staff to finalize this action after receipt of these drawings. Two projects that had been listed on the draft appendix with negative recommendations have been removed to allow time for revisions (SL 14–052 and 14–054); both are anticipated for inclusion on a future appendix with satisfactory designs. She also noted that the revised appendix includes the report of the staff's delegated approval of the Watergate Hotel renovations, based on the staff's review of the submitted construction documents; she said that the signs and the driveway stone paving samples will require further review. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater–Zyberk with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martínez said that no changes were made to the draft appendix. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater–Zyberk, the Commission approved the Old Georgetown Act appendix.
B. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 20/FEB/14– 1, National Museum of African American History and Culture, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW. Material finishes of corona panels and landscape–related building materials. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/JAN/14–2.) Mr. Luebke introduced the submission for the final selection of a material finish for the corona panels and landscape–related building elements of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, currently under construction. He said that when the corona finish was last reviewed in September 2013, the Commission asked the Smithsonian to develop options that more closely resemble bronze. The Smithsonian has returned with a new preferred option, a polyvinyl difluoride (PVDF) finish using a ten–step application process with custom highlights. He noted that the Commission members inspected sample corona panels in outdoor light before the meeting. He added that Mr. Freelon has recused himself from the review because of his involvement in the project. He asked Ann Trowbridge of the Smithsonian Institution to begin the presentation.
Ms. Trowbridge said that the project team had thoroughly investigated finish options for the corona panels in an effort led by the Secretary of the Smithsonian, Wayne Clough, an engineer by training. She introduced Mr. Clough, along with museum director Lonnie Bunch and design architect David Adjaye, and asked Mr. Clough to discuss the process of finish selection for the corona panels.
Mr. Clough commented that he has been involved with several high–profile, complex, and expensive building projects in his career but considers this museum the most important of these, and he has followed its progress closely. He said that the Smithsonian staff has worked closely with the design team; he himself had overseen the search for the best alternative for the corona finish, arranging for consultation with Parsons Brinckerhoff, which offered additional finish alternatives and reviewed the evaluation process.
Dr. Bunch commented that the process of working with the various regulatory commissions on the design of this museum has been ultimately beneficial to the project, and he expressed his thanks to the Commission members. He said that his task, broadly speaking, is to create a museum worthy of the Smithsonian and a building worthy of the National Mall; in addition, his own goal is to create an institution worthy of the rich history and culture of black America. He said that he is now confident that the proposed finish will help the corona become the signature feature of the building, ensuring that it will act as a beacon drawing people to the museum; he is pleased that the architects, David Adjaye and Philip Freelon, share his vision. He asked Mr. Adjaye to present the design.
Mr. Adjaye summarized the three key inspirations that have guided the design from the time of the initial competition: a Yoruba caryatid from West Africa, a region native to many American slaves, led to the overall shape of the corona; architectural metalwork in Charleston and New Orleans, created by free blacks, inspired the details of the metal corona panels; and the unique site adjacent to the Washington Monument. He described the corona's relationship to the Washington Monument: the corona's angles are the same as the pyramidion crowning the monument, and the dimensions of the corona panels are related to those of the monument's exterior stones.
Mr. Adjaye said that the building's surface has to be environmentally functional as well as symbolic; the museum is intended to be the Mall's first building with an environmental rating of LEED gold. On the north facade, alongside extensive circulation space, the corona panels will be relatively open with 65 percent opacity; on the south facade, the opacity will be 90 percent. The geometric pattern within the panels will create a filigree of dappled light. He said that he had originally intended to use bronze metal for the corona, but that material proved to be too heavy and expensive, so a lighter cast aluminum panel was developed; a finish then had to be found that would attempt to simulate the shimmer and luminosity of bronze. One of the finishes considered was a LuminOre coating, but the company that would have produced the coated panels would have had difficulty producing the required quantity, obtaining a consistent finish, and guaranteeing the work. Other options ranged from anodized aluminum to panels finished with a vapor deposition process. Various alternatives of the PVDF process were studied, with colors ranging from blues to reds, before the project team arrived at the preferred alternative which he said gives an appearance close to that of LuminOre.
Mr. Adjaye then described the materials proposed for the landscape–related building elements. These include bronze for the metal handrails, precast panels for the south porch, exposed–aggregate concrete for the sidewalks, dark granite for the perimeter walls, polished granite for the bollards on the north side, and a darker granite on the south side. Mr. Luebke noted that these materials had also been displayed outside in natural light before the meeting.
Chairman Powell conveyed the Commission's appreciation for the project team's diligence in analyzing alternative finishes and for the opportunity to see the mockup of samples; he commented that the panels in the mockup appeared beautiful.
Observing that production of the preferred finish would be a complex multi–step process, Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked how the panels would be maintained and what would happen if a panel is damaged after installation. Mr. Adjaye responded that the Smithsonian requires a guarantee that the finish material will perform well, and the panels should not be damaged by exterior exposure. He said that individual panels will be easy to remove, and he expressed confidence that the panels will be maintenance–free.
Ms. Fernández commented that the new samples for the corona finish are a significant improvement, and she commended the design team. She added that, even with this improvement, the finish material would nonetheless be polyvinyl difluoride; she acknowledged the reasons for using this instead of bronze or LuminOre but said that the spirit of this project is metaphorically more like bronze, for the reasons described by Dr. Bunch. She cautioned against cutting corners on the project's details—the very things that will create a sense of immediacy and meaning for visitors—including in the areas and features that the Commission will not review. She expressed the hope that these details will convey the quality implicit in bronze.
Ms. Meyer supported Ms. Fernández's comments. She thanked the project team for its research on the corona, which she said will be more than the symbol of the museum—it will be part of the monumental experience of the Mall, and all its details will affect the power of the museum to be valued and understood as an institution. She added that some of the problems with this project have resulted from the difficulty of offering multiple reviews within a design–build process in which some decisions had to be made before other matters were considered—for example, the foundation was already under construction while research into alternative materials was continuing, and some materials were precluded because their weight would exceed the foundation's capacity. Given this situation, she said that the design team and the client have found the best possible alternative.
Chairman Powell expressed support for the comments provided, and he reiterated the Commission's appreciation for the project team's work in finding this solution for the corona finish. He suggested approval of the submission for the corona and site–related materials; upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
Mr. Luebke summarized the full cycle of review for this project, noting that the overall design had received final approval in September 2012 and the Commission has subsequently reviewed several remaining components. He said that most elements have now been approved or delegated for approval by the staff, and only a couple of items remain: the inscriptions within the water feature, and perhaps additional wayfinding or programmatic elements in the landscape. Ms. Trowbridge confirmed that the inscriptions would be submitted to the staff but said that no additional wayfinding features are currently anticipated. Mr. Luebke summarized that this would likely be the Commission's last review of this project, concluding a process which began in 2009; he commended the Smithsonian for its responsiveness to the Commission's concerns and said that everyone had worked to distill the very best design ideas to create an admirable project.
C. National Park Service
CFA 20/FEB/14–2, Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial. Intersection of Maryland and Independence Avenues, between 4th and 6th Streets, SW. Concept. (Previous: CFA 21/NOV/13–1.) Mr. Luebke introduced the proposed revision to the concept for the landscape design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, submitted by the National Park Service on behalf of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission. He said that the Commission had approved the concept design in July 2013 with comments to develop the landscape further; at the subsequent presentation in November 2013, the Commission reaffirmed its general support and requested clarification of the relationship between the landscape and the formal and commemorative elements. He said the design team has returned with revisions to the landscape concept, including elimination of the proposed swales and other overt references to the prairie; the design now focuses on the creation of an urban park as the setting for the memorial. He noted that several members of the public have asked to address the Commission, and he emphasized that their comments should specifically address issues of design. He introduced Peter May of the National Park Service, who asked Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Carl Reddel of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to begin the presentation.
Mr. Reddel said that the proposal now emphasizes the strength of the landscape within the overall memorial design. He noted that the memorial design, first presented to the Commission in 2010, received concept approval in September 2011, at a meeting held soon after mockups of the proposed tapestry were set up in front of the Department of Education. He introduced architect Craig Webb of Gehry Partners to present the project.
Mr. Webb said that the revised design retains as its primary idea the creation of a memorial in a green urban park to commemorate Eisenhower as both president and general. He described the revision as an increased focus on a series of layers that progress from the urban street edge to the memorial's core through spaces meant to establish a contemplative mood. The tapestries framing the site would convey an effect of transparency and filigree in their metal mesh construction, similar to the corona of the National Museum of African American of History and Culture. Images of the prairie landscape on the tapestries are meant to evoke values attributed to Eisenhower, such as modesty and simplicity, which Mr. Webb said had their roots in Eisenhower's Midwestern upbringing. The statue of the young Eisenhower would serve as the key to uniting these Midwestern values with the future of the nation, reflecting what Eisenhower did for the country as general and president. The tapestries would also create an "urban room" and unify the space, mediating between the memorial and the disparate architectural context surrounding the site. The augmented tree canopy would form a grove related to the images of trees depicted on the tapestries. He added that lead architect Frank Gehry wants to contrast the texture of the leaves of living trees with such details presented on the metal tapestries.
Mr. Webb described the changes in the proposal. He said that the design includes a new and different emphasis on the Maryland Avenue axis. The ground plane has been simplified; the former evocation of the prairie landscape has been replaced by a simple lawn, closely mown on the Maryland Avenue axis. Removal of the swales would increase the site's accessibility. Seventy–four canopy and understory trees have been added to the design, filling in the grove and the street edge to form a denser canopy across the entire site, while retaining the Maryland Avenue opening and views from Independence Avenue to the memorial's center. Another change was to the approach walks, which were previously straight paths leading diagonally from the site's northeast and northwest corners to the memorial core; these have been reconfigured as a succession of rectangular spaces, beginning at entrance plazas on the east and west sides where interpretation would be provided. The walks' sequential spaces are intended to encourage visitors to slow down and reflect on the memorial's meaning. The side tapestries would act as gateways above these walks, denoting the transition from the city into the memorial grove. He said that changes to the paving pattern are also being considered, including a transition from a material such as granite to a different material, perhaps limestone, as the walks reach the memorial's core.
Mr. Webb described several additional principles and revisions in the site design. The tree canopy would be kept above eye level to permit direct views from sidewalks to the center; the denser canopy would emphasize openings, and understory trees would define smaller–scale spaces and walks. The Maryland Avenue corridor, initially conceived as being defined by an allée of London plane trees, is now proposed as a cut through the dense grove and would not be defined by a single species. He said that this corridor would serve as a green space within the grove instead of as a pedestrian walkway. The promenade along the front of the Department of Education building has been refined as a series of spaces rather than a corridor. The ancillary service building next to the ranger contact station has been eliminated. He then asked landscape architect Roger Courtenay of AECOM to describe the landscape proposal further.
Mr. Courtenay said that the canopy would shape views and spaces, as well as providing shade in summer and shelter in winter. The design focuses on eight tree species in addition to three varieties of oak for the street trees; the selection of species included consideration of growth habit and colors of foliage and bark. The three main canopy species would be London plane, hackberry, and bur oak, selected for their strong character and their prevalence in the Midwest. The London plane tree would be the memorial's signature tree; it is present in Eisenhower's hometown of Abilene, Kansas, at his childhood home, and at the Eisenhower presidential library. He compared the tree's silver–green bark to the color of the metal–mesh tapestries.
Chairman Powell invited public testimony and recognized architect Don Hawkins, representing the Committee of 100 on the Federal City. Mr. Hawkins recalled the Commission's past review of an addition by Mr. Gehry to the Corcoran Gallery that would have intruded into the L'Enfant plan right–of–way of New York Avenue; at the time, the Commission said this condition would never become a precedent. He said that the situation with the Eisenhower Memorial design is similar because some of the tapestry support columns would intrude into the Maryland Avenue right–of–way, contrary to the design guidelines established for the project.
Chairman Powell recognized Judy Scott Feldman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall. Ms. Feldman said that her organization has strongly supported the Eisenhower Memorial with the expectation that the project would allow for realization of L'Enfant's 160–foot width for Maryland Avenue. She described concerns with several tenets of the Commemorative Works Act in relation to this proposed memorial. First, the act calls for respecting the L'Enfant and McMillan Plans, which should include protection of Maryland Avenue's full 160–foot right–of–way; therefore the proposed tapestry support columns should be moved out of the right–of–way. Second, the act recommends that memorials be placed in a location that is relevant to the memorial; she said that this site was chosen because of Eisenhower's involvement with some of the federal activities in the surrounding buildings, but the memorial design turns its back on them and undermines this meaning. Third, the act calls for the protection of open space; since the site would be filled with design elements, she expressed concern that the National Park Service will treat it as sacred space, and not as an urban park that accommodates recreational use. She provided copies of a sketch by architect Arthur Cotton Moore, a member of her organization's board, that includes a memorial while preserving Maryland Avenue through the site. She said that the concepts of the memorial as a temple and as an urban park lack unity. She added that presidential memorials in Washington tell a bigger story, but the story told by the Eisenhower Memorial has become progressively smaller: it is now about the man and Kansas, instead of Eisenhower's importance in American history. She concluded by asking the Commission not to approve this design.
Chairman Powell recognized Justin Shubow of the National Civic Art Society. Mr. Shubow said that the presentation barely responds to the criticisms made by Commission members at their November review, when they commented that the side tapestries should be removed. He said that when the Commission had raised concerns about the visitor experience, Mr. Gehry's response had been that many visitors would only drive by or view the memorial from one limited vantage point. Mr. Shubow also questioned the need for the south tapestry if the side panels are removed, since the temple form would disappear. He said that the site is adequately framed by existing buildings, and the south tapestry is only an overscaled theatrical backdrop. He characterized Ms. Fernández as having criticized the design's theatricality and a disparity between the rendering of the landscape on the tapestry and the real landscape surrounding it.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the public comments, noting that they were largely responding to questions about the landscape that the Commission had raised last year. Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of the procedural issues because many of the public comments had not addressed the current submission to the Commission. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission had already approved the site; in September 2011, the Commission gave general concept approval for the design, with the exception of the central statues; and in July 2013 it approved the design as a whole, which remains in effect. He said that the Commission's comments at the November 2013 meeting specifically addressed the landscape design. Noting the standing approval for the concept design, he said that the Commission does not have to take an action on the current submission but can provide comments on any aspect, including the landscape that is the focus of the current submission.
Ms. Meyer said that she sympathizes with the remarks of Mr. Hawkins and Ms. Feldman pertaining to the relation of the memorial and the city. She observed that Ms. Feldman has raised the question of whether this would be a memorial in a park, or a park framed by enormous columns and tapestries. She said that the concept of the memorial in a park has been a concern: although this concept had been featured frequently in written descriptions, the park itself never seemed to be more than a quick sketch. It has now been developed more coherently to recognize that between the tapestries and sculptures lies the spatiality of the grove and allée—important in a city of trees where public space matters. She said that the current design revision, while less ambitious than before in its integration of memorial experience and park, would be more spatially coherent as an urban park containing a memorial.
Ms. Meyer provided several suggestions for further development. She observed that the design continues to place unnecessary emphasis on frontal views from Independence Avenue, but said that these views do not need to be reinforced by creating gaps between trees, since the trees will be limbed up and allow sightlines to the interior of the site; she suggested defining the street and the grove without introducing such clearings. She commented that the new design for the walks would reinforce the diagonal too much, competing with the major diagonal corridor of Maryland Avenue. She supported a relatively close spacing of trees to define a narrower width for the Maryland Avenue alignment, commenting that widening the corridor to 160 feet would make it difficult to perceive; she noted the modern growth of the city that has occurred along Maryland Avenue and said that the analogy to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, is not convincing due to Maryland Avenue's short length and the disparate character of its buildings. She concluded by observing that the public comments have not taken into account the public process that has been followed in this project's development. She expressed frustration that the Commission, for this and several other projects, is asked to review partial conceptual submissions without seeing the project in its entirety.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk confirmed her previous comments on the memorial design, expressing support for removing the swales, refining the design of the small service building, and reinforcing the continuity of street trees. She questioned the possible change in paving materials from granite to perhaps limestone as described in the presentation, commenting that a more logical sequence may be to use the softer limestone along the walks and the harder, more formal granite beneath the weighty pieces of the memorial core.
Ms. Fernández emphasized that, contrary to Mr. Shubow's remarks, she does not believe that theater as a premise for a design concept is necessarily problematic, and she disagreed with the characterization that she had previously criticized the general idea of theatricality; she said that the issue is how this idea is developed. She said that her previous comments referred to conceptual issues concerning how the memorial's elements were being used in relation to the idea of theater: how the site's massive size related to the smaller proscenium–like elements and realistic statues; the frontality of the elements, and how visitors would experience developments in the landscape as they walked through it; how background images and elements would relate to those in the foreground; and how the natural elements would relate to the artificial. She said that she finds these questions still unresolved. She said that her point needs to be clarified because her comments should not be taken out of context. She added that she was not suggesting revisiting decisions that had been approved in past years.
Chairman Powell supported the comments of the other Commission members and agreed that the landscape design has improved. He expressed concern that Maryland Avenue would become a lawn crossed by worn social trails but suggested this may be addressed as a maintenance issue. He concluded by commending the progress of the design; the discussion concluded without a formal action.
D. Department of Defense
CFA 20/FEB/14–3, Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. New visitor screening facility at main building entrance adjacent to the Metro station. Concept. (Previous: CFA 21/OCT/10–c, temporary screening facility.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal for a visitor screening facility at the Pentagon. He described the background for the project: an expansion of the building's main entrance was built shortly before the 2001 terrorist attack; afterward, the expanded facility proved inadequate for the increasing security requirements at the entrance, particularly for visitor screening. The design for a temporary addition was therefore submitted in 2010 to accommodate visitor screening, resulting in the Commission's approval with a request for a permanent facility design, and the current submission would provide this permanent facility. He asked project manager William Battle of the Department of Defense to begin the presentation.
Mr. Battle said that the submission is part of the Sentry Program that began in 2010 to address the security perimeter around the Pentagon. He added that the project is being coordinated with the Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the design and construction, along with a team of outside design and construction firms. He introduced architect Jean O'Toole of Dewberry Architects to present the design.
Ms. O'Toole described the project's context on the southeast side of the Pentagon, adjacent to the Metro station entrance and the large bus facility. She indicated the two sets of escalators leading down to the underground Metro station; each set is covered by a large canopy structure, and additional canopies provide covered routes to the bus loading area. The expansion completed in 2001 extends from the center of the Pentagon facade, with the main building entrance located between the Metro escalators. The existing temporary facility is located to the south of the expansion, adjacent to the southern Metro escalators; the proposed permanent facility would be located slightly to the southwest on an existing lawn area. The temporary facility—a pair of modular buildings—would be demolished and replaced by landscaping. She said that the submission is part of a larger overall project that includes further expansion of the main entrance from 2001, which would continue to be used by employees; the submitted visitor screening facility is the only component of the overall project that is currently moving forward.
Ms. O'Toole presented photographs of the existing conditions. Ms. Meyer requested careful explanation of the images, noting the difficulty of understanding the documentation provided to the Commission members. Ms. O'Toole confirmed that the 2001 entrance expansion would not be affected significantly by the current submission but would be further expanded in an additional phase of the overall project. She presented an aerial perspective, prepared by an earlier design team, illustrating this anticipated further expansion that would be located between the Metro escalators, extending forward along the Pentagon facade's centerline. Mr. Freelon asked whether this additional phase would be implemented soon. Ms. O'Toole said that it is not part of her firm's contract; Mr. Battle said that funding is being sought for fiscal year 2017.
Ms. O'Toole described the current submission for the visitor screening facility. It would be a single–story 4,300–square–foot building that would abut the 2001 entrance expansion; visitors would enter the proposed building and, after screening, would continue to the 2001 building and then into the historic Pentagon building. The proposed visitor entrance would be adjacent to the southwest set of Metro escalators. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked for clarification of a visitor's route upon exiting the Metro system. Ms. O'Toole indicated the route from the escalators to the proposed building's entrance; the interior queuing area, identification checkpoint, screening area with metal detectors and x–ray equipment, and then the doorway leading to the 2001 entrance expansion.
Ms. O'Toole summarized the design responses to the initial consultation with the Commission staff. She said that the location and size of the building were acceptable to the staff, as well as the lower height in comparison to the larger 2001 entrance expansion. The staff suggested adding a canopy above the entrance to the visitor screening facility, which would protect approaching visitors from the weather and from the runoff of the adjacent canopy over the Metro escalator, as well as providing a visual emphasis for the visitor entrance doors. She said that a canopy has been added to the proposal in response to this suggestion. An additional staff suggestion was for more glass on the entrance facade, perhaps using a storefront system, as well as clerestory windows that could provide queuing visitors with a view of the Pentagon facade. The design team subsequently developed alternatives for consideration by the Department of Defense, and the submitted design reflects the constraints of security and operational requirements, resulting in limited facade windows and no clerestory windows. The staff had also suggested coordinating the windows of the entrance facade with the existing columns supporting the adjacent Metro canopy; the position of the two windows has been adjusted to center them between these columns.
Ms. O'Toole described the proposed materials, which meet the criteria of the Pentagon's Exterior Standards Manual: limestone panels and aluminum windows, consistent with the facade of the 2001 expansion and the historic building, and an aluminum canopy. The joints of the limestone panels would match the existing construction. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked about a barrier shown in the renderings near the Metro escalators and proposed visitor entrance doors. Ms. O'Toole responded that this is an existing glass screen wall that would remain; the proposed facility's three doors would be positioned so that two are directly accessible from the top of the Metro escalators, while the third door would be reached from a walk along the back side of the screen wall to provide separate access for visitors arriving on tour buses.
Mr. Freelon observed that the limestone of the 2001 expansion appears to be lighter than the limestone of the historic Pentagon building. Ms. O'Toole confirmed this variation and said that the limestone for the visitor screening facility would be obtained from the same quarry that was used for the 2001 expansion, which is one of the four quarries approved for use in the Exterior Standards Manual. Ms. Plater–Zyberk observed that the facades of the 2001expansion closest to the visitor screening facility are depicted as blank surfaces in the renderings; Ms. O'Toole confirmed that the existing facades are windowless in these areas, and the walls have a metal coping and a simple stacked grid of limestone panels measuring 22 inches high and 60 inches wide. She said that the panels on the visitor screening facility would match the horizontal joint lines of the abutting 2001 expansion, to provide consistency despite the different scales of the buildings, while the vertical joint pattern is still being studied. Ms. Plater–Zyberk emphasized the importance of illustrating these joint patterns in the renderings.
Ms. O'Toole concluded with a diagram of pedestrian circulation patterns in the vicinity. She indicated the route of employees and visitors moving between the Metro escalators, bus facility, parking lots, and the separate visitor and employee entrances to the Pentagon. She said that signage would be coordinated with Metro officials so that Pentagon visitors emerging from the subway station would be directed to the southwest escalators, bringing them directly to the proposed visitor screening facility. She added that the project is being designed to achieve an environmental rating of LEED silver.
Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of the water flow at the Metro canopy and proposed canopy at the visitor screening facility's entrance. Ms. O'Toole confirmed that the Metro canopy does not have a gutter, and water simply flows off the edge; the small proposed canopy is designed to accommodate this runoff, which would be channeled to downspouts along the limestone wall. The calculation of water runoff shows that three–inch downspouts would be sufficient. Mr. Luebke confirmed the staff's concern with protecting pedestrians from the Metro canopy's water runoff as they reach the doors of the visitor screening facility; the additional concern was to provide a visual emphasis to the doors in order to provide a more appropriate sense of an entrance, a goal that would also be helped by adding more windows along this facade.
Mr. Freelon acknowledged that the proposal is relatively utilitarian and modest in budget, but he said that the goal should nonetheless be the best possible design. He said that the presented renderings appear too plain, lacking any illustration of people or landscaping. He emphasized that even a building of modest size and design ambitions should be presented well; he suggested that the drawing quality be developed further for subsequent presentations. Ms. Plater–Zyberk agreed, citing her concern with the inadequate depiction of the facade surfaces on the renderings; she said that the stone patterns and the depth of the windows would be helpful features to illustrate. She also criticized the apparent design of this building in isolation rather than as part of the larger complex of structures at the Pentagon entrance; she said that even this small and utilitarian project could instead contribute to improving the messy existing conditions in the area. She said that the design and the renderings suggest an attitude of minimal effort by the design team, and she urged the Department of Defense to insist on a more ambitious proposal. She emphasized that the submission materials were difficult to understand, ranging from inadequate renderings to technical drawings while not sufficiently conveying the actual appearance of the proposal. Mr. Battle acknowledged that such problems often arise with design–build contracts, with the designer striving to shorten the process so that construction can begin sooner. He said that the design has been moving forward quickly, which would be reflected in the next submission.
Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's desire to see a more developed design. Mr. Luebke asked for additional guidance from the Commission on how the design should be improved; for example, the staff's suggestion to add windows could be strengthened by the Commission's support. Chairman Powell encouraged further staff consultation in guiding the project's development, and said that the Commission wants to see more details of the design and materials. Ms. Plater–Zyberk emphasized that the project should be treated not simply as a box with a small canopy over the entrance, but instead as a building that is part of a larger complex and is part of the entrance sequence for the Pentagon. Ms. O'Toole offered to present additional drawings that illustrate the proposed stone joints; Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that this would be insufficient without information on the joint pattern of the existing adjacent structures. Mr. Freelon commented that the design–build process should not inherently result in compromised design quality; design remains a critical component of the process.
Ms. Meyer said that a problem running through this project is the underdeveloped spatial treatment of thresholds; the concern with rain protection at the entrance doors is only one example of this issue. She described the overly simplistic proposal of walks that lead directly to openings in the wall, and the isolated consideration of this visitor entrance without developing its conceptual relationship to the employee entrance that is centered on the Pentagon's axis. She expressed concern that the Commission is being asked to evaluate the visitor entrance while the anticipated proposal for expanding the employee entrance has not yet been developed; she recommended that a concept for the entirety of this area be presented to the Commission. She said that a similar concern was raised in the projects reviewed earlier in the day, with repeated concept reviews as different project components have been developed at different times. She suggested that the Department of Defense would gain greater efficiency by considering the multiple scales at the outset of the project, considering not just security needs but the broader issue of providing a threshold between the large Pentagon building and the vast parking lots around it. She recalled the impressive experience of having used the Pentagon's original main entrance in the past, a function that has now shifted to a series of added structures that solve isolated problems but do not create the quality of experience that this building deserves. She reiterated the importance of choosing and developing an idea about threshold.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that an additional concern is the relationship of existing and new structures, which she said is uncomfortable. For example, the visitor screening facility could more generously engage the Metro station entrance or help to mediate between the Pentagon and the Metro; Ms. Meyer agreed.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk recommended against approving the submission. Chairman Powell suggested simply providing the Commission's comments, noting the consensus of the Commission that extensive further work is needed on the design. Mr. Luebke asked if the Commission supports adding more windows to bring daylight into the screening facility, notwithstanding the Department of Defense's response to reject this advice from the staff. Mr. Freelon said that daylight could be introduced in various ways, such as through skylights as well as windows; a higher location for openings could address the security concern of visibility of the screening process from the exterior. He said that he does not yet accept the Department of Defense's response and encouraged the staff to push for improved interior daylight. Chairman Powell said that the Commission's comments would assist the staff in working further with the project team, potentially resulting in a smoother review of the project's next submission. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
E. DC Water (District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority)
CFA 20/FEB/14–4, St. Elizabeths Hospital, East Campus, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. New water tower for the Anacostia Second High Pressure Zone. Concept. (Previous: CFA 21/JAN/10–5.) Ms. Batcheler introduced a proposal from DC Water for a new water tower to be located on the St. Elizabeths east campus. The tower is needed to improve water distribution in the Anacostia Second High Pressure Zone. She noted the Commission's previous review of this proposal in January 2010, when the Commission supported the general design direction and provided recommendations for further development but did not take an action. She asked Roger Gans, manager of design for DC Water, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Gans said that the water tower would improve the very low water pressure in this area of the city; it would also store water for use in fire emergencies and for the redevelopment of the St. Elizabeths campus, and it is part of a larger project connecting water mains. Since the previous Commission review, he said that the concept has been moving through the historic preservation review process. He explained that the project had not been submitted to the Commission for interim review because of a lack of familiarity with proper procedure. He introduced Lee Quill of Cunningham Quill Architects to present the design.
Mr. Quill said that the 155–foot–tall tower is intended to be designed as a visual landmark in its community. The site is a wooded ridge occupying a central location within the historic area of the east campus; it is currently occupied by a two–million–gallon water tank. Although the new tower will not be visible from the Mall, he said that it could be seen from other key sites in the city, including Hains Point. Considerations in developing the design have included the historic context: the St. Elizabeths east campus served as a farm until the middle of the 20th century, and a historic cemetery, barn, and stable remain near the site. He said that a previous plan for a museum to interpret the work of DC Water has been dropped from the program, and the tower will not serve as a public destination although it may be a feature of a public park.
Mr. Quill described the research conducted by the project team: the placement of gardens and meandering walks on other parts of the campus generated ideas about treatment of this site; and historic examples of water towers showed their treatment as pieces of urban infrastructure, such as Chicago's water tower on Michigan Avenue. Alternative design approaches were considered, such as incorporating the tower into another building or using multiple towers, neither of which was feasible. The tower will necessarily be a prefabricated structure composed of a concrete shaft supporting a steel tank; alternative shapes were considered, such as a spherical tank, but the capacity was too small. He said that a major design precedent for the tower project was Michael Graves's scaffolding for the Washington Monument during its rehabilitation in the 1990s—a framework supporting transparent mesh through which the monument could be seen. Other inspirations were outdoor sculptures, sculptures using chain link, and Leonardo da Vinci's studies of flowing water.
Mr. Quill said that the previous concept for enclosing the tower had been influenced by the notion of a dynamic sculptural object in the landscape. Various approaches to wrapping the tower were presented to the Commission in 2010, including a space frame and a bow–string truss. He said that the Commission had suggested increasing the exposure of the tower, leading to the current idea of partially wrapping the tower within a spiraling screen. The base of the enclosure would be obscured by a wall with plantings, and a service drive would pass through the enclosure on one side. Bow trusses would be cantilevered from the bottom of the tower and tied with tension members. Another important feature would be the lighting from below, intended to provide a soft glow slightly stronger at the top, and sufficient to allow people to perceive the form; security lighting would also be provided. He presented a video animation depicting the tower seen in the distance from nearby roads and then approached from above.
Chairman Powell said the presentation reflects an extraordinary amount of work and the project provides a fascinating opportunity for lighting. Mr. Freelon asked whether the renderings or the model are more accurate in showing how close the wrapper would come to the water tower itself; Mr. Quill said that the renderings are more accurate. Commenting that the wrapper seems unfinished, Mr. Freelon asked for clarification of the underlying idea. Mr. Quill responded that water towers are usually bland, and the goal is for this tower to function as both a landmark and a piece of sculpture. Mr. Freelon pressed further on the rationale for this particular form; Mr. Quill responded that at first the intention was simply to enclose the tower, but then evolved to express the embellishment of a utilitarian object by shrouding it at the bottom while leaving the top exposed, revealing it gradually so that it would appear different from different vantage points. Chris Morrison of Cunningham Quill Architects said that the purpose of the screen is to add scale and detail to mediate from the large tank to the finer grain of both historic and new buildings on the east campus; the enclosure would also transform the water tower into a modest neighborhood landmark, celebrating the rebirth of the neighborhood.
(Chairman Powell departed at this point, and Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk presided for the remainder of the meeting.)
Ms. Meyer and Mr. Freelon questioned the accuracy of the site model. Ms. Meyer observed that none of the presentation's visual materials was complete, and because no drawing or model showed the landform, circulation, and proposed screen all together, it was difficult to understand how the geometry of the grading would align with the walks and roads. She said that the use of a spiral form implies movement and change along its length. She also said that the service drive would be expected to enter at the end of the spiral and not through its side; she summarized the lack of relation between the sculptural form and the design of the ground plane that might connect into the implied movement of the spiral line. Mr. Quill responded that the road has to enter at the location shown, and he did not want a utilitarian drive to circle the tower and make it appear as if it were standing in the middle of a parking lot. Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested rotating the spiral instead of relocating the drive to create a better relationship between the road and the spiral. Mr. Quill responded that the problem with this approach is that the most accessible views of the tower would show little of the dynamic form; Ms. Plater–Zyberk and Ms. Meyer agreed that this may not be a bad result.
Ms. Fernández commented that there are countless ways to build a tower. She noted that the proposal has not been designed by an artist; if art is the goal, then the architect should work with an artist. She cautioned that often artists and landscape architects are brought in at the end of the design process to fix a bad design by adding something to give it meaning. Instead, she said that artists need to be brought in from the start to take advantage of any infrastructure that has to be built. Citing her own extensive experience in creating outdoor artworks, she said that an artist in this situation would let an idea evolve out of an understanding of the context—not just copying elements of artworks and sticking them onto another structure. She emphasized the difference between an outdoor sculpture that people can walk around, and a large water tower that will not be admired in the round; she also emphasized that the form of the functional water tower has integrity, and even if something is placed around it, the design would benefit from relating more closely to the shape of the water tower. Mr. Quill asked if she thought the tower should be accentuated more; Ms. Fernández said that it could either be more like the form of the tower or less, but if an outside shell is designed, it should have a significant shape. She clarified that if the water tower itself were removed from the proposed design, the proposed enclosure would merely look like a tall chain–link fence, a form which has very little special meaning.
Ms. Fernández said that the swirling enclosure appears as though it had run out of material; this was this made clear in the animation, which she called the most convincing argument against the spiral form. She suggested that for the tower to become an icon for the community, it should look the same from all directions; a changing appearance would just be confusing. Referring to the examples of landmark water towers in the submission packet, she said that the analysis of these precedents is overlooking obvious things, such as color: fourteen of the eighteen presented examples rely on color—rather than unusual forms—to create meaning. Ms. Fernández recommended that the project team return to the conceptual stage and define precisely the intention for this project. She added an additional concern that the lighting described as a soft glow could in fact be glaring.
Ms. Meyer observed that the enclosure attempts to hide the tower, but from a distance it would actually make the tower look bigger. She said that if the intent is to create a park, then the mesh structure should be considered at the scale of a park and not the scale of a skyline; the concept for the park should also be developed further, such as an exploration of the experience of water on the site rather than just a water tower. She commented that the most promising thing in the presentation was the shift in sensibility of the D.C. water authority and the notion of presenting ideas about public space, civic art, and water. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said she agreed with most of the Commission members' thorough comments; she recommended treating this important piece of civic infrastructure with dignity.
Mr. Quill asked the Commission how to balance the conflicting demands of different review agencies: some had suggested covering the tower because of the historic site, while the Commission, which had initially recommended improving the wrapper, now suggests getting rid of it. Mr. Freelon responded that if an idea can be articulated, it may be defensible, and he recommended that the project team develop a clearer vision for the project. Ms. Plater–Zyberk said that the Commission has given the specific suggestion that the tower should have a similar appearance from all sides. Mr. Quill asked about rotating the wrapper to accommodate the service road; Ms. Fernández responded that he needs to consider not how to hide the tower, but how to create an icon that has meaning for the community. Ms. Meyer asked mentioned the results of the historic preservation review, which Mr. Quill had described as a recommendation to blend modern infrastructure with the historic campus; she pointed out that the Secretary of the Interior's standards for historic preservation distinctly say that new construction should be differentiated from old. She added that an important question is how the project could construct a new experience—such as creating a park or exploring the idea of water.
Mr. Luebke noted that the design has been developed over a long period with no concept approval and no interim Commission review before being brought in as a final submission. He summarized that the Commission has fundamental issues about the proposal's lack of conceptual clarity. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk described the consensus that the Commission members may not oppose the proposed material or the idea of an exterior embellishment, but they would not support the design in its current form. In order to help DC Water to move forward with the project, Mr. Luebke suggested that the Commission's response could be to give final approval for the water tower itself, which would allow the project team to continue to work on the wrapping with the understanding that its design would have to be reviewed at the concept level; the Commission's approval of the tower would not preclude the addition of other elements. Mr. Gans said that DC Water wants to get the tower built, and the wrapping is something they had perceived some stakeholders wanted.
Mr. Freelon asked how the ideas for the tower were discussed with the community; Mr. Quill responded that the concept had evolved through many meetings with community stakeholders and city agencies. Ms. Meyer and Mr. Freelon again asked Mr. Quill to define this concept; Mr. Quill said that the goal is to encapsulate the tower so it would not compete with the historic structures on the campus but allow the tower to read as both a utilitarian and sculptural object. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk commented that this response does not change the Commission's comments. Ms. Fernández criticized the design for having no underlying idea; she said that the proposed enclosure would be a big fence in an historic neighborhood, and she had a hard time believing that the community would want to look at it. Mr. Quill responded that the community had been satisfied with the previous version.
Mr. Freelon offered a motion for final approval of the water tower only, with the request for the return of a new concept for the design of the enclosure structure. Upon a second by Ms. Fernández, the Commission adopted this action.
F. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
Mr. Simon introduced April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present two submissions: reverse designs for five circulating state quarters in the America the Beautiful series, and modifications for a commemorative gold version of the Kennedy half–dollar coin to mark its 50th anniversary.
1. CFA 20/FEB/14–5, 2015 America's Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Program. Reverse designs for five coins: Nebraska, Louisiana, North Carolina, Delaware, and New York. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/NOV/12–5.) Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation from 2008 for the series of 56 reverses for the circulating quarter–dollar coins and related medals, corresponding to national sites in each of the U.S. states and territories. The continuing obverse design features a restored version of the George Washington portrait sculpted by John Flanagan in the early 1930s.
Homestead National Monument of America (Nebraska)
Ms. Stafford described the background of the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed people to farm and acquire government land in thirty states; over 1.6 million people acquired 270 million acres of land through this law. The Homestead National Monument of America was created in 1936 to commemorate the law's impact, preserve historical resources, and tell the story of homesteading. She presented twelve alternative reverses for this subject, depicting the typical home and farming activities of the homesteaders, the plow used for farming, or the modern–day Homestead Heritage Center that welcomes visitors to the site. She noted that the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) recently evaluated the designs and recommended alternative #2, with the modifications of removing the ring of thirty stars and adding the inscription "Free Land" as requested by the superintendent of the Homestead site; she noted that this inscription is shown in alternatives #5, 6, and 12.
Mr. Freelon offered support for alternative #8 for its thematic presentation of a windmill along with the log cabin and the plowing scene; he said that this combination encompasses the technology as well as the home and farming, conveying the renewable and sustainable qualities of homesteading life. Ms. Meyer said that her initial preference had been for alternative #2, which matches the CCAC preference; her second choice is #10 but the amount of detail may be excessive for the coin. She supported the suggestion to add the phrase "Free Land," commenting that people may now be unaware of this radical provision of the Homestead Act. However, she questioned whether this phrase should be positioned to replace of the wide arc of stars that would be removed from alternative #2, which may be graphically unfeasible for this short phrase. Don Everhart, the Mint's lead sculptor–engraver, responded that the intended modification—as he had discussed with the CCAC—would be to reduce the size of the corn husks framing the upper portion of the design, allowing room at the upper center for the "Free Land" phrase. He clarified that the attenuated husks would be shortened, rather than moving down the two ears of corn in their entirety. Ms. Meyer supported this modification. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk noted the consensus of the Commission to support the Mint's proposed modification of alternative #2. Mr. Luebke asked if the unusual typeface for "Free Land," as seen in other alternatives, would be satisfactory; Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk said that the typeface should instead be similar to the other text on the coin. Mr. Everhart confirmed that the layout of "Free Land" in alternative #2 would be on a single curved line, unlike its position in alternatives #5 and #6. Ms. Stafford expressed appreciation for the comments supporting alternative #8, which she said was an example of the careful work by officials at the Homestead site in developing these alternatives.
Kisatchie National Forest (Louisiana)
Ms. Stafford presented eight alternative reverses depicting Kisatchie National Forest, which encompasses over 600,000 acres including bayous, pine and cypress trees, trails, and habitats of endangered species; the designs include various combinations of birds and trees. She noted that the CCAC recommended alternative #7 with the request that the background be simplified.
Ms. Meyer said that her initial reaction to alternative #7 was that its texture would be overly complex, and the bird wing and trees may not be clearly legible. She supported alternative #5 due to its stronger composition that suggests the ground plane and the presence of water through the depiction of grasses and trees, along with the legible depiction of the bird. Ms. Stafford said that officials from Kisatchie National Forest have supported #5 because it features a wild turkey. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk requested clarification of the other groups reviewing the designs; Ms. Stafford said that the Mint staff works with officials of the federal site being depicted on the coin to develop the alternatives, which are then reviewed by both the CCAC and the Commission of Fine Arts.
Ms. Meyer commented that alternatives #5 and #7 both emphasize the depiction of a bird species and its habitat, which suggests the overall natural environment; she said that this gives thematic and graphic strength to these compositions. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that #5 has the best relationship of foreground and background elements; Ms. Fernández added that the profile depiction of the bird in #5 results in a stronger and more legible composition. Mr. Freelon supported alternative #3 due to the dynamic composition of two birds, with one having its wings outstretched; but he also agreed to support #5. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk noted the consensus of the Commission to recommend alternative #5.
Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina)
Ms. Stafford presented six alternative reverses depicting the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469–mile–long scenic road that is one of the most popular attractions in the National Park Service system. She noted that alternatives #3 and #4 have recently been removed from consideration but the earlier numbering system has been retained, and the presented alternatives therefore continue to #8. Each design depicts the road within the mountainous scenery; some depict the North Carolina state tree and bird, the parkway's distinctive stone walls, or the popular Linn Cove Viaduct portion of the parkway. She said that the CCAC recommended alternative #5, and the park officials preferred #7 due to its depiction of the stonework at a tunnel entrance as well as the curvature of the road.
Ms. Meyer emphasized the significance of the parkway, both as an important modern designed landscape and as a very popular attraction for visitors. She recalled the Commission's previous review of design alternatives depicting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia (November 2012), and she reiterated her previous advice that the beauty of the road design comes from the geometry of sequential curves without long straight segments; she observed that the presented alternatives fail to capture this characteristic geometry. She said that any of the alternatives would need to be reworked by someone who is knowledgeable about the geometry of parkway design. She added that the Linn Cove Viaduct is uncharacteristic of the overall Blue Ridge Parkway and was the last segment to be built; she recommended against selecting this feature for the coin design. She suggested depicting a more typical view of the road, such as in alternative #2 and #7, although she said that the graphic design in these alternatives is not satisfactory. Ms. Stafford responded that park officials agreed, after the alternatives were developed, that the atypical Linn Cove Viaduct may not be the best subject for the design.
Ms. Fernández suggested not providing a recommendation for this coin. Mr. Freelon commented that the parkway's purpose is enjoyment by visitors, while most of the alternatives do not have any indication of people; he observed that alternative #6 includes a distant car, which conveys the parkway's use while being small enough to avoid questions of the car's style and period. He suggested adding a car emerging from the tunnel in alternative #7, and reducing the size of the bird in this design to improve the perspective.
Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk asked for a consensus for alternative #7 with modifications. Ms. Meyer said she would not support any of the alternatives; Ms. Fernández deferred to Ms. Meyer's close familiarity with the parkway. Ms. Plater–Zyberk supported Mr. Freelon's preference for alternative #7. Mr. Luebke noted the lack of a majority vote and suggested providing the Commission's comments without a recommended design.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (Delaware)
Ms. Stafford presented eight alternative reverses depicting Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, a 16,000–acre site that extends eight miles along the Delaware Bay. The refuge was established in 1937 as part of a chain of refuges extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and it encompasses a large tidal salt marsh, freshwater areas, and upland habitats. She said that the refuge's importance for migratory birds has increased as other habitats have been lost. The design alternatives depict great blue herons, egrets, or Canada geese in the marsh setting. She said that the CCAC prefers alternative #1; officials from the refuge did not state a strong preference, although they have expressed interest in #5 and have provided comments on improving the accuracy of the bird depictions.
Ms. Meyer suggested selecting a design featuring herons or egrets, which she said are closely associated with salt marshes, rather than the more ubiquitous Canadian geese. She offered support for alternative #8, agreeing with Ms. Fernández's earlier comment that a profile depiction of the bird would be easily legible. She added that #8 also successfully depicts the salt marsh; in comparison, the marsh in alternative #1 seems to be merely a sketch that is not well rendered. Ms. Fernández said that alternatives #6 and #8 would both be acceptable, and she joined Ms. Meyer in supporting #8. Ms. Meyer agreed that #6 also has merit. Ms. Fernández commented that the profile of the bird in #6 is successful and elegant, while the bird in #8 may be too large within the composition; she also supported the marsh depiction in #6. Mr. Freelon suggested improving #6 by moving the background bird from the left side toward the center of the composition. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk agreed that this bird's position along the edge is disturbing. She summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend alternatives #6 and #8 with the comments provided.
Saratoga National Historical Park (New York)
Ms. Stafford presented ten alternative reverses depicting Saratoga National Historical Park, which was the site of an important American victory in 1777 during the Revolutionary War. The designs include depictions of cannons, a local farmhouse, an early American flag, and the surrender of General Burgoyne to General Gates by handing over a sword. She said that the CCAC prefers alternative #3 with a revision of the text from "Surrender, 1777" to "British Surrender, 1777." She confirmed that the depicted flag without stars is historically accurate, noting the Mint's close coordination with the park's historian on details such as the flag and uniforms. She said that the park staff did not have a preference but had commented that cannons were not used significantly in the 1777 battle.
Ms. Meyer observed that alternatives #2 and #3 are similar close–up depictions of General Burgoyne handing his sword to General Gates; she asked why the CCAC preference was for #3. Mr. Everhart responded that the reason may be the superior composition of #3, which is more focused and successfully uses negative space. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that the partial torsos in #2 may be problematic; Ms. Stafford confirmed that CCAC typically discourages such design elements. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk noted the consensus of the Commission to recommend alternative #3, supporting the CCAC request to add "British" to the inscription.
2. CFA 20/FEB/14–6, 2014 Kennedy half–dollar gold coin. Design modification to mark the 50th anniversary of the coin's release. Final. Ms. Stafford presented a new product being considered by the Mint's marketing department: a modified gold proof version of the circulating Kennedy half–dollar for the coin's 50th anniversary. She said that the gold coin would be similar to other coins being struck for the 50th anniversary except for the metal, weight, and thickness. The gold coin would also have a restored version of the original 1964 sculpting for the coin's portrait; the dies were altered in 1997 due to changes in the Mint's manufacturing process, and the altered version continues to be used for circulating and numismatic production. She noted the samples provided to the Commission members, emphasizing the differing details of the pre–1997 and more recent coins. She added that the dies for other coins, such as the penny and quarter, have historically been altered as part of the long–term manufacturing process and later restored to the original sculpting; the Kennedy half–dollar is currently the Mint's only altered design that has not been restored.
Ms. Stafford presented two alternatives for the gold obverse: #1 would use the current design and restored portrait with the minting year 2014; #2 would use the inscription "1964–2014" to indicate both the minting year and the year of the coin's initial issue. She said that the Mint is also considering additional inscriptions stating the coin's weight and metal, which is often provided for gold coins. After consultation with the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), the Mint's intention is to place this additional text on the reverse; an additional CCAC recommendation was to move the "W" mint mark—indicating the West Point facility where this coin will be produced—to the reverse, where the mint mark had been located when the coin was first issued. She said that the reverse would accommodate the revisions by shrinking the size of the eagle; however, the presentation does not include an image of the reverse. She added that the CCAC preference was for alternative #2 for the gold coin obverse, using the "1964–2014" inscription that would be distinct from the simple 2014 date appearing on the various other numismatic versions and circulating coins.
Ms. Meyer asked for further clarification of the intended alterations to the reverse. Ms. Stafford responded that the slight reduction in the eagle's size would allow for the added text to be placed along the bottom of the design; a very small font could be used. She added that the edge of the coin is reeded, a feature that would be maintained, and the additional text could therefore not be placed along the edge; the reverse is the only reasonable location for the weight and fineness inscription, which many consider to be important text to include.
Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk asked if the Commission members have any comment on the proposal. Mr. Freelon suggested supporting the CCAC recommendation for alternative #2 with the mint mark moved to the reverse, along with the other modifications described by Ms. Stafford. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk noted the consensus of the Commission to adopt this position.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:07 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Last Modified: March 20, 2014