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About the Shipstead-Luce Act

The Shipstead-Luce Act (Public Law 71-231 and Public Law 76-248) was passed on 16 May 1930. The Act gave the Commission of Fine Arts authority to review the designs of private construction projects within certain areas of the National Capital. Specifically, the Shipstead-Luce Act applies to construction which fronts or abuts: the grounds of the Capitol; the grounds of the White House; the portion of Pennsylvania Avenue extending from the Capitol to the White House; Rock Creek Park; the National Zoo; Rock Creek and Potomac Parkways; the Mall Park System; Southwest Waterfront and Fort McNair.

Depending upon the scope (i.e. a new building, major or minor alterations), a proposed project in areas defined in the Shipstead-Luce Act will be reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts or by Commission staff. Staff reviews of smaller scale projects are compiled into an Appendix, which is submitted to the Commission members at each monthly meeting. To determine whether a prospective construction project requires review under the Shipstead-Luce Act, and if so, what level of review, contact the Shipstead-Luce Act staff architect at (202) 504-2200. Please provide the address and, if possible, the square and lot numbers of the site.

Submission Requirements for Concept vs. Permit Review

Concept Review provides an opportunity for the applicants to know what is acceptable at an early stage of design. The Concept approval will not issue a permit for the work. A separate Permit Application must be filed and submitted for review by the Commission.


The deadline for a Shipstead-Luce Act submission to the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Permit Service Center to be included in the agenda or appendix list for the Commission meeting is two weeks prior to the meeting date. A complete submission consists of an application for a concept or permit review and support materials. See the appropriate Submission Requirements link above for details.

Shipstead-Luce Act submissions for new buildings and larger projects are presented at the full Commission of Fine Arts meetings. These meetings are regularly held the third Thursday of the month. Please carefully check the Commission's Schedule of Meetings for the dates of public meetings and submission deadlines. There is no meeting in August.


It is highly recommended, especially for new structures or large project submissions, that the applicant and/or their agent contact the Shipstead-Luce Act staff architect prior to submission to arrange an informal staff review to determine if there is any additional or special information that should be included in the submission.

It is also recommended that the applicant and/or their agent contact neighbors who may be affected by a proposed project prior to submission review. Letters of support from the neighbors can be made part of the record. The local Advisory Neighborhood Commission may be interested in a public presentation of the project so they can offer their comments to the Commission of Fine Arts. Contact the local ANC at or before the time of submission.

Contact the Shipstead-Luce Act staff architect at the Commission to confirm receipt of submission, additional support materials and for additional information, if needed.

New Buildings and Larger Projects

New building or large project submissions will require a separate presentation to the Commission during the scheduled public meeting. Contact the Shipstead-Luce Act staff architect at the Commission to confirm and coordinate a required presentation. It may be essential that the applicant or agent attend the Commission meeting. If so, presentation boards (and models when appropriate) should be delivered to the Commission office no later than two weeks (i.e. the same day as the submission deadline) before the meeting.

Shipstead-Luce Appendix

Smaller project submissions are grouped in a Shipstead-Luce Appendix list accompanied with a staff recommended action for the Commission's review. These smaller projects do not require a separate presentation to the Commission or the applicants' presence at the public meeting.

Last Modified: September 21, 2006