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Government Projects

Since 1910, the Commission of Fine Arts has been responsible for the design review of government properties in the National Capital. The CFA reviews designs for federal and D.C. government buildings, monuments, memorials, parks, and public spaces throughout the District of Columbia, including the National Mall. The CFA also reviews designs for Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall, and the overseas military cemeteries of the American Battle Monuments Commission. In addition, the CFA reviews designs for all coins and medals issued by the U.S. Mint and heraldic designs by the Heraldic Branch of the U.S. Department of the Army.

Please note that D.C. and federal government projects submitted for CFA review prior to September 2014 are referred to as "Direct Submissions" in the meeting minutes and other meeting documents.

Map of the District of Columbia, showing National Park Service and other federal lands, November 2008. (Image credit: National Park Service)

How to Apply

Applicants are encouraged to consult with the staff as early as possible after a design project is initiated, as well as during the development of the design. Please contact CFA staff at (202) 504-2200 or cfastaff@cfa.gov.

Step One

Read the submission requirements for concept or final review as appropriate and prepare the necessary drawings and other materials for the proposed project.

Step Two

Forward a submission for a concept or permit review, with complete drawings showing existing conditions and proposed construction and other required submission materials, directly to the Secretary, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 401 F Street, NW, Suite 312, Washington, DC 20001.

  • Submissions must be made to CFA by the filing deadline, two weeks prior to the CFA meeting. Please check the CFA meeting schedule for meeting dates and submission deadlines.
  • To be complete, a submission must include a letter requesting review, signed by the authorized representative of the government agency responsible for the project and on the letterhead of that agency, as well as all other required submission materials for concept or final review.
  • Submissions may also be made online.

Step Three

Upon receipt of the submissions, CFA staff may contact you to request additional or revised materials. Submit any necessary supplemental materials directly to CFA staff upon request. If a proposed project is insufficiently documented for review, the CFA staff may recommend that the review of the case be postponed until a later CFA meeting.

Step Four

Depending on the scope, size, prominence, and design of  a proposed project, it will either be reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts in its monthly public meeting, or reviewed by CFA staff and placed on the Consent Calendar for approval by the CFA in its meeting. CFA staff will notify applicants whose cases have been placed on the agenda for the public meeting.

  • Smaller-scale or less complex projects may be placed on the Consent Calendar of staff recommendations, which is subject to approval by the Commission of Fine Arts in its meeting. The draft consent calendar is available online the Friday afternoon before the CFA meeting.
  • Projects requiring review by the Commission in its public meeting must be presented by the applicant or applicant’s representative at the Commission of Fine Arts meeting. The draft agenda is available online the Friday afternoon before the CFA meeting.

Next Steps

When a project is approved in concept, the applicant may proceed to develop the project design and documentation in preparation for a submission for final review. Concept approval is often accompanied by detailed recommendations or conditions, which the applicant should incorporate into the design prior to making a submission for final review.

Once a project receives final approval, applicants generally need not return for further review unless changes are made to the approved final design. Final approval may also be accompanied by detailed recommendations or conditions, which the applicant must incorporate into the design documents prior to receiving full final approval.

For government projects that require a permit, applicants must forward a copy of the full permit drawings and the DCRA construction permit application directly to CFA staff for review and signature of the permit application. This may occur at the time of submission for final approval, or after final approval has been received.