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Shipstead-Luce Act

With the Shipstead-Luce Act of 1930 (Public Law 71-231, Public Law 76-248), Congress directed the Commission of Fine Arts to review the designs of private construction projects in certain areas of high federal interest within the National Capital. The Act created an area of jurisdiction for properties within, fronting, or abutting the monumental and governmental core of the city, much of the Potomac waterfront, and Rock Creek Park.

Map of the Area Covered by Shipstead Act, District of Columbia, 1962

Map of the Area Covered by Shipstead Act, District of Columbia, 1962. (Image credit: CFA)

How to Apply

To determine whether a prospective construction project requires review, contact the Shipstead-Luce Act staff architect at (202) 504-2200 or cfastaff@cfa.gov. Please provide the address and the square and lot numbers of the project site.

Step One

Read the Shipstead-Luce submission requirements for concept or permit review as appropriate and prepare the necessary drawings and other materials for the proposed project.

Step Two

Make a submission for a concept or permit review, with complete drawings showing existing conditions and proposed construction and other required submission materials, to the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Permit Service Center at 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd floor, Washington, DC.

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 case be denied, or 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 be either be reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts in its monthly public meeting, or reviewed by CFA staff and placed on the Shipstead-Luce Act Appendix 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 Shipstead-Luce Appendix of staff recommendations, which is subject to approval by the Commission of Fine Arts in its meeting. The draft appendix is available online the Friday afternoon before the Commission 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 Commission meeting.

Next Steps

When a project is approved in concept, it is returned to the District with the CFA’s recommendations for the development of the design in preparation for a permit submission. A concept approval is not sufficient to obtain a permit for the proposed work. A separate permit application must be submitted to DCRA for review by the CFA.

If a project is not approved in concept, applicants may submit a new concept application to DCRA for review in a future CFA meeting, with design revisions that respond to the Commission's recommendations.

When a project is approved for permit, it is returned to the District with the CFA’s recommendation for the issuance of a permit. All submissions are sent to the D.C. Historic Preservation Office (HPO), and applicants may pick up their submissions from HPO staff the week following the CFA meeting to continue with the DCRA permitting process. Contact HPO staff at (202) 442-8800 to arrange to pick up a submission.

If a project is not approved for permit, CFA staff will return the submission to the District with this recommendation. The applicant may submit a new permit application to DCRA for review in a future CFA meeting, with design revisions that respond to the Commission's recommendations.