Dear Mr. Ahmed:
In its meeting of 17 April, the Commission of Fine Arts again reviewed a concept design for a new visitors screening facility at the entrance to the Pentagon adjacent to the Metro station. Again, the Commission did not take an action and requested the submission of a new concept design that satisfies the programmatic requirements of the Department of Defense while creating a dignified entrance experience—for both staff and visitors—to this prominent landmark.
The Commission members expressed appreciation for the effort to improve the architectural details of the proposed screening pavilion, but they could not support what they found to be an inadequate and inappropriate proposal within the larger context of the main working entrance to this departmental headquarters building. Noting the order and symmetry of the historic Pentagon itself and the subsequent additions of the Metro Entrance Facility (MEF), the Metro canopies, and the lighter structures of the transit queuing areas, they emphasized the opportunity for a solution that honors this context and creates a dignified sense of arrival. Accordingly, they questioned the fundamental decision to locate the principal visitor entrance far to one side—at the rear drip line of one Metro portal canopy, and hundreds of feet away from the other Metro portal—for the stated reasons of expediency. Acknowledging the forthcoming project to provide a similarly–sized entrance pavilion for staff, they strongly urged the development of a design that creates a more symmetrical distribution of the entrances in front of the MEF to be in harmony with the existing conditions, whether together at the center or bilaterally located to achieve the necessary separation of visitors and staff. The Commission members encouraged the sharing of technical studies that led to the development of the presented concept, but they urged that such studies be used to generate a new design that can successfully address immediate operational as well as symbolic goals.
The Commission encourages the Department of Defense to develop what should be a positive, dignified addition to the experience of entry into the Pentagon for all who come—whether employees, tourists, those doing business with the U.S. Government, or visiting friends and family. Please coordinate the next submission with the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Sajeel S. Ahmed, Director
Washington Headquarters Services
Department of Defense
1155 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301–1155
cc: Jean O'Toole, Dewberry Architects