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CFA 18/APR/13-5

Location: 
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
United States
Owner: 
U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
Property: 
Old Post Office Building and Annex
Description: 
Building renovations, rehabilitation, modernization, and alterations for redevelopment into hotel and conference center
Review Type: 
Concept

Letter

26 April 2013

Dear Ms. Wright:

In its meeting of 18 April, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept proposal for the redevelopment of the Old Post Office building, located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, for use as the Trump International Hotel. The Commission approved the general concept for the project and made recommendations for the development of the design to be submitted as a revised concept.

The Commission members commended the General Services Administration (GSA) for undertaking the redevelopment of the historic Old Post Office building for private use while urging the GSA to ensure that this redevelopment maintains the history and character of this property as a public building. They expressed support for the proposed rehabilitation of the interior atrium space and of the historic building envelope–including the proposed addition of skylights consistent with the historic design, and the restoration of the historic shed structure on the south side of the building. However, they suggested that many elements of the landscape design be reconsidered to strengthen the hotel's contribution to public space on this most prominent of Washington's avenues and within the Federal Triangle.

For the overall design of the site, the Commission members noted in particular the proposal for the south plaza, which they characterized as inappropriately suburban; they recommended that this space–midway between the National Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue and across from a Metro station–be treated as a tree-shaded public space with a more elegant configuration of walls, rather than planters and flags. They suggested that the proposed outdoor cafe seating areas throughout the site be carefully studied to ensure their viability, noting their distance from the interior restaurant spaces. In addition, they found the signs and canopies proposed for the building and site to be overly prominent and recommended that they be reduced in both size and number, perhaps treated in a way that appears more temporary and subordinate to the preeminence of the historic building and its architecture.

For the redesign of the Annex exterior, the Commission members questioned the architectural character proposed within the context of the historic building and the surrounding fabric of the Federal Triangle complex, finding the proposed design of the boxy entrance structure to be visually disruptive and reminiscent of a portal or tunnel entrance. Instead, they recommended the treatment of the proposed ballroom entrance as a small glassy pavilion within the court, and they requested the development of additional options for this element.

The Commission looks forward to the successful rehabilitation of this highly significant and iconic property. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission requested to address the issues raised in the review.

Sincerely,

/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Secretary

Mina Wright, Director
Office of Planning and Design Quality
U.S. General Services Administration
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407–0001

cc: Hany Hassan, Beyer Blinder Belle
David Orowitz, The Trump Organization