The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 10:08 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Elizabeth Plater–Zyberk, Vice Chairman
Hon. Teresita Fernández
Hon. Philip Freelon
Hon. Alex Krieger
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer
Hon. Edwin Schlossberg
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 17 January meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the January meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes upon a motion by Mr. Powell. Mr. Luebke said that the minutes will be made available on the Commission's website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: 21 March, 18 April, and 16 May 2013.
C. Report on the approval of an object proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Luebke reported the Commission's visit earlier in the morning to the Freer Gallery of Art to inspect a Japanese hanging scroll proposed for acquisition; the scroll, titled Dream Record, dates from the late 12th or early 13th century and would be an important addition to the Freer's collection of Buddhist calligraphy. He said that Chairman Powell had approved the purchase for the museum's permanent collection, in accordance with the requirements of Charles Freer's will.
Mr. Luebke reported the Commission's site inspections earlier in the morning at the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian, the Department of Commerce headquarters, and the L'Enfant Plaza complex. Chairman Powell suggested discussing the inspections in conjunction with the review of the submissions. (See agenda items II.B, II.C, and II.F.1.)
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Direct Submission Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom said that there were no changes to the draft appendix. He suggested that the Commission may wish to delegate to the staff the approval of final designs for the two D.C. public school concept submissions; the school renovation program is on a tight schedule for summer construction to be completed in August, and much of the work is on the interior with only minor exterior alterations or additions. He added that similar school renovation projects are anticipated for submission in the coming months. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the Direct Submission Consent Calendar with the delegated authority for review of the final designs for the two D.C. public school projects (case numbers CFA 21/FEB/13–g and 21/FEB/13–h).
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider the Webb Elementary School submission.
E. District of Columbia Department of General Services
2. CFA 21/FEB/13–5, Ruth K. Webb Elementary School (KIPP DC), 1375 Mt. Olivet Road, NE. Building renovation and addition. Concept. Chairman Powell suggested approving this proposal based on the submission materials without a presentation. Mr. Luebke noted that this project, involving the use of a public school building for a charter school, involves a greater scope than the other D.C. public school projects and was therefore not eligible for the Direct Submission Consent Calendar. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the concept submission and delegated review of the final design to the staff.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with the remaining appendices.
Appendix II – Shipstead–Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported the changes to the draft appendix. One recommendation was changed to be favorable based on revisions to the design (case number SL 13–041). One recommendation is listed as favorable pending the receipt of revised drawings (SL 13–044) to resolve a small issue; the drawings were received earlier in the morning, and she asked for authorization to finalize the recommendation after reviewing this revised submission. Other recommendations have been adjusted to reflect the receipt of additional submission materials. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Plater–Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda items II.F.1 and II.F.2 for additional Shipstead–Luce Act submissions.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Luebke noted the substantial caseload of Georgetown projects, which are reviewed monthly by the Old Georgetown Board with the support of Mr. Mart&aiacute;nez and Ms. Barsoum: approximately half of the Commission's annual 700 cases are Georgetown submissions. Mr. Mart&aiacute;nez reported several changes to the draft appendix. Two cases were removed at the request of the applicants and will be resubmitted for review by the Old Georgetown Board (case numbers OG 13–084 and 13–088). Four cases have been added to the appendix: one case has been inactive and can no longer be held open (OG 13–048); one has a recommendation for window repair rather than replacement and does not require further action (OG 13–072); and two were recently submitted but subsequently withdrawn (OG 13–104 and 13–119). Other recommendations have been clarified and updated. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Schlossberg, the Commission approved the revised appendix. Mr. Luebke noted that the recommendations on the appendix would be forwarded to the D.C. government.
(Mr. Freelon recused himself from consideration of the following agenda item and left the room.)
B. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 21/FEB/13–1, National Museum of the American Indian, 3rd Street and Maryland Avenue, SW. New access way (Forest Path Entrance) to entrance plaza. Concept. Mr. Luebke introduced the proposal for a new pedestrian access route, the "Forest Path Entrance," which would connect the main entrance plaza of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) with the Jefferson Drive sidewalk on the north side of the museum's site. The proposal would facilitate visitor access from the northeast and improve visibility of the the museum from this direction. He said the NMAI staff had determined that the original design of a densely planted landscape and low wall on this side of the site has compromised the visibility of the museum's entrance for visitors arriving from nearby attractions such as the U.S. Botanic Garden. The Smithsonian subsequently thinned the plantings in this area, with the unintended result of people creating social trails through the landscape. He noted that some members of the original design team were present in the audience; he asked Ann Trowbridge, Associate Director for Planning at the Smithsonian Institution, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Trowbridge said that the project is part of a larger effort to improve the visitor experience and wayfinding in preparation for the museum's tenth anniversary in 2014. She described the study of visitor difficulty in identifying the museum and finding its entrance; the installation of outdoor sculpture at the site's northwest corner has been one response to improve the museum's visibility. She said that the Smithsonian intends to return to the Commission in April with a final design submission for this project, and will submit it to the National Capital Planning Commission for review in May; she added that the D.C. Historic Preservation Office has responded that the project would have no adverse effect on historic resources. She said that the Smithsonian is discussing the design of the Jefferson Drive sidewalk area with the National Park Service; jurisdiction of the sidewalks and planted areas around the Smithsonian museums is claimed by both the Smithsonian and the National Park Service–which remains an unresolved issue, and both organizations share policing of these areas while maintenance is provided by the Smithsonian. She introduced Alyson Steele of Quinn Evans Architects and Roger Courtenay of AECOM to present the design, noting that Mr. Courtenay's predecessor firm, EDAW, had developed the original landscape plan for the museum; she also noted her own involvement with the original design when working at Venturi Scott Brown, which provided programming and site analysis for the museum.
Ms. Steele described the goals of the project: to provide more views, to create a more welcoming and direct route to the building entrance, to ensure universal accessibility, and to continue the defining characteristics of the original landscape. She said that currently the dense landscaping appears to form a solid barrier along much of the east and north sides of the site, while there are multiple points of entry on the west and south sides. Major pedestrian access into the site is from the northwest corner and the southeast; the main entrance is on the east side of the building with a secondary entrance on the south, and the service access drive is on the west side. She noted that the context has changed since the museum opened in 2004: the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center has opened and the U.S. Botanic Garden has expanded its exhibition spaces, resulting in many more people approaching the museum site from the east.
Mr. Courtenay presented the proposal in greater detail. He described the existing Jefferson Drive sidewalks: approximately twenty feet wide extending to the back of the curb, with street trees set within. He presented photographs of the museum's existing plantings and sculpture along Jefferson Drive, emphasizing the character of the visitor experience upon entering the museum grounds. He indicated additional site features and existing elements that constrain the proposed area of work: the "River Walk" through the landscape, leading to the "Welcome Plaza" at the main entrance toward the eastern part of the site; the wetland to the east of the Welcome Plaza; the stones marking the site's cardinal directions including the north marker near the Jefferson Drive sidewalk, a sacred object which will define the eastern extent of the proposed work; and various vent and vault structures that are set within the landscape.
Mr. Courtenay said that the proposed access route would include both a stairway and a ramp. The ramp would ascend to the plaza from the east at a grade of less than five percent so that it would not require a handrail; the stairway would be oriented slightly northwest for the convenience of visitors approaching from the west. The two new diagonal routes would frame a large sloping garden area between them that would be regraded and replanted; the lower edge along the sidewalk would have a curb instead of the 30– to 36–inch–high retaining wall that is typically used along the site's perimeter. The perimeter security barrier, typically provided by the retaining wall, would be completed with boulders set within the replanted landscape along with bollards in the middle of the ramp and at the bottom of the stairs; he said that this design would continue the established language of security elements within the NMAI grounds. The seating wall along the River Walk would be extended around the vent and vault structures and a sculpture, allowing some of the existing plantings to remain. The museum name would be carved into a wall along the sidewalk, similar to the existing inscription at the museum's main entrance. He described the goal of developing views of the entrance that are more open and less filtered, with the landscape functioning as a "veil" in the foreground. He said that the new landscaping would follow the same design parameters and material palette as the original, such as Jet Mist granite paving, retaining walls, steps, and native plants. He noted the existing streetlighting and said that the need for additional new lighting has not yet been determined.
Mr. Schlossberg asked if a signage and wayfinding plan is being developed to complement this proposal. Ms. Trowbridge responded that the Smithsonian has been developing such a plan, and has shown preliminary ideas about wayfinding to the Commission staff; due to the scheduling goal of completing the Forest Path Entrance for the museum's 10th anniversary next year, the decision was made to separate the two projects. She added that the Smithsonian is studying the possible addition of signage to the building's northwest corner.
Mr. Schlossberg observed that the scale and plantings of the landscape form a significant component of the museum's design, and he questioned why the Smithsonian would consider compromising the contiguous landscape. He asked whether similar results could be achieved by directing people more effectively at the site boundary, such as through graphics, rather than by removing trees and other landscape features. He said that this building's problem of being difficult to see is anomalous in Washington, which he had assumed was one reason it had been designed this way; the landscape setting speaks about American Indians and their environment, not about the design character of Washington. Ms. Trowbridge responded that the garden has matured more densely than anticipated; in the original sketches, the building is clearly visible through the plantings when viewed from the northeast corner, which is not the case now. She said that the new path are intended as providing a way for visitors to appreciate the landscape by walking through it.
Mr. Schlossberg reiterated his concern that the Smithsonian is willing to tamper with something intrinsic to the nature, culture, and storyline of this museum's experience, and he emphasized the need to consider other means of addressing the visitor issues such as by ensuring that people can see the building and the route to reach it. Ms. Trowbridge noted the recent interventions–thinning the landscape and augmented the wayfinding at the northwest corner with a sculpture installation–and said that it is too soon to assess whether these changes are working. She introduced Jane Sledge, Associate Director for Museum Assets and Operations at the NMAI, to provide a further response. Ms. Sledge said she attributed the recent increase in museum attendance to the sculpture installation, and said that signage plans are under consideration. She noted that one reason for considering the proposed access way dates from the processional walk held at the time of the museum's opening: people met at the Capitol and proceeded to the NMAI, but when they reached the corner of 3rd Street and Jefferson Drive, they realized that they could not enter the building without walking to 4th Street and then returning to the northeast corner along the River Walk. The issue of access has therefore been under consideration since that time.
Ms. Fernández agreed with Mr. Schlossberg that alternatives should be found to construction of the proposed new access, commenting that tourists in Washington visit specific museums for their programming instead of just wandering between sites. She said that two contradictory ideas had apparently been presented–opening the view to the building and providing a direct access route–observing that if people are currently walking through the landscape, they must already be able to see their destination. She said that the entire block appears to have been designed with a deliberate logic: it is formed of two wedges, the museum and the landscape, which mirror one another and balance the site. She said that the design would no longer make sense if the site plan is broken up. She noted the value of slowing down the pedestrians from Washington's streets, observing that a slower pace is appropriate to this museum and what it honors. She said that getting somewhere fast is not always better, and finding the museum entrance gradually–following a slower route that is integral to the curve of the building–makes sense. She also noted the value of seeing framed vistas along this route, especially in relation to the recently added sculptures. She said that she has always resisted sculpture being "plopped down" and announced too blatantly: sculpture is art, and the way it is approached is vital. She said that these new sculptures are important enough that people are apparently coming specifically to see them; the approach would be drastically changed if people came upon them abruptly by simply going up a ramp or stair reminiscent of design elements leading into a generic corporate building, rather than by following a longer route around the building and turning a corner. She emphasized that the approach to a sculpture creates a narrative and elicits an emotional response in the viewer; it is not just about making everything fit.
Mr. Courtenay responded that the NMAI staff has done surveys of people walking along the Jefferson Drive sidewalk and found that many were not aware of where they were and what the building was, despite its visibility and the nearby signs. He said these results demonstrate that visitors to Washington have problems finding their way around. Mr. Schlossberg reiterated his view that this problem could be solved by better graphics or by a variety of other means. He said he feared that by adding a ramp or stairway, the NMAI may lose an asset–the landscape–that will never come back. He emphasized that the museum is an important institution with an established value to the community and to the idea of an American Indian museum, and that such a museum should have this native landscape; he expressed concern that if the landscape is so diminished, eventually it will become merely plantings around the edge of a property rather than the intended design feature. He acknowledged the desirability of identifying the museum but did not accept that two breaks through the landscape are needed to accomplish this. He suggested that interpretive signage might be useful to describe the kinds of plants in the landscape, but reiterated his concern of a broad diminution of the landscape experience just to draw attention to the building's entrance.
Mr. Krieger said that his first impression was similar–that the landscape, an essential component of the museum's design, is already too narrow and does not represent the landscape as the American Indians formerly knew it, and therefore any diminution of it would be a risk. He said that he had a second impression that was more favorable to the proposal, commenting that the existing site design seems disappointing and odd because one never walks through this landscape but instead has to walk between the building and a perimeter barrier; he characterized the proposed stair as merely a shortcut but said that the ramp might be interesting if it could be a route to the entrance that would not diminish the landscape it passes through.
Ms. Meyer agreed with Mr. Krieger on the difference between a green edge to the museum and an overall experience of the landscape; she noted the widespread appreciation of the unusual forest–like garden experience provided in the original site design. She commented that changing the scale beyond a certain point can alter the experience of a project: it may have the same materials, details, and plant palette, but the scale changes when a large amount of boundary is opened, as proposed in this concept. She said that Mr. Krieger had offered a possible alternative in his recommendation to consider a minimal intervention. She commented that the scope of the proposal seems suburban–a ramp and a stair with a landscape that is no longer a wall but slopes down to the street–and would compromise the existing character of a forest landscape. If the Smithsonian decides that this new entrance is needed, she recommended that it be minimized; she also suggested carving the museum's name in the site wall at the northeast corner. She added that the situation is similar at the Hirshhorn Gallery, where people walk around the building before finding its small entrance. She noted that the site has multiple entrances already and remained unconvinced that cutting another one or two would help.
Ms. Trowbridge introduced Shirley Cloud–Lane, the project manager from the NMAI and an American Indian from the southwestern United States. Ms. Cloud–Lane said that the landscape's original intent was to give a visitor the experience of walking through a forest. She said that in her culture, entrances are located at the north side of structures, and the lack of a north entrance is disappointing for many American Indians. She noted that the buffalo dancer sculpture on the north side of the site comes from the southwestern Pueblo Indian culture, and an opening through the landscape at that point would be culturally significant as an entrance point. She added that plants are considered living beings in American Indian culture, and the landscape on the north side was designed with specific plants that bear cultural significance; she said she was pleased the Commission members understood that the experience of walking through this landscape would be valuable for visitors, and interpretation would make it richer.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that she may have less objection to this proposal than the other Commission members. She said that access is the issue and emphasized the distinction between access and view. She acknowledged that the landscape may be perceived as more of a barrier than originally intended; she said that walking around a barrier is typically an urban experience, as with avoiding parked cars, and increased access may be an improvement. She supported the comments of the other Commission members on improving the visitor's experience of the landscape.
Mr. Courtenay responded that the intention is to involve the visitor more fully in the landscape. He said there is a problem with porosity of the grounds and the museum. The south entrance had initially been intended only as an entrance for groups but is now being used as a general public entrance; the result is two public entrances for the museum, a situation which had not been anticipated in the original programming and site design. He noted that an inherent quality of landscape is that it changes over time, and the narrow area on the north side of the site is threatened by overuse. He said that the landscape could accommodate a the new access routes while maintaining a veil of vegetation, especially at the canopy level, so that the garden's overall effect will remain the same with just a small intervention to ease circulation and visual wayfinding.
Mr. Krieger supported Mr. Courtenay's response, commenting that the site plan appears to depict a large breach in the landscape but the proposal would be less intrusive; he encouraged making the new entry path as minimal as possible, and perhaps even more circuitous. He reiterated that the proposed stairway seems most at odds with the design intent, even though it would provide the quickest access. He cautioned that the site plan suggests the problematic result of a larger intervention in the landscape, which may become the inevitable result of future pressures on the site. Mr. Courtenay said that this drawing was meant simply to show the limits of the study area. Ms. Fernández commented that if the new route is intended to be a path it should feel like a path; as it is now designed, it feels impersonal. She added that development of an effective solution is made much more difficult by not looking simultaneously at the wayfinding program, and the proposal would have been more convincing if the wayfinding component had been integrated into the project. She also expressed appreciation for the comments from the Smithsonian staff and questioned why a north entrance had not been considered in the original design process. Mr. Powell said that a north entrance to the site was obviously necessary and a signage component would be helpful; he agreed with Mr. Krieger that a stairway would be redundant and urged that any intervention be minimal.
Chairman Powell noted the divided opinions of the Commission members and suggested providing comments with a request that the Smithsonian return with a less intrusive and minimal solution for a north entrance. Ms. Trowbridge said that the next submission would also include a discussion of the Smithsonian's wayfinding program. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
(At this point Mr. Freelon returned for the remainder of the meeting.)
C. General Services Administration
CFA 21/FEB/13–2, Herbert C. Hoover Building, Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Perimeter security. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/APR/12–1.) Mr. Luebke introduced the new concept submission for perimeter security and streetscape improvements around the historic Herbert C. Hoover Building, headquarters of the Department of Commerce, at the western end of the Federal Triangle complex. He noted the earlier concepts for this project, including an initial proposal to locate the barrier at the curb or in the street, and an April 2012 proposal to locate the barrier within the building yard. The Commission had approved the 2012 concept with comments, and had delegated review of the final design to the staff; the new concept submission supersedes the 2012 design. He said that the project's primary objective is to replace the unsightly temporary barriers which have been in place since 2001 and provide a barrier that meets current security requirements while also complementing the building's monumental Beaux Arts architecture; the proposal is also a pilot project for the broader initiative to improve the perimeter design throughout the Federal Triangle. He asked Mina Wright, director of the Office of Planning and Design Quality at the General Services Administration (GSA), to begin the presentation.
Ms. Wright said that GSA chose to reconsider the previously approved concept design from April 2012 because the development of that concept in the following months was resulting in an unsatisfactory design. She emphasized the challenges of the project: the building has long frontages of nearly a quarter–mile along 14th and 15th Streets; the narrow building yards provide little opportunity for design variety in the perimeter barrier system; and the 15th Street frontage is exposed to open vistas from the Ellipse on the west, unlike many perimeter barriers that are seen in much more limited views. Previous efforts to deemphasize the appearance of the barrier resulted in a monotonous design. She said that the new concept is intended to accept the barrier as a long–term part of the visual environment, and to design it as an enhancement to the public realm and the pedestrian experience. She noted the building's key position along pedestrian routes linking key existing and planned visitor attractions: the Mall is to the south, including the construction site across Constitution Avenue for the National Museum of African American History and Culture; food trucks create a small retail hub at the south end of the 15th Street frontage, which will be supported with a seating area in the proposed design; the White House Visitor Center is located within the Department of Commerce building; and the National Aquarium, already located within the building, will soon move to a new space entered from Constitution Avenue. She added that GSA is omitting perimeter security from the streetscape design of its own headquarters building, but this approach has not yet been widely accepted by other federal agencies.
Ms. Wright said that the location of the barrier is an important issue for the Commission to consider in the current submission: the proposal is to place some of the barrier near the curb rather than the usual preference for placing the barrier entirely within the building yard. She noted that the National Capital Planning Commission has granted this design an exception to the policy that calls for a building yard alignment, and further support is being sought from the D.C. Office of Planning. She added that the historic architecture uses setbacks to relieve the length of the facades, and the proposed barrier alignment would respond to the architecture and similarly strive to avoid monotony. She introduced architect Rod Henderer of RTKL to present the design.
Mr. Henderer summarized the context of the Commerce Department building and its role both as a large workplace and as a transitional building between the Mall and commercial downtown Washington. He also indicated the building's relationship to the more recent Reagan Building across 14th Street, with a dialogue between the monumental entrances of the two buildings. He described the success of the Commerce Department's original architecture firm–York and Sawyer in the 1920s–in breaking down the length of the east and west facades; he indicated the three–part massing along 14th Street and the extended porticoes facing 15th Street and the Ellipse. He said that the existing site conditions are poor, particularly in the landscape area between the sidewalk and curb; GSA would not normally undertake improvements to this area, but the current proposal to locate portions of the perimeter barrier near the curb would include this area within the project scope. He described the existing street trees as varied in type and condition, and said that they are insufficient to create a tree canopy effect.
Mr. Henderer said that the new design is intended to respond to the Commission's previous concerns while also placing a new emphasis on improving the public realm, avoiding monotony, and responding to the monumental character of the building and context. He presented the overall site plan and said that the presentation includes a series of enlarged images of the varying edge conditions for greater clarity. He indicated the overall alignment of the security barrier, much of it matching the previously approved alignment. The significant change would be at the northern and southern ends of the frontages along 14th and 15th Streets, where the alignment would shift from the building yard to the landscape zone near the curb; the transition in alignments across the sidewalk would be secured using collapsible sidewalk paving, which he described as a technically challenging proposal that is still being investigated. The benefits of this solution include allowing unimpeded pedestrian flow along the 14th and 15th Street sidewalks, and allowing the nearby seating alcoves in the building yard area to be designed without the need for security hardening. He added that a sidewalk of collapsible concrete is also being considered along the main entrance to the building on 14th Street, but the feasibility at this location is particularly difficult and the current proposal shows a row of bollards.
Mr. Henderer described the proposed improvement to the zone between the sidewalk and curb, using a low impact development (LID) approach for the landscape. He acknowledged that this zone appears narrow on the overall site drawings but emphasized that its width is substantial, approximately nine feet. All of the street trees along the 14th and 15th Street frontages would be replaced, which had not been part of the previous concept proposal; the eventual tree canopy would be of the appropriate scale for this monumental building.
Mr. Henderer indicated the raised planters that would serve as the perimeter security barrier at some locations, such as along the main entrance on 14th Street and at the Pennsylvania Avenue frontage. This proposal would reduce the use of cable–rail barriers that had been included in the April 2012 submission. He presented a perspective of the main entrance, describing the role of the raised planters in establishing the monumental character of the entrance steps and plaza, relating to the Reagan Building across 14th Street, offering a shaded seating edge, and reducing the visibility of the ramped walks connecting the sidewalk and plaza. He said that the proposed flagpole locations would match the original location proposed by York and Sawyer, a revision from the 2012 submission. Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of how the planters would complement the Reagan Building. Mr. Henderer responded that the planters would relate to the monumental scale of the Reagan Building's entrance plaza; he noted that the Reagan Building also has an entrance fountain, and a fountain was considered in recent months for the Commerce Department entrance but was rejected in favor of the proposed planters.
Mr. Henderer presented the proposed treatment of the corners of the block. The configuration of low barrier walls at the 15th Street corners would provide small paved areas that could be used for the racks of Washington's bike–share system so that these sidewalk elements could be integrated into the design rather than placed as an afterthought. A combination of low walls and a cable–rail system would be used along much of the remaining street frontage; the design of the rails has been simplified in response to the Commission's previous comments. He indicated the details of the cable support piers, which would be clad in dimensional stone and capped in an elliptical profile to relate to the building's detailing. He also emphasized that the width of the 15th Street sidewalk has been increased from eight feet to ten feet in response to the Commission's concern; he noted that the proposed configuration of hedges would match the original design by York and Sawyer. He presented views along this sidewalk, indicating the relationship between seating areas in the building yard and the corresponding paving between the LID landscape areas for pedestrians to walk between the sidewalk and curb.
Mr. Henderer said that the perimeter security alignment along Constitution Avenue would be the same as was approved in April 2012. He indicated the configuration of low barrier walls at the southeast corner of the site that would allow for an existing magnolia tree to remain. The ramped entrance to the basement–level aquarium would form part of the perimeter security barrier, as previously approved by the Commission; he said that some details in this area still need to be resolved.
Mr. Henderer concluded by presenting several additional features of the 14th Street frontage. As at 15th Street, seating areas in the building yard would correspond to the paved walks providing access to the curb between the LID planting areas; one of these walks along 14th Street would be located at a bus stop. The driveways to the building's parking courtyards would be protected by relatively unobtrusive vehicular barriers.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the significant changes to the design. Ms. Plater–Zyberk emphasized the opportunity to design the barrier system in close relation to the existing building, as if it were part of the original architecture; this was the reason for the recommendation in the previous review that the existing base of the building should be the starting point for designing the security barrier. Recalling the Commission's site inspection, she observed that the height of existing elements of the building's base can vary slightly with the topography; she asked if a minimum height for security requirements would be satisfied by extending the barrier elements at the level of the existing building base. Mr. Henderer responded that the minimum barrier height is 30 inches of structure, resulting in a 32–inch height for the finished barrier wall. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if this dimension had been studied carefully in developing the proposal, commenting that the planter edges may end up higher than the building base at some locations; Mr. Henderer responded that such issues would be studied further after receiving approval of a concept design. Ms. Plater–Zyberk expressed support for the proposed configuration of planters connecting to the existing building's base and appearing to be part of the original architecture, provided that details such as the height relationships could be resolved satisfactorily so that the planters do not appear to be casually added.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk expressed concern that the proposal now includes a multitude of low site walls–not as prevalent in the previous submission–that appear to form a new system that is not related to the original building's design. She suggested more careful integration of these elements with existing architectural features, such as the side walls of the steps leading to secondary building entrances. She also offered support for the proposed inclusion of the entire streetscape along 14th and 15th Streets in the project, extending to the curb; she discouraged the apparent linkage of this wider scope to the shifted alignment of the perimeter barrier, commenting that the security–related decisions should not be determining the overall scope of site improvements. She questioned the proposed LID planting near the curb on these streets, commenting that people exiting vehicles would likely walk on the landscape; she suggested that simple grass panels may be a more appropriate solution. She added that the 15th Street frontage, which faces the Ellipse, could be treated differently from 14th Street. She emphasized that this project may serve as a model for the Federal Triangle and other parts of the city, while some design features–such as the extensive system of low walls and the profusion of elements framing the sidewalks–may not be desirable at other locations.
Mr. Henderer responded that the design process has been focused on the Department of Commerce block, not on developing a model for other locations. He added that some of the site walls and constrained sidewalk configurations are related to the location of collapsible sidewalks, which are intentionally demarcated as different from other sidewalk areas. He reiterated that this sidewalk feature results from the design gesture of shifting the barrier alignment away from the building yard in some areas, intended to relieve the potential monotony of a single alignment. He also noted that the intermittent paved connections between the sidewalk and curb zones would allow pedestrians to avoid walking through the planted areas; the LID landscape is included as part of the project goal of sustainable design. Ms. Plater–Zyberk expressed overall support for this goal but questioned its appropriateness at this urban location; she said that people would often be getting out of cars along these curbs, and she noted the issue in the previous presentation of pedestrians taking a shortcut through the dense raised landscape at the National Museum of the American Indian. She concluded by emphasizing that a quiet design is not necessarily bad at this location.
Mr. Krieger commented that the proposal appears to be an improvement from the April 2012 submission, in part because the new design is less boring and monotonous. He said that the design may nonetheless be improved by keeping all of the barrier alignment in the building yard along 14th and 15th Streets, and such a recommendation should not be used as a reason to abandon the welcome enlargement of the project scope to extend to the curb line. He offered support for the proposed planting beds along the curb, with the resulting placement of the sidewalks at a slight distance from the cars; but he said that pedestrians on the sidewalk should feel that they are in a landscape rather than just on a path between bollards, planters, and other barriers.
Ms. Meyer expressed appreciation for the discussion of the process leading to the new concept submission, as well as the analytic diagrams that were included in the presentation. She said that the treatment of the zone along the curb is not necessarily problematic, but should be evaluated in comparison to the prevailing treatment in Washington of such areas; she recalled that they are more typically paved with Belgian blocks or planted with lawns. She said that the proposal for more sustainable LID design feature in these areas, which would probably be developed as rain gardens or bioswales, would need to be considered in the broader context of the surrounding streets and the Federal Triangle; she asked if such landscape features would become commonplace in the area or would be a special feature of this one block, which may not be a desirable solution notwithstanding this block's importance and large size.
Mr. Henderer asked landscape architect Brian Cornell of RTKL to respond. Mr. Cornell said that the LID landscape would be a singular feature in the near term, but the D.C. government is considering LID and green infrastructure to address flooding problems in many parts of the city. Other parts of Federal Triangle would also likely receive LID landscapes. He described this feature as a prototype for a design approach that is still evolving. Mr. Luebke added that the D.C. government has encouraged the LID landscape while also requesting a narrow paved area along the curb to accommodate people exiting vehicles. He said that similar designs have been implemented along Connecticut Avenue, NW, and at the D.C. forensics laboratory. Although examples of this design approach are relatively few to date, and the LID design in the current submission appears unusual now, he said that it will likely become a standard treatment. Ms. Meyer acknowledged that the prevailing sense of an urban aesthetic is undergoing redefinition, and the LID proposal may therefore be acceptable at this site; she emphasized the question of whether the intention is to repeat the LID landscape elsewhere in the vicinity.
Ms. Wright responded that GSA, which controls most of the Federal Triangle buildings, intends to implement perimeter security improvements on several additional blocks in the near future. GSA's intention is to create a general design vocabulary with this Department of Commerce project for use in other Federal Triangle streetscapes, but not to create a specific set of design elements for replication. She said that the unusually large size of the Department of Commerce block makes it a place where exceptions can be made to the overall treatment of Federal Triangle; the other blocks have a more easily manageable scale. She also acknowledged the unusual process of expanding the project scope to reach the curbs, citing the constraints of GSA policies on improvements to locally controlled public space; she added that GSA has been coordinating the process with the D.C. government.
Ms. Meyer commented that the proposed trees along 14th and 15th Streets appear to be too distantly spaced–twelve trees along approximately 1,000 feet of frontage–to provide the intended effect of a tree canopy; she compared this to the closer spacing of approximately 25 feet for trees along Pennsylvania Avenue. Mr. Henderer acknowledged this concern and agreed that this issue requires further study. Mr. Schlossberg commented that the proposed location of bike–share racks would be problematic adjacent to the narrow areas of collapsible sidewalk; he suggested finding another location for this feature.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Schlossberg, the Commission approved the concept submission with the comments provided. Ms. Plater–Zyberk voted against the motion.
D. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 21/FEB/13–3, H Street and Benning Road streetcar line, Car Barn and Training Center, 26th Street and Benning Road, NE. New streetcar maintenance and training facility. Concept. (Previous: CFA15/NOV/12–4.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the new concept submission for the streetcar maintenance and training facility; she noted the previous concept submission from November 2012, which the Commission commented on without taking an action. She asked Ali Shakeri of the D.C. Department of Transportation to begin the presentation. Mr. Shakeri acknowledged the previous guidance from the Commission and others, resulting in extensive further design study. He introduced Otto Condon of ZGF Architects to present the new design.
Mr. Condon noted several developments since the November presentation. Spingarn Senior High School, located immediately north of the project site, was designated in November as a historic building by the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The HPRB had commented that the design–build process was not ideal for designing a building on such a sensitive site; in response, the previous design–build team for the project has been restructured, and ZGF Architects with HDR is now leading the design process. New design alternatives were developed based on further consultation with the staffs of the Commission and HPRB, including careful study of the landscape as well as the architecture. Based on the staff advice, two alternatives are included in the current submission.
Mr. Condon summarized the site context and the previous concept proposal. He said that the Commission and HPRB had accepted the overall siting strategy that was presented, while requesting further design study including a simplified massing and more civic character for the building. He indicated the proposed building's role in the grouping of schools to the north, balancing the Brown School building located north of Spingarn. He said that the streetcar facility could also help to organize the frontage along Benning Road, a diagonal within the city grid having a landscape character, seen particularly in the Langston Terrace residential development to the west. He also noted the site's relationship to Langston Golf Course to the east. He summarized the multiple roles of the landscape design: respecting and reinforcing the landscape of the schools; screening the streetcar facility from nearby homes; reflecting the more naturalistic character of the golf course and the Anacostia River beyond; and relating to the urban neighborhood along Benning Road.
Mr. Condon noted the previous comments that the proposal was too industrial in character and placed too much on the site. One response is to revise the parking design: the number of parking spaces would be reduced, and the parking has been reconfigured to be further from 26th Street and from Benning Road. The adjustment along Benning Road has allowed for improved treatment of the grade change, eliminating the previous design's eight–foot–high retaining wall along the sidewalk. He indicated the improved landscape design near Spingarn, and the improved screening and grading along the Langston Terrace edge of the site.
Mr. Condon described the improved sustainability measures in the current design. The paving of the track yard would use permeable pavers and turf blocks where possible; he presented photographs of similar installations at other rail facilities. Stormwater management has also been addressed throughout the site design, rather than relying on channeling water to a cistern as shown in the previous design; he indicated the swales and rainwater gardens as well as a water feature at the proposed building entrance. Green walls along the 26th Street and Benning Road frontages would add color along the sidewalk while providing visual screening for the building's operations. He said that plant selections would be based on existing plants at the golf course and along the Anacostia River.
Mr. Condon described the proposed massing and organization of the building, noting the Commission's previous dissatisfaction with the configuration of three volumes. The proposal is to simplify and unify the complex with a dominant roof plane that encompasses both the maintenance facility and training center. The entrance location has been shifted from the southeast to the southwest corner of the building, mid–block along the site's Benning Road frontage; this new location relates to the alignment of the greenhouse extension of Spingarn on the north and provides a stronger presence along Benning Road. Internal spaces have been adjusted accordingly, and the existing topography brings the entrance into the middle level of the training facility which allows for much of the mechanical space to be located in the lower level. The upper level would contain training and possibly community space, providing an elevated view across the double–height maintenance facility. He emphasized that the revised plan provides improved views of the facility's operations, supporting the goal of making the facility a demonstration project for the streetcar system.
Mr. Condon presented two alternative treatments for the architecture, distilled from several options presented to the staff. Scheme 1, labeled "Vertical/Civic," would place the roof plane above all of the internal functions, and would emphasize the three–story vertical bays along the eastern portion of the building. Scheme 2, labeled "Horizontal/Podium," would have a slightly lower roof plane with the maintenance volume rising above; a podium would extend across the entire Benning Road facade, with the two–story training center above. He said that the plan configuration would be similar in each, with differing opportunities for roof terraces. He indicated the columns framing the entrance portico, reached by monumental stairs from the Benning Road sidewalk directly in front or from a walk leading to the rising sidewalk grade to the west; he noted that this connection is made possible by the reconfiguration of the site parking. He presented perspective views and sections of each alternative, indicating the different treatments of the 26th Street elevation. He said that landscaping and green walls would be used to emphasize the building planes while providing views into the rail yard, Spingarn, and Langston Terrace; he added that landscape features in the two alternatives may be combined as the design is developed. He noted that the site amenities could be used as a waiting area for the nearby streetcar stop along Benning Road.
Mr. Condon provided images of the proposed materials of brick and glass; the use of steel would relate to typical rail transportation infrastructure, such as the platform canopies at Union Station. He concluded with long elevations along Benning Road and 26th Street to show the proposed building in the wider neighborhood context, as requested by the staffs of the Commission and HPRB.
Chairman Powell noted the significant changes since the previous presentation and asked if either alternative is preferred. Mr. Condon responded that Scheme 2 has the advantage of expressing the maintenance facility above the primary roof plane, but staff comments have been that the resulting proportions are somewhat squat; the preference is therefore for the civic character of Scheme 1, which he described as more aspirational and therefore more appropriate for the first such facility in the planned D.C. streetcar system.
Mr. Freelon agreed that the vertical emphasis of Scheme 1 may be the preferable design approach. However, he questioned the uneven rhythm of roof openings and columns in the entrance area, describing this part of the design as unresolved; he suggested that the design be developed with more careful logic.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk expressed support for the use of green walls and fencing, commenting that the design relates to the traditional idea of a train yard as a walled precinct for the machines. She suggested further consideration of the termination of the yard walls at each end–perhaps tying into the power substation structure on the west, and extending further north along 26th Street to screen the parking area while including a vehicular gate across the driveway. She noted that the site would be separated from the Langston Terrace housing by a fence, and could similarly be separated from the school grounds to the north without major additional cost.
Mr. Schlossberg asked for clarification of the roof profiles in each alternative. Mr. Condon responded that the primary roof plane would be flat in both designs; the clerestory and skylights of the maintenance facility would be visible above this plane in Scheme 2, as depicted in the renderings. Mr. Schlossberg noted the tradition of angled skylights above industrial interiors and suggested consideration of this feature for both aesthetics and environmental performance, commenting that the skylights could be configured to reduce the solar heat gain. Mr. Condon responded that the current intention is to use baffling for the skylights; a sawtooth profile was considered that could include photovoltaic panels, but funding for this feature is not currently available. He added that light studies have been developed for the interior space to assess the appropriate amount of daylight for the maintenance operations. Mr. Schlossberg summarized his overall view that the design has been much improved from the previous submission.
Ms. Meyer agreed that the design is better, and she supported the "Vertical/Civic" approach of Scheme 1 as having the appropriate scale for the site. She offered several recommendations for further study as the design is developed. She noted the substantial slope along 26th Street and questioned whether a rain garden is feasible within this topography, as shown in the drawings; Mr. Krieger noted that the rain garden is omitted from some drawings. Ms. Meyer also questioned the emphasis on columnar–shaped trees in the proposed landscape palette, commenting that the relatively large site suggests the desirability of canopy trees. Mr. Condon responded that the trees were intended to provide limited screening while offering framed views; Ms. Meyer said that this effect could be achieved with large canopy trees while also gaining environmental benefits from added shade.
Chairman Powell agreed that the design is much improved; he suggested approving the Scheme 1 concept. Mr. Luebke asked if the Commission wants to see the project again or would prefer to delegate review of the final design. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Schlossberg, the Commission approved the Scheme 1 concept and delegated further review to the staff.
E. District of Columbia Department of General Services
1. CFA 21/FEB/13–4, St. Elizabeths East Gateway Pavilion, along Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE (East Campus of St. Elizabeths, 1100 Alabama Avenue, SE). Temporary pavilion for food vendors, farmers market, and community uses. Concept. (Previous: CFA 15/NOV/12–2.) Ms. Fanning introduced the concept submission for the St. Elizabeths East Gateway Pavilion, previously reviewed in November 2012. She noted the receipt of two letters raising objections to the project's potential impact on the historic St. Elizabeths East Campus, from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and the D.C. Preservation League; copies have been circulated to the Commission members. She asked Catherine Buell of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to begin the presentation.
Ms. Buell said that the D.C. government wants the St. Elizabeths East Campus to become an innovation hub for the city. Almost $100 million is being spent on infrastructure improvements, including the stabilization of historic buildings. The Coast Guard will begin consolidating its headquarters on the West Campus this summer, with 3,700 employees; its cafeteria will be limited to 300 people at a time, so off–campus food amenities will be necessary. This need will be addressed at the proposed Gateway Pavilion, designed to accommodate food trucks as well as to provide space for community events. She introduced architect Peter Cook of Davis Brody Bond to present the proposal.
Mr. Cook summarized the project location, approximately three miles due south of the U.S. Capitol and near the site of the new Coast Guard Headquarters, St. Elizabeths Hospital, and the Congress Heights neighborhood; the Congress Heights Metro Station is located across the East Campus from the project site. The pavilion would be adjacent to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE, which separates the East Campus and West Campus, and to the parallel Sycamore Street; the historic Maple Quadrangle buildings are across Sycamore Street to the east, grouped around the Redwood Street axis which extends through the project site.
Mr. Cook said that the site lacks utilities, a situation which has informed the design team's thinking about the project from the beginning. Sustainability is a goal for the project, and some standard techniques would be incorporated such as using native plants and local materials; but the lack of utilities is requiring consideration of more creative approaches including a bio–fuel cogeneration plant that uses vegetable oil, landscape biofiltration of exhaust air, and rainwater harvesting. He noted the Commission's previous concern about the potential conflict between the idea of a temporary building and the goal of sustainability; in response, the pavilion is designed so that it can be taken apart and reassembled.
Mr. Cook said that in the previous proposal the pavilion had extended from the site's southeast corner to the northwest corner; it would have lifted up the land, creating a bridge over the site with an area of approximately 20,000 square feet beneath. However, in response to the Commission's comments, the size and length of the pavilion have been reduced. Mr. Freelon asked about the topography of the site; Mr. Cook confirmed that it is generally flat, measuring about 200 by 750 feet with a slope of approximately eight feet across of the site.
Mr. Cook noted the Commission's previous concern that the pavilion's rooftop ramp bridging much of the site would have encouraged people to bypass the marketplace beneath; in response, the northern leg of the ramp has been eliminated. The current proposal retains a ramped roof form rising from the south; stairways toward the north end of the truncated pavilion would descend to the center of the marketplace. He said that the Commission had also commented that the pavilion seemed low and heavy. In response, the current design includes skylights and increased height; the roof edge is also detailed with an ultra–high–performance concrete to create the appearance of a razor–thin, visually light edge. The amount of green space surrounding the pavilion has been increased, allowing for the retention of additional trees.
Mr. Cook described the effort to maintain the visual continuity of the Redwood Street axis leading to the Maple Quadrangle. He noted that a special feature of the project is that people on the roof would enjoy a wide view of the neighborhood, including the St. Elizabeth campuses; and by locating the pavilion further east toward Sycamore Street, an improved view is provided to the cupola on historic Building 92 in the Maple Quadrangle. He said that the Commission had requested consideration of shifting the location of the rooftop amphitheater, which had been approximately centered on the Redwood Street axis; the amphitheater's location has now been moved to the south.
Mr. Cook described the current proposal in more detail. The covered or enclosed space of the pavilion would include approximately 17,500 square feet for the open–air marketplace; 3,500 square feet for multipurpose uses; and 2,400 square feet for mechanical and storage space. The steel structure would employ a standard thirty–foot module. Eliminating the ramping to the north has allowed more flexibility for the height, and the ceiling height at the center of the pavilion has been increased from 10 to approximately 14 feet with more light entering the space beneath. The pavilion would rise higher on both sides, to approximately 17 feet on the Sycamore Street side and to 24 feet on the Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue side. Portions of the roof would be planted, and the rooftop amphitheater would have a reduced audience capacity of approximately 150 people. The grounds surrounding the pavilion would incorporate a permeable hardscape and cisterns. He asked landscape architect Rodrigo Abela of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol to provide a more detailed presentation of the site design.
Mr. Abela said that the goal is to integrate this structure into the site through a composition that reinforces the idea of a gateway. The pavilion is oriented along a diagonal line running from the southeast to northwest corner of the site. To the left of this line, the site is generally flat; the proposal is to maintain the trees and the lawn character of the existing campus in this area, which will be used as a flexible community space. The pavilion will be situated to the east of the diagonal; on the north, the existing topography would be used to create a terraced area for lush planting that would frame the edge of the market space. The cisterns in this area would be designed to overflow into the terraced landscape, with water meandering down through filters of planting. He described the design of the pavilion roof and indicated the lookout area, which would have a direct stairway connection to the market area.
Mr. Cook said that the materials would include the ultra–high–performance concrete and a vegetated roofscape; for the pavilion's soffit, instead of the burlap–type fabric that was previously presented, the current proposal is a translucent fabric with a burlap texture. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if the translucency is intended to transmit daylight, noting that the structure above would be opaque; Mr. Cook clarified that the tensile fabric would be backlit and would not be transmitting daylight.
Mr. Freelon asked for further information about the long cantilever of the overlook area at the north end of the pavilion. Mr. Cook responded that the cantilever would extend 65 to 70 feet on 8–foot–deep girders. Mr. Freelon observed that its supporting columns would need to be substantial and questioned whether they are shown correctly in the rendering; Mr. Cook confirmed that the columns are drawn to scale. Mr. Freelon commented on the beauty of the design. Mr. Cook emphasized the goal of the pavilion being as thin and light as possible so that it would appear to float and would allow views through and outward from the area underneath the structure. He added that the previous design had a fin wall framing the stair; in the current proposal, the stair will appear to be hung from the structure.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk observed that the view corridor along the Redwood Street axis east to the Maple Quadrangle appears to be an important and well–loved part of the site's urban structure. She recalled that the master plan for the East Campus had emphasized the importance of retaining streets, which suggests that this historic view should be respected; she therefore questioned why the pavilion's north end has been designed to obstruct this axis. Mr. Cook responded that people would be able to see along this visual axis beneath the end of the pavilion to the Maple Quadrangle. He emphasized that the pavilion's north end has been pulled back a significant distance, about one–third of the pavilion's previously proposed length; it has also been shifted to align with Sycamore Street and the north end of the pavilion has been raised. He indicated the changes on a drawing that overlays the previous plan with the current version.
Steven Campbell, of the planning office of the D.C. Department of General Services, asked to respond further on the issue of the Redwood Street axis. He said that as people move under the nose of the pavilion, they would see the old campus revealed in a new and different way, allowing the pavilion to function as a gateway in space as well as in time; he said that the pavilion would frame more than obstruct views of the campus. He added that people from the neighborhood have not previously had this much visual access to their community.
Mr. Schlossberg asked for further details of the amphitheater seating and stage areas, questioning whether the tapered north end of the pavilion would accommodate a sufficiently sized stage for the intended variety of performance types. Mr. Cook responded that the overall size of the pavilion would be approximately 110 by 410 feet and the stage would be 30 by 40 feet. Mr. Schlossberg recommended carefully studying the sufficiency of the stage's capacity. Mr. Cook added that the amphitheater is also intended as a place for passive recreation such as sitting, talking, and reading. Mr. Schlossberg said that the design readily accommodates the passive use; he emphasized that the facility for performances would be a tool for the community's use, and it should offer the community a broad rather than narrow range of opportunities to the extent feasible. He added that the equipment associated with the stage could provide an interesting design feature; he recommended further study of how to provide lighting and sound, perhaps using a truss structure.
Ms. Meyer asked for the applicant's response to the comment letters from the ACHP and D.C. Preservation League. Ms. Buell said that she has not yet received the Preservation League comments but anticipated that the issue is the pavilion's location, which she said has been considered carefully. She provided additional information on the East Campus development. The D.C. government is spending $5 million to stabilize the historic buildings dating from 1902, which are located directly behind the Gateway Pavilion site, and is trying to market them. The first phase of development for the East Campus includes construction of a "town center" just south of the pavilion site; early phases of development will focus on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, because it has the strongest connection to the Congress Heights commercial district and because of the phasing of infrastructure improvements. The lawn area that is proposed as the pavilion site has been determined to be the best space to activate this area of development. She noted that this lawn area is designated for five–story buildings in the master plan, but development of these buildings is not currently anticipated and the site is therefore appropriate for the interim use of the pavilion while the major development effort is focused on other locations. She said that members of the project team have met with ACHP representatives to discuss the design, and revisions to address the concerns will be considered; she added that the ACHP does not have jurisdiction over the pavilion site, based on coordination with the D.C. attorney general. She said that a meeting with D.C. Preservation League representatives has been scheduled, and a hearing with the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board is planned at the end of the month. She summarized the goal of ensuring that all interested parties fully understand the D.C. government's approach to the project.
Ms. Meyer said that as a new member of the Commission she is still trying to understand Washington's overlapping jurisdictions, and she asked why the ACHP does not have jurisdiction. Ms. Buell responded that when the campus was transferred in 1987 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the D.C. government, it was subject to an agreement that identified 21 historic structures over which the ACHP has jurisdiction; some are located across the street from the pavilion site, but the site itself is not included. She emphasized that the ACHP will be a long–term partner and that preservation issues are a high priority for the D.C. government. Mr. Luebke noted his understanding that the ACHP is contesting the D.C. government's position, and said that this jurisdictional issue does not concern the Commission of Fine Arts; he acknowledged the D.C. government's intention to work with the ACHP regardless of the jurisdiction. Ms. Buell noted the project schedule and said that the best approach is not to let the jurisdiction issue interfere with the expression of concerns.
Ms. Buell said that the project team is working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to determine whether the West Campus gates along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue will be available for pedestrians, and more generally whether the planned road widening and employment shifts will affect access points to the East Campus. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked for clarification of the plans to widen Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Mr. Cook confirmed that it currently has two lanes in each direction; Mr. Luebke said that a bicycle lane will be added, noting that the roadway is restricted on the west side by an existing perimeter wall. Ms. Plater–Zyberk observed that widening this road would make it an even more inhospitable edge to the pavilion site. She also questioned the planned widening of Sycamore Street, particularly because it is a short local road, and said that its widening would affect the pavilion project. Ms. Buell responded that the width of Sycamore Street is dictated by the master plan, which involved years of study, and is not a proposal of the pavilion project. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that opportunities will be ongoing to reexamine the master plan as it is implemented, and she reiterated the suggestion to reconsider the width of Sycamore Street.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk disagreed with the characterization that the new pavilion would frame the view along the Redwood Street axis and said the project would actually obstruct the view; she urged respect for the historic view and suggested pulling the building farther back. Ms. Buell responded that the view along this axis from Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue is already obstructed by an iron gate and trees, and the pavilion would introduce only a modest overhang. She also described the intention to use the pavilion to highlight the view of the cupola on Building 92. Ms. Plater–Zyberk predicted that most people would simply ask why the pavilion was sited to block the axis.
Mr. Krieger acknowledged a potential issue of strong resistance to placing anything on this lawn, with a desire to preserve it as open space; but if something is going to be built there, then his response is to find the proposal to be very imaginative. He agreed with Mr. Campbell that the pavilion would provide a new way to understand the campus, including the Maple Quadrangle. He emphasized his reaction that the proposal is an interesting structure while also noting its "uncanny resemblance to the old French Concorde." He supported the design revision not to extend the pavilion all the way to the north end of the site, and said that further adjustment of the pavilion's north edge is not a major concern. However, he said that the design still looks schematic and requires further study of the details: he did not believe that the 75–foot cantilever would work or that the columns would be strong enough, and he questioned the proposed use of high–performance concrete. He said that the pavilion would raise intriguing questions about the place, its history, and its future, which is what should happen at this campus instead of "embalming" it. He urged the design team to keep the qualities of the proposed design but to provide more details because it currently looks paper–thin and unreal.
Ms. Fernández agreed in supporting the overall design and said that it is especially convincing when seen from the south, where it ramps up and is integrated well. However, she said that the proposed sharp point at the north end is so extreme that it is not in keeping with the rest of the design: it becomes a visual statement that does not frame or even block the view but literally slices it, and the rendering emphasizes its knife–like sharpness. She said that she finds such an extreme gesture to be in conflict with the historic nature of the surroundings; it also does not connect well with the rest of the structure and seems too aggressive. Mr. Cook agreed, and Mr. Powell acknowledged the aptness of the Concorde analogy. Mr. Krieger observed that Ms. Fernández's objection was to the particular shape of the pavilion's end, not to its overlap with the Redwood Street axis. Ms. Fernández added that a horizontal form for this feature may allow it to function as a visual framing element, but the angular profile makes it read more clearly as a blade with a dynamic gesture of slicing.
Ms. Meyer suggested conceiving of the project as an unfolding series of views rather than emphasizing a single view. She said that one may start to see the pavilion as occluding the axis and then beginning to open; changing the shape of the pavilion's leading edge could enhance this effect. She also suggested looking more carefully and inventively at the site plan near the north end of the pavilion. She said that the intention to fill in the existing sunken road crossing the site suggests the opportunity to put infrastructure or a cistern where the fill would be placed, rather than relying on new construction for such features. She added that the stated interest in sustainability would be more convincing if the project included more emphasis on reusing what is on the site, rather than treating sustainability simply as new eco–technology.
Ms. Meyer said that sustainability is also more than an ecological concept: it is a social concept. She expressed enthusiasm for the idea of this structure functioning as something that will attract people, but observed that it will attract people who can afford to buy things; the pavilion as designed celebrates consumer culture, while a great public space also attracts people who will not or cannot buy things. She acknowledged that there will be thousands of people from the Coast Guard who will need to eat lunch, but she encouraged the designers to look carefully at the spaces outside and on top of the pavilion from the standpoint of public space rather than the emphasis on private consumer culture. She said that it appears to be a food court, and it instead needs to be a public space. Similarly, she recommended that the open space along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue should read as a park, not just as an area where trees are preserved, and suggested providing seating and other accommodations.
Mr. Krieger expressed agreement with Ms. Meyer while commenting that some of the problematic conditions may be partially exaggerated by the renderings. He also agreed that the shape of the pavilion's north end could be refined to emphasize its role in framing views and reduce the exaggerated form that appears to be a strange jutting shard; he reiterated that the location of this feature in plan, crossing the Redwood Street axis, does not need major revision.
Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's general enthusiasm for the concept but a conflict of opinion concerning the treatment of the pavilion's north end; he suggested approval of the concept. Mr. Schlossberg joined in supporting the project and reiterated Mr. Krieger's request for further study of the design details and structural feasibility. Upon a motion by Mr. Schlossberg with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the concept.
Mr. Powell asked a follow–up question on the intended duration of this "temporary" structure, noting that some local World War II temporary buildings have only recently been demolished; Mr. Luebke said that a few others are still standing. Ms. Buell responded that infrastructure improvements at the pavilion site would not be completed before 2015 at the earliest, and "temporary" would mean five to ten years; she also noted that this pavilion could be taken apart and reused in different locations, and it therefore may have a longer life.
2. CFA 21/FEB/13–5, Ruth K. Webb Elementary School (KIPPDC), 1375 Mt. Olivet Road, NE. Building renovation and addition. Concept. The submission was approved earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following Appendix I in agenda item II.A.
(Chairman Powell recused himself from participation in the following agenda item and departed the meeting; Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk presided for the remainder of the meeting.)
F. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs – Shipstead–Luce Act
1. SL 13–043, L'Enfant Plaza, 10th Street Promenade, SW. New eleven–story office building in center of plaza. Concept. (Previous: SL 13–014, 15 November 2012.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept design for a new eleven–story building, developed by the JBG Companies, to occupy the center courtyard of L'Enfant Plaza. She noted that the initial concept was presented in November 2012, when the Commission supported the placement of the new building on the plaza but did not take an action on the design. She asked Dean Cinkala of the JBG Companies to begin the presentation.
Mr. Cinkala summarized the Commission's concerns from the previous presentation. The first issue was to integrate of the building design into the evolving master plan for 10th Street to assess the proposed projection of the building toward the roadway. The Commission had also questioned the adequacy of pedestrian access through the site–between 10th Street, the Metro station entrance, the retail level beneath the plaza, and the existing buildings–and the design of the public spaces. He introduced architect Ivan Harbour of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Michael Vergason of Michael Vergason Landscape Architects to present the design.
Mr. Harbour described the design goals of contributing to the revitalization of L'Enfant Plaza and improving the public realm. He said that the proposal would create urban–scaled public spaces around the new building that would be appropriate for this site on the 10th Street Promenade, helping to spur future development and recognizing the relationship of this site to the Southwest Waterfront. The design approach also includes having the new building serve as a portal to the Metro station and as a focus of activity along 10th Street.
Mr. Harbour said that the new building would be raised above the existing plaza level as two volumes framing an atrium. The 30–foot column grid of the new building would be transferred at the base to the 26–foot column grid beneath the plaza; this transfer would be articulated with a brightly colored structural system to create dynamic retail and lobby space on the lower floors. Vertical and horizontal circulation would be exposed throughout the building and across the site.
Mr. Harbour described the Commission's previous concerns about the proximity of the southern building volume to the existing L'Enfant Plaza Hotel on the east, and the extent of the northern volume's projection toward 10th Street on the west. The design response is to eliminate the staggered configuration of the volumes, which addresses both concerns. A configuration was studied that would align both volumes with the prevailing alignment of buildings along 10th Street, but the result would be an unacceptably narrow dimension for the public spaces. The current proposal therefore uses reentrant corners to adjust to reduce the building's bulk, reduce the mass at the corners, and suggest the creation of spaces. The proposed westernmost facade plane now aligns with the intended 150–foot width for 10th Street being proposed by government planning agencies. He said that the current proposal remains the same in many respects: the shared ground plane, the routes through the building, the public facilities around the perimeter, and access through retail and to the Metro station beyond. The mezzanine levels would still be located within the load–transfer zone expressed by the red structure. The upper floors would be flexible office space with communal space at the center of each floor. The previous proposal had articulated the glass facades with solar shading to provide scale and contrast with the surrounding concrete buildings; the current proposal includes an exterior structural expression to break down the mass of the building, and solar shading would be part of the glass system rather than an external element. He asked Mr. Vergason to discuss the landscape and ground plane.
Mr. Vergason began by indicating the importance of the topography. The site is located at the high point of 10th Street; people moving south from the Mall would, upon nearing the site, see a juxtaposition of the view south down the Potomac River with this project in the foreground. He said that this project would therefore make an important contribution to the future street rhythm and block–like scale of 10th Street. He reiterated the design goal of creating vibrant and intimate places within the block. Daylight would form an important component of the spaces as it moves from full sun to dappled or full shade under the trees; reflected and bounced light are also meant to play an important role. He said that by extending above the existing buildings of L'Enfant Plaza, the new building would be able to reflect and direct daylight down into the project. Multiple entry points for pedestrians would establish a porous circulation network that will allow people to walk freely through the site. The spaces will be attenuated in contrast to the horizontal, monumental spaces that are characteristic of Washington; the spaces flanking the building would have approximately a one–to–one proportion of width to height, and the center lobby space a one–to–four proportion.
Mr. Krieger said that the diagram illustrating the free flow of the spaces presents a slightly distorted impression because the long open spaces at the circumference would be perceived very differently than the interior space that ends at the group of elevators. Mr. Krieger and Ms. Plater–Zyberk emphasized that this central lobby space would be perceived as part of the building, not as exterior public space. Mr. Vergason agreed that the interior space would be truncated compared to the exterior spaces, but noted that in section they would be consistent. Mr. Freelon said that the diagram is also misleading because the massive 13–foot–deep overhangs would make the exterior spaces around the new building feel even more attenuated, cutting off the light and the view of the sky. Mr. Vergason responded that the overhangs would also create strong ceilings and give the spaces a sense of containment and proportion.
Mr. Vergason said that the site design has been developed using the primary east–west grain of the building and the space; this pattern is continued in a finer grain through the design of walks and plantings. He said that these gestures would reinforce the frontage on 10th Street, add greenery, increase the apparent permeability of the site, and most importantly, create a series of intimate spaces through the planting of trees. He presented sections depicting the varied qualities of these spaces. He said that the existing one–way access drive would be made flush with the plaza; instead of using curbs, the roadbed would be defined on the interior side with slender bollards and on the outside with a trench drain, and this low–volume roadway would be a shared space with pedestrians. The existing linden trees, which cast a dense shade, would be replaced by a larger number of ginkgos which cast a dappled shade; a double row of ginkgos would define the central spine. Plantings would make the site more appealing and varied, and would add seasonal interest and define seating areas. The pattern of plantings may become more formal as it moves toward the existing buildings. He said that morning or afternoon light would penetrate deeply between buildings, creating sunny areas where plantings may become fuller. Sun–loving plants would also be used at the edges; deeper into the site, plants that thrive in deep shade would be used. The planting composition would extend to the property line and help to integrate the project with the future development of 10th Street.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked about the regulatory controls on the site's development density. Mr. Cinkala responded that the L'Enfant Plaza parcel has approximately 1 to 1.5 million square feet of by–right density available; even with this building, and the two other new proposed buildings in the complex–the office building at the southeast corner and the extended–stay hotel building to the northeast–L'Enfant Plaza would still be under the maximum allowable density.
Mr. Krieger observed that the proposal includes several interesting design gestures to fit a large building on this site, such as raising the building off the ground and trying to give the appearance of more open space. He said that the site plan is misleading because it uses the plaza–level building plan, which suggests that the building would be thin with ample space surrounding it, while the proposal is actually for a very large, wide building; he suggested dashing in the outline of the building volume above on the site plan to give a less deceptive sense of the space. He said that other interesting gestures include breaking the building into two volumes with a slot in the center and using the elevators as dynamic elements. He added that he would not comment on the proposed structural supports, which he said resemble two huge pairs of red sunglasses when seen from 10th Street. He offered support for the overall design and said that the landscape design is promising.
However, Mr. Krieger mentioned the unfortunate loss of the site's broad and expansive view. He described the current experience of someone walking out of the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel: a dramatic view unfolds of the Washington Monument to the northwest, framed between the existing north office building and the U.S. Postal Service building across 10th Street, and the view to the southwest gradually opens out toward the Potomac River. He said that L'Enfant Plaza in its current form is a characteristic American public space–not a cloister but a space with open corners allowing diagonal views out, and commented that the proposed building does not recognize the importance of these corner views. He noted the asymmetry of the views in contrast to the symmetrical building proposal; while acknowledging the virtuosity of the massive diagonal supports at the building's base, he said that he finds the symmetrical and identical treatment of the upper floors to be somewhat "deadly." He commented that the designers seem uninformed about the context of this city: the design lacks a sense of broader thinking about where the site is located in Washington and what may be visible from the site and the new building. He urged further consideration of the expansive views out and the idea of the corner views as characteristic of an American courtyard.
Ms. Meyer expressed appreciation for the inclusion of a site plan and said that the lack of its development at the previous presentation was unnerving. She suggested reinforcing the stated intention of designing the site as a collection of vibrant spaces, commenting that the actual proposal for the landscape design seems like a relatively consistent field because of the striated patterning. She supported further consideration of the different light conditions at the four corners and encouraged more careful calibration of the light to determine where sunny glades could occur. She said that the design could be more powerful if consideration is given to how much the habitats of plants can stretch: the same plant might be viable in areas of full or partial sun and shade, growing taller or denser. She suggested that the overly homogeneous striations might change to a more nuanced design in response to a more thorough documentation of the microclimates and corner conditions. She supported the proposal to make the access drive flush with the plaza; she suggested dematerializing the boundary even more, perhaps by continuing the striation through the use of two pavement types. Mr. Vergason responded that using both darker and lighter pavement has been considered because the striation idea is integral to the paving design across the access drive; the goal is to combine the drive and the plaza without a sharp delineation. Ms. Meyer also suggested that the wider paving bands might also sometimes be darker.
Mr. Krieger asked Mr. Harbour to describe the soffit treatment of the building above the open space. Mr. Harbour said that a solid, light–colored, reflective material would be used to allow light to bounce. He added that, compared to Northern Europe, Washington has a lot of daylight available, and most Washington buildings absorb the light; in this case, he said that the soffits should have a reflective surface because these spaces would be located between light–absorbent buildings.
Mr. Freelon commented that the large structural frame which defines the space appears dramatic and muscular; but it drops down at one point into the interior lobby, fighting against the design intent of unobstructed views through this building. He asked for more information about this interior structure; Mr. Harbour responded that it would hold and define the elevator pits. Mr. Freelon reiterated the concern that much of the brightly colored structure lifts up the ceiling plane, whereas the elevator pit enclosure descends, contradicting the idea of an unbroken open space.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk agreed with the comments of the other Commission members. She said that the new building should align with the existing buildings on 10th Street, which is currently being replanned but does have an established building line. She commented that the intended daylight effects may be "wishful thinking," and the proposed trees might not be successful. She observed that the drawings show shadows cast by existing buildings, but not the shadow that would be cast by the new building; if sunlight studies were done, she predicted that they would show the trees to be in shade most of the time, and the low light from the east may be blocked by the existing hotel. She said that narrow spaces historically are urban spaces and can be very nice, but they are not typically planted with trees because of the limited space and light; she recommended more study of this issue to consider what is actually possible. She said that if the intent is to create a highly urban space, then its limitations should be accepted: although the distance between buildings on the plaza may be 57 feet, the deep overhang would make the width closer to 40 feet, which would feel fully shaded. She acknowledged that the buildings might reflect light, but suggested that the design team work with the specific conditions of this project so that the building and open spaces do not end up as something other than what is intended. Mr. Harbour agreed.
Mr. Vergason responded that Ms. Plater–Zyberk was raising two different issues with the proposed trees: necessity and viability. He said that the daylight conditions would be studied further but expressed confidence that ginkgos would thrive in these conditions. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that the ginkgos would not give the desired dappled shade because the trees themselves would be in the shade. Mr. Vergason said that an occasional shaft of light would be present, and more generally the ginkgos would create a filigree of foliage that would benefit this kind of space. He said that if the trees were truly gratuitous he would not call for planting them, but he emphasized his belief that they would be a great asset to the ground plane and to the views from the office spaces. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that the response changes the description of what the trees are intended to do; she agreed that they would provide these benefits, but she reiterated the need for further study to understand the role of the landscape and what would survive. She noted the common tendency to say that a street is going to be tree–lined, but this project would not have a typical American tree–lined street–instead, it would be a highly urban and very narrow hardscape place, which itself can be a good space.
Mr. Schlossberg observed that the proposed public space would also be commercial and retail space. He said that creating a public space on the roof of the building would be appealing and could enliven the area, perhaps repeating the ground–floor structural elements at the top to create an overlook which is sometimes done in New York buildings.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted the possibility of fire safety restrictions on the distance between glass buildings and said that in some areas, such as the slot between the two building volumes, glazing may not be permitted. Mr. Luebke responded that the issue would not apply to the configuration of a single new building, but it raises the question of architectural articulation: most of the Commission's comments during both reviews of this project have concerned public space and the treatment of the ground plane, and it would also be helpful if the Commission discusses the architecture of the building masses. He noted the brief comments on adding secondary articulation to some of the architectural elements; he emphasized the Commission's role under the Shipstead–Luce Act to regulate new buildings in areas adjacent to the monumental core.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted that the presentation included relatively little information on how the building skin would be treated. Mr. Schlossberg expressed concern about the scale of the proposed building's white structural grid, observing that the proposal recalls Foster's Hearst Tower in New York, which has a very large grid that makes the building look too short. Mr. Krieger agreed and said the design suggests that the architects are playing a game with the scale, trying to make the building "chubbier" with the appearance of fewer floors or overscaled stories; he said that the white framing does not contribute much to the design. He reiterated the question of whether the proposed building's perfect symmetry is appropriate, and said that there is something "clunky" about the design. He supported Mr. Schlossberg's suggestion to put a structure on top to create a rooftop public space; he also supported Mr. Freelon's comment about the elevator pit enclosure, recommending that it appear more transparent to give the effect of the ceiling plane extending all the way through the lobby. He emphasized that this treatment would be an important factor in how a person would feel in the space.
Mr. Harbour responded that his firm is experienced in making such buildings dynamic; he reiterated that the concept of transparency through the core is essential. He emphasized that the elevators would not be enclosed in shafts, and they would be inherently dynamic as they move through the atrium. He acknowledged that the facades will need further development; he said that using the red color for the gridded facade elements along 10th Street was considered but rejected due to the Commission's previous skepticism of the bright color. He said that the grid design is successful in breaking down the building's scale and conveying that it is more than an office building, serving a public role and providing a portal for the Metro station. He added that effort is continuing to expand what the public role could be, noting his desire to bring more cultural facilities into the building as Mr. Schlossberg had suggested.
Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk asked Mr. Luebke to summarize the Commission's concerns. Mr. Luebke said that most comments were about the ground plane and how to test particular lighting conditions, in order to demonstrate the viability of the plants and to create differentiation across the site; also to be mindful of the American tradition of diagonal views out from a courtyard. The structure of the elevator pits might be articulated in a light or transparent way to contrast with the muscularity of the structural system. He said that questions were raised about the building's exterior character and whether the organization into three–story elements is the right approach; there may be ways to unify the composition and to bring more interest to the top or sides with more articulation, such as was done with the brightly colored base structure. He also noted the comment about the building's alignment along 10th Street, adding that the Commission has been working with other agencies on this issue as part of the Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative. The guidance that has been emerging is to align buildings with the existing property line, which defines a 150–foot–wide street. He observed that much of the 1960s development along 10th Street was set back 25 feet further, establishing an approximately 200–foot–wide street space, but bringing the buildings closer may be beneficial.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if a significant amount of rebuilding is expected along 10th Street. Mr. Luebke responded that this is uncertain: much of the property is federal, and the major question is whether the Department of Energy site is redeveloped. If so, he anticipated that a narrower street width would be encouraged. He said that the U.S. Postal Service building across 10th Street, which is to some extent part of the L'Enfant Plaza complex, could be redeveloped. The currently submitted project presents an opportunity to put retail development in the foreground of the street, and there has been a convergence of advice to use the 150–foot street width which is reflected in the submission. He said that recommending a limitation of conforming to the existing pattern of building alignments would be a difficult position to take. Mr. Krieger said that the proposed building's projection beyond its 10th Street neighbors is one reason that the proposed multi–story gridded articulation seems to be in the wrong spirit: if the central bays of each building volume are going to protrude, the protruding portions should be more like bay windows extending forward from a plane of buildings, and should therefore have a lighter character rather than appearing to be the heaviest part of the superstructure. Mr. Luebke noted that the configuration of the reentrant corners would support this treatment. Ms. Plater–Zyberk commented that this approach could help to relate the 10th Street facade to the other three sides of the building; Mr. Krieger agreed. Ms. Meyer suggested studying the nearby triangular building designed by Peter Eisenman and Jaquelin Robertson, located just north of L'Enfant Plaza along the railroad tracks; she recalled that it employs shifting grid patterns on the elevations.
Mr. Luebke noted the apparent consensus that the proposal is a great amount of development in a very tight space; it can be made to work but more design development is needed. Mr. Cinkala asked about the level of detail needed for concept approval; he said that the final design submission would include detailing of such elements as the facades and the elevator shaft, but he requested concept approval for the proposed massing and scale. Mr. Luebke noted that the proposal involves a very large building on a very prominent site, and an intermediate design development review may be advisable in advance of a final design submission. He said that the Shipstead–Luce Act process established with the D.C. government requires the concept and final submissions, but the Commission may request a review between these stages to address the outstanding issues. Mr. Cinkala offered to provide an intermediate submission as long as some of the project's major parameters have been established.
Upon a motion by Mr. Schlossberg with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the concept with the request for an intermediate review before the final design submission.
2. SL 13–045, 400 6th Street, SW. New twelve–story office building. Concept. (Previous: SL 13–029, 17 January 2013.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept submission for a new office building, noting that the Commission had previously approved the project's planning and massing with the request that the design of the facades be studied further. She asked architect Jordan Goldstein of Gensler to present the design.
Mr. Goldstein summarized the site context and the proposed building configuration. The building lobby would face D Street on the north. The ramp to the below–grade parking would lead from the short diagonal frontage on Virginia Avenue at the northeast corner of the site. The loading dock at the southwest corner of the site would be entered from 6th Street, opposite the loading dock of the existing Constitution Square building to the west.
Mr. Goldstein noted the Commission's recommendations in the previous month's review: integration of facade types with a more subtle variation; further explorations of the woven concept for the facades, with the expression of the building's structure incorporated into this pattern; exploration of a higher parapet on the north facade; and further study of the entrance to allow more daylight beneath the canopy. He presented a series of perspective views of the previous and current proposals to illustrate the response to the Commission's comments. He indicated the simplification of the facade patterns and improved relationship of the facade language to the structure, with a palette of two colors of precast concrete along with metal panels and glass. He noted that the facades include two–foot–deep spandrel beams at each floor to provide hardening of the structural system, which is included as a design feature in order to attract government tenants to the building; these horizontal bands are expressed as a unifying feature of the woven facade. He indicated the greater emphasis on glass for the top–floor facade, providing a band around the building. He described the refinement of the reveals in the facades to simplify and unify the design, and the emphasis on glass toward the eastern end of the north facade which has views to the U.S. Capitol. He described the refinement of the parapet, noting the need to stay within the 130–foot height limit. He added that the glass would be a single color throughout the facades. He presented elevations of each facade, noting that the south facade is similar to an alley condition and is designed to maximize daylight for the office floors.
Mr. Goldstein presented the revised canopy design at the building's lobby entrance. The previous design was an opaque protrusion from the facade; the new proposal is an angled "brow" that is accented with a glass plane. Slots through the canopy would allow additional light to reach the entrance. He said that a frosted laminated glass would be used to reduce the visibility of stains above. He concluded with detailed views of the panelized construction system for the facade.
Ms. Meyer noted the Commission's previous comment, as described in the minutes, that the facades should respond to differing solar conditions–particularly because a LEED rating for environmental efficiency is being sought. She expressed surprise that the presentation of the facades did not emphasize this issue, while the stated intention of maximizing daylight on the south facade seemed to invite problems of heat load and glare. Mr. Goldstein responded that the south facade would be set back only thirty feet from the adjacent property, reducing the concern of excessive sunlight; Ms. Meyer acknowledged the similarity to an alley condition. Mr. Goldstein added that the hardened structural system results in relatively large opaque areas on the facades, and the challenge is to bring sufficient daylight to the interior. He indicated the metal panels that would cover part of the deep spandrels, intended to provide a lighter appearance for the facades than if precast concrete were used on all of the opaque areas; the panels also provide a horizontal continuity across the facades.
Mr. Krieger noted the multiple planes of the facade design and asked about the depth of the design. Mr. Goldstein responded that the facades would have an eight–inch depth between the outer surfaces of the materials. He confirmed that the white highlights on the facades would be the lighter color of precast concrete rather than an additional projecting element.
Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked for clarification of the varying one– and two–story grouping of the facade elements, and the relationship of the contrasting bays on the north and east facades; Mr. Goldstein indicated the intended consistency of details throughout the design. Ms. Plater–Zyberk questioned the apparently inconsistent use of white precast highlights on the eastern end of the north facade, where the building plane steps back, in comparison to the similar accent on the single–plane west facade; Mr. Krieger agreed that the detailing is problematic. Ms. Plater–Zyberk suggested adding a vertical accent on the north to terminate the highlighted facade at the setback corner in a manner comparable to the west facade.
Mr. Freelon commented that the design has benefitted from the refinements since the previous month's presentation, and he expressed appreciation for the responsiveness to the Commission's comments; Mr. Krieger agreed. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk summarized the consensus of the Commission to support the concept proposal. Mr. Luebke noted the suggested refinement of relatively small design elements and asked if the Commission needs to see the project presented again; alternatively, the Commission could authorize a staff evaluation to be placed on the Shipstead–Luce Act appendix, which would not normally be the procedure for a new building of this size. Vice Chairman Plater–Zyberk said that the Commission has provided clear recommendations that could be handled by a staff review. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the concept submission and authorized the staff to determine whether the subsequent submission could be placed on the Shipstead–Luce Act appendix.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA