1929 15th Street, SE
Dear Mr. Anderson:
In its public meeting of 15 July conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for a new community recreation center building and activity field at Ketcham Elementary School, located at 1929 15th Street, SE. The Commission did not take an action, instead providing the following comments for the development of the design.
The Commission members expressed support for the general planning for this new facility in the Anacostia neighborhood. However, they raised substantial concerns about the character of the proposed architecture, finding that the design unduly emphasizes form over space-making and public occupancy. They commented that the highly expressive shapes of the upper building volumes appear arbitrary, resulting in a community center that appears disengaged from the neighborhood’s actual architectural context and not focused on the everyday experience of people visiting the complex. For example, they found that the compelling contextual idea of a porch would be unsuccessful as designed, and they said that the proposed perimeter fence appears forbidding, particularly along the street frontage. They therefore recommended developing the design to impart a welcoming civic quality, creating an engaging experience of entry with open, occupiable places for interaction. They advised tempering the excessively busy forms and refocusing on several elements of the design—thresholds, overhangs, cladding, and perimeter fencing—to enhance the public’s experience of this important new community facility. Finally, they questioned the long-term durability of the proposed wood veneer, and they recommended more development of the site design, including a stronger relationship between the building and the landscape.
The Commission strongly encourages the project team to work with the staff on the development of the design for this recreation center. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Keith A. Anderson, Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
cc: Edgar Moreno, DLR Group
Bruno Carvalho, Carvalho & Good
Brent Sisco, D.C. Department of Parks & Recreation