3320 Idaho Avenue, NW
Dear Ms. Gillis:
In its meeting of 15 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed concept designs for two new buildings to be located at 3320 Idaho Avenue, NW: the Ward 3 building for the D.C. Short-Term Family Housing program, and an associated above-grade parking garage for the shared use of the housing program staff and the adjacent Second District headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Department. Expressing appreciation for the inclusion of previously requested documentation in the presentation, the Commission approved the concept for both buildings and delegated the review of the final design of the parking garage to the staff.
The Commission members supported the revised location and massing of elements on the site, including the general planning of the residential building, which they found to be strong and clear. However, they found a lack of logic for the binary differentiation of brick and terracotta cladding on each side of the building; they recommended that the cladding materials be more elegantly interwoven to reduce the building’s institutional appearance. If such interweaving is not practicable, they suggested that the materials be reversed, presenting the more enclosed brick design on the north where it would face the police station, and the terracotta system on the south where it would relate better to the outdoor spaces and the scale of the residential neighborhood. They commended the inclusion of green walls on the garage structure, and they urged the applicant to commit to the proper construction and maintenance of these green walls along the south and west facades, commenting that this will be critical to the success of this building.
In general, the Commission members recommended further study of all areas of the site design, which they characterized as underdeveloped. They recommended further consideration of the use of both proposed outdoor areas—the lawn to the south of the building and the children’s play area to the west—by both children and adults, noting that adults may wish to supervise their children in an area more conducive to social interaction and community building. They also observed that the single-family house immediately south of the site will now have sixty families as neighbors, and they recommended that the green buffer be reinforced with additional trees and screening elements. They suggested that the proposed lawn could be smaller in order to accommodate the more robust planted buffer, and they recommended study of the anticipated use of the lawn in order to design it to be most supportive of the housing residents’ needs.
The Commission looks forward to reviewing the development of the design for the residential building prior to the final design submission. Please coordinate with the staff for this review and for the delegated final design review of the garage building.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Greer Johnson Gillis, Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20009
cc: Joe McNamara, Ayers Saint Gross
Laura Zeilinger, Director, D.C. Department of Human Services
Eric Shaw, Director, D.C. Office of Planning