Dear Ms. Mendelson-Ielmini:
In its meeting of 15 November, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept proposal for signage guidelines for Rock Creek Park and the other smaller parks in the Rock Creek Park administrative unit, including several within the Old Georgetown historic district. The Commission approved the concept submission, adopting the report of the Old Georgetown Board (enclosed) and providing the following additional comments.
The Commission members expressed overall support for the development of signage guidelines and commented favorably on the comprehensive iconography of the project. In general, they recommended the use of vertical signs as appropriate for both large and small parks, although they supported some degree of flexibility in the use of horizontal signs at some locations. They commented on the greater adaptability and simplicity of vertical signs; they observed that the larger footprint required for horizontal signs often leads to clutter at the ground plane. Whatever the sign typology, they recommended using a simple, neutral treatment for the bases, consistent with the comprehensive sign program, rather than attempting to imitate a particular park’s existing design features. They commented that some small sites, such as the reservation with the McClellan statue, should not have signs, and they acknowledged that signs oriented for drivers—which are likely to be different than those for pedestrians—should be carefully sited if found to be necessary.
In its approval of the concept, the Commission also supported the request of the Old Georgetown Board for mockups. Please coordinate the next submission with the staff, which is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini, Acting Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Wayne Hunt, Hunt Design
Encl.: Report of the Old Georgetown Board, 8 November 2018
CFA 18/NOV/2018-3 (no OG number)
National Park Service
Signage for Rock Creek Park and Associated Sites
REPORT: The National Park Service submitted a concept application for new and replacement signage in Rock Creek Park, which includes several sites in the Old Georgetown Historic District, including: Francis Scott Key Memorial Park, Georgetown Waterfront Park, Old Stone House, Montrose Park, and Thompson Boat Center. The Old Georgetown Board (OGB) reviewed the application at its public meeting of 4 October 2018 and found that in concept, the proposed signage was appropriate for the historic district, provided the applicant make further refinements related to the scale and placement of the signs within the site. The OGB requested a subsequent design development application with full-size mockups for its review.
Specific recommendations made by the OGB at its public meeting on 4 October 2018 are as follows:
- The OGB found the monument-type signs with stone bases to be the most successful, but preferred the post bases when a hierarchical relationship is necessary, such as for the Thompson Boat Center and Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway signs.
- The OGB did not support the six-foot-tall, double-post sign proposed for Georgetown Waterfront Park, finding it too tall for the pedestrian scale of Georgetown. The OGB recommended it be replaced with an appropriately scaled sign and located to a more strategic location at a primary pedestrian entrance to the park.
- The OGB recommended that the Montrose Park sign be integrated into the brick stair cheek wall.
- The OGB requested that the applicant reassess the placement of the proposed signage at the Old Stone House, finding the proposed location appears random and unconsidered, and requesting a full-size mockup for this sign at the appropriate location on the site.
- The OGB did not support replacement of the existing stone marker at Francis Scott Key Memorial Park, finding the existing stone marker a character-defining feature of the 1993 Oehme, van Sweden & Associates park design. The OGB expressed support for the installation of the smallest sign type in the program, located at the westernmost point of the park closest to the bridge.
RECOMMENDATION: No objection to concept design for Rock Creek Park signage, per supplemental drawings received 14 September 2018, PROVIDED that he applicant return for design development review to further refine the siting/placement and scale of the proposed signs as described in the attached report; and that full size mock-ups are incorporated into the design review process. File design development submission at DCRA with detailed and dimensioned drawings for review by the Commission of Fine Arts.