Veterans Affairs Medical Center
50 Irving Street, NW
Dear Mr. Rivera:
In its meeting of 15 October, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed final master plan for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Irving and North Capitol Streets, NW. The Commission members expressed appreciation for the revisions in response to their comments on the draft master plan that was reviewed in September 2009, approving the new submission with the understanding that the remaining issues will be addressed carefully through further refinement of the master plan and development of individual project proposals.
The Commission emphasized that the key purpose of a master plan is to establish the intended design character of a campus, including buildings and open spaces, rather than simply to identify the location and massing of new facilities; a master plan should provide guidance to designers in order to promote the orderly implementation of a vision for the future campus. Accordingly, the Commission recommended that a narrative statement be included to address such topics as architectural intent, strategies for energy conservation and sustainability, treatment of parking garage facades, and the character of open spaces.
While acknowledging the constraints of Veterans Affairs operational limitations and security, the Commission members expressed disappointment that their previous suggestion to include retail space along First Street could not be accommodated in the new submission. The Commission continued to recommend a unified design treatment emphasizing the arrival experience to this medical complex, as well as providing a community focus for the substantial population of staff, visitors, and patients at the multiple hospital campuses in the immediate vicinity. In particular, the master plan should develop guidance on the architectural expression of buildings along First Street, including the use of fenestration and the integration of potential pedestrian bridges to parking structures as a part of the architectural design. The Commission recommended further study of the proposed entry intersection, suggesting that a circle or other road configuration could be more effective as a vehicle distribution point, bus turnaround, and transit focus for the multiple campuses, as well as having the potential to accommodate a shuttle system to provide circulation within the campus.
The Commission requested that the final master plan incorporate these recommendations and looks forward to the review of subsequent projects at the campus. As always, the staff is available to assist you with future submissions.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Fernando O. Rivera
Medical Center Director
Veteran Affairs Medical Center
50 Irving Street, NW
Washington, DC 20422
cc: Jim Curran, Ellerbe Becket