726 Jackson Place, NW (on Lafayette Park)
Dear Ms. Wright:
In its public meeting of 16 April conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for security-related alterations to the east entrance and courtyard of 726 Jackson Place, NW, part of the New Executive Office Building (NEOB) complex on the west side of Lafayette Square. The Commission approved the concept with the following comments.
The Commission members expressed support for the proposal to improve the security and access to the NEOB complex, including the extension of the raised terrace into the courtyard in order to accommodate an expanded security screening facility and a relocated barrier-free ramp leading from the south side of the terrace down to the courtyard level. However, they observed that the ramp’s upper landing appears constrained and could be difficult to negotiate; they recommended creating a more generous entrance sequence by extending the landing further west and creating a wider, more gradually sloped ramp that wraps around the planter adjacent to the terrace. They also suggested considering alternatives for the relocation of the existing pair of light standards, perhaps moving them into the courtyard plaza to be less intrusive on the barrier-free route and more consistent with their original setting.
For the architectural components, the Commission members questioned the contrast of the dark bronze color of the addition’s exterior glass framing with the light color proposed for the cladding of the interior secondary screening room enclosure, which would be prominently visible from the courtyard. They advised studying the balance of these colors to avoid a sharp contrast, and they expressed support for using the inner wall to display art, observing that the presence of artwork might also affect the perception of the colors. Finally, they suggested further study of the mullion pattern for infilling the entrance portals on Jackson Place in relation to the other facades along this street, including consideration of subdividing the larger glass panels above the doors.
The Commission looks forward to review of the next submission for this project. As always, the staff is available to assist you in the development of the design.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Mina Wright, Director
Office of Planning & Design Quality
General Services Administration, National Capital Region
1800 F Street, NW, Suite 4400
Washington, DC 20405
cc: Anath Ranon, Quinn Evans Architects