1625 P Street, NW
Dear Mr. Hunter:
In its public meeting of 16 July conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a new concept submission for modifications to Stead Park Recreation Center at 1625 P Street, NW, superseding the previous concept design approved in January 2018. The Commission approved the new concept, providing recommendations for the further development of the design.
The Commission members commended the project team for the sophisticated landscape and building proposal, commenting that it is a significant improvement over the previous scheme. For the recreation center building, the Commission members expressed strong support for the plan to rehabilitate the historic carriage house and to construct at its north a long, pavilion-like addition with substantial below-grade space; they commented that this strategy accommodates the expansive program while allowing the historic building to remain a prominent feature of the park. They advised that as the design is developed, the skillful treatment of several details would be important, including: the profile of the pavilion columns, as well as their intersection with the new brick walls and the ground plane; the detailing, bird-proofing, and maintenance of the solar panels; and the way the new construction would engage the historic brick facades. For the treatment of the center portion of the carriage house, they encouraged development of a design that retains the existing historic elements—the Queen Anne-style pediment and the steel support beam—as shown in Options #1 and #2. They commented that Option #1 would provide a visual connection and sense of transparency between the old and new structures due to their matching colors and materials; they said that Option #2, which adds the amenity of a balcony, is also an elegant alternative that would match the infill color with the new paint proposed for the carriage house. For either option, they suggested that the pattern of vertical infill elements align between the first and second levels, preferably centered on the rosette details on the historic beam. Among the alternatives presented for the hyphen between the carriage house and the addition, they expressed support for a design that would provide glazing, as shown in Options #1 and #4.
For the design of the site, the Commission members expressed support for the proposed configuration, which would create a generous plaza for gathering at the threshold between the P Street sidewalk and the park. They recommended careful consideration of how the selected trees and their disposition across the site would shape the space, and they advised revising the arrangement of the bosque and allée of trees, especially since locating the allée on two levels—on the plaza near the street, and on the terrace 18” above the street—would create an awkward configuration. They noted the difficulty of creating and maintaining a bioretention area as a sensory garden, and they recommended a design using a layered combination of perennials, shrubs, and grasses to ensure a durable, attractive character for this garden. They observed that the proposed barrier-free ramps would be too narrow to allow people with wheelchairs or strollers to pass one another, and they recommended wider ramps to ensure adequate space for circulation. Finally, they encouraged future consideration of improving access to the park from the adjacent alleys.
The Commission looks forward to further review of the project. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Delano Hunter, Director
D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation
1275 First Street, NE, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20002
cc: Joe Celantano, VMDO Architects
Joe Chambers, Landscape Architecture Bureau