2412 Rand Place, NE
Dear Mr. Anderson:
In its public meeting of 16 July conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for modifications to the Arboretum Recreation Center at 2412 Rand Place, NE. The Commission did not take an action, instead providing the following comments for the development of the design.
The Commission members acknowledged the compositional approach for the new building addition, which uses sloping volumes to relate the addition to the distinctive zig-zag roof of the small, historic recreation center building, originally constructed by the National Park Service as part of its Mission 66 building program of the 1960s. However, they found that the proposal does not yet appropriately configure the addition in relation to the site and the historic building, which they said should remain the most important architectural feature of the complex. They commented that the composition of acute angles and folded planes may appear coherent in plan or in certain elevation drawings, but that when rendered in three dimensions, the numerous tilting planes and volumes are visually chaotic, clashing with each other and the historic building. They encouraged developing a much simpler proposal that uses angles more sparingly, perhaps on just one of the new volumes, to make the addition appear calmer and more recessive. They said that a more rigorous design methodology would help bring balance to the composition, and they recommended more careful consideration of the building as a sculptural work that would be seen from multiple visual perspectives.
Regarding the site, they said that the proposal lacks a clear concept, and they advised developing a comprehensive landscape design instead of simply specifying a planting palette. In addition, they observed that this recreational facility would be highly visible from the main visitor center and administrative core of the neighboring U.S. National Arboretum, and they recommended moving the outdoor program areas away from the property line to allow for a dense planted area along the eastern side of the property that would screen views into the facility; they also encouraged augmenting the tree canopy of the larger site.
The Commission looks forward to the next review of this project. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Keith A. Anderson, Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
cc: Rick Harlan Schneider, I Studio Architects
Peter Nohrden, D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation