CFA 16/JUN/22-2


2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE
Washington, DC
United States

U.S. General Services Administration
St. Elizabeths West Campus, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Center Building south landscape plan
Review Type
Submitted Documents


Dear Ms. Wright:

In its public meeting of 16 June conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept proposal for a new landscape design featuring the display of artifacts from the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, to be located on the south landscape of the Center Building on the St. Elizabeths West Campus, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Commission did not take an action and requested further development of the concept submission.

The Commission members expressed appreciation for the proposal to locate these artifacts—which include large pieces of the World Trade Center’s steel frame and limestone panels from the Pentagon facade—on the historic St. Elizabeths campus, a National Historic Landmark. However, they commented that the design is not well resolved, with the relics displayed as random objects in space that lack interpretive context and an organized composition. They observed that the layout of paths appears haphazard and that the walks leading to the most prominent relic, the three-pronged “Trident” piece of the World Trade Center frame, are too narrow; they also noted the over-scaled base for displaying this relic. They observed that the stones salvaged from the Pentagon would be displayed with a frontal orientation and yet will be visible in the round, requiring further design study to develop and evaluate their appearance from all directions. They suggested emphasizing the uniqueness of the survivor Bradford pear tree as well as further refining the proposed site furniture.

More broadly, the Commission members questioned the straightforward display of objects meant to suggest the inception of DHS, noting the great loss of life suffered on this day and the resilience shown by Americans in the aftermath. For a project dealing with an event of such significance, they suggested engaging an artist to help develop an effective interpretation of these powerful relics that will engage the historic landscape design with greater sensitivity.

The Commission looks forward to further review of this significant project. Please coordinate the next submission with the staff, which is available to assist you with 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: Paul Kempton, ZGF Architects
Hallie Boyce, OLIN