CFA 16/APR/09-5


St. Elizabeths Hospital. West Campus
2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE
United States

U.S. General Services Administration
St. Elizabeths Hospital, West Campus
New headquarters building for the Department of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard. (Master plan)
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Mr. McGill:

In its meeting of 16 April, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the concept design for a new headquarters for the U.S. Coast Guard on the St. Elizabeths West Campus in Southeast Washington. Although lacking a quorum, the Commission members present recommended approval of the overall site planning and general configuration of the proposed building and landscape, and requested the development of the design in a revised concept submission.

In their discussion, the Commission members commented that the proposed design represents an improvement over the master plan, particularly in the revised massing, the more spacious configuration of the building footprint, and the integration with the landscape. They noted that the immense size of the building and its population make it more similar to an entire city than a single building; they recommended study of the scale of the building and landscape elements as informed by how the building population inhabits and moves through the complex. In particular, the Commission requested further information on pedestrian and vehicle circulation through the site, the occupants' daily experience with the site and building, and the connections among different parts of the Coast Guard complex.

The Commission members expressed their appreciation for the proposed landscape design with its sequence of courtyards recapitulating the progression of mid-Atlantic ecological regions. Noting the key importance of this proposal to the overall success of the project, they urged that the scope and character of the landscape not be compromised in its development. They commented that, consistent with the progressive change in landscape character, there may be an opportunity for further differentiation in architectural language as the building extends to the bottom of the hill, distant from the historic Center Building.

The Commission looks forward to reviewing a revised concept addressing these comments prior to the submission of the final design. As there was not a quorum during the review of the project, this recommendation will be placed on the agenda for confirmation at the Commission's meeting of 21 May. As always, the staff is available to assist you with your next submission.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA

Michael McGill
Special Assistant for Regional Coordination
U.S. General Services Administration
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407-0001

cc: Chris Mills, Department of Homeland Security [by fax]
Ralph Johnson, Perkins & Will