4500 Van Ness Street, NW
Dear Mr. Kayne:
In its meeting of 16 April, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for a new recreation center and reconfigured playground at Friendship Park, also known as Turtle Park, located at 4500 Van Ness Street, NW. While continuing to express support for the understandable intent to improve the park facilities, the Commission did not take an action but requested the submission of a new concept design.
The Commission members commented that the proposal illustrates an amorphous diagram crowded with unrelated elements, rather than a coherent design organized with a clear hierarchy; they expressed concern that implementation of this design could actually diminish the attractiveness of the existing public park. Observing that the renderings depict a severe, unwelcoming building within a chaotic landscape, they noted that the design of both the landscape and the building lack refinement in such details as the unnecessary overhang on the building's cylindrical corner. They noted the uncomfortable adjacencies and fundamental conflicts among many elements of the plan, such as the reoriented athletic courts, the playgrounds, and the walks.
The Commission strongly advised reconsidering the entire site and its larger neighborhood context to develop a cohesive, integrated conceptual idea presented in more skillful renderings. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Jonathan Kayne, Interim Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20009
cc: Edwin Schmidt, Fanning/Howey Associates
Brent Sisco, D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation