Former Walter Reed Amy Medical Center--western portion at 16th Street and Alaska Avenue, NW
Dear Mr. Seagroves:
In its meeting of 16 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept submission for the master plan for a new Foreign Missions Center on the western portion of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus, at 16th Street and Alaska Avenue, NW. The Commission approved the revised concept and provided the following comments for development of the final master plan.
The Commission members commended the study for its thoroughness and the detail shown in many analytic diagrams; however, they recommended developing a single framework diagram that clearly synthesizes the multiple layers of information. Observing that the plan does not show the full complexity of site and development conditions on the individual lots, they requested that more explicit documentation also be prepared for each site to illustrate its development potential, including the constraints of steep slopes, trees to be preserved, and the buildable area.
In general, the Commission members commented that these constraints should inform the consistent design of the public realm within the campus design—where the disposition of the buildings, the building yard, any security elements, and the streetscape edges are all coordinated as contributing to a single concept. For the design of the street perimeter, they recommended a minimum setback line for fences and the elimination of the adjacent small planting strip along the sidewalk, and they suggested that the yards inside the fence could be reimagined with larger areas of plantings. For the public approach to the chanceries, they recommended that the buildings should face intersections wherever possible, and that guidelines should be developed for the treatment of small visitor parking courts.
Observing that federal complexes tend to be enclaves, they recommended that this new development could have clearer connections to the surrounding community, including a direct connection of 14th Street to Alaska Avenue at the north end of the site. While they supported the idea of a landscaped central parkway in the segment of 14th Street northward to Dahlia Street, they commented that the planted swale proposed along this steep grade would not successfully drain rainwater without substantial structural interventions to constrain the movement of water.
The Commission looks forward to the review of a final submission that responds to its comments. As always, the staff is available to assist you with its development.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Cliff Seagroves, Acting Deputy Director
Office of Foreign Missions
United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
cc: Charles Enos, EYP Architecture & Engineering
Elliot Rhodeside, Rhodeside & Harwell