Oak Street, SE
Dear Mr. O’Dell:
In its meeting of 16 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept submission for a new entertainment and sports arena complex on the St. Elizabeths East Campus. The Commission approved the concept proposal, providing the following comments for the development of the design.
The Commission members expressed support for this important project, commenting that the complex will anchor the transformation of the historic campus. While acknowledging that this new facility would be built several years before the construction of 13th Street and the large mixed-use development proposed along this new road, they recommended that the design for this side of the arena anticipate its relationship to the planned development. They advised that a thorough analysis of the service areas and blank walls that compose the rear of the building, as well as the inclusion of a public entrance or retail space at the corner of 13th and Cherry Streets, would help ensure the long-term success of the campus redevelopment.
In their approval of the concept, the Commission members expressed concern about some elements of the revised design, specifically the elimination of the second-floor glazing proposed for the arena’s Oak Street facade, which they said has weakened the overall composition by eliminating a key transitional element; they commented that the previously proposed mezzanine windows provided an important intermediate scale between the glassy ground-floor spaces and the expansive metal panel cladding above. They suggested finding a new programmatic use for the interior mezzanine walkway, or continuing the exterior circulation space from the Cherry Street facade around to the front of the building, or even to the rear facing the future mixed-use development. In addition, in order to create a more substantial streetscape and a better sense of enclosure for the public realm, they suggested increasing the number of trees proposed along Oak Street and the main entrance plaza at Oak and Cherry Streets.
Regarding the parking lot and entrance on the northwest side of the building, the Commission members reiterated their previous concerns that the design appears suburban in character and would result in an inferior daily experience for employees and athletes. Observing the dispersed nature of the proposed plantings, they advised combining the bioretention areas planned for the parking lot and at Oak Street to create a contiguous landscape. They also recommended revising the entry sequence by reworking the landscape and architecture to create a more logical and hospitable progression of spaces; they suggested preparing a physical model to study this area in more detail.
The Commission looks forward to reviewing the design once it has been further developed, prior to the submission of a final design. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Gregory A. O'Dell, President & CEO
801 Mount Vernon Place, NW
Washington, DC 20001
cc: Michael Marshall, Marshall Moya Design