CFA 16/JUL/15-4


4810 36th Street, NW
Washington, DC
United States

D.C. Department of General Services
Murch Elementary School
Additions and building modernization
Review Type


Dear Mr. Kayne:

In its meeting of 16 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for alterations and additions to the Murch Elementary School, located at 4810 36th Street, NW. The Commission did not take an action and made the following comments and recommendations for the development of the design.

In their discussion, the Commission members endorsed the approach to extend the building's existing typology as a "school in a park," and they supported the general configuration of the addition along Davenport Street. For the architecture of the addition, they strongly recommended simplifying the palette of materials, both in color and variety, to moderate the contrast with the historic school building; they encouraged the use of high-quality materials commensurate with the existing building. They also raised concerns about the organization of the addition, recommending that the south-facing play area be less deep and confined in its shape, and that the glassy entrance have a better relationship with the building's interior spaces. At the southeast corner of the site, they recommended refinement of the cafeteria and loading area, questioning both the exaggerated gesture of the building's roof and the use of heavy stone-like cladding; they suggested that a design that emphasizes the perimeter landscape berms and appears less heavy would be more compatible with the historic school and the modern addition. For the perimeter of the site generally, they commented that the proposal would create a sequence of unrelated spaces; in order to develop a greater sense of scale and unity in the landscape design, they recommended instead a simpler treatment of encircling the site with a continuous canopy of street trees to reinforce the park-like setting of the school.

The Commission looks forward to the review of a new submission responding to these comments and encourages the project team to consult with the Commission staff, which is available to assist you with the next submission.


Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Jonathan Kayne, Interim Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20009

cc: Ronnie McGhee, R. McGhee and Associates