CFA 16/JUL/15-6


4500 Van Ness Street, NW
Washington, DC
United States

D.C. Department of General Services
Friendship Recreation Center (Turtle Park)
New recreation center and playground
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Mr. Kayne:

In its meeting of 16 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a third concept design submission for a new recreation center and reconfigured playground at Friendship Park, also known as Turtle Park, located at 45th and Van Ness Streets, NW. While expressing support for the continued development of the design, the Commission did not take an action and requested further development and documentation of the project.

The Commission members expressed general support for the basic spatial conception of the site, which would arrange three large elements—the new recreation building and two oval-shaped play areas—within a sinuous expanse of pavement connecting to the edges of the site. However, they recommended simplifying the design to strengthen this concept in several ways: treating the pavement as a field in a neutral pattern not derived from any of these large features; revising the small performance pavilion as a simple structure that does not compete with the main building; strengthening the definition of the ovals with double-sided seat walls or benches; and eliminating the profusion of elements in the central water play area, which they suggested would work best as an in-grade installation that is not visible in the winter months.

For the recreation center building, the Commission members questioned the proposed configuration of intersecting roof volumes, which they said is not drawn accurately, does not inform the interior arrangement of the building, and results in fragmentary projections of angled roofs. While they found the building design to be improved from the previous scheme, they recommended reconsidering the relationship of roof forms to create a simpler composition, possibly with a higher roof fully above the main block, or a lower roof of added canopies and enclosed spaces. Whatever the solution, they recommended careful study of the interior spaces in relation to the intersecting roof forms, including a ceiling plan and a physical model to resolve this design issue.

The Commission looks forward to improvement of the park facilities and requested a new concept submission that addresses these concerns with the site and building design. As always, the staff 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: Edwin Schmidt, Fanning/Howey Associates
Brent Sisco, D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation