CFA 16/JUN/11-3


Harry S. Truman Building
23rd and C Streets, NW
United States

U.S. Department of State
Harry S. Truman Building
Renovation of the 8th Floor Terrace of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms
Review Type


Dear Ms. Craighill:

In its meeting of 16 June, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed design for the renovation of the eighth–floor terrace adjacent to the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the Department of State headquarters building at 22nd and C Streets, NW. While supporting the initiative to renew and improve the appearance of the terrace, a significant amenity for the Department of State, the Commission members expressed concerns about the proposal and requested a revised design.

In their discussion, the Commission members emphasized that the design should support the inherent linear character of the terrace—consistent with the overall modern style of the building–and raised concern that the proposal would create cross–axes that contradict this character. They recommended instead that the proposed bench and planter configuration be reworked to avoid the centralizing gesture of the benches, making them less continuous and allowing greater access to the terrace edge for those wishing to enjoy the panoramic views of the monumental core.

Regarding the design of the donor and quotation panels, the Commission members recommended a more dignified treatment that is consistent with the building's architecture. They did not support the use of floor–to–ceiling glass panels and recommended instead that these panels be executed in more honorific materials, treated as panels applied to the existing stone along the rear wall of the terrace, perhaps incorporated into the existing niches. They further suggested that the water elements proposed for these niches be reconsidered, possibly limiting them to the base of the niches.

Consistent with their guidance to support the terrace's architectural character, the Commission members suggested that the landscape features, including benches and planters, be treated as additive elements. If trees or other large plantings are considered,they should be placed in moveable planter boxes, which would allow them to be easily reconfigured on the terrace to address the needs of the various events. Emphasizing the composition of the building's overall southern elevation, they discouraged the asymmetrical placement of the roof–top trees.

The Commission looks forward to the review of a revised concept design submission and, as always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Marcee Craighill
Director, Diplomatic Reception Rooms
United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20520–0001

cc: Rick Parisi, M. Paul Friedberg and Partners