CFA 16/MAR/06-3


National Zoological Park
United States

Smithsonian Institution
National Zoological Park
Asia Trail Phase II: including Elephant House, habitat renovation, and additions to existing facilities
Review Type
Concept development
Previous Review


Dear Mr. Rombach:

In the meeting of 16 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the revised concept design for the proposed Asia Trail Phase II and Elephant House project. The Commission members found the site visit in the morning to be informative and helpful as they considered the project and were greatly impressed by the quality of the existing historic building. However, due to the lack of documentation in the submission and presentation, they asked for further development of the design concept.

While the initial programmatic and planning ideas for the Elephant House facility were thoughtfully presented and resolved, the Commission members reiterated their concern that the architectural treatment has not been sufficiently developed. The members requested that the architectural concept for the proposed addition to the Elephant House be illustrated more clearly and thoroughly, including the northwest elevation, which was not shown at all. Three-dimensional representations, such as models or perspective drawings, are an integral part of communicating and documenting the design.

The Commission members raised other concerns that should be addressed, such as the overall effect of light and shade on the visual environment of the Elephant House and the proposed sunscreen on the southwest facade. They also suggested that the landscape design be developed to provide adequate visual screening between the entry plaza and the Elephant House loading dock, and between the realigned Olmsted Walk and the parking lot area. Finally, the Commission members suggested strongly that the proposed sculptures depicting elephants be omitted from the entry plaza design in deference to the real animals residing in the facility.

The Commission members expressed their wish to avoid delaying the development of this project and asked that the design team consult with the Commission staff to assist in preparing a submission package that clearly and comprehensively presents the design intent of the proposal.


Thomas Luebke, AIA

Harry Rombach
Associate Director for Facilities Master Planning
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
VB 8300, MRC 973
Washington, DC 20013-7012

cc: John Berry, Director, National Zoological Park
Tim Buehner, National Zoological Park
Walter Crimm, EwingCole