South Capitol Street at the Anacostia River
Dear Mr. Marootian:
In its meeting of 16 November, the Commission of Fine Arts continued the review of a concept design, first presented in October, for the replacement of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge across the Anacostia River, and the related redesign of its approaches along South Capitol Street. Having had the opportunity to consider more documentation of the proposed bridge in its urban and historic context, the Commission approved the concept and provided the following comments for the development of the design.
The Commission members expressed appreciation for the responsiveness of the presentation, which included an analysis of the bridge design in relation to other D.C. river bridges and its particular location at the Anacostia riverfront, as well as additional perspective views and elevation drawings to document the intended design. Recognizing the long, complex process that has resulted in this design-build proposal, the Commission members endorsed the concept of a bridge deck suspended from three pairs of arches, which they said would create a distinctive and iconic image for this prominent crossing of the Anacostia River. Noting the potential for the bridge to be more elegant, they encouraged the design team to refine the proportions of the arches, particularly by further lowering the profile of the outer pairs of arches in relation to those at the center; they suggested that developing these proportions, as well as the details and connections at the railings and points of support, could elevate a promising concept into an exceptional design.
Regarding the design of the project’s approaches and access, the Commission members emphasized the importance of the experience of pedestrians and bicyclists. Specifically, they recommended more robust, less tenuous connections from the ovals and from the walks along the Anacostia River. They also recommended providing sufficient width and separation for pedestrians and bicyclists on the bridge to avoid conflicts between these groups in a constrained space. For the development of the landscapes within the ovals, they characterized the designs as overly diagrammatic and lacking conceptual clarity, and they referred the project team to their comments of last month concerning this part of the design.
The Commission looks forward to further review of this important project, dedicated to the commemoration of Frederick Douglass, as a revised concept design that addresses these comments. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Jeff Marootian, Acting Director
D.C. Department of Transporation
55 M Street, SE, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20003
cc: Alan Harwood, AECOM
Keith Brownlie, Brownlie Ernst and Marks