Herbert C. Hoover Building, Department of Commerce
14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Dear Mr. McGill:
In its meeting of 16 September, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the revised concept design for a new entrance to the National Aquarium on the Constitution Avenue side of the Department of Commerce Headquarters (the Herbert C. Hoover Building). The Commission approved a concept design incorporating elements of several alternatives as described below and consistent with a supplemental illustration presented at the meeting.
The Commission members supported the treatment of the aquarium extension as a green-roofed plinth projecting from the main building, offset from the corners of the building volume; they preferred the concept of a smooth upper stone band projecting slightly above a stone base. They recommended further study of the configuration and materials of the lower unplanted strip of the plinth where it meets the base of the historic building.
Along the sidewalk, the Commission members supported the alternative showing a low outer wall with a decorative mesh or perforated metal covering. However, in recognition of the dignified context of Constitution Avenue, the Washington Monument, and nearby museums, the members recommended that this feature should not be illuminated, brightly colored, or resemble a commercial sign. Instead, they suggested using the below-grade walls flanking the ramp and stair—and possibly the walking surfaces at the bottom of the entryway—to animate the entrance sequence.
The Commission strongly recommended that the perimeter security barrier for the Hoover Building be incorporated into the entrance's outer wall along the sidewalk, eliminating the need for a separate line of barrier elements closer to the street. Noting the potential visual impact of security barriers at the southeast and southwest corners of the site, they asked that the treatment of the perimeter elements—including the wall and the open corners—be carefully coordinated with the Aquarium entrance design and the overall plan for the Hoover Building's perimeter security in the next submission.
As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Special Assistant for Regional Coordination
U.S. General Services Administration
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407-0001
cc: Louis Goetz, Group Goetz Architects