CFA 17/FEB/22-1


1000 and 900 Jefferson Drive, SW
Washington, DC
United States

Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution Building and the Arts & Industries Building
Revitalization of the Historic Core -- building renovation and modernization
Review Type
Revised concept
Previous Review


Dear Mr. Gover:

In its public meeting of 17 February conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept design submission from the Smithsonian Institution for the renovation of and additions to properties in its historic core—the Smithsonian Institution Building (the Castle) and the Arts and Industries Building, located at 1000 and 900 Jefferson Drive, SW—and associated underground and site improvements. The Commission approved the revised concept, requesting the presentation of more information and potential alternatives for the proposed remote cooling tower facility, as well as further development of the design for the perimeter security elements.

Expressing appreciation for the design team’s responsiveness to their previous comments, the Commission members commented favorably on the revisions to the proposed roof alterations, the landscape design, the treatment of barrier-free access, and the development of the expanded areaways. For the perimeter security system along Jefferson Drive, they endorsed the presented option with raised planter beds, but recommended using only dark-colored metal bollards within the pedestrian paths as a less obtrusive treatment that would visually recede within the landscape context. Likewise, they recommended further development of the detailing and material character of the stone planter walls in order to clarify the design treatment for these elements, balanced with the historic building walls and other site walls in this important pedestrian space surrounding the Castle. They also suggested minimizing the presence of bollards at the Castle’s north porch to create a more welcoming appearance from the Mall. Finally, they raised concerns regarding the array of cooling towers proposed to be installed on the grounds of the National Museum of Natural History across the Mall, questioning whether this installation would be the most visionary and sustainable solution. Therefore, they requested an analysis of alternative solutions for this component of the project, including a geothermal well field or other options, potentially designed and sited in cooperation with other agencies.

The Commission looks forward to reviewing development of the design for the project’s perimeter security and cooling infrastructure systems. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.

/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Kevin Gover
Under Secretary for Museums and Culture
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012

cc: Matt Chalifoux, EYP/Loring
Faye Harwell, Rhodeside & Harwell