Louisiana Avenue at C and First Streets, NW
Dear Ms. Mendelson-Ielmini:
In its public meeting of 17 September conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept submission for the Peace Corps Commemorative Park, to be located in the triangular reservation bounded by Louisiana Avenue and First and C Streets, NW. The Commission approved the submission with the following comments for the development of the design and associated details.
The Commission members expressed strong support for the improvements made in response to their previous comments, particularly for the removal of the metal and glass canopy from the design; they characterized the revised design as an elegant place for contemplation of the mission and accomplishments of the Peace Corps. They expressed support for the replacement of the metal and glass canopy with a canopy of trees to define the central space, and they recommended closer spacing of the trees in order to create density in the near term, possibly by planting more trees initially and removing some as they mature. However, they noted the loss of a vertical element to signal the presence of this commemorative place from a distance, and they recommended that the tree canopy could be designed to fulfill this role, such as by using species with a strong and distinctive form around the central plaza.
Regarding the development of the design, the Commission members commended the change to a circular form for the central commemorative space, now defined by three stone bench-hands instead of two, as a better configuration for the park landscape and for framing the world map. They recommended subtly differentiating each hand in size and physical character; they also suggested varying the height of the bench seats to accommodate a range of visitor needs. They advised further study of how the bench bases meet the ground, observing that the illustrated four-inch recess has a regular, almost machined edge that appears antithetical to the benches’ organic, sculptural forms. For the inscriptions proposed for the backs of the benches, they suggested making the name of the park larger in order for it to be legible from the sidewalk. They expressed appreciation for the design team’s exploration of different map projections for the special illustrative paving design proposed for the central space, and they commented that a type of polar projection would best support the central plaza’s circular geometry without prioritizing any one continent.
The Commission looks forward to further review of the development of the many elements of the memorial, including details for the bench-hands, inscriptions, paving, map, and plantings including the tree canopy, and to review of the designs for lighting and signage. As always, the staff is available to assist you in the development of further submissions.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini, Acting Director
Region 1–National Capital Area
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Larry Kirkland
Michael Vergason, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects
Roger Lewis, Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation