Mary E. Switzer Federal Building
330 C Street, SW
Dear Ms. Wright:
In its meeting of 17 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a new concept design for the landscaping and perimeter security barrier for the Mary E. Switzer Building at 330 C Street, SW. The Commission approved the basic concept for the creation of a single unified public space along C Street between the Switzer Building and the Wilbur J. Cohen Building to the north. The Commission supported eliminating the existing parking lots and reducing the width of C Street and encouraged the design team to keep the building’s perimeter security elements as minimal as possible.
In the development of the concept, the Commission members recommended that the project team simplify the design in order to reinforce the proposed oval geometry of the landscape as a public space. In their discussion, they offered several possibilities for further exploration to strengthen the design—such as by filling the oval with trees; eliminating the trees over the below-grade structure and flattening the proposed slope; or adding more trees at the east and west ends of the oval. They suggested that the proposed secondary pathways, parallel to the street sidewalks, could be either modified to be more similar in character to the walkways inside the building yard or eliminated altogether, helping to simplify the design and provide more open green space. They suggested eliminating the canopies and seating at the vent enclosures and treating such utilitarian structures with minimal architectural expression as subsidiary elements related to the main building; they noted the greater attraction of sitting on the lawns or under trees. Overall, the Commission members recommended a simpler treatment for all aspects of the design, reducing the variety and number of design elements—bollards, bioswales, canopies, and walls—which together detract from the strength of the concept.
The Commission members once again expressed support for the effort by the General Services Administration to transform the four-block area centered on Third and C Streets, SW, with a comprehensive design for the streetscape, landscape, and perimeter security elements. The Commission looks forward to the review of a revised proposal. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Mina Wright, Director
Office of Planning and Design Quality
U.S. General Services Administration
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407-0001
cc: Roger Courtenay, AECOM
Mark Banks, General Services Administration