GSA Headquarters Building
1800 F Street, NW
Dear Mr. McGill:
In its meeting of 17 June, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the final design submission for full building modernization, courtyard additions, and E Street entrance alterations to the historic General Services Administration (GSA) headquarters building, 1800 F Street, NW, including perimeter security elements; and a concept submission to the E Street facade to accommodate retail uses with associated revisions to the proposed E Street entrance. In its consideration of these interrelated but distinct proposals of overlapping scope and different stages of review, the Commission gave the following guidance.
Noting its prior support for the concept design of the building modernization and courtyard additions in 2005, the Commission approved the final design for these elements, including the modern curtainwall of metal and glass for the courtyard additions. However, the Commission excluded from its approval the perimeter security design elements included in the final design submission, citing the anticipated redesign of the landscape in conjunction with the possible inclusion of retail on the E Street frontage as well as the evolution of GSA's building security policies.
The Commission members expressed their general support for the incorporation of retail in the ground-floor space of the GSA building as a welcome change in policy and a benefit for the area surrounding Rawlins and Walt Whitman Parks which has been underserved by amenities for workers, residents, and visitors. They endorsed the proposed location and scale of the projecting retail bays, particularly in their treatment as additions that retain the presence of the existing stone facade surrounding and behind the new retail bays. They agreed with the alternative of narrowing the bays but recommended against lowering the height in order to retain the upper sash elements of the existing windows, which they said would entail awkward details to support the remaining stone piers and window fragments. The Commission members recommended that the architectural design of the projecting retail bays be clarified in relation to the historic building and the modern and light character of the proposed courtyard additions. They requested that the proposal be resubmitted as a revised concept that includes more detailed documentation of the relationship of the new elements to the existing building fabric.
The Commission is pleased to support the long-awaited renovation of the historic GSA headquarters and looks forward to further review of the retail bays, associated revisions to the E Street entrance, and any proposal for perimeter security. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Michael McGill, Special Assistant for Regional Coordination
U.S. General Services Administration
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407-0001
cc: Shalom Baranes, Shalom Baranes Associates