West Potomac Park
Dear Mr. Vogel:
In its meeting of 17 September, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a final design for Phase I of the rehabilitation of Constitution Gardens in West Potomac Park, including extensive alterations of the existing landscape, the relocation and rehabilitation of the Lockkeeper's House, and a new pedestrian plaza at Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, NW. The Commission approved the design with the following comments.
In their support of the proposal, the Commission members identified the opportunity for this project to emphasize that Constitution Gardens is a constructed landscape, and this phase of its rehabilitation could display—at least temporarily—the natural processes of successional growth from meadow to mature groves. They therefore suggested reconsidering planting so many trees which will likely be uprooted to accommodate the anticipated regrading of much of the site in the near future; they also expressed strong support for the planting of meadows in the sunnier parts of the site near 17th Street. For the design of the built elements of the site, they endorsed the relocation of the historic Lockkeeper's House as the primary feature of a new corner plaza; they suggested further study of the relationship of the building to adjacent paved areas, currently proposed to be mediated by intervening planting beds. Regarding the site signage, they recommended the simplest treatment for the identity signs at the ends of the stone seat walls, and they suggested including interpretive markers associated with the paved outlines that are proposed to indicate the previous locations of the house.
The Commission thanks the National Park Service and its partner, the Trust for the National Mall, for their stewardship of this part of the city's monumental park system and looks forward to the review of the future phase of the design. As always, the Commission staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Robert Vogel, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Adam Greenspan, PWP Landscape Architecture
Davis Buckley, Davis Buckley Architects
Caroline Cunningham, Trust for the National Mall