St. Elizabeths Hospital, West Campus
2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE
Dear Mr. McGill:
In its meeting of 18 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the concept design for the adaptive reuse of seven historic buildings (part of the scope of Phase 1B) at the Department of Homeland Security Headquarters on the St. Elizabeths Hospital West Campus. The Commission approved the general concept to adaptively reuse these structures while requesting the submission of a revised concept design to address several concerns with the proposal.
The Commission members supported the overall planning and treatment of the historic campus but emphasized the need to carefully mediate between the new construction and historic buildings within the landscape of the landmark campus. In general, they requested further development of the site plan, suggesting that the road and sidewalk pattern be studied in relation to historic conditions of the landscape while addressing modern needs; they also recommended studying appropriate types of lighting that would be sensitive in scale and character in the context of the campus. Noting the visual importance of exterior features and alterations at entrances—such as porches, ramps, stairs, and railings—they requested that these elements be developed in the revised submission.
The Commission members questioned the proposed character of the additions, which they said was neither historically informed by the existing buildings nor discernibly consistent in its treatment of modern additions from location to location. In contrast, they noted the design unity and clarity that is typical of the historic buildings, and recommended that the new construction be approached as a consistent architectural vocabulary of elements. They suggested that these new elements be studied further, commenting on the need for appropriate scale for building entrances in relation to the function of the buildings, as well as controlling the palette of materials—whether glass, metal, brick, or stone—informed by the relationship of old to new.
The Commission looks forward to a revised concept submission that addresses the concerns with new construction, exterior architectural features, site planning, and lighting. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Special Assistant for Regional Coordination
U.S. General Services Administration
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407-0001
cc: Thomas Mozina, Perkins + Will Architects
Thomas Jester, Quinn Evans Architects
Ronald Kessler, McKissack & McKissack