CFA 18/JUN/09-5

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Affairs Medical Center Washington, D.C.
Washington, DC, 50 Irving Street, NW. Site selection and design for a new residential building: Fisher House
Review Type


Dear Mr. Rivera:

In its meeting of 18 June, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the concept for the proposed Fisher House—a temporary residence for visiting families—on the campus of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at North Capitol and Irving Streets in Washington, D.C. The Commission approved the location and massing of the building presented in Site Plan Option 1, while requesting further development of the design for the next submission.

The Commission members noted the difficulty of siting a new building before completion of the recently initiated campus master plan; they commented that Site Plan Option 1, perpendicular to the main entrance drive, offers the most flexibility in anticipating future planning and campus development. The Commission also criticized the Fisher House's landscape setting as shown in the rendering, and they asked for further development of the landscape design. In particular, they recommended that the landscape be designed to support lively place-making for the residents, not just to serve as a planted buffer. They encouraged the application of sustainable design and maintenance principles, perhaps even as a working garden, and they noted the therapeutic benefits of landscape and gardening as demonstrated by recent research.

For the architectural design of the building, the Commission recommended that a palette of materials and colors be selected to harmonize with the surrounding context of the existing campus. The Commission members noted that the Fisher House would be the first of several anticipated new buildings and additions at the hospital; it thus should set the direction for the integration of future construction within the existing campus.

The Commission looks forward to seeing the further development of the Fisher House design in a future presentation, as well as a presentation on the master plan for this highly prominent campus considering its relationship to the surrounding city. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA

Fernando Rivera, Director
Washington DC VA Medical Center
50 Irving Street, NW
Washington, DC 20422

cc: David Coker, Fisher House Foundation