CFA 18/JUN/15-11


1100 Maine Avenue, SW
Washington, DC
United States

D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
Southwest Waterfront development (The Wharf), Fish Market
New retail buildings, distillery, plaza, and restoration of the Fish Cleaning Building
Review Type


Dear Mr. Seaman:

In its meeting of 18 June, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for the redevelopment of the Fish Market at 1100 Maine Avenue, SW, in the Southwest Waterfront development area known as The Wharf.  The Commission did not take an action, making several recommendations for the development of the design.

The Commission members expressed support for the redevelopment project generally—including the restoration of two historic pavilions at the center of the plaza and the new structure in Market Square—and for the stated goal of maintaining the vitality and eclectic character of the beloved Maine Avenue Fish Market.  They commented that the planning concept diagram is a convincing approach to address the difficult issues of scale, character, and topography presented by this project.  However, they cautioned against trying to recreate this random, energetic character in the architecture of the new buildings, which will inevitably result in a falseness made obvious by the authenticity of the existing context.  In particular, they raised concerns about the diminutive scale and multiple elements of the two proposed buildings, recommending instead that these be developed with a more neutral expression as a background or frame for the historic pavilions and the existing fish vendor barges; the retail tenants themselves may provide the lively character of the marketplace.  They also suggested further study of the ground plane, perhaps extending the surface treatment of the plaza northward to the fish cleaning building to establish a larger public space for the buildings to sit within. 

The Commission looks forward to the review of the next submission.  As always, the staff is available to assist you.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Shawn Seaman
Hoffman-Madison Waterfront
690 Water Street, SW
Washington, DC  20024

cc: David Bagnoli, McGraw Bagnoli Architects
Jonathan Fitch, Landscape Architecture Bureau
Jennifer Steingasser, D.C. Office of Planning