CFA 18/SEP/14-1


West Potomac Park
Washington, DC
United States

National Park Service
Constitution Gardens
Rehabilitation of gardens and lake, and new service pavilion
Review Type


Dear Mr. Whitesell:

In its meeting of 18 September, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept plan for the phased rehabilitation of Constitution Gardens in West Potomac Park. Commending the overall design, the Commission approved the plan and provided recommendations for its further development.

The Commission members expressed appreciation for the responsiveness of the project team in addressing the concerns raised at the information presentation given in October 2012. They supported the intent to remediate this deteriorating landscape, commenting favorably on the improvements proposed to the landscape in general, the rehabilitation of the small lake, and the proposal to define the edges of the site with a higher berm with openings for periodic visual connections. They said that the concept for the pavilion is promising, and they look forward to a more developed design and further information about its scale, materials, and details. They also requested more information about the site and its visitor services in relation to the larger Mall landscape.

For the design of the first phase at the northeastern part of the site, the Commission members raised several issues of concern. They questioned the scale and impact of the vehicular ramp adjacent to the new stone levee structure, noting the likely necessity to include guard rails in addition to the substantial, highly visible cut into this landscape. They supported the minor relocation of the historic Lockkeeper's House, but they recommended eliminating the separation between the house and the adjacent proposed plaza at the corner of 17th Street and Constitution Avenue. While acknowledging the vehicular congestion at this corner, they observed that the large curb radius proposed would favor vehicles over pedestrians, and they urged a design that will not compromise the pedestrian experience.

In their support of the project, the Commission members expressed regret that the site rehabilitation will be undertaken in phases, with its full implementation unlikely to be completed soon. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Steve Whitesell, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242

cc: Robert Rogers, Rogers Partners
Adam Greenspan, PWP Landscape Architecture
Caroline Cunningham, Trust for the National Mall