CFA 19/OCT/23-3


Throughout the city
Washington, DC
United States

D.C. Department of Transportation
Small cell infrastructure in public space
Designs for the installation of small-cell infrastructure for cellular communication
Review Type
Previous Review
Submitted Documents


Dear Ms. Kershbaum:

In its public meeting of 19 October conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a second concept submission for stand-alone poles as an update to the guidelines for the installation of small cell telecommunications infrastructure in Washington, D.C. The Commission approved the concept submission with conditions regarding the development of the design of the pole and its installation and spacing in all areas of the city.

In their continued support for the overall design of the proposed pole, which integrates equipment into a standard base, the Commission members reiterated their concerns about the impact of these large new objects in public space and how they would be perceived at the pedestrian level. To address this concern, they recommended mitigating the scale of the pole by articulating its 5’-6” tall cylindrical base, such as by adding a shoe or collar where it meets the ground, as well as possibly adding striation or fluting to the body of the base; this detail may also help to discourage the incidental attachment of notices to these objects. For the color of the poles, they strongly recommended a dark gray, consistent with a citywide standard for historic utility posts and poles.

Having identified an inconsistency in the guidelines regarding the intent to deploy these new poles equitably throughout all the neighborhoods of the District of Columbia, the Commission members did not support having two standards for pole spacing—a more restrictive guideline for locating poles within special areas, and a less restrictive one for all other neighborhoods. They therefore approved the more restrictive uniform pole spacing guideline to be used citywide, unless additional information could be provided that demonstrates why another pole spacing standard should be allowed and how it would affect the associated streetscapes.

The Commission recognizes the need for this public infrastructure and appreciates the time and effort put forward in developing the small cell guidelines and the design of the stand-alone pole. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the final submission.

/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Sharon Kershbaum, Interim Director
D.C. Department of Transportation
250 M Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

cc: Marcel Acosta, National Capital Planning Commission
Tammy Stidham, National Park Service
Anita Cozart, D.C. Office of Planning