1875 Columbia Road, NW
Dear Mr. Kayne:
In its meeting of 19 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a proposal for the rehabilitation of Kalorama Park, located at 1875 Columbia Road, NW. While expressing support for the project to renovate this urban park, the Commission identified numerous unresolved issues with the proposed design and did not take an action on the submission, requesting that a new proposal be developed to address its concerns.
The Commission members acknowledged the ongoing involvement of the community in establishing the goals of the design, but they found that the proposed plan presents an inadequate series of individual responses to technical problems without an overall vision, and it does not significantly improve existing conditions. They characterized the proposed design as fussy and awkward compared to the formal qualities of the existing park, which dates from the 1940s and includes a clear rectilinear composition of play areas and plazas framing an open landscape featuring curvilinear paths. Citing the testimony of some residents of the neighborhood, they suggested that the design should either retain this historic character while accommodating modern improvements for programming, or propose an entirely new design idea based on this programming goal. In any scenario, they recommended providing more shade and better soils to make the park a more usable landscape, rather than focusing on superficial technical interventions.
The Commission members expressed concern that there was not sufficient documentation of the existing conditions to fully understand the proposed project. To facilitate further development of the design, they recommended more documentation and analysis of existing conditions—such as site sections, a tree survey, stormwater and erosion control diagrams, and historic plans—to address the lack of clarity in the presentation. They encouraged the exploration of alternatives for larger issues—such as accommodating stormwater runoff, and how much of the original park character to retain—in order to develop a design that rehabilitates the landscape technically, programmatically, and aesthetically.
The Commission looks forward to the review of a new submission that addresses these concerns and encourages the project team to continue to consult with the Commission staff, which is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Jonathan Kayne, Interim Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20009
cc: Brent Sisco, D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation
Patrick La Vay, Macris, Hendricks & Glascock