Southeast Federal Center (The Yards)
Dear Mr. McGill:
In its meeting of 19 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed and approved a submission for the redevelopment of the Southeast Federal Center that included: modifications to the approved master urban plan including streetscape designs; concept designs for the adaptive re-use of the Broadside Mount Shop (Building 202), the Pattern and Joiner Shop (Building 160), and the Boilermaker Shop (Building 167); and a concept design for a new eleven-story mixed-use building on Parcel D. In addition, the Commission members appreciated the opportunity before the meeting to tour the Southeast Federal Center, which was valuable in the Commission's deliberations on the project.
Concerning the master plan, the Commission members commented that the public spaces will be critical to the success of the project and offered several recommendations. They expressed concern about the lack of design information for the public spaces; the design of these areas and the buildings should be concurrent so that they can be reviewed in a coordinated manner. The project schedule should also be clarified to ensure that the public spaces are constructed by the time the first buildings are completed. The Commission members were pleased to see the sensitive streetscape design and careful attention to stormwater management; they encouraged the use of continuous planting beds as well as green roofs and other sustainable features throughout the development. While they recognized the sophistication of the design for the streetscape and public spaces, they also commented that the complexity of the design will require careful ongoing maintenance which they said would be essential to sustaining a vital urban place; they recommended that the developer incorporate a maintenance plan into the project. The Commission also recommended that a public art consultant be engaged to assist with the creation of an art program that will help enliven and enrich the public spaces.
The Commission gave its general support for the concepts of the proposed buildings. For the adaptive reuse of the three existing buildings, the Commission members expressed appreciation for the intention to respect their industrial character and recommended that this goal be applied carefully throughout the design process. They recommended that the detailing of windows include frames that are as thin and delicate as possible in keeping with the character of the historic facades. They suggested further study of the proposed large bay extensions to the long facades of Building 202 to improve their relationship to the existing building and the proposed adjacent development on Parcel D. The Commission expressed interest in the refinement of the relationship between the Parcel D development and the adjacent historic wall and its corner tower. The Commission members were enthusiastic about the proposed retail conversion of Building 167 which they said would become a highlight of the overall development.
The Commission members look forward to the review of future submissions for this project. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Special Assistant for Regional Coordination
U.S. General Services Administration
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407-0001
cc: Pat Daniels, General Services Administration