Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, NW, between Virginia Avenue and the Constitution Avenue Belvedere
Dear Mr. Vogel:
In its meeting of 19 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a proposal for access and safety improvements to the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway’s pedestrian and bicycle trail in the vicinity of the Kennedy Center between Virginia Avenue, NW, and the Constitution Avenue Belvedere. The Commission approved the concept with the following comments.
The Commission members commended the design for its potential to improve this heavily used pedestrian and bicycle trail. For the area south of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge, they recommended considering the larger context of the Constitution Avenue corridor and treating the Belvedere as a space that reestablishes a connection with this historic axis, perhaps through the use of a bosque of trees, which would provide a vertical emphasis and recall the avenue’s allées of trees. They recommended that the design accentuate the significant parts of the Belvedere, such as its distinctive perimeter stone balustrade and exposed aggregate concrete walk, instead of retaining lesser remnant elements such as the vestigial roadway curb and traffic circle, whose continued presence would create oddly shaped spaces that would be difficult to use. They recommended that the new paths along the realigned roadways be paved in asphalt for bicycle safety and to differentiate them from the historic perimeter walk. They also advised considering the appropriateness of the selected tree species and other plantings for the specific climatic conditions of this site. For the proposed trail passage through the Roosevelt Bridge abutment, the Commission members expressed support for Alignment 2 with Option B, featuring rectangular portals in a position that would allow a generally perpendicular approach to the abutment walls. To enhance safety for cyclists and pedestrians, they recommended making the passage wider than the trail itself; they also suggested further study of the exact location and detailing of the lintel condition above the portals within the stone walls of the abutments. For the area north of the bridge, they advised carefully designing the trail’s connection to the pedestrian bridge landing of the Kennedy Center expansion project currently under construction; they urged close coordination with the Kennedy Center project team to resolve the design of this area.
The Commission supports the opportunity to improve access for cyclists and pedestrians along this significant riverfront trail and looks forward to further review of the project. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Robert Vogel, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Steve Zeender, Stantec
Esther Olavarria, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts