Dear Mr. Wiedefeld:
In its meeting of 19 July, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a proposed final design for the installation of digital advertising and information screens in six Metrorail stations. The Commission did not take an action and reiterated its request for additional information to be included in a new final submission, as summarized in the comments below.
The Commission members continued to express support for the program to place additional digital screens within the Metro system; they cited the deliberate arrangement of the screens proposed in and around the passageways of the Gallery Place station as having the potential to enhance the station. However, they did not support the proposal for the large freestanding display near the parapet on the mezzanine of this station, commenting that it would block views of Metro’s iconic architecture and views down to the train platforms. They requested that this particular screen, and any other similar installations, be excluded from further consideration in order to preserve significant viewsheds within Metro’s underground stations.
The Commission members continued to caution that the risk of visual clutter within the extensive Metro system is too great for this program to proceed without clear design principles, and they therefore reiterated their request for the preparation of location- and function-specific design guidelines for the five typological spaces they identified within the Metro system: street-level lobby areas; escalator passages; circulation passageways; mezzanines overlooking train platforms; and the platforms themselves. For each type of space, they recommended developing standard parameters that would stipulate the minimum and maximum size of the screens, as well as critical adjacencies for placement of the screens, including their distance from each other, from wayfinding signage, and from other unique elements within each space—such as fare collection machines, turnstiles, escalators, and informational pylons. They noted that as with the platforms, the mezzanines may require the strictest parameters, because they are often where the public first experiences Metro’s iconic train room vaults. They also requested that parameters for the inclusion of digital art be included in the guidelines.
The Commission recommends that the guidelines document be developed in consultation with the staff and looks forward to reviewing the resulting new final submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Paul J. Wiedefeld
General Manager and Chief Executive Officer
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
600 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001