CFA 19/JUN/08-5


Columbus Plaza at Union Station
Massachusetts Avenue between North Capitol Street and Second Street, NE
United States

D.C. Department of Transportation
Columbus Plaza at Union Station
Revisions to plaza to improve vehicular and pedestrian access and circulation
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Mr. Moneme:

In its meeting of 19 June, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed plans for the reconfiguration of Columbus Plaza in conjunction with a related proposal for adjacent perimeter security for Union Station. The Commission members were supportive of the rehabilitation of the historic plaza but did not approve the proposal, recommending that the formal Beaux-Arts character of the original Burnham-designed plaza be extended and integrated more coherently into the proposed design.

The Commission commented on the irregular shape of the outer curb line of the plaza extension and the surrounding traffic islands in Massachusetts Avenue, requesting that these curb lines be revised to reinforce the formal shape and symmetry that was inherent in the original configuration of the central pedestrian plaza. Within this plaza, the Commission recommended against the severe differentiation of the old and new, a concern most evident in the proposed detailing of the new walkways: the Commission members raised concerns that the shifting widths and the variety of paving materials in the extended pedestrian area surrounding the historic plaza do not result in a coherent design. Instead, they recommended that the extensions of the radial walkways match the geometry and width of the existing walkways and that their surface paving be more in character with the original brick in the plaza, with only minor variation in color or texture between old and new.

The Commission did not consider the proposal ready for final approval and looks forward to reviewing a revised design submission for Columbus Plaza. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA

Emeka Moneme, Director
District of Columbia Department of Transportation
2000 14th Street, NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20009

cc: David S. Ball, Union Station Redevelopment Corporation
Joseph M. Lawler, National Park Service
Said Cherifi, D.C. Department of Transportation
Gary A. Burch, Parsons
Michael E. Dunn, National Railroad Passenger Corporation