Dear Mr. Vogel:
In its meeting of 19 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept submission for the proposed landscape, signage, and perimeter security design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, to be located at Maryland and Independence Avenues, SW. This submission was made as part of a series of presentations on specific topics in accordance with the revised concept approval of October 2014, and the Commission provided the following comments for the development of these components of the memorial design.
The Commission members expressed appreciation for the refinement of the landscape design, particularly in the more regular placement of street trees around the perimeter of the site, and for the description of intended relationships between the landscape design and the memorial elements such as the tapestry panels. Noting that the Maryland Avenue view corridor and the two diagonal walks into the site would all be defined by loose configurations of trees, they suggested differentiating and clarifying the definition of Maryland Avenue. They encouraged the continued development of the tree planting plan, previously presented as a "grove," in order to provide a rich experience of changing views for the visitor moving through the site. They questioned the more rigid configuration of birches behind the tapestry, where a less uniform treatment may be more compatible with the formal qualities of the memorial; they reiterated the need to study further the composition of the tapestry images in relation to the memorial's trees generally in mitigating the potential distraction of the columns behind. They requested further clarification of the type and spacing of street trees in the vicinity, with the goal that the memorial's edges contribute to the consistent definition of the city streets. To ensure the success of the site design, they requested more complete documentation, including studies in sectional drawings and physical models demonstrating conceptual and physical interrelationships, and considering the appearance of the landscape not only seasonally, but over time from its installation throughout many decades.
Concerning the proposed signs for the memorial, the Commission members questioned the location and size of the largest tabular sign, intended to provide both visual and tactile information; they suggested a more protected location for this sign as well as further study of its ergonomic functionality for visitors with special needs. They also recommended modifying the character of this sign, which is currently reminiscent of the large stone plinths and slabs of the memorial elements, commenting that it would be better if more closely related to the other signs proposed at the memorial. For the perimeter security elements, the Commission recommended simplification of the barriers proposed within the stairways; they commented that the proposal for closely spaced stone walls with sloping tops is visually intrusive and awkwardly related to the overall design, whereas simple round metal bollards may create the least impact on the design and the movement of pedestrians.
The Commission appreciates the responsiveness to its previous comments and looks forward to reviewing additional submissions for this memorial proposal. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Robert Vogel, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Carl Reddel, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission
Craig Webb, Gehry Partners
Roger Courtenay, AECOM