1875 Columbia Road, NW
Dear Mr. Kayne:
In its meeting of 19 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept plan to rehabilitate the plaza and other features at Kalorama Park, located at 1875 Columbia Road, NW. Commenting that the process of revision has improved the design, the Commission approved the concept submission and delegated the final review to the staff.
The Commission members commented favorably on the improved clarity of the scheme, which they said now retains the spirit of the park's historic design while accommodating contemporary programming. They identified in particular the improved design for the plaza—the park's primary entrance space—where the proposed tree canopy and benches will help to create a focal "room" within the park for the community. Noting the variety of perennial flowering plants proposed for the park, they cautioned that the success of these requires an unlikely level of maintenance, and the definition of such spaces as the main plaza should be made with more robust shrubs. They observed that the proposed reconfiguration of the entrance area by the building may make the pavement more attractive for parking, and they urged rigorous control to prevent cars being brought into the places intended for people. As the final technical aspects of the design—such as hydrology and erosion control—are developed, they recommended minimizing the number of trees that will be damaged during this project, and they supported the use of engineered structural soil products to support the health of trees planted in this heavily used urban space.
Expressing appreciation for the project team's productive response to its comments, the Commission also acknowledged the extensive public interest in the park's design, which demonstrates the park's great importance as an amenity for the neighborhood; while noting the differing viewpoints presented, the Commission concluded that the resulting design can serve as a focus for community support and neighborhood unity. Please coordinate with the staff for review of the final design submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Jonathan Kayne, Interim Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20009