CFA 19/MAY/16-2


2700 F Street, NW
Washington, DC
United States

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Pedestrian-bicyclist bridge—part of the south expansion project
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Ms. Rutter:

In its meeting of 19 May, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a final design for a new bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists proposed as part of the southern expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Commission members expressed appreciation for the comprehensive presentation and made the following comments for the refinement of the final design.

The Commission members commended the project team for an elegant and well-detailed bridge connecting to the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, but they identified several issues requiring further development. In general, they observed that the areas where the stair and ramp intersect the riverside trail are too narrow and may create conflicts in pedestrian and bicycle traffic. They recommended refining the configuration of the lower part of the main ramp, the stair landing, and the lowest ramp—perhaps by extending the main ramp to lower the landing or adjusting the angle of the lowest ramp—in order to create more space where the paths converge near the river’s edge; special types of pavement at these intersections of stairs, ramps, and paths would provide a useful visual signal. They also suggested treating the lower segment of the main ramp as a solid abutment, rather than the proposed low span over a field of rough gravel, to create a beautiful piece of constructed topography supporting the long ramp.

For the bridge itself, the Commission members supported the elimination of the planting strips along the walkways, but they continued to raise concern that the proposed nine-foot width may be too narrow to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists comfortably. They discouraged the use of cable railings on both sides of the bridge, finding the previous design proposal—with a translucent glass railing on one side of the bridge—to be a more elegant solution, and they questioned whether these translucent panels would substantially increase the bridge’s visible impact on the visitor’s experience of the parkway.

The Commission requested a revised design submission that responds to their comments. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Deborah Rutter, President
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20566-0001

cc: Steven Holl, Steven Holl Architects
Peter May, National Park Service