Blue and Yellow lines, between the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Potomac Yards Park, north of Potomac Greens
Dear Mr. Wiedefeld:
In its meeting of 19 May, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design submitted by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for a new Metrorail station to be located in Alexandria, Virginia, between the Potomac Yard development and the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Expressing strong support for the project in general, the Commission provided the following comments for the development of the design.
The Commission members commented that the design would benefit from a clearer relationship of the proposed station as an element along the memorial parkway: they recommended that this station follow Metro’s tradition of iconic designs for its stations, and that it be understood as part of the modern experience of the parkway, which was designed to anticipate urban development nearby. Instead of using the landscape to conceal the station from view, they recommended considering the landscape as something to be enhanced by the presence of the station. They suggested that earthworks at the station’s base could inform the development of the landscape design and its relationship to the architecture.
While they supported the general configuration of the proposed station, the Commission members identified several issues of hierarchy of architectural form that should be resolved, noting in particular the angled “hyphen” roofs, which they said would be too big to be secondary elements between the two entrance pavilions and the long platform. They also suggested the pavilion roofs could be longer, appearing to float above the metal rain-screen enclosure. Regarding the proposed material palette, they expressed concern that the impulse to camouflage the station—using rough ashlar to clad the immense retaining walls and possibly an enclosure system reminiscent of rustic timber construction—undercuts the opportunity to present the station as part of a contemporary parkway corridor. They commented that the development of the design should emerge from a clear relationship between the building and its setting, and that the success of the project will depend on how details support this relationship.
The Commission expressed appreciation to WMATA for its continued work in developing high-quality designs for its stations and welcomed the opportunity to review a revised concept submission as the design is developed. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Paul Wiedefeld, General Manager
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
600 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
cc: William Gallagher, KGP Design Studio