CFA 19/NOV/15-4


2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE
Washington, DC
United States

U.S. General Services Administration
St. Elizabeths West Campus, Center Building, United States Department of Homeland Security headquarters
Building renovation and exterior restoration
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Ms. Wright:

In its meeting of 19 November, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the final design for the renovation and exterior restoration of the historic Center Building, part of the adaptive reuse of the St. Elizabeths West Campus as the headquarters complex for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Commission approved the submission with the following comments, subject to the review of the final design documentation by the staff.

The Commission members expressed appreciation for the respectful treatment of this significant building, historically important for its neo-Gothic architecture and its role in the evolving treatment of the mentally ill in the mid-19th century. They encouraged careful attention to the construction details, such as mortar joints and brick color, that will be critical in maintaining the aesthetic character of the restored building. They recommended further study of the sunken entrance plaza proposed for the south side of the building, commenting that the illustrated small planters would not be viable. They also requested more detailed topographic information with spot elevations to verify the adequacy of the site design.

Please coordinate with the Commission staff for review of the final design documentation.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Mina Wright, Director
Office of Planning and Design Quality
General Services Administration, National Capital Region
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407-0001

cc: Shalom Baranes, Shalom Baranes Associates