3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Dear Mr. Reyes-Gavilan:
In its meeting of 19 November, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for the new Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library at 3310 Connecticut Avenue, NW. While continuing to support the D.C. Public Library’s efforts to provide excellent new facilities for neighborhood libraries, the Commission did not take an action and requested a revised concept design.
The Commission members expressed appreciation for the proposed design’s regular bay division along the Connecticut Avenue frontage and its incorporation of materials inspired by other neighborhood buildings. However, they questioned the placement of smaller-scale volumes along Connecticut Avenue with the tall reading room volume behind them, adjacent to single-family houses—a strategy that reverses the typical organization of urban buildings facing commercial streets. Instead, they recommended reconsidering the disposition of the program on the site, placing the largest and most public volumes at the southeastern corner oriented to the dramatic view over Klingle Valley and its elegant bridge designed by Paul Cret, instead of creating a bold gesture at the northwestern corner overlooking a parking lot.
In general, the Commission members recommended a simplification of the architectural design, which they found to be overly complicated in form and with too many different materials. They also commented that the treatment of the ground plane and sidewalk would be excessively busy and episodic, with many planters and other elements that create a more suburban character in this lively urban setting; they recommended reconceiving the site as a coherent public space. They requested submission of a site plan depicting the proposed treatment of the topography in conjunction with the building plan; this study should also inform the design of any balconies which mediate between the interior spaces, the varying solar orientations, and the urban context.
The Commission looks forward to working with you on this important civic structure. As always, the staff is available to assist you as the design is further developed.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Richard Reyes-Gavilan, Executive Director
D.C. Public Library
901 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
cc: Matt Bell, Perkins Eastman