Sycamore Drive (formally Dogwood Street) and Oak Street, SE
Dear Mr. Kenner:
In its meeting of 19 October, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept design for the adaptive reuse of the former Continuing Treatment complex on the St. Elizabeths East Campus. The Commission members present recommended approval of the revised concept with the following comments.
The Commission members expressed support for the revised design, which would differentiate the courtyard landscapes through more diverse plantings and distinct amenity spaces; they encouraged further differentiation of each courtyard by varying the arrangements of these elements. In addition, they suggested improving the relationship between the courtyard landscapes and the proposed glass entry pavilions to improve the living experience of the residents, possibly by shifting the locations of the pavilions along the exterior corridors to better integrate them into the surrounding landscapes. For the design of the pavilions themselves, they suggested taking more inspiration from the existing historic buildings, eliminating the organically patterned vertical metal fins proposed for the glass facades, and incorporating more porch-like design elements. They also suggested that the larger and more public northern and southern entry pavilions could differ in architectural character from the smaller, resident-only entrances inside the courtyards.
Reiterating their concerns about the distribution of parking within the courtyards, the Commission members strongly advised giving first priority to the quality of these public spaces, emphasizing this goal in relation to the external constraints being placed on the project, such as the amount of parking and the protection of the complex’s existing landscape. As an example, they suggested that parking be permitted on some peripheral portions of the site in exchange for restoring the historic landscapes at the outward-facing entrances. They expressed strong reservations about the fences and gates proposed to enclose the courtyards, and commented that their design had not been fully presented to the Commission; they requested further documentation of these elements in the next submission.
The Commission looks forward to reviewing a revised concept design that addresses these comments. As a quorum was not present for the review of this submission, this recommendation will be placed on the administrative agenda for confirmation at the Commission’s next meeting. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Brian T. Kenner
Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 317
Washington, DC 20004
cc: Maria Casarella, Cunningham Quill Architects
Sheila Brady, Oehme, van Sweden Landscape Architecture
Laura Hughes, EHT Traceries