CFA 20/MAR/03-1


Pennsylvania Avenue, between 15th and 17th Streets NW, and Jackson and Madison Places
United States

National Capital Planning Commission
Landscape improvements, road resurfacing and security components. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/02-1, Designing for Security in the Nation's Capital)
Review Type


Dear Mr. Cogbill:

The Commission was pleased to receive you during its meeting of 20 March for the concept review of the landscape improvements and security components for Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House as proposed by Michael Van Valkenburgh. The members appreciate the effort the Security Task Force has put into this proposal. No one will contest the necessity for, nor deny our desire for improvements to the appearance of the Avenue, which has been closed to traffic and compromised by many unsightly and visually intrusive installations in recent years. As we stated in our letter of 5 August 2002 responding to our review of your agency's design guidelines for security, the challenge is to encourage the development of plans that are creative, contextual, and preserve the openness for which our city is known. Mr. Van Valkenburgh's proposed scheme for Pennsylvania Avenue appears to satisfy those challenges. The members unanimously approved the concept.

While Mr. Van Valkenburgh acknowledged there are many details still to be worked out, the members encourage the design team to consider carefully the design of the bollards, both operable and stationary, and the possibility of acknowledging the 16th Street axis as it crosses the Avenue, ending at the White House. The memory of Pennsylvania Avenue as a street with the cross section typically associated with streets was also raised for consideration.

The Commission and its staff will continue our work with you, the staff of the National Capital Planning Commission and the design team to review and guide the plans for the Avenue as they are developed for implementation. Our continued coordinated effort to address these issues as they affect the appearance of the city is well warranted. We look forward to the next submission.

/s/ Harry G. Robinson III

Harry G. Robinson III, FAIA

John V. Cogbill, III
National Capital Planning Commission
401 9th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20576

cc: Richard L. Friedman, Commissioner, NCPC
Patricia E. Gallagher, NCPC
Michael Van Valkenburgh, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.,