St. Elizabeths Hospital. West Campus
2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE
Dear Mr. McGill:
In its meeting of 20 November, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed and approved the master plan for the Department of Homeland Security headquarters at the St. Elizabeths Hospital site, to include the redevelopment of the west campus and a portion of the east campus.
The Commission members noted the enormous scale of the undertaking and the considerable challenges in accommodating the program on this sensitive historic site. The Commission acknowledged the testimony offered by representatives of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the D.C. Preservation League, and the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, which included concerns about the deferral of much of the preservation work to later phases; the potential loss of the features that distinguish the site as a National Historic Landmark; and the impact of the proposed construction on the topographic bowl that frames the core of the capital city.
The Commission members discussed the relationship of the campus and the employee population to the surrounding community and the potential for establishing a unique character for a campus of this scale. While their views differed on the effectiveness of the master plan in resolving these issues, the Commission members concluded that these questions can be addressed further in the future design phases. The Commission emphasized the need for careful design as the project moves forward, noting that previously submitted concepts for the architectural treatment of the Coast Guard's building were not satisfactory.
Overall, the Commission commended the General Services Administration and the project team on their efforts to preserve historic resources and recognized the importance of federal stewardship for this prominent and unique site. As always, the staff is available to assist you with future submissions for the St. Elizabeths campus.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Special Assistant for Regional Coordination
U.S. General Services Administration
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407-0001