2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE
Dear Ms. Wright:
In its meeting of 20 October, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a second concept submission for a new addition to the west end of the historic Center Building, part of the adaptive reuse of the St. Elizabeths West Campus as the headquarters for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Expressing appreciation for the responsiveness to the comments provided in the previous review, the Commission approved the submission with the following recommendations for further development of the design.
The Commission members commented that the design has improved substantially, while suggesting further focus on the landscape, the entrance area, and the detailing of the facade. They supported the revised design of the massing and facades while recommending further variation of the terra cotta panel system to respond to the solar orientations, and they also suggested a less diagrammatic expression of the building’s organizing circulation spine. They were critical of the design of the main entrance, describing it as inappropriately minor given the importance of this element in relation to the building and its setting; they questioned the proposed approach path leading downward to the entrance that would be constricted and darkened by the overhanging building above it. They recommended additional trees as part of the landscape design, particularly to help define the approach to the building entrance; they commented that the building would be sufficiently large to be readily visible even with the presence of mature trees.
The Commission looks forward to further review of this project. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Mina Wright, Director
Office of Planning & Design Quality
General Services Administration, National Capital Region
301 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20407-0001
cc: Todd Symonds, Goody Clancy HDR
Elliot Rhodeside, Rhodeside & Harwell