CFA 20/SEP/17-6


Maine Avenue, SW, between 6th and 7th Streets
Washington, DC
United States

D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development
Southwest Waterfront Development, "District Wharf"
Phase II public space elements: The Wharf Promenade, Maine Avenue, The Grove, and The Mews
Review Type


Dear Mr. Kenner:

In its meeting of 20 September, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a proposal submitted by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development for public space elements of the Southwest Waterfront development, known as the District Wharf. These components are associated with Phase 2 of the development and include concept designs for small parks, as well as extensions of the Phase 1 designs for the Maine Avenue streetscape and the wharf promenade; this submission supplements the other Phase 2 public spaces reviewed in July 2017. The Commission approved the concept submission with the following comments.

The Commission members praised the design of the promenade’s ground plane, especially the detailing and palette of granite paving, which they found creates a high-quality public space. In their discussion, they noted that the strength of the development’s overall design concept lies in this continuous public space that serves as a consistent backdrop for a composition of distinctive individual buildings. They commented that some aspects of the proposed site design, such as the elimination of the second row of London plane trees in front of Water Building 1, erode this consistency and would undermine the coherence of the development, compromising the public’s experience; they recommended eliminating these inconsistencies in the public space. In addition, in order to help balance the exuberant massings of the Phase 2 buildings, they recommended reassessing the tree canopy plan for the entire development, suggesting that its refinement could allow the individual buildings to retain their distinctiveness amid a broad and regular canopy. The Commission members also provided specific comments regarding the plantings for the two small parks: for the Grove, they suggested a mix of tree species, continuing the London plane trees used along the promenade in addition to the Kentucky coffee trees; for the Oculus, they suggested a denser planting pattern of river birch trees.

The Commission’s consideration of the District Wharf in this meeting also included the review of three buildings in Phase 2, submitted as private-sector proposals in accordance with the Shipstead-Luce Act. For your reference, enclosed is the letter describing the review of these projects, including numerous comments on the desirability of coordinating the design of the buildings and open spaces of this extensive development.

The Commission looks forward to further review of this important project, and encourages continued coordination among the landscape and building designers. 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

Encl.: CFA letter of 29 September 2017 on Shipstead-Luce Act submissions at the District Wharf

cc: Shawn Seaman, Hoffman-Madison Waterfront
Hilary Bertsch, EEK/Perkins Eastman
Paul Josey, Wolf | Josey Landscape Architects
Faye Harwell, Rhodeside & Harwell