1700 Q Street, SE
Dear Mr. Anderson:
In its public meeting of 21 July conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept design for the new Ward 8 Senior Wellness Center, to be located on the campus of Kramer Middle School at 1700 Q Street, SE. The Commission did not take an action, requesting the development of a new concept design submission to address the following comments.
The Commission members expressed enthusiasm for the creation of a new senior wellness center adjacent to an existing middle school—an important investment in the social infrastructure of the city that will support a multigenerational community—and they endorsed the general planning of the proposal. Noting the project team’s intent to inform the design of the senior center with that of the existing school, they identified several conflicts between the architecture of the existing school and program of the senior center. They observed that the strength of the school building is the use of brick as the primary material, but the proposed facades of the senior center are instead a collage of materials and styles—featuring masonry, terracotta, wood, metal panels and accents, perforated screens, pergolas, Art Deco-like fenestration frames, and multiple window types and sizes. They therefore recommended simplifying the design through the careful use of a much narrower range of materials and design elements. They found that the design gestures intended to relate the new building to the school, such as the fenestration and the large-scale framing, are not successful in this context, and they recommended developing a more residential character consistent with this program and neighborhood.
Regarding the site design, the Commission members expressed support for the general concept of using outdoor spaces as thresholds to the building, citing in particular the courtyard at the southeast corner. However, they recommended rethinking the progression of outdoor spaces and pedestrian circulation routes throughout the site to establish clear priorities of use and access. They emphasized that the new facility should be welcoming to the surrounding community, and they recommended adding pedestrian access from 17th Street and from Q Street. In addition, they observed that the proposed security fence around the new facility would inhibit interaction between the school and senior center; they suggested further study of the proposed fences and gates, and they encouraged use of other landscape elements to delineate the two different uses, with the goal of fostering both physical and programmatic connections between these public buildings. They also recommended studying the co-locating of parking for the two facilities in order to minimize the impact of hardscape and simplify the site design.
The Commission looks forward to the review of a new concept submission that addresses these concerns. Please consult with the staff which, as always, is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Keith A. Anderson, Director
D.C. Department of General Services
2000 14th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20009
cc: Karen Gioconda, Perkins Eastman DC
Tanya Reid, D.C. Department of Aging and Community Living