CFA 21/FEB/08-1


Judiciary Square Historic District
Bounded by 4th, G, and 5th streets and Indiana Avenue, NW
United States

D.C. Courts
Judiciary Square Historic District
Master plan, Phase I, Revised lighting design and signs
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Mr. Sanchez:

In its meeting of 21 February, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the revised designs for the exterior lighting and sign program for the District of Columbia Courts buildings in Judiciary Square.

The Commission members appreciated the opportunity to inspect a revised mockup for the lighting on the evening before the meeting and found the revised lighting scheme, with reduced illumination levels and more uniform color, to be improved from the mockup last November. Overall, the uplighting of the building walls was satisfactory, subject to possible reduction of the lighting level. For highlighting the second-story window arches, the Commission preferred the option with two compact fluorescent fixtures located at the corners of the recesses. The Commission concluded that the uplighting of the four monumental porches in antis is acceptable but recommended that the historic fixtures in the ceiling be dimmed significantly to reduce glare; the final balancing of down- and up-lighting should be modulated through further testing with dimmable fixtures.

The Commission appreciated the use of dimmable fixtures in the mockup, which was beneficial in analyzing the proper level and balance of the overall illumination. Based on this demonstration, the Commission approved the general design of the lighting system, provided that dimmers are used on all the fixtures and pending the Commission's final review of the lighting levels when the system is installed and operational.

Regarding the sign program, the Commission found sign types D and E to be visually obstructive and recommended reducing their slab-like appearance, such as by mounting them on poles. In addition, the Commission recommended that the lettering height of the line reading "District of Columbia Courts" at the top of each sign be increased for improved legibility. The Commission delegated the final approval of the sign program to the staff and requested that the design team work with them to develop the design revisions.

The Commission looks forward to reviewing the final lighting levels and the revised design for the perimeter security fence. Please coordinate with the staff for these final submissions.



Thomas E. Luebke, AIA

Joseph E. Sanchez, Jr.
Capitol Projects and Facilities Management Officer
The District of Columbia Courts
500 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001-2131

cc: Michael McGill, General Services Administration