St. Elizabeths Hospital, East Campus
2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE
Dear Mr. Gans:
In its meeting of 21 January, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the concept proposal from the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) for the design of a water tower on the St. Elizabeths Hospital east campus at 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. While expressing support for the general direction of this project, the Commission took no action and requested that WASA return with a revised concept.
The Commission members recognized the great opportunity to transform the widely recognizable water-tower form into a landmark in Anacostia. They recommended that the design should respond positively to the actual form of the water tower—a utilitarian structure of tectonic clarity and simplicity which is unlikely to be customized to a more expressive shape—to avoid the appearance of merely concealing it. In their discussion, the Commission members commented on the abruptness of the proposed designs at the top; one member suggested that efforts may be concentrated on sheathing the base of the tower while exposing the top, and another cautioned that adding structural members at the base of the tower could invite people to climb it and would eventually require an additional security barrier structure. The Commission members agreed that the incorporation of lighting would be a significant element in shaping the tower as an artwork and they strongly encouraged an artistic approach in wrapping the tower, suggesting that WASA could engage an established artist to participate in creating the design. They also expressed appreciation for the proposed development of the site as a park, but commented that it is unlikely to become a destination in itself and that the treatment of the tower as seen from a distance is the principal design issue.
The Commission looks forward to seeing further development of this project in concept.
As always, the staff is available to assist you with future submissions.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Roger L. Gans
Manager, Planning and Design
Department of Engineering and Technical Services
D.C. Water and Sewer Authority
5000 Overlook Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20032
cc: Lee Quill, Cunningham Quill Architects