Dear Mr. Whitesell:
In its meeting of 21 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed and approved the final design for the reconstruction of the center lawn panels of the National Mall between 7th and 14th Streets. The Commission commended the National Park Service for the successful implementation of Phase I and provided the following comments regarding the complex design issues raised in Phases II and III of the project to rehabilitate this preeminent national landscape.
The Commission members expressed appreciation for the detailed study of the difficult issues raised during the development of the project, acknowledging the inevitable balance required between protecting the Mall's iconic greensward and accommodating the heavy demand for public use. They reiterated that, in general, the largest possible expanses of lawn would be preferable to increasing the areas of pavement, but they recognized the compromise necessary to meet contemporary requirements for public events. They supported the planned efforts to control the size and location of temporary tents as well as the implementation of operational changes to protect the Mall landscape, and they accepted the rationale for accommodating 80-foot-wide tents for large events. However, they expressed regret that an alternative could not be found for the treatment of 7th Street, where the proposal will result in the creation of a paved swath almost two hundred feet wide, a perceptible disruption to the regular rhythm of north-south crossings on the Mall.
The Commission appreciates the diligence of the National Park Service in planning, designing, and implementing the long-overdue rehabilitation of this most prominent public space in the national capital. As always, the staff is available to assist you with future projects.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Steve Whitesell, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Suzette Goldstein, HOK