Dear Mr. Rhodes:
In its meeting of 21 May, the Commission of Fine Arts heard an information presentation on updates to the Pentagon Reservation Master Plan and provided the following comments.
In their discussion, the Commission members commented that the strongest approach for the Pentagon would be to reinforce the monumental power of the building's design within its campus setting related to the broad context of the Potomac River; they observed that the proposal merely presents a series of unrelated projects that does little to contribute to the understanding of this facility as the headquarters for the Department of Defense. They suggested that the master plan could go much further in reducing the dominance of surface parking lots and adding more trees within the site. As the projects are implemented, they recommended paying closer attention to the experience of pedestrians in crossing great tracts of pavement, such as by providing more shade from canopies and trees. They also noted the adjacency of several memorial sites such as the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove, and they suggesting reconsidering previously planned strategies such as structured parking to improve the relationship of the Pentagon complex with neighboring properties of high visual sensitivity and symbolic value. As planning continues for the Pentagon, they recommended that state-of-the-art technologies be anticipated in managing the campus, which may eventually involve recognizing the obsolescence of such planning assumptions as cogeneration plants and high numbers of single-occupancy vehicles.
In the spirit of cooperating with the Department of Defense in its long-term management of the Pentagon reservation, the Commission members emphasized their expectation that projects will be submitted for their review, and that their advice will be given serious consideration. They criticized the Defense Facilities Directorate for proceeding with construction of the visitor screening pavilion associated with the Metro entrance without receiving approval from the Commission of Fine Arts; they cited the lack of responsiveness to their guidance given in two reviews in 2014 to address their concerns regarding the most heavily-used entrance to the headquarters building. The Commission is mindful of the Department of the Army's own Regulation 210-20 and 415-15, which requires that construction projects be submitted to the Commission of Fine Arts under its procedures for review and approval; these procedures include review at both concept and final phases of design.
The Commission of Fine Arts thanks the Department of Defense for its efforts in planning for its prominent headquarters campus at the Pentagon and looks forward to a cooperative resolution of its concerns regarding the management of projects by the Defense Facilities Directorate. As always, the staff is available to assist you with the next submission.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Michael L. Rhodes
Director of Administration and Management
1950 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1950
cc: Elizabeth Lenyk, Washington Headquarters Services, Department of Defense