Pennsylvania Avenue and East and West Executive Avenues, NW
Dear Mr. Vogel:
In its meeting of 23 January, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a final design for the proposed replacement perimeter fence at the White House, the first phase of a larger program of physical security improvements for President’s Park. The Commission approved the submission, providing recommendations for particular components of the fence, and delegated the completion of the final review to the staff.
The Commission members commended the design for its more consistent treatment of the fence’s elements, using traditional proportions with streamlined details; they supported the project team’s preferred alternatives for most of the components of the project and gave recommendations for specific elements as follows. For the granite base of the fence, they recommended the use of a rougher surface treatment than the proposed thermal finish, such as bush-hammered; they also recommended that these stone pieces be made significantly longer than the proposed two-foot-long pieces. They reiterated their support for the use of crash-proof vehicular gates with solid lower panels, which do not require an additional crash barrier behind the gates. For the pedestrian gates along Pennsylvania Avenue, they recommended using the simpler alternative design using an interstitial pattern of dog-bars at the bottom of the gate, as presented for the East and West Executive Avenue pedestrian gates, as a consistent design for all pedestrian gates. While they supported the elimination of the stone piers at the pedestrian gates, they expressed concern that these gates may not be sufficiently prominent, and they supported the proposal to use special urn finials on top of the metal posts framing these gates, perhaps even larger than shown.
While recognizing the need for augmenting the security barrier, the Commission emphasized the fence’s importance as a threshold between two important public spaces in the city—the White House Grounds and the surrounding President’s Park—and encourages continued consideration of how the design can best foster the engagement of citizens who gather near or walk around the White House. The Commission looks forward to review of future phases for the comprehensive physical security for the entire White House complex, including the Treasury and Eisenhower Executive Office Building. For the resolution of details and the completion of the final review for this phase, please coordinate with the staff.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Robert Vogel, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242
cc: Thomas Dougherty, U.S. Secret Service
Michael Mills, Mills & Schnoering Architects