SL 03-019


The Freedom Forum
555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
United States

D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Freedom Forum/Newseum
New mixed use building to house the Newseum
Review Type


Dear Mr. Page:

During its meeting of 17 November 2002, the Commission was pleased to review, and strongly supports, the concept for a new mixed-use building designed for the Newseum to be located at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (Lot 826, Square 491/SL 03-019). The Commission is encouraged by the dramatic statement of this building in' the context of a critical juncture in the facade/edge of our nation's most prominent avenue.

Although the Commission appreciates the overall facade layering and the relationships established with the existing structures and street grid, there are important issues which should be investigated as the design progresses. While the expression of the building's interior activities provides life to the streetscape, moderation and deference to the landmark and visually quieter surrounding buildings must be observed. The glass exterior provides an interesting and welcome counterpoint to the surrounding structures. However, the quality and quantity of light  emitted from the building needs to be studied under a variety of environmental conditions, particularly the emissions from a plasma screen. Additionally, the First Amendment inscription provides an important grounding element for the otherwise transparent facade.  However, the graphic design of the stone tablet will be extremely important as the primary decorative element.  Finally, the Commission recommends the study of the third ''bar" or layer to evaluate the degree of transparency desired at that height.

The Commission looks forward to continued review of this project. As always, the staff is available should you or the design team have questions or need guidance.


Harry G. Robinson III, FAIA

Max Page
Deputy Director and Vice President
The Freedom Forum World Center
llOl Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22209

cc: James Polshek, Polshek Partnership Architects
Edward M. Rogers, Nixon Peabody LLP
Judith H. Renfrew, CarrAmerica
Stephen J. Kuhn, CarrAmerica