SL 14-073


The Museum of the Bible (Passages)
300 D Street, SW
United States

D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Museum of the Bible (Passages)
Additions, alterations, and rehabilitation of Washington Design Center Building and adjacent office building
Review Type
Revised concept
Previous Review


Dear Mr. Summers:

In its meeting of 20 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a revised concept submission for alterations and additions to the complex of buildings along D Street, SW, between 3rd and 4th Streets, for the Museum of the Bible (case number SL 14-073). The Commission members present expressed appreciation for the improvement of the concept design and recommended approval, providing comments for its further development.

In their discussion, the Commission members supported many of the changes made to the previously submitted design, noting the improvements to the west entrance, the expressive rooftop elements, and the composition of the project as a whole along both D Street and Virginia Avenue. However, they suggested several areas where the design should be refined, particularly in the rooftop forms, and generally in the design of the D Street frontage. Observing that the experience of the pedestrian along D Street would be defined by relatively blank walls, they strongly suggested that more transparency be introduced along this elevation, particularly at the ground level, where the animation of inside retail and circulation areas would enliven this lengthy facade. They also suggested that the design of the canopy and dock—reconstructed remnants of an industrial past—be rethought with a more glassy and airy character, perhaps in the roof material itself to relieve what may be a gloomy experience on the north side of the building. They recommended incorporating more glazing in the infill element in the center of the block to allow the visible expression of the dramatic stair and lobby areas beyond; they also suggested that the curving roof forms could interact more with this central portion of the composition instead of stopping abruptly at the edge of the historic fabric.

For the proposed alterations to the adjacent office building, the Commission members recommended simplicity in the extent of additions and changes, allowing for the original post-modern character of the building to remain if the building is not to be reclad. For the rooftop addition, they recommended a significant setback to differentiate the new modern fabric from the floors below; they also questioned the proposal to coat the terra cotta cladding at the ground level intended to minimize the variation in the project’s color palette.

As there was not a quorum for the review of this project, this recommendation will be placed on the administrative agenda for confirmation at the Commission’s meeting of 17 April. The Commission looks forward to review of the final design; please coordinate the submission of the next presentation with the staff, which is available to assist you.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Cary Summers, Chief Operating Officer
Passages, the Museum of the Bible
7707 SW 44th Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73179

cc: David Greenbaum, SmithGroup JJR
Michael Vergason, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects