1331 Maryland Avenue, SW
Dear Mr. Grigg:
In its meeting of 19 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for Portals V, a new residential building to be located at 1331 Maryland Avenue, SW (case number SL 15-088). Commenting that the design had been substantially improved by the removal of two stories, the Commission approved the concept with the following recommendations to develop the design.
The Commission members commended the project team for achieving a more respectful relation between this very large building and its broader context, observing that reducing the proposed height would maintain the legibility of the topographic ridge defining the center of Washington, D.C. Given the inherently classical approach to the design, they recommended further refinement of the building's proportions to establish a hierarchy and harmony of the parts, both vertically and horizontally, in order to articulate what could otherwise be an oppressively bulky structure. Examples of these refinements include emphasizing further the base of the building on the north side of the project; articulating a more explicit relationship between the stepping volumes of the building and the existing hotel across Maryland Avenue; and studying the expression of the intermittent projecting balcony pavilions which appear unusually heavy as proposed. They also reiterated their general support for the modeled composition at the top of the building, although they suggested that the penthouse—set back from the building edge—might better be articulated as a lighter, more visually interesting rooftop element.
The Commission looks forward to review of the next design submission for this project. As always, the staff is available to assist you with its further development.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
1280 Maryland Avenue, SW, Suite 280
Washington, DC 20007
cc: Robert Stern, Robert A.M. Stern Architects