10th Street, SW at L'Enfant Plaza
Dear Mr. Snider:
In its meeting of 16 July, the Commission of Fine Arts was pleased to hear an information presentation on a proposed redesign of the segment of 10th Street, SW, directly adjacent to L'Enfant Plaza and the proposed International Spy Museum (case number SL 15-141). The Commission expressed strong support for the project and made the following comments.
The Commission members acknowledged that this project, which is intended to proceed in tandem with the Spy Museum, forms part of a larger initiative to reconceive 10th Street as a pedestrian connection between the National Mall and the Southwest Waterfront. They recognized the goals of expressing the continuity of 10th Street and of marking a public place at the high point of the corridor, commenting that these goals may be achieved through the balanced design of the ground plane, trees and other vertical elements, and water features.
Suggesting an overall design approach of creating coherence without monotony, they recommended that the proposed ground plane treatment of the L'Enfant Plaza complex be extended across 10th Street to the face of the Postal Service building, perhaps modified or inflected by a second treatment along the length of the corridor. They noted that this would support the concept of 10th Street as a linear whole with differentiated places along it, with the ground plane providing a simple background for the complex design of the proposed Spy Museum. They recommended that any water feature be designed to be compatible with the occasional use of the street as a flexible event space; they noted that a misting water feature could create an intriguing atmosphere as a setting for the Spy Museum.
The Commission members commented that any vertical element within 10th Street should be of an elegant design commensurate with the proposed design of the Spy Museum. They suggested that such an element—whether a vertical marker or a shade structure—be located to the south of the centerline of L'Enfant Plaza, perhaps aligned with the proposed ginkgo allée, noting that the asymmetry of the proposed museum building renders that centerline less important. They recommended study of any vertical elements as part of the sequential experience of 10th Street as the grade rises and then falls.
The Commission looks forward to review of a design submission. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
The JBG Companies
4445 Willard Avenue, Suite 400
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
cc: Michael Vergason, Michael Vergason Landscape Architects
Ivan Harbour, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Elizabeth Miller, National Capital Planning Commission
Jennifer Steingasser, DC Office of Planning