280 C Street, SW
Dear Mr. Mehrabi:
In its public meeting of 16 April conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a concept submission for a new hotel, proposed to be located at 280 12th Street, SW (case number SL 20-112). The Commission did not take an action, providing the following comments and recommendations for the development of the design.
The Commission members found that this private development site is unusually prominent from the National Mall, and that the proposed 13-story hotel would be highly visible from many important viewpoints within the city’s monumental core. They observed that the architectural frame of the Mall—of which this proposal would form a part—is composed of formal masonry government and institutional buildings; they emphasized that the proposed hotel must respect its role as a background building within this architectural frame. Therefore, they recommended reconsideration of the height, form, character, and materials of the proposed hotel in order to make the project compatible with this nationally significant context. While acknowledging the many technical challenges of developing this site, they recommended that the height of the proposed project be lowered to be consistent with the heights of adjacent structures, such as the Department of Agriculture South Building. They also suggested that the plan could be regularized to soften the building’s visual presence, and they recommended that the proposed multi-story structural trusses not be expressed, particularly on the north side facing the Mall. Finally, they found the proposed cladding system of cementitious panels to be of inferior quality and inappropriate for this context; they instead recommended the use of brick or stone for the facades.
The Commission looks forward to further review of this prominent project. The staff is available to assist you with the development of the design.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Pacific Star Capital
Santa Monica, CA 90404
cc: Bahram Kamali, BBGM
Shane Dettman, Holland and Knight