280 12th Street, SW
Dear Mr. Mehrabi:
In its public meeting of 17 September conducted by videoconference, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed a fourth concept submission for a new hotel, to be located on a vacant site at 280 12th Street, SW (case number SL 20-196). The Commission approved the concept, providing the following comments and recommendations for the development of the design.
The Commission members expressed appreciation for the responsiveness to their previous guidance regarding the composition of the elevations and the modulation of the massing at the top of the building. While recognizing that the revised design of the top floors has helped to mitigate the hotel’s apparent height, some members continued to express concern about its height at this prominent and very visible location. In their approval action, they recommended further refinement of the facades to promote high architectural quality in this sensitive location.
Specifically, the Commission members recommended that the material of the penthouse be masonry to match the rest of the facades rather than metal, and that it be set back equally from all facades to avoid an odd asymmetry, and also that the windows at the eleventh floor be evenly spaced. For the building’s prominent north facade, they recommended that the composition be reconfigured as two-bay pavilions flanking a recessed four-bay center; they acknowledged that the narrower pavilion dimension would present a compositional challenge at the large WMATA access door, but this may be resolved with an additional belt course. They commented that the main entrance to the hotel appears too modest, and they recommended that it be grander—perhaps with wider, taller, and more articulated windows and canopy than what was presented. They also recommended that the blind windows at the ground floor, which will contribute to the pedestrian experience of the hotel, receive a stronger treatment, perhaps with more articulation. For the proposed cladding material of precast concrete, they commented that contrasting textures may be more effective than the proposed use of two color tones in accentuating the building’s massing; they requested a full-size on-site mockup of a representative section of the facade for their review.
For the site, the Commission members supported the revised design, noting that the plant palette appears to mix species requiring different environmental and exposure conditions. They recommended selecting plant materials appropriate for their particular growing conditions, informed by their palette of season-specific color.
The Commission looks forward to further review of this prominent project, and requests that the applicant continue to consult actively with the staff in the development of the design prior to submitting it for permit review. As always, the staff is available to assist you in the development of the design and the preparation of the next submission and the requested mockup.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Pacific Star Capital
Santa Monica, CA 90404
cc: Bahram Kamali, BBGM
David Lesiuk, LD7 Studio Landscape Architecture and Planning
Shane Dettman, Holland & Knight
Elizabeth Miller, National Capital Planning Commission