The meeting was convened at 10:20 a.m. in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Suite 312, Washington, DC 20001.
Hon. Harry G. Robinson III, Chairman
Hon. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Vice-Chairman
Hon. Carolyn Brody
Hon. Donald Capoccia
Hon. David Childs
Hon. Pamela Nelson
Hon. Eden Rafshoon
Mr. Charles H. Atherton, Secretary
Mr. Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Ms. Kristina Alg
Ms. Sue Kohler
Mr. Jose Martinez
Ms. Susan Raposa
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Mr. John V. Cogbill
Ms. Patti Gallagher
Mr. George Toop
Ms. Elizabeth Miller
A. Approval of minutes: 20 February 2003
Mr. Capoccia made a motion that the minutes be approved with the exception of the section relative to the Newseum (S.L. 03-19). He said that that section should be reviewed with the staff to reflect more details than what had been included. The motion was seconded by Mr. Childs. The Vice-Chairman requested that the corrections be shared with the other members before they are finally approved. With that amendment, the motion carried unanimously.
B. Dates of next meetings:
17 April 2003
15 May 2003
19 June 200
The Secretary, Mr. Atherton and the Assistant Secretary, Mr. Lindstrom called the Chairman’s attention to the fact that the proposed date of the next meeting, 17 April, is Passover. To avoid scheduling conflicts, it was suggested that the meeting date be changed to either the following Tuesday or Thursday. Mr. Lindstrom said he would work with everyone to determine an alternate meeting date.
Items not on the agenda.
Mr. Capoccia asked if he may bring forth other administrative issues, and the Chairman invited him to do so. Mr. Capoccia’s first item was the suggestion that pertinent operative documents and legislation relevant to the Commission of Fine Arts be abstracted by legal counsel for the benefit of staff and members. This would give a clearer idea of the Commission’s responsibilities and jurisdictions from a layman’s perspective, he said. The Chairman said that it was a good idea.
Mr. Capoccia’s second item concerned zoning. He suggested that in the future, all applicants who come before the Commission “disclose whether or not they’re seeking any relief whatsoever from local zoning or zoning overlays and…if they are not, to affirmatively state as such in the application” to the Commission. He said this disclosure should be made in advance of their preparation of materials to be presented at Commission meetings. The Chairman said he did not have a problem with that and invited input from the staff. Mr. Atherton said that any exceptions being sought regarding zoning were generally something the staff tried to determine at the time of the presentation. Mr. Lindstrom said applicants submitting projects for concept review aren’t generally aware of zoning issues, as such issues usually arise during the permitting process. Major zoning issues, he said, are usually known at the beginning of projects. Mr. Capoccia specified height as a consideration, and felt that any architect working the city of Washington should be aware any restrictions at the concept level. The Chairman replied that if a building’s “height is appropriate, whether it got it through relief or whether it got it as a matter of right,” the Commission’s “jurisdiction really is to look at what comes before us and to make a decision as to whether it’s appropriate for the environment in which it exists in the city.” Mr. Capoccia agreed, and added that it would be helpful to know if relief is being sought.
Mr. Capoccia’s final item regarded a letter he had circulated to the Chairman and the Secretary. Mr. Capoccia said that specific requests made in the letter received no reply, and that in future, he’d appreciate appropriate responses to such correspondence.
C. Report on the January site inspection of the first six bas-relief panels for the World War II Memorial.
The Chairman reported that members of the Commission visited Ray Kaskey’s studio in January to inspect the first six bas-relief panels for the World War II Memorial. He said that Mr. Kaskey has made good progress and has taken great pains to achieve authenticity. He and Mr. Lindstrom said that Mr. Kaskey photographed actors holding objects, such as a deck-mounted machine gun, and used the photographs to create very detailed and accurate depictions. Mrs. Brody asked when the next six panels would be ready and Mr. Lindstrom said that they would probably be ready in the next couple of months.
D. Chairman’s report on the site inspections for the World War II Memorial stone work. The Chairman reported that a site visit to Barre, Vermont and Providence, Rhode Island was very productive. In Barre, he and Mr. Lindstrom visited the quarry and saw mock-ups and the blocks that had been cut with a six-cut finish. The mock-up was of the top four courses of the pavilion containing the oculus. They were able to inspect the mock-up from the inside of the oculus as well as the extension. He said that the six-cut finish was being done by hand by a craftsman with an air-gun chisel. Mr. Lindstrom added that the stonecutting requirements for the memorial pressed the skill of the cutters, who had to rethink their procedures because the finished stone was to be six inches larger than what their biggest machine could cut. The cutters made the necessary modifications to the machine and have produced an impressive amount of stone. Mr. Lindstrom also praised the precision with which the stone was cut, and pointed out that granite is one of the more difficult stones to work.
In Rhode Island, they saw examples of the lettering and visited Friedrich St. Florian’s office. The Chairman said that the lettering, designed especially for the memorial, works very well from a distance and from up close. At Mr. St. Florian’s office, they saw the twenty-five iterations of the pavilions he had worked with to arrive at the pavilion design used in the memorial.
E. Report on the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program.
As administrator of the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program, Mr. Lindstrom reported that the previously twenty applicants have reapplied and that this year there was a new applicant, the Wooly Mammoth Theater Company. He said that Wooly Mammoth was founded in 1980 and that it’s specialization in “cutting edge” plays, made it the equivalent of New York’s off-Broadway venue. Mr. Lindstrom said he was invited to their announcement and presentation of architectural designs for their new permanent home in a building at 7th & D Streets. The base building would be done by Phil Esocoff and Associates and the interior fit-out of the theater would be done by Mark McInturff of Bethesda. Wooly Mammoth has met the minimum criteria for a grant and a panel meeting of the chairmen of the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities will determine if they meet all the criteria for a grant.
Mr. Lindstrom said the program was allocated $7 million this year, with a small recision of 0.65 percent, reducing the total amount by $45,500. Mr. Capoccia asked what the highest and lowest grant amounts were, to which Mr. Lindstrom replied that the high end cap was $500,000 and lowest grant given last year was approximately $266,000 for operating expenses. Mrs. Brody said thank you on behalf the National Building Museum, to whom the grant means a great deal. Mr. Lindstrom further reported that in the budget request for 2004, there would be a proposed administrative change to the program that would put a cap on the amount of annual income an organization can have for the past three years, of $15 million. He clarified for Mr. Capoccia that the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program is a formula grant, rather than a competitive one, and briefly explained the formula
F. Report on the site inspection to the National Zoological Park in consideration of the New Asia Trail proposal presented last month.
Mr. Atherton reported that a large portion of the zoo would be changed under the New Asia Trail proposal, including an historic plan of great value to the city. He reported that on the site visit that morning, during which the members viewed a model for the proposal and walked a portion of the trail, the architect said that the Commission would be presented the proposed changes as a whole package. Mr. Atherton expressed concern about the implication that the whole package would include buildings as well as details such as hand rails and fences, elements which should be reviewed individually. Mr. Lindstrom pointed out the proposal seen in January was a preliminary concept proposal and that the zoo assured the Commission that they would return with details as they were developed. Nonetheless, Mr. Atherton cautioned that the letter the Commission sends to the zoo should stop short of using the word approval, and should list concerns the Commission has, with assurances that the Commission will work closely with the zoo and their concept develops. The Commission agreed with this course of action.
Before proceeding with Submissions and Reviews, the Chairman called for a moment of silence in support of the United States and of the soldiers, airmen and sailors at war, and of those who would be involved in the war.
II. SUBMISSIONS AND REVIEWS
A. National Capital Planning Commission
CFA 20/MAR/03-1, Pennsylvania Avenue, between 15th and 17th Streets, NW, and Jackson and Madison Places. Landscape improvements, road resurfacing and security components. Concept. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/02-1, Designing for Security in the Nation’s Capital).
The Assistant Secretary introduced John Cogbill, chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Cogbill introduced the executive director of NCPC, Patti Gallagher, and several other members of his team, and then recapped the events of the past two years and the attempt by both NCPC and this commission to work out a security program that would reclaim the city’s streets from the unsightly mix of “Jersey barriers, barricaded streets, and concrete pots.” He said that as far as Pennsylvania Avenue was concerned, although the universal desire of everyone concerned was to see it reopened, NCPC felt compelled to recommend that it “remain closed to normal traffic for the foreseeable future.” To ensure that the street retain as much of its historic symbolism and beauty as possible in the light of security requirements, he said a competition had been held for the redesign of the street as a beautiful landscaped civic space that would be welcoming to visitors and at the same time secure.
After reviewing design concepts from four leading landscape architecture firms, NCPC and its partners in this project had selected the design proposed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, a design which Mr. Cogbill said offered a subtle transformation of the space, one that would be gracious and welcoming; he commented that its clarity and simplicity had appealed to all the security design partners. He said the team had worked diligently since the initial concept had been shown to the Commission in July 2002. They had met with all those who would be in any way affected by the project, and attempted to meet their concerns in the development of the design. With that, he introduced Mr. Van Valkenburgh to present his concept.
Mr. Van Valkenburgh commented first that it was Thomas Jefferson who was responsible for carrying Pennsylvania Avenue through in front of the White House. L’Enfant had set the White House in what was called Presidential Park, with no street to break the park-like setting, but Jefferson thought the President should have a street in front of his house and had it put through. He noted, too, that in the mid-nineteenth century, one of America’s greatest landscape gardeners, A. J. Downing, had designed Lafayette Square as a great public space. Mr. Van Valkenburgh recalled the thrill he had felt when first moving to Washington a number of years ago and realized one could drive by the White House; like many others, he wished that were still possible, but as it was not, he had tried to develop a plan that would honor the history of the site.
Critical to the development of this plan was the recognition of the two axes relating to the historic formation of Washington: the north-south axis through Lafayette Square, and the east-west axis along Pennsylvania Avenue. Also important was the recognition of L’Enfant’s notion of the placement of the White House within a Presidential Park; in his plan two arrival spaces at 15th and 17th streets with a change of paving material in those areas would help reconnect Lafayette Square with the White House. He showed a rendering looking toward the portico of the White House from the Square, commenting that this space had been used for many things through time, from large gatherings of people supporting causes to parents bring their children to see the White House.
The main features of the plan were then described. Mr. Van Valkenburgh said that although Lafayette Square itself would not be touched, Madison and Jackson places would be included in the plan. They would help distribute the arrivals so that fewer of them would be happening at the entrances to the Avenue; for example, Jackson Place would become a two-way street to accommodate deliveries to the small government offices located there as well as to Blair House. A double row of bollards set a certain distance apart and a guard booth would allow for inspection and clearance and also turn-around space for trucks that were not cleared. The two spaces between 17th Street and Jackson Place, and between 15th Street and Madison Place–both defined by a somewhat symmetrical pairing of buildings–would be set off by being paved with granite, while the main length of the Avenue would be paved with a granular surface rolled into a stabilized base. Both the granite pavers and the granular surface would have a grey tone; he commented that the red-toned granular surface seen on the Mall in London would not be used because it was too reminiscent of the 18th and 19th centuries. The vehicular entrances at 15th and 17th streets would be similar to those on Jackson and Madison places–a guard booth and a double row of bollards, some retractable as needed. He observed that the generous space between the row of bollards served two purposes: it allowed large trucks to make deliveries to the Renwick Gallery, and by moving the rows of bollards far apart, the experience of entering the street would not be one of entering a secure place, even though it actually was. Mr. Van Valkenburgh commented at this point that District Congresswoman Norton had objected to the overuse of the standard black metal bollards seen all around the White House grounds and in Lafayette Square. He said they were working on developing a different design and would bring it in with their next submission. A brief comment was made on the guard booths; Mr. Van Valkenburgh said the interior would remain essentially unchanged from the existing ones, but the exterior, which had not yet been designed, would be more appropriate to the location. Tree plantings were discussed next. Mr. Van Valkenburgh said the concrete bollards in front of the White House would be removed, to be replaced by trees. He noted that trees had been there previously, but most had succumbed to disease or old age and were removed for the line of bollards. The species of the new trees had not been decided yet, although they would probably be American, and he noted that the Olmsted tree planting scheme of 1935 had shown several species in this location.There would be a double row of trees in front of the Eisenhower EOB and the Treasury, with backless stone benches between them; on the north side of the Avenue, the existing trees along Lafayette Square would remain and a single row of new trees would be planted in front of the Renwick Gallery and the Treasury Annex. The trees in front of the White House would follow the historic spacing, leaving an opening at the 16th Street axis, and he noted that the spacing was also determined to some extent by where the bleachers were placed for the inaugural events. Turning again to the pavement pattern, Mr. Van Valkenburgh commented first that the street would retain its historic width. What would change would be the removal of the crown typical of street pavement and the use of a flat, tipped plane surface instead; this would give the effect of a plaza for pedestrian use. The granite paving proposed for each end of the precinct, in front of the monumental buildings, would be in the form of 4 by 10 or 4 by 12-foot slabs. This would give a feeling of solidity that would complement the size of the buildings and provide an appropriate way to enter the space. He said the precise nature of the macadam/crushed stone pavement for the center section was being worked out with Federal Highways to ensure that it would have a dignified appearance and would also be durable.
When Mr. Van Valkenburgh had finished his presentation, the Chairman asked if anyone in the audience wanted to speak. Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which administered the Renwick Gallery, asked to comment on the proposal to plant trees in front of the gallery. She noted that the Renwick was one of only two museums in the country devoted to American crafts and decorative arts, and the first in the city to become a public art gallery (1850s); she said that with access from the east now being limited, they were anxious that the west and south exposures be kept wide open to attract visitors. She pointed out especially the attractive front facade, with the words “Dedicated to Art” over the door, and said she feared all this would be invisible if a row of high canopy, mature trees were placed in front of it. Other than this concern, she said she had only praise for the new plan to beautify Pennsylvania Avenue.
The second speaker was George Oberlander, representing the Committee of 100 and the National Coalition to Save Our Mall; he said the statement he was handing out had been presented to NCPC at its last meeting. He said that while his organizations would strongly prefer that the Avenue remain open, if it could not, he thought this scheme was substantially improved over what the Commission had seen previously. He said, however, that the Avenue should continue to look like a street, and not an area incorporated into Lafayette Square. Rather than divided into three sections, he felt it should be one continuous street, as it had historically been.
Mr. Oberlander’s next point concerned the variety of bollards. He said that instead of the three different designs shown, they should all be the same, regardless of whether they were stationary, retractable, or removable. Referring to his statement, he noted the bullet points on the last page, especially the last point, which referred to the initial finding of the NCPC staff, with which Mr. Oberlander’s organizations concurred, that the design would have adverse effects on historic resources. He hoped that the Section 106 process now underway would mitigate these effects, but if it did not, he said the design would have to be changed. His last point was that the guard houses needed to be reduced in appearance so that they didn’t clutter up both the length and width of the street.
The last speaker was John Parsons from the Park Service. He said his agency owned the sidewalks on both sides of the Avenue and so had been involved in the long period of study on how to treat it. He said he was very pleased with the simple elegance of this scheme compared to many of the previous ones, and just wanted to say that the Park Service was very supportive of Mr. Van Valkenburgh’s design.
The Chairman then asked the members for their comments, noting first that the Avenue was at present closed even to pedestrians, and that if this continued, the area might have to be viewed from outside the precinct and seen as an ornamental garden. Bearing this in mind, comments were made on the scheme as presented, and they were generally favorable on the overall concept. There were, however, aspects of the design that the members thought needed further study. These involved primarily the paving plan, the bollards and guard houses, and the tree planting scheme.
The paving questions centered on two aspects of the proposal: the decision to get rid of the crown on the street, and the division of the street into three sections, determined by the paving material selections. The concern about getting rid of the crown and using a tipped-plane flat surface was that it would take away the historic street character of the Avenue and turn it into a pedestrian plaza, a gardenesque element rather than a street. Those who were concerned about the perceived division of the street into three sections because of the change in material objected because this would change its historic character. There was agreement, however, that abandoning the original reddish color for the macadam/crushed stone section and unifying the roadway by having both the granite pavers and the granular section in a grey tone would help.
The design of the bollards generated considerable discussion. Mr. Van Valkenburgh had mentioned that Congresswoman Norton was troubled by the overuse of the black metal bollard seen around the White House and on Lafayette Square, and he said they were working to find a different design that, to use Mrs. Norton’s words, would “look like it comes out of history but not be something that was 18th century.” A suggestion was made that the bollards, and the guard houses, too, could exhibit a modern design, since they had no historical antecedents, but the members did not all agree with this. Mr. Van Valkenburgh agreed that they would not want a contemporary bollard that called attention to itself. There was also a question as to whether the retractable bollards should have a different design from the stationary ones. The design of the guard booths generated similar comments, that they should be as small and unobtrusive as possible; their design and placement depended a lot on how the Avenue was to be conceived–as a street, as a pedestrian plaza, or a garden.
The concern with the trees involved the choice of species, how far apart they would be planted, and what their ultimate height would be. Mr. Van Valkenburgh said they had not yet made any final decisions but their goal was to find a species that would give a high canopy, and a nursery that could supply specimens that had had their lower branches removed as the tree grew. He said they would like the form of the elm, because of the sense of transparency below and a full canopy above, but he said at this point the choice of trees was still a work in progress. He said there would be about twenty trees in front of the White House, and the spacing would be similar to the Olmsted plan of 1935. As for Ms. Broun’s comment about the trees in front of the Renwick Gallery, he said that using trees with their lower limbs removed would take the canopy above the height of the entrance so that the view of it would not be obscured. A question was asked about the double row of trees in front of the Eisenhower EOB and the Treasury building. Mr. Van Valkenburgh said these trees would “honor the east-west corridor” and establish a pedestrian scale; they would also be used in an architectural way to define the edges at the fronts of both these buildings.
Parking, or the removal of it, was also discussed, with the general agreement that it should not be allowed within this precinct. Mr. Cogbill said those who currently park in the area had been told that they could no longer do this when the plan was in place. Lighting had been mentioned briefly when Mr. Van Valkenburgh said the traditional Bacon double lamp would be used. He was asked if the Secret Service thought the light would be bright enough, and he replied that they did not have a problem with it. One other comment was that Lafayette Square currently was not very well maintained, and that something needed to be done about that when the plan was put into place, so that the Presidential Park would be all of one piece.
The Chairman closed the discussion with a comment on the importance of keeping the character of Pennsylvania Avenue as a street, that it not become a mall, because, as Mrs. Norton had said, it would reopen as a street sometime in the future.
B. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
CFA 20/MAR/03-2, National Law Enforcement Museum. Judiciary Square (Federal Reservation #7), E Street between Court Buildings E and C, and north of Old City Hall. Preliminary concept–massing design. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/02-7). In his introduction for the preliminary concept massing design for the proposed National Law Enforcement Museum, Mr. Martinez recalled to the Commission that they had reviewed design guidelines for the project in July 2002. He acquainted the Commission with the site for the proposed museum, which would be between the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the old City Hall building, now a court building. He said the museum would be underground, with two entry pavilions above grade flanking a potential future court structure on the south side of E Street. Mr. Martinez said that a master plan for the site, requested by the Commission in July, was forthcoming, hopefully in another month. He emphasized that what was being presented was a massing concept only. Mr. Martinez then introduced Bob Frank, treasurer of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Mr. Frank said that Memorial Fund proposal was to build the National Law Enforcement Museum as a stand-alone companion to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. He said that Public Law 106-492, the National Law Enforcement Museum Act, prescribed the boundaries of the site where the museum would be built. To present the massing concept for the aboveground museum entry pavilions, Mr. Frank introduced Davis Buckley, architect for the memorial, who was now the architect for the museum.
Mr. Buckley began by distributing illustrated booklets which he said would supplement the July presentation and also be a companion to the Power Point presentation he was about to give. He said that the Power Point presentation would include a background on urban design guidelines presented in July and would show four versions of concept massing for the entry pavilions. The presentation would conclude with a 90 second animation which would show more specifically what the proposed massing was.
Beginning with an illustration of the site as shown in 1987 when the Commission reviewed the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Mr. Buckley noted that the buildings surrounding the memorial were not symmetrical, and that the canopy trees helped define the precinct of the memorial. He showed the actual proposed museum site, a rectangular area with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on the north across E Street, the Old City Hall on the south, Court Building C on the east and the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces on the west. Mr. Buckley said that the configuration of the site, which included the inverted half-circle area on the south, was the result of discussions with the courts concerning the amount of space they would anticipate needing for a possible addition to the Old City Hall for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Because of the legislatively mandated distance between the proposed museum and the Old City Hall, Mr. Buckley said, the museum site would need to be under the street. Mr. Buckley emphasized that P.L. 106-492 was very specific about the location of the museum site.
He then showed the Power Point slide which illustrated the urban design guidelines and highlighted the proposed location of the two above-grade museum entry pavilions. He said that in keeping with the relationship of Court Building C and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces buildings, to the east and west respectively, within the square, there would be a 100 foot buffer between the two pavilions. The pavilions, he said, were very carefully defined in terms of their height, bulk, mass and placement. At the request of the Commission, Mr. Buckley referred back to the legislation to confirm that it sets out specifically the locations of the two pavilions. Returning to the pavilions, he said that they would have a sense of transparency. There would also be pleached trees with large canopy elements over the tops at each end.
Before moving onto the four massing approaches, Mr. Buckley discussed why an entry pavilion could not be placed within the memorial environs itself. One reason, he said, was that the law was very specific in terms of what would be allowed. Another reason was that the National Park Service, who maintains the memorial, would not allow it. He showed an illustration of what an entrance pavilion would look like if it were to be placed within the memorial. It would have to be placed in the southwest quadrant to avoid the Metro tunnel and it would require 8,000 square feet, which would exceed the not more than 6,000 square feet specified in the legislation. Also, he said, there would need to be pavilions on the south side of E Street anyway, to provide mechanical stairs and exiting requirements to the museum.
Mr. Buckley used a site model with four removable blocks to illustrate the four different missing concepts for the entry pavilions on the proposed museum site. In each case, the pavilions would be placed to the east and west of a 100-feet visual corridor and the height of each would be 25 feet, some 5 feet lower than the pleached trees. Each concept would have skylight elements to bring a sense of light and airiness into the space below, as a transition down into the museum. There would also be a linear water element to connect the pavilions. The idea was to make the pavilions complementary to, but not derivative of, surrounding architecture. They would be 20 feet away from the court buildings to the east and west, and the area between the pavilions and the Old City Hall would be reserved for any kind of future expansion of the Old City Hall, both above and below ground. The discussion turned towards other considerations, including parking and General Services Administration's master plan for the site. In answer to a question from the Commission about parking, Mr. Buckley replied that he did not think there would be any above-grade parking in the immediate area to the pavilions, and that the proposed museum was pushed forward to accommodate a possible addition to the north of the Old City Hall. He also noted that there was a provision in the legislation to allow the courts to build a parking garage below-grade. Mr. Buckley said that he had no understanding of what GSA intended to do as far as expansion to the north of the Old City Hall; that to date they had only considered expansion to the north rather than underground and to the sides. But with the aforementioned provision in place, he said, he was able to proceed with his design concept for the pavilions. The Commission had yet to see GSA’s master plan, and was concerned about an excessive number of curb cuts which may result in the fact that plans for the proposed museum were more advanced than studies for other expansion.
Returning to the massing concepts, Mr. Buckley indicated, in answer to an inquiry from the Commission, that the differences in the four massing schemes lay in how each transparency was organized, how each roof was sloped and in the variations in each roof’s height. He also said that the footprint for each pavilion was 5,000 square feet or under, depending on the scheme and he highlighted the importance of the skylight. The Commission was concerned that if the pavilions receded behind the realignment of the flanking court buildings, they will not be sufficiently associated with the memorial and that the 20-feet off-set from the flanking courthouses would also need to be considered. The court buildings should recede behind the pavilions and it was suggested that the pavilions be squared off and be brought closer to the street, so that they would be more clearly a part of the memorial rather than of the court buildings. When asked for more details about the skylight, Mr. Buckley said the skylight would be a sculptural form which would connect the pavilions and would be approximately six and a half feet above grade. He said that a skylight was always part of the concept because of its importance in bringing natural light into an underground space. When asked if there was any expectation that there would be an entry to the court complex within the north-south axis, Mr. Buckley said that there was not.
The Commission, in conclusion, was complimentary of the massing concepts. They said that care must be taken not to upstage nearby buildings and that the transparencies must be really transparent. There were still concerns that the proposed museum plans might be at odds with what GSA might have in mind for the site, though Mr. Buckley had stated that he felt GSA should have sufficient information on his proposed plans. Nonetheless, the Commission agreed to approve the massing in concept, and suggested that GSA be part of subsequent presentations, to ensure that they and the Memorial Fund are not at cross-purposes.
C. Department of Defense
CFA 20/MAR/03-3, United States Air Force Memorial. Navy Annex, Columbia Pike, Arlington, Virginia. Concept design. (Previous: CFA 15/FEB/96-6).
In his introduction for the concept design for the United States Air Force Memorial, Mr. Lindstrom said that the Commission had already reviewed a design for an Air Force Memorial which was to be located on Arlington Ridge, at the north side of Arlington National Cemetery. After the Marine Corps raised concerns about that location’s close proximity to the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Air Force Memorial Foundation sought another site and consequently, another design. To present this design, Mr. Lindstrom introduced Ed Grillo, president of the Air Force Memorial Foundation.
Before the beginning of his presentation, Mr. Grillo briefly introduced James Ingo Freed, the architect and Zenos Frudakis, the sculptor, who would follow with their own remarks. Mr. Grillo said that an Air Force Memorial was a long-overde tribute to the over 3 million people who have served in the Air Force and the Air Force and it predecessor organizations are second only to the Army in their number of combat casualties. Another reason for an Air Force Memorial, he said was to honor aviation pioneers of the past.
By way of background, Mr. Grillo said that the effort to establish the memorial began in 1992. Arlington Ridge was selected as the site, and a concept design was approved by the Commission in 1996. The controversy over the site with the Marines followed and the project stalled until in December 2001, Congress passed legislation which directed that the Air Force Memorial be moved to the promontory point of the Navy Annex. Three acres of land were guaranteed, and a two-year site preparation process, including the demolition of Building 8 of the Annex, was assured. The Memorial Foundation felt that the approved design by James Freed would not translate to the new site, so a new competition was held, and once again, a design by Mr. Freed was selected.
Mr. Grillo then briefly discussed the significance of the Navy Annex site. He said that it was one of 20 sites identified by NCPC and others as one that would need have a facility or memorial of lasting and national importance. The Memorial Foundation had considered the site previously, and there had been some question as to its availability. Its proximity to Fort Meyer also added significance, since, Mr. Grillo said, the Air Force got its start at Fort Meyer. The first test flight of an Army Signal Corps airplane was conducted by Orville Wright from Fort Meyer, and that flight over flew or flew very close to the site. Finally, the spires of the memorial would be able to be seen from the gravesites Lt. Tom Selfridge, who flew with Orville Wright, Gen. Hap Arnold, first commanding general of the Army Air Corps and Benjamin Davis, leader of the Tuskegee Airmen and the first African-American general.
Mr. Grillo employed a series of images synonymous with the Air Force to introduce the design concept. The first was taken from a poem called “High Flight,” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., a 19 year old American who flew with the Canadian Air Force during World War II. The pertinent quote was “Oh, I’ve slipped the surly bonds of earth. Sunward I climb where never lark nor eagle flew and I put my hand out touched the face of God.” He also referred to a statement by Gen. Hap Arnold; that it took a very bold nation to create an Air Force. Threes are symbolic in the Air Force, he said, as the Air Force has three core values, three core competencies and three types of people make up the Air Force. Using Power Point slides, Mr. Grillo showed pictures of the missiles being test-fired, with emphasis on the arc of the missiles, and of the Thunderbirds, demonstrating their bomb burst maneuver. From all these images and thoughts, he said, the Air Force Memorial was created.
Moving to illustrations of the actual design concept, Mr. Grillo indicated an image of three spires and a runway. If one were to walk down that runway, he said, one would look directly at the Washington Monument. There would be glass panels underneath the spires, and the glass panels would have etching and be translucent. In the middle of the granite floor, would be an embedded Air Force star. There would be a contemplation chamber at one end of the runway and an honor guard sculpture group at the other end. The contemplation chamber would replace the airmen’s chapel and have appropriate inscriptions. The honor guard would be located near the entrance to the area and would consist of four figures who would be 9 feet tall. The wall behind them, in answer to a question from the Commission, would be 10 feet tall. The honor guard, Mr. Grillo explained, had always been with the Air Force and no one is buried at Arlington National Cemetery without them. The idea behind the honor guard was to have a symbolic 24 hour watch on the memorial. There would be granite seating area with pleached trees in the background. Parking on site would be desired, but there would have to be a way provide parking, yet hide it among the trees. The memorial would provide a setting for ceremonies, rather than using the parking lot of the Pentagon. Mr. Grillo then showed images of what the memorial would like upon completion in 2006 and in 2010 after the temporary Navy Annex buildings are removed. After 2010, he said, the memorial would gain more green space.
Addressing the height, Mr. Grillo said that the tallest spire would be 270 feet, the next spire would be 230 feet, and the third spire would be 200 feet. The reason for this, he said, was that in order for the memorial to have a soaring effect, its height would have to above 200 feet. This is because the area across the bottom would be 100 feet, and any height less than 200 feet would create a rectangular effect, and would fail to soar. He then showed several illustrations with which he compared the proposed height of the memorial to existing monuments and structures. He also showed renderings of how the proposed memorial would appear from different points in the area, including the Tidal Basin, the Capitol, the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.
As to how the memorial would be built, Mr. Grillo said that wind tunnel testing was currently in effect and that the construction would be similar to the St. Louis Arch. The memorial would be made of three-quarter-inch plate stainless steel with a dull finish until the end, where the surface would be polished. The spires would be filled with concrete from the ground to approximately two-thirds of the way up. The Federal Aviation Administration determined that at 270 feet, the memorial would not be a hazard to air navigation. Mr. Grillo stated that traffic patterns to ensure movement between the proposed memorial and other areas of interest nearby were being examined. He also briefly touched on NCPC recommendations for the proposed memorial, which included removal of the honor guard sculpture. It was their belief, Mr. Grillo said, that the sculpture’s traditional design would not fit well with the proposed memorial’s more contemporary design. Mr. Grillo again emphasized the importance of the honor guard to the Air Force.
Mr. Grillo concluded by acknowledging Mr. Freed and Mr. Frudakis, architect and sculptor, and the architectural and support firms involved, including ARUP for engineering, Olin Partnerships for landscape architecture, Vika for civil engineering and OWI for lighting. He said the proposed Air Force Memorial is the right memorial for the right site and that it would be a powerful yet graceful addition to Washington’s memorials. He then invited Mr. Freed to address the Commission.
Mr. Freed began with the rhetorical question of how one goes about creating a memorial such as the proposed Air Force Memorial. The answer was broken down into two components, the site and the nucleus of the memorial, that is, what is to be memorialized. He said that the site informed the design and that his previous design approved in 1996 for the Arlington Ridge site would not be as appropriate for the Navy Annex site. Unlike Arlington Ridge, the current site, with its promontory and edge condition, soared up into the sky and propelled. He said the site grew the soaring form of the memorial. Because much of the work of Air Force is done in the air, the air had to be made palpable. This was in contrast with the more concrete symbols of the Navy’s water or the Army’s land, hence the theme of soaring. He also addressed the use of three and the differing heights. Three, he said, is the smallest number of objects that can fill a space. And the different heights added a sense of dynamism to the design, and created the sense of something that is ever-changing and shifting. He indicated the site model and offered the following quote from a general at the design’s unveiling: “we’ll have a great view of Washington but Washington will have a great view of us.”
Mr. Frudakis distributed brochures for the Air Force that he had created showing the honor guard sculpture in progress. He supplemented these with illustrations of his other figurative works to give the Commission a better idea of the level of detail the finished honor guard figures would have. The Commission’s comments about the honor guard were mainly concerned with the group’s placement. They suggested that the honor guard be placed off-axis, where they could overlook the entire site. They felt that to have honor guard standing watch on that runway axis would be too literal. Mr. Freed suggested that the placement of the honor guard on-axis would provide a stopping point for visitors; and also that its placement opposite the contemplation chamber would provide an anchor and a sense of balance.
There was a brief discussion about how visitors would enter the memorial. The only entrance would be at Columbia Pike, Mr. Grillo said, and logistics would need to be worked out in terms of parking and handicapped access. He said also that the 10 year master plan for Arlington National Cemetery was consulted, and that an effort was made to fit the memorial into the master plan. He said he viewed the site as a peninsula within Arlington Cemetery, and hoped that there would be access between the cemetery and the memorial.
The Commission was very complimentary of both the proposed design and of the presentation, saying that it was excellent all around. The motion to approved the design in concept was carried unanimously.
Whereupon, at 1:37 PM, the meeting recessed for lunch until 2:15 PM.
D. Federal Highway Administration
CFA 20/MAR/03-4, Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge. Capital Beltway/U.S. Interstate Highway 95-495 between Telegraph Road (Rt. 611, Virginia) and Indian Head Highway (Rt. 210, Maryland). Noise barrier. Design. (Previous: CFA 20/SEP/01-5).
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal for a modification to the new replacement Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge forwarded by the Federal Highway Administration. He said the proposal was to add a transparent sound wall to the northern side of the bridge on the Virginia side to mitigate noise impact to the city of Alexandria. He said the noise barrier would extend from the abutment about 1,500 feet, and stop short of the water. Mr. Lindstrom then introduced Tom Mohler and Ronaldo Nicholson to make the presentation.
Mr. Nicholson said he was with the Virginia Department of Transportation and was project manager for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. He said that the design team for the bridge created a “signature bridge,” to which a modification would be necessary to address the concerns of the community who would be impacted by traffic noise. He said that about one third of the bridge ran over land in “Old Town” Alexandria, Virginia. That third, he explained, extended to the community of Yates Garden to the Bascall Span in the Jones Points area. In order to minimize traffic noise in Alexandria without negatively impacting the view of the bridge over the Potomac River, he said, the abutment within that land area would need to be extended. The proposed solution would be the addition of a transparent noise barrier.
Mr. Nicholson said that the proposed Paraglass barrier has been used successfully in Europe and has been tested on a section of the New Jersey Turnpike. If installed on the Wilson bridge, Mr. Nicholson said, it would be the first time this solution would be used by VDOT, where it could work on an aesthetic as well as a functional level. Mr. Nicholson explained that the concrete barrier initially to be used would have impacted 12 out 39 residents. The proposed extension of 1,500 feet would protect up to 54 residents. Mr. Nicholson concluded by saying that he endorsed this proposal on behalf of the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Maryland Highway Administration. He then noted that Richard Baier, Director of Transportation and Environmental Services for the City of Alexandria and a member of the community were present in case there were any questions. He then introduced Tom Mohler of URS Greiner Woodward Clyde to continue with the presentation.
Mr. Mohler showed the Commission a material sample of the proposed transparent noise barrier. The barrier would be made of acrylic and would little damage from the sun, such as yellowing and crackling. He said that because acrylic lacked the strength of other plastics, black filaments would in the acrylic to add strength while leaving transparency. Mr. Mohler referred to a map included with the materials distributed to the members to show the location of the proposed barrier. He noted that the area was wooded and that it was not likely that the barrier could be seen from the river. The map, Mr. Mohler pointed out, was also an acoustical study with which the impact on residents could be seen. When asked by the Commission what the projected noise reduction may actually be, Mr. Mohler said the noise would be reduced by at least 5 decibels or by less than ten percent.
The Commission had several questions for Mr. Mohler and Mr. Nicholson regarding the appearance and durability of the acrylic. They wanted to know how daily grime such as road salt and dirt would be dealt with as well as deliberate damage from vandalism. One member noted that Mr. Mohler’s sample was scratched and asked if repeated cleanings, such as were done to airplane windows, would result in a scratched surface. The Commission also wanted to know if the acrylic was shatter-proof, and how easy would it be to replace panels in the long term. The answer was that the surface of the acrylic was a hard, polished surface and despite the appearance of the well-traveled sample, it was very scratch-resistant. It was also noted that the surface was not porous, so any type of debris would be removable. The acrylic was shatter-resistant, rather than shatter-proof, and the black filaments within the acrylic would add to its strength. As to cleaning, rainwater would be sufficient for any accumulated dirt and salt, and that a power wash provided by the manufacturer would be used immediately to remove spray paint or other markings as a result of vandalism. Mr. Nicholson said that the bridge owners were working with the manufacturer to have replacement panels ready in the event of collision damage or carved vandalism. He also said that the manufacturers said that placement panels could be reproduced within a 30-day time frame. When asked how similar barriers made from this material fared in other locations, Mr. Mohler said that in 12 to 15 years, the barrier in New Jersey has not needed any panels replaced because of environmental damage.
The Commission saw renderings showing an approach from Maryland to Virginia and also an animation of the same approach using the northernmost lanes. There were concerns about the proportion of the openings to the mullions and the mullions did line up with the rails. They said that the proportion of the aspect ratio of the panels was off and that those elements would need to be changed. They could be in quarters so that there would be almost a square window pane that gives a cadence as driving. In quarters they should be about the height of the knee walls. It was suggested that it would be better to resolve the design of the rail, which ought to line up with the wall, so that the whole design would appear integrated from the beginning rather than appearing as an afterthought. It was also suggested that the horizontal mullions be lighter in color, so that the effect to a driving would be of a fade. The Commission felt however, that the transparency was an improvement.
A motion was made to give preliminary approval based on redesign so that all the verticals line up and the horizontals are lightened so they cannot be seen. The motion was seconded, and carried unanimously.
(Ms. Brody left the meeting after the preceding discussion.)
E. District of Columbia Department of Mental Health
CFA 20/MAR/03-5, St. Elizabeths Hospital. 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. New hospital building. Concept. Ms. Alg introduced the proposal for a new hospital facility to replace the John Howard Pavilion on the southeast end of St. Elizabeths campus. She said the siting of the proposed facility was determined by the need to keep the existing facility open and operational during construction and also by soil issues nearby. The massing of the proposed facility, she said, was determined primarily by programmatic needs. Ms. Alg then introduced Steve Kleinrock, design principal with Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, to make the presentation.
Mr. Kleinrock began by introducing Richard Warsh, director of facilities for DC Department of Mental Health and Jamshid Sepehari and Mark Shaw, also of Einhorn Yaffee Prescott. Mr. Kleinrock indicated on one of his boards the location of the proposed building, which would be on the east campus, just east of the John Howard Pavilion. He said that the proposed building would be a 292 bed facility that would be divided into secure and non-secure areas. Calling attention to the urban design issues of the site, he indicated the locations of a cemetery, adjacent to the property line, a communications tower and the Metro station. Access to the site via Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Alabama Avenue would not be altered. Topographically, he pointed out a ravine with steep grading to the west of the Howard building and a ravine to the south that was filled in when the Metro was built. Because of the poor soil in this area, the proposed building could not be sited there. Moving to the proposed site plan, Mr. Kleinrock briefly discussed the organization of the proposed building. The entrance would be from Alabama Avenue onto a road that would wind through the campus, as far away as possible from the ravine. The building would be organized into secure and non-secure areas. The secure area would be all one story. The non-secure area would house many shared functions. There would be a double fence around the secure area. Public functions, such as treatment, shared functions and the service yard, would be located in front of the residential units. He then indicated the entrances to the secure and non-secure areas, the service area, the admittance area and the auditorium.
Mr. Kleinrock said that the residential units, a unit being a group of eight rooms, were designed to allow access to the outside, into the secure courtyard area, in keeping with current thinking in psychiatric care. These units were also designed to allow good sight lines as an extra level of security. The design would also allow a great deal of natural light into the building, which would also be helpful in patient care. Before turning the presentation over to Mr. Sepehari, Mr. Kleinrock emphasized that the design of the proposed building is programmatically driven as much as it aesthetically driven.
Mr. Sepehari began by highlighting some of Mr. Kleinrock’s points that the proposed building would be essentially two buildings, with secure and non-secure areas and that public functions and communal spaces would be in the front with residential units in the back. Before moving onto elevations, Mr. Sepehari showed photographs of existing buildings on both the east and west sides of the campus. These buildings, he said, were representative of periods including the 1850’s, Gothic Revival, 1900s on through to the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The point was to illustrate that the front and public sides of the proposed building would relate to campus buildings with a bigger footprint, while the residences would pick up the characters of some of the original, smaller buildings on the west campus.
Moving onto the elevations, Mr. Sepehari used boards to show the approach to the building from the south. He said that the first view of the building would be the non-secure section. This elevation would have large glass windows through which lobby functions and some office functions could be seen. Going westward, around the corner, one would approach the elevation of the non-secure section where the main entrance would be located. This elevation would also contain access to the auditorium and service yard and the entrance to the secure part of the building. The Commission asked how the service area would work off this elevation, specifically, they asked about the relationship between the entry and the service area. Mr. Sepehari replied that the service area would be “sandwiched” between the hospitals, and that the area could possibly have a transparent fence and be heavily planted. He said there would also be a linking component along the back face of the building to allow access to the service area. Noting that the model showed two 18 wheel trucks in the service area, the Commission was concerned about how such a large area could be effectively screened. Mr. Sepehari suggested that because the service yard would be a sunken yard over a basement which would house the mechanical and electrical facilities, it may be less visible. Nonetheless, the Commission pointed out that the entry, auditorium and service area were all stacked up on the same bar, and therefore, the service area would need to enclosed to the point of disappearance. Mr. Sepehari then suggested that the area could be bermed up, as the grade drops from six to eight feet at that elevation. He said that the berm could be manipulated to accommodate a wall, but that that would need to be worked out with landscape architects.
The Commission was satisfied with the possibility of the berm solution, but there were still concerns about the approach façade, since the entrance was actually around the corner from the approach.
When asked about transparency, Mr. Sepehari said the plan was organized so that there would be a visual connection from the approach façade to the entrance. He said that the open plans of the lobby and second floor office space above it would be able to be viewed through the windows. The Commission was generally complimentary, saying that he plan was extremely clever and well done, and that the proposed building would lay on the land very well. They were complimentary about the ways in which form and function came together, specifically the institutional flat roof and the sculptural appearance of the residences. The importance of integrated landscaping as the project develops was also emphasized. There was still concern about the cues given on the approach with the glass entries located around the corner from the approach façade. It was suggested that perhaps the corner could be turned with a canopy. It was also suggested that strategically placed signage could help with the cuing.
Before a motion was made, Barbara Zartman, vice-chairman for the Committee of 100 addressed the Commission. Ms. Zartman said that the Committee had prepared the National Historic Site nomination for St. Elizabeths, and that as the proposed facility would the first of many projects to come under the site’s future development, she asked that the Commission take great care in considering it. She was concerned about the amount of land to used for parking, specifically for flat asphalt lots. She felt that an inordinate amount of land would be used for parking lots and hoped that other buildings on the campus would not follow this trend. Mr. Kleinrock said that the number of parking spaces were determined by the zoning code, and that there would actually be a fewer number of parking spaces. The Commission suggested that the example set by the Integrated Security Communications Center at the north end of the site be followed, since they were able to successfully hide their parking.
A motion to approve in concept, with further review as the window detailing, was made, seconded and carried unanimously.
(The Vice-Chairman left the meeting after the preceding discussion.)
F. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 20/MAR/03-6, Georgetown Business District. Wisconsin Avenue, NW. Streetscape design. Phase II. Final. (Previous: CFA 12/JAN/02-12).
Mr. Martinez introduced Phase II of streetscape improvements for Georgetown. Phase I, reviewed by the Commission in January 2002, was for M Street and Phase II would be for Wisconsin Avenue.
Mr. Martinez said that the Old Georgetown Board had reviewed the project in concept last year. He made reference to the Board's report from their review of the final design at their meeting March 6. One of the concerns was about the detailing of the bases for the lamp posts since Wisconsin Avenue slopes. Mr. Martinez added that a block of Wisconsin Avenue had already been laid out for the Incinerator project and that it had light fixtures in place. At the Old Georgetown Board meeting, the community voiced concerns about the proximity and number of light fixtures at the Wisconsin Avenue block between R Street and Reservoir Road. The applicants wanted to make that block a gateway, but the community and the Board feel that as a gateway, the block would be too bright. Mr. Martinez then introduced Ali Shakeri, from Metro and Jeff Lee, the landscape architect.
Mr. Lee said that the comments and wishes of the Old Georgetown Board have been incorporated throughout the concept and design development of the proposed streetscape. Noting that one of the comments was that the project had a “monochromatic” feel to it, Mr. Lee stated that the brick paving would be highlighted throughout the Georgetown streetscape. He said that bluestone panels would be used as accent markers as they had on M Street. There would be an apron treatment for the curb cut for alleys and, as on M Street, bluestone would be used to the treat the handicapped ramps, rather than concrete.
Mr. Lee then addressed the concern about crowding of the light fixtures, especially in terms of the proposed gateway block of Wisconsin Avenue between R Street and Reservoir Road. He said the block for the proposed gateway was chosen because of the vistas it would provide to the Kennedy Center and Roosevelt Island. In order to discourage excessive speeds in vehicular traffic in that area, Mr. Lee said that elements would be spaced closer together. There would be a symmetrical planting of English oaks, like those that delineated 16th Street. Washington globe lamps would also be placed opposite each other at 30 foot intervals. Mr. Lee noted that the Board had commented at the 6 March meeting that since the Incinerator project had placed the Washington globe lamps at 30 foot on center, to continue in that manner would have an adverse effect. However, the proposed gateway block would be the only place on Wisconsin Avenue to have the lamps placed in this manner. Beyond that, the lamps would be staggered 60 foot on center. Furthermore, the final placement of trees would be defined by the existing conditions, specifically, the accommodation of underground utilities, and to assure that no trees or lampposts would be located at the entrances of businesses.
Mr. Martinez added that the Board suggested that signs be posted onto the lamp posts to reduce visual clutter on the sidewalks, and that this was reflected in the proposed design. On the drawings, Mr. Martinez noted for the Commission that the asterisks denoted placement of sleeves for the future locations of sign posts which the Board felt could be reduced in number. He also said that the Department of Transportation was studying a freestanding element designed to reduce the number of parking meters. The Board had seen one such design and deemed it appropriate for Georgetown.
The Commission asked if varying the patterns in which the bricks would be laid was addressed. Mr. Lee replied that a running bond was proposed because of the bending nature of the site, and because realistically, brick paving would not be laid down and left to age, as alterations for new businesses over time would need access to water hook-ups and such. A unified paving system, he said, would be easier to maintain and the bluestone accents and curb cut treatments at the alleyways would add to the effect.
Barbara Zartman, representing the Citizens Association of Georgetown, said that the Association had a strong position against the uniformity of the brick treatment. She said that such a treatment would create more of a suburban mall atmosphere, rather than convey the uniqueness of Georgetown. Ms. Zartman also said that the proposed street lamps would be too tall and at that height, they would change the scale of the street. In addition to being visually wrong, lamps at the proposed height would be functionally wrong, as they would shine into second floor windows rather than onto the street.
The Commission agreed with Ms. Zartman that the brick treatment should not have a uniform look. They said that essentially, the “floor” of Georgetown should be gritty, that when the paving becomes homogenous, the grittiness of Georgetown, and the ways in which the buildings meet the ground, would be lost. They also agreed that the proposed street lamps would be too tall and out of scale with the street and buildings. The Commission asked that the applicants consider the Board’s and Ms. Zartman’s comments as they proceed with their design, and return with a design that reflected those comments.
(Mr. Capoccia and Mr. Childs left the meeting during the preceding discussion.)
G. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Old Georgetown Act a. O.G. 03-108, 901 30th Street, NW. New building to house the Embassy of Sweden. Informational presentation on the concept selected from the design competition.
Mr. Martinez introduced an information presentation of a concept for the House of Sweden, the Swedish Embassy, to be located at 901 30th Street. He said that the Old Georgetown Board had seen the same presentation at their 6 March meeting and since that was also for information only, there was no report from the Board. Mr. Martinez said that the House of Sweden would be part of a larger project along 30th Street and that the both buildings on the site would be presented in concept to the Board at their 3 April meeting. He introduced Arthur Cotton Moore, and acknowledged others present who were involved with the project, including Alan Novak, developer and owner of the site and Walter Schaepper from Leo A. Daly. Mr. Moore briefly stated that the whole project would be presented to the Commission at a later date, and that the south building, proposed for the House of Sweden, would be presented by Greg Hunt, dean of the School of Architecture at Catholic University.
Mr. Hunt began by describing the competition process by which the design was selected. He said that there was a competition between five of Sweden’s major architects. The jury, which Mr. Hunt had served on, met for three days in Washington and three days in Sweden. After much scrutiny, the jury unanimously selected a design by Wingardh Architects of Goteborg, Sweden. Mr. Hunt offered apologies on behalf of architect Gert Wingardh and his partner, Tomas Hansen, who could not attend the Commission meeting and commenced his Power Point presentation. He gave a basic overview of the proposed building, saying that it would have five stories and approximately 85,000 square feet. There would be one floor of parking below-grade, a conference center, two floors for the embassy chancery and the upper two floors would be residential.
Mr. Hunt said there were five major points in the design. The first was transparency. He said that the proposed building would fundamentally be a glazed building, because transparency, to quote the architect, Mr. Wingardh, was “an honored word describing the openness of the Swedish political system.” The second point was a sense of clarity and elegant simplicity. This would be achieved, he said, by the fairly simple profile of the building as seated in the land. At this point, Mr. Hunt pointed out that the building would sit on podium raised above flood level. The architect, he said, was attempting to minimize the use of expensive flood gates, though the building would be located in an area where floods would be a concern. The third point was the innovative use of materials. The fourth point was the idea that landscape would be an integral part of the whole project. The fifth point was the color palette. He was that white would be used because white is evocative of a Swedish winter landscape. The plinth on which the building would rest would be made of white marble and there would be a series of white columns. Some of the glass panels would have a thin layer of either Swedish birch or American maple veneer sandwiched in the middle.
Turning to transparency, Mr. Hunt explained that the interior design would be important, because the building’s exteriors would be heavily glazed, thus making the interiors very visible. He said that the architects were highly conscious of the role of night illumination, and to that end had introduced the idea of a “wicker lamp.” This effect would be achieved by backlighting laminated wood panels behind the glass, to create a glow, much like that of a wicker lamp. The wood would also reflect natural sunlight during the day. Another technique that would be used on this heavily glazed building would be the placement of ceramic dots on the glass. Mr. Hunt explained that the coloration changes from light to dark would depend on the density of the dots. The density would be minimal on the lower levels to create more transparency and on the upper levels, the density would be greater to create a whiter surface. In answer to a question from the Commission, Mr. Hunt clarified that the translucency of the wood panels would be achieved by the use of a thin veneer of wood between two pieces of glass. Like insulated glass, he explained, the air would be extracted resulting in dimensionally stable wood. The thinness of the wood would allow for translucency. Mr. Hunt then pointed out the protruding vertical bar which would house the elevator would also make use of the ceramic dots, except that the dots would be densest and whitest at the bottom and graduate to greater transparency towards the top.
Mr. Hunt then highlighted several architectural details. Indicating the west elevation, 30th Street, Mr. Hunt pointed out the white columns, plinth, ramp and steps, all to made from white marble. The column would create an arcade on that elevation. Other details highlighted included a stair to the conference center with views to Rock Creek, the entrance wall whose series of laminated glass sheets would evoke the crystalline ice structures of Sweden and a café. He showed a longitudinal section to further illustrate the idea of transparency. Briefly returning to the color palette, he said the ceilings would have fiber-optic lights which would pierce a maple or birch layer, creating a starry effect. The stair leading to the conference center would also employ this effect. Although the ceiling and stair were interior details, Mr. Hunt said they would work well with the exterior. He reiterated that the color palette would be white with wood and glass. Providing more detail about the one flood gate, located at the conference center level, Mr. Hunt said that the gate, in a normal condition, would be a flat piece of metal from which Rock Creek and the forest pond, located at the conference center level, could be viewed. In case of flood, the gate would swing up nd pivot. Before discussing landscaping, Mr. Hunt showed the elevations in some detail, renderings of how the building would look at night and the roof terrace.
Mr. Hunt concluded his presentation with a brief discussion about landscaping. He said that, if the budget, among other factors, permits, the landscaping scheme would evoke the six worlds of Sweden. He went on to specify five, starting with the use us the color white, and especially the white plinth of the building to represent snow. The second would be a rough-cut limestone with small wild flowers planted into the joints. He indicated its proposed location on the site plan and said that that area would be available for public use. The third evocation would be called the meadow. There would be a small amphitheater, possibly made of reinforced glass or with illuminated glass risers. The meadow would also be available for public use. A deep forest pool would be accessible from a walkway along Rock Creek. Finally, there would be a grove of silver birch trees. Mr. Hunt used competition boards to illustrate the concepts for the possible landscape plan.
In conclusion, Mr. Hunt said that he and the other jurors were very enthusiastic about the proposal and that he thought that the country of Sweden was making a extraordinary to the citizens of Georgetown and Washington. He then invited questions and comments from the Commission. The Commission was very complimentary towards the proposal, specifically to the transparency, use of materials and the different worlds of Sweden. They said that the concepts as presented were very true to the idea of Sweden. There was a concern about the lack of shelter on the roof terrace, since summers in Washington can be very harsh and umbrellas added after the fact might ruin the effect. There was also a question about whether the laminated exterior wood panels had been tested in the field, and could they be replaced if they buckled. Mr. Hunt said that they have been tested, but he did not know for how long. He also said that buckled panels could be replaced, and agreed that the roof terrace should not look as it had been retrofitted for shading. With these comments, Commission enthusiastically approved the project in concept.
(Ms. Rafshoon left the meeting during the preceding discussion.)
b. Appendix I.
Mr. Martinez highlighted some cases from the Old Georgetown Appendix for the Commission. Case OG 03-116, Neyla Restaurant, was removed from the draft was on hold until 3 April because the applicants applied for another addition when the previous work, reviewed and approved by the board, was not built to compliance. Case OG 03-130, a restaurant at 1329 Wisconsin Avenue NW, was added since the draft was distributed. The applicants, in their demolition of the building, were not making the proper provisions for the front wall, which was historic. This case was returned to the District government because the drawings were incomplete and not appropriate for review. The drawings were exactly the same as a previously submitted set that the Board had recommended against.
Mr. Martinez also highlighted two recent cases (OG 03-14, the Edwards residence and OG 03-94, the Stephanopoulos residence) that had appeared in the “Reliable Source” column of the Washington Post, because of the high profile of the applicants. Both cases were put on hold, pending additional information. Mr. Martinez said the Board were working to protect the historic character of Georgetown, and added that the character of the buildings should be protected, regardless of who occupied them. The Commission agreed and approved the Old Georgetown appendix.
2. Shipstead-Luce Act a. S.L. 03-058, 400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW (at 4th and H streets). New thirteen-story residential building. Permit. (Previous: S.L. 02- 071, last seen CFA 16 May 02).
Ms. Alg introduced the submission for a permit to construct a new thirteen-story residential building at 400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. She noted that the project was last seen on 16 May 2002 at which time the Commission requested further study of the elevations, particularly at street level, and more investigation of the curved apex of the building at the corner of H and 4th Streets. Ms. Alg introduced Philip Esocoff of Esocoff & Associates, the New York architecture firm charged with designing the project.
Mr. Esocoff illustrated the further development of the design since it was last seen by the Commission, describing and showing the interaction of materials and the changes in the massing of the building. The primary brick color would be accented by a darker brick and ribbed cast stone. Black window frames would be chosen with railings and trellises painted in an accent color, such as red or blue. The roofscape would be developed with a swimming pool and shading devices, in addition to some landscaping. He said the streetscape standard would be applied to the site, including the addition of landscaping and trees. There would be a purplish asphaltic paver and a glass canopy at the entrance.
The Commission appreciated the massing of the building, particularly at the apex corner, and the use of materials throughout the building. The project was approved for permit. b. S.L. 03-063, Station Place. 600 2nd Street, NE. New 10-story office building - Phase II. Permit. (Previous: S.L. 02-078 [Phase I], last seen CFA 20 June 2002).
Ms. Alg introduced the submission for permit to construct a new 10-story office building that is Phase II of Station Place, located at 600 2nd Street, NE. She noted that the first phase of the project was presented in June of 2002 and introduced Phil Kinsella of Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates to present the project.
Mr. Kinsella gave an overview of the entire project stating that the building setbacks and heights are consistent with what was previously approved. He also described the materials for the building and the streetscape, including the plazas and the sidewalks. The Commission expressed an interest in the proposed security barrier, suggesting the possibility of barriers other than bollards. Mr. Kinsella explained that a water feature would provide the majority of protection with a minimum number of bollards to allow for appropriate circulation to and from the building.
The Commission was pleased with the material palette chosen for the building and the streetscape. The project was approved for permit. c. S.L. 03-064, Potomac Center. 500 12th Street, SW. Phase II. Alterations and additions. Concept. (Previous: S.L. 03-018, last seen CFA 21 November 2002). Ms. Alg introduced the submission for revised concept to make alterations and additions to an existing building. She noted that the concept was previously reviewed and approved with no objections in November 2002. The proposed changes included modification of the penthouse and refinement of the elevations. Mike Hickok and Mark Arnold of Hickok Warner Fox Architects were introduced as the presenters.
Mr. Hickok gave an overview of the project including a brief history of the site.The new building would follow the same design rules as was established for the South Tower (Phase I), with the same architectural vocabulary and materials and only minor modifications in the architectural details. Mr. Hickok stated that the landscape design would be brought to the Commission at a later date.
The Commission was pleased with the articulation of the building and approved the project in concept.
d. Appendix II.
Ms. Alg indicated changes to the Shipstead-Luce Appendix since the draft was written. The only change to the appendix was with Case 03-067. They submitted more information and the staff recommendation was changed to no objection to issuance of permit. Ms. Alg also brought the Mandarin Hotel to the attention of the Commission, noting that all the signs seemed appropriate and addressing a small question about the awnings for the building. The Shipstead-Luce Appendix was approved unanimously.
Whereupon, there being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 4:50 PM.
Charles H. Atherton