Minutes for CFA Meeting — 22 April 2003

The meeting was convened at 10:07 a.m. in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Suite 312, Washington, DC 20001.

Members present:
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

Staff present:
Mr. Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Ms. Kristina Alg
Ms. Sue Kohler
Mr. Jose Martinez
Ms. Susan Raposa


A. Approval of minutes:
20 March 2003

The minutes of the 20 March 2003 meeting were approved.

B. Dates of next meetings:
15 May 2003
19 June 2003
17 July 2003

The dates for the next three meetings were approved.

C. Report on the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program.

The Assistant Secretary, Mr. Lindstrom, gave a brief report on the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program. He said that the previous twenty applicants had reapplied and that this year there was an additional application from the Wooly Mammoth Theater. All applications were accepted and as soon as all twenty-one acceptance letters were received, they would be sent to the Department of the Interior who will distribute the grants. The grants ranged from $500,000 (the formula cap of the program) to $247,748.

Administrative items not on the agenda.

Mr. Lindstrom said that Beth Dooley, registrar at the Freer Gallery, requested permission for the Freer to bid on piece at an auction to held at Sotheby, London, on 30 April 2003. The piece, lot 24, was an ink and wash drawing on paper on a triangular board with edges of gold sprinkled paper. It depicted three spotted, stalking wolves encircling a medallion of elaborate foliated motifs. The drawing was said to be Herat and/or Tabriz, dating from approximately the 15th century. The Commission approved the proposed purchase, and the Chairman signed the approval letter.

Mr. Childs raised a concern about the letter sent by the Commission to an applicant regarding the concept massing design proposal for the National Law Enforcement Museum (CFA 20/MAR/03-2). After examining the letter and the meeting minutes, Mr. Childs felt that the two documents did not agree; specifically, because the letter suggested modifications without explicitly stating approval, while the minutes contained a clear statement of approval. Mr. Lindstrom said staff would follow up and work to clarify any misunderstanding.

Before concluding the administrative items, Mr. Capoccia commended the staff for providing more detailed information about zoning, as requested by the Commission.


A. National Park Service / American Battle Monuments Commission

CFA 22/APR/03- 1, World War II Memorial. 17th Street at the Rainbow Pool. Inscriptions. Revised designs. (Previous: CFA 21/NOV/02- 1). The Assistant Secretary introduced General P.X. Kelley (Ret.), who recalled that the Commission had approved fifteen of the seventeen inscriptions submitted, and had asked that the ABMC take another look at the announcement stone inscription. He said they also had several new ones to submit, and he asked Barry Owenby from the ABMC to present them.

Before making his presentation, Mr. Owenby brought the members up to date on the construction progress. He said thirty-five of the state and territorial pillars were under construction and both pavilions were underway, with the one on the north side to be completed in mid-May and the one on the south around the first of July. Piling and excavation work was about ninety percent complete.

Turning to the inscriptions, Mr. Owenby said the last four months had been spent focusing on the inscriptions, guided by certain precepts: maintaining brevity without sacrificing meaning, minimizing ellipses and ensuring authenticity, and trying to incorporate specific themes such as the unity and bonding of the nation, the American spirit, the heroism and valor of those serving in the armed forces, and the power of a free and democratic people.  He noted the strong support given by the Commission’s late Chairman, J. Carter Brown, to all aspects of the memorial.

Beginning with the announcement stone, Mr. Owenby recalled the Commission’s suggestion that the text be edited so as to keep it as concise as possible. He said, however, that they had decided to keep the phrases referring to the 18th and 19th centuries. He said they had taken the Assistant Secretary’s advice that the last phrase, “A Nation Conceived in Liberty and Justice” should all be placed on one line, and he noted, too, that that line had originally read: “A national conceived in freedom.”

Two additional inscriptions were presented, to be added to the inner east rampart walls. One was from Oveta Culp Hobby, first director of the Women’s Army Corps and later secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare; the second was from Admiral Nimitz. Both were added to stress the fact that the war effort was universal, that it was a people’s war and everyone was in it.

The last new inscription was the one associated with the Field of Gold Stars, and Mr. Owenby said it had been the most difficult choice to make, arrived at only after an intense discussion regarding the meaning to be conveyed, which was that the Field of Gold Stars represented not only sacrifice but sacrifice with an unquestioned purpose. The chosen inscription, composed for the memorial, was brief: “Here we mark the price of freedom”.

The members then discussed the inscriptions with Mr. Owenby. There were no objections to the new inscriptions for the rampart walls; they were thought to be totally appropriate.  There was not unanimous agreement on the change in the announcement stone inscription. Some of the members still preferred what had been previously recommended: the elimination of “One the eighteenth century father and the other the nineteenth century preserver of our nation”, and the reference to the “twentieth century”, as being unnecessary and making the inscription too wordy. It was requested that, if these statements were used, there should be a comma after father and another after preserver. There were no objections to the change of wording in the last line.

The elimination of the quotation from the Archibald MacLeish poem, formerly selected for the Field of Gold Stars, was also considered regrettable by several members. Although they had wished for a longer excerpt, even the brief line taken out of context, “We give you our deaths, give them their meaning,” was considered more evocative than the substitution, which seemed to them too abrupt and literal. Others thought the Field of Stars was a stark reminder of the sacrifices made during a war, of the price to be paid, and the new inscription expressed that well. There was further discussion, with the suggestion being made that the MacLeish poem could be incorporated in the brochures the Park Service would hand out at the memorial. A motion was made that all the inscriptions be approved, “bearing in mind the concerns of the Commission, because they have not yet been etched and chiseled.” The motion was seconded and carried, with one dissenting vote.

B. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint

CFA 22/APR/03- 2, Fifty States circulating/ commemorative quarter program for
2004. Designs for Texas State quarter. (Previous: CFA 19/DEC/02- 4).

Staff member Sue Kohler introduced Barbara Bradford from the Mint to show the members proposed designs for the Texas quarters, the second of the 2004 quarters to be reviewed.

Ms. Bradford said four of the five designs were based on the theme of the Lone Star State, with the fifth based on the Texas Rangers badge with the Alamo in the center. She noted that design No. 1, showing the Lone Star against the outline of the state, was the preferred design. Ms. Bradford said the rendition of the star on all the designs was based on the one on the state seal. Although there were no objections to design No. 1, the comment was made that the most successful quarters had been those with one central element, like the tree on the Connecticut coin; in this case, the large star in the center of design No. 2 had a similar strength, and it was considered preferable for that reason. It was therefore unanimously approved, with the recommendation that the small outline of the state at the bottom be removed.

C. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

1. Shipstead-Luce Act

a. Appendix I.

(The agenda order was changed and this item discussed first)

At the suggestion of Ms. Alg, the Shipstead-Luce appendix was discussed prior to the presentation of the Corcoran Gallery project, to allow the Corcoran presenters time to set up their presentation materials.

Ms. Alg said that there were a few changes to the draft appendix. Case S.L. 03-68. the Chancery of Saudi Arabia, not approved in the draft, was now recommended for approval. She said that Commission staff had met with the staff of the Chancery, and that together they came up with an acceptable solution for the proposed new mail room and processing center. Ms. Alg explained that the proposed addition would actually be a transformation of the loading dock and would incorporate the mail room. The modified design would be a rectilinear structure with a ramp connecting the original building and the proposed addition. The addition would be compatible with the existing building in terms of its materials and also with the existing guard booth. The only other changes from the draft were the addition of cases S.L. 03-75, 03-76 and 03-77, permits for signs. The designs had been previously approved, though a change in tenants required a change in text only. With those changes, the Commission approved Appendix I.

b. S.L. 03-070, The Corcoran Gallery of Art. 500 17th Street, NW (1700 New York Ave). Addition and alterations. Permit. (Previous: S.L. 01-082, CFA 18 October 2002).

Ms. Alg noted that this was a permit application and recalled that after the initial presentation the Commission had asked that security requirements be incorporated into the design during an early stage and not added as an afterthought. She said there would also be a new handicapped access area shown which had not been reviewed during the first presentation. She said Tensho Takemori and George Metzger would be presenting for the Gehry firm, and then introduced David Levy, director of the Corcoran Gallery, to begin the presentation.

Mr. Levy reviewed the need for the project, saying that the Corcoran had done no building since the mid-20s when the wing designed by Charles Platt was added to the original Ernest Flagg building; since then, he said, the museum had expanded considerably. He commented also that the original school of art was now a four-year, degree-granting college and its existing space was inadequate. He said they did not want to divorce the college from the museum and find other, less expensive space elsewhere. In addition to building new space for both the museum and the college, the two existing buildings would be completely renovated and gallery space that had been subverted for office and other uses would be restored to its original use–probably fourteen new galleries would be opened up in the historic buildings. Mr. Levy said the design for the new addition remained essentially the same as it had been when the Commission first saw it in October 2001; the minor changes made had been in response to the Commission’s recommendations at that time. Mr. Levy then introduced architect Tensho Takemori from Frank Gehry’s office.

Mr. Takemori reviewed what would be accomplished with the new addition. He said first that it would provide for two new entrances along New York Avenue. The first would complement the existing entrance on 17th Street, allowing the museum to run multiple events at the same time and accommodate the larger crowds expected. The second entrance would be for the college only and would give access to a separate set of elevators and stairs going down to the college space below grade.

An urban design accomplishment of the addition would be to fill in the essentially blank space between the existing Corcoran building and the United Unions building to the west. He pointed out that the shapes of the facade angled upward from the Corcoran to the United Unions building, making a single composition of the whole block. He commented that the curve of the hemicycle at the corner of the Corcoran building had generated the shapes of the three curved elements of the Gehry facade, which reflected the size, scale, and massing of the existing element. Mr. Takemori noted also that emphasizing the connection between the low Corcoran building and the higher Union building had allowed more of the mass of the addition to be moved to the west, thus getting rid of any new construction above the roof of the Corcoran building and allowing it to retain its historic character.

Turning to the interior, Mr. Takemori recalled plans for a central atrium, on axis with the 17th Street entrance to the Corcoran building, which would be a unifying element, linking the original Flagg building, the Platt wing, and the Gehry addition. Galleries would be placed around the atrium, following Flagg’s original circulation intent. The college, too, would have an atrium around which the below-grade college spaces would be organized. Two large skylights would light this atrium, and the top spaces would be reserved for the painting and drawing studios. The college itself would gain a presence it had never had, as all museum visitors entering from the new New York avenue entrance would pass over a bridge from which they could see the college spaces as they entered the museum.

Lastly, Mr. Takemori addressed the items brought up at the first presentation. The first was the door to the loading dock, which of necessity had to be on New York Avenue, although it was recessed behind the main facade. Mr. Takemori said it would be made of stainless steel and kept closed when not in use. The second item was the unprotected skylights, which were seen as a potential risk. Mr. Takemori said they would be surrounded by a concrete barrier wall on three sides; the wall would be
36 inches high, designed to meet any accidental vehicular impact, with a railing on top; some adjustments had been made to the skylights so they would not look like “chained-in piece(s) of glass”. A new item, not brought up before, was a concrete ramp at the auditorium entrance for handicapped accessibility. It would be set flush in a grass slope, and at the end, in order to deal with the landing, there would be a simple concrete wall.

The members had several questions for Mr. Takemori. One concerned the separate entrance for the college students and whether that might shut them off from the museum experience. Mr. Levy responded to that by saying that he was very concerned that that not happen. He said it would be difficult to have the students enter at the visitors entrance, because they were usually bringing so many things in with them that would require a fairly serious security check. Once through the entrances, however, the space was designed so there was a level of interaction between museum visitors and students going back and forth to classes that would avoid any feeling of separation.

Questions were asked about security for the main building, and although Mr. Takemori said they had not addressed that at this time, it was pointed out that there was an iron picket fence and also an area way around the building.

A comment was made about the unattractive appearance of the space inside the auditorium entrance on New York Avenue, and Mr. Levy was asked if anything was planned to improve that area. He said that at one time they had considered a new auditorium but decided against it because of the beauty of the present facility. He said, however, that the nondescript space on the right of the entrance hall would be reconfigured into a retail store and the stair area beyond cleaned up.

A question was asked about the visibility of the new facades; Mr. Takemori said there was only one primary facade, the one along New York Avenue, and perhaps a partial one where the Union building was set back, plus a small piece that could be seen from E Street where there was an alley at present.

A representative from the Committee of 100, Don Hawkins, asked to speak. He wanted to express his concern about the integrity of the L’Enfant plan, pointing out that the canopy and the skylights would make a unique incursion into public space, one that could be seen along the sight lines from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to Rawlins Park ,and he hoped it would not set an example for future attempts to do the same. Several of the members took issue with Mr. Hawkins, pointing out the unusual siting relative to the street of the buildings across New York Avenue from the Corcoran, where they receded from the normal street front, and were set below the grade of the sidewalk. It was thought that the city needed this sculptural building, that it was a building of exceptional quality, and that it was on a section of an avenue that ended abruptly a few hundred feet from the White House grounds. Mr. Levy added that it ended in the other direction in the E Street Expressway tunnel. In spite of the disagreement with Mr. Hawkins, his concern with the integrity of the L’Enfant Plan was respected, and he was assured that this building would not set a precedent for others attempting to do the same thing.

One last question concerned the wall at the end of the handicapped ramp at the auditorium entrance and why it had to be solid. Mr. Takemori said it was an attempt to be compatible with the solid wall of the stair next to it. A motion was then made that the changes to the design as shown be approved, with the exception of that section of wall, which was to be looked at again. The motion was seconded and approved unanimously.

c. S.L. 03-074, Arena Stage. 1101 Sixth Street, SW. Additions, alterations and reconfiguration. Revised concept. (Previous: S.L. 02-
102, CFA 18 July 2002).

Ms. Alg recalled that the concept design had been approved with the request that further development be submitted as it occurred. She introduced architect Bing Thom to discuss revisions that had been made.

Mr. Thom reviewed the project briefly, noting the two existing theaters, the Fichandler and the Kreeger, which would undergo renovation and alteration, and the proposal for a new experimental theater, called the Cradle; he said the program called for a doubling of facilities, from about 90,000 square feet of floor space to about 180,000. Noting that the two existing theaters were built in the 1970s and did not have double shells for acoustic control, his firm had created a solution based on the development of a large “wrap” that would cover the two theaters, displaying them as objects in a jewel box, and include the new theater and additional facilities as well. He observed that the site had an interesting axial relationship with the Washington Monument that would be stressed in the orientation of the roof structure. The proximity of the waterfront and its future development had also influenced the design in that the decision had been made to have a major entrance on Maine Avenue a well as the original one on 6th Street, which tied into the Metro and Waterside Mall; this would allow the public to use the Arena site as a shortcut between the neighborhood and the waterfront. The water theme had also been carried over into the interior, where pools of water were inserted into the entire enclosed space, tying it together. Mr. Thom said the overall concept of the design had developed after a conversation with Zelda Fichandler during which she commented on a grass covered mound in front of the Fichandler Stage, referring to it as “the Acropolis on top of the mount.” From that comment he had developed his concept of the project as three temples on an Acropolis.

Mr. Thom then commented on the twenty-one apartments, which had been added to the upper floors of the Cradle.  Since the Commission had last seen the project, additional small garret-type apartments had been added to accommodate families who might accompany the artists for the duration of a production. These would necessitate raising the parapet height from 85 to 91 feet. The other major change had been to the main roof; a tension structure of cables had been added at the end with the 150-foot cantilever, and in order to balance it, the other end had been stretched out another 15 feet. The roof had gotten slightly thicker, and other refinements had been made to it.

A question was asked about the layering of the “wrap” in the area of the garrets. Mr. Thom said that in order to further the relationship between the artists and the audience, a series of scrims had been introduced so that even in the public space, theater-goers would have the feeling of actually being on stage; the area would be lighted so that sometimes they would be seen and other times not. Mr. Thom went on to discuss the varying character of the different public spaces, observing also that buildings had a different character when put under a wrap; he noted that the roof of the Kreeger theater would be developed as a pre-show food and bar area.  Lobby areas would be provided with soft furniture, and there would be various other public spaces such as a bookstore and a coffee shop. He pointed out a diagonal between the Fichandler and Kreeger theaters which he had noticed when developing the project and said that it had been extended through the site, becoming a feature and a sort of spine that held everything together.

Questions were asked about signage, and Mr. Thom said he had not gotten very far into that yet, but he thought it should be theatrical and dynamic, with a LED screen certainly a possibility. A member suggested that the building itself was the signage, and Mr. Thom said he would agree with that. A question was asked about the material for the Cradle. Again, Mr. Thom said that had not decided yet, but he had been thinking about using some metal, perhaps perforated metal. He commented that they already had two concrete buildings, and he was thinking of adding some wood to the Kreeger. There was no objection to the slight increase to the height of the Cradle; in fact, it was thought that it would actually benefit the project. A question was asked about projecting elevator overrides or mechanical equipment, and Mr. Thom said those had already been provided for in the drawings as shown. There were no further questions, and the revised concept design was unanimously approved.

2. Old Georgetown Act

a. O.G. 03-145, 3700 O Street, NW. Georgetown University. Ryan Administration Building. MBNA Performing Arts Center. Permit. (Previous: O.G. 03-24, CFA 21 November 2002)

Mr. Martinez said that the next project was a permit application for the Performing Arts Center addition to the Ryan Administration Building at Georgetown University. He referred the Commission to the Report of the Old Georgetown Board dated 22 April 2003 and in summation, said that the Commission had reviewed and approved the design at its 18 July 2002 meeting. Since then, the Board reviewed developments to the design in November 2002 and April 2003. At the latter meeting, the Board recommended that revisions be made to the roof access ladder to reduce its visibility, and that a landscape plan and details for signs be submitted later. They also requested that the applicant erect material sample panels, incorporating the detailing of the brick patterns for review and approval prior to purchasing materials. The Board were concerned that the color and texture of the brick samples presented at the April meeting would not be inconsistent with the brick on other buildings on campus. The Commission indicated that they would like to see material sample panels erected as well, on a site visit, in order to view the proposed brickwork within the context of the campus. Mr. Martinez said that that could be arranged, and introduced Steward Jones of   Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer Associates to present the project.

Mr. Jones began by saying that it was a pleasure to follow Arena Stage, and that the performing arts were alive and well. He said that while Arena Stage was a professional company, Georgetown was an academic teaching facility whose performing arts program has educational functions as well as artistic. He briefly described the proposed facility as a 250 seat performing arts theater and a 150 seat studio theater equipped with all the supporting functions of a theater such as dressing rooms and shops. Moving onto changes from what was presented in concept, Mr. Jones said that the brickwork would consist of two types of brick colors, identified by a beige-toned precast concrete element. He showed the Commission the same material samples that were shown to the Board. Expressing appreciation for the concerns of the Board about the brick, he said that a mock-up would be built on site using the sample brick to illustrate the proposed pattern. He said that the pattern would be subtle with a subtle accent, and that it would achieve a homogeneous effect with Georgetown. He added that the windows would be anodized aluminum with clear glass, and that the placement of the access ladder on the roof would be reexamined for ways in which to make it less visible, but still functional.

A motion was made to approve, with the expressed concerns of the Board and the opportunity for a site visit. The motion was carried and the Commission was complimentary towards the project.

b. O.G. 03-108, 901 30th Street, NW. New building to house the Embassy of Sweden. Concept. (Previous: CFA 20 March 2003, Information on design competition).

Mr. Martinez introduced the next two projects, the House of Sweden and the mixed use building, known as the north building, together. He said that the proposed buildings would have the same address, 901 30th Street, and be part of the same development. Although there was paperwork for two cases, these two projects would be looked at as one.

Mr. Martinez read the report of the Old Georgetown Board for cases OG 03-108 and OG 03-133 into the record. The report said that since 1984, several projects had been proposed for the site, most recently, case OG 02-180, a project called Harborside, proposed by Arthur Cotton Moore. The project was reviewed by the Commission on 16 May 2002 and was given limited concept approval for the site plan, massing, scale and footprint. Based on recommendations from the Board, the Commission recommended further study of elevations, entrances and design details to differentiate from the architecture of Washington Harbor. The 30th Street facade would also need to be more pedestrian friendly at sidewalk level.

The current proposal, Mr. Martinez continued, would develop the whole site, including the site of the GSA coal house, which would be demolished to make room for an underground parking structure topped with a landscaped park at grade. The above-ground portion of the project would be subdivided into two structures, the proposed House of Sweden to the south and a five and a half story mixed use building to the north.

Both the Commission and the Board saw an informational presentation of the concept design for the House of Sweden, and both received the project enthusiastically. Mr. Martinez said that the presentation would be made again, as an actual concept submission, for the benefit of those members who may have missed it at the 20 March meeting. He added that the concept was presented at the Old Georgetown Board meeting of 3 April 2003, where it was, again, well received, with the recommendation that careful attention be given to the detailing of the glass surfaces.

The Board had several serious concerns about the north building, also seen as a concept submission on 3 April 2003. The circulation pattern on the site was thought to be problematical and unsafe, because it would connect vehicle access to the underground garage and the loading dock with main pedestrian entrances under a 27 foot cantilevered portion of the building at the northeast corner. Secondly, the proposal to put the first floor a half story below grade would not respond to the need for a pedestrian-friendly facade on 30th Street. Either one floor should be deleted, or the height of the building should be raised so that the first floor would be fully above grade. The Board recommended further study to separate pedestrian entrances from vehicular access and suggested relocating the pedestrian entrances further south on 30th Street. This would also help alleviate the west façade’s lack of human scale at sidewalk level and enliven the pedestrian experience on this portion of the street. Additional concerns included the dark cavity appearance of the loading dock and its effect on the north and east facades, and the use of brick, glass, steel and wood as materials, and their relationship to each other as the facades of the north building. The Board again cautioned that the north building should be distinctly different from the architecture of Washington Harbor, and that it should not mimic the House of Sweden. They expressed their enthusiastic support for the demolition of the coal house, with the recommendation that the landscape design of the proposed park which would replace it be studied in context to Rock Creek, and that the proposed landscape of the House of Sweden be considered in relation to the vehicular access points in the proposed north building and pedestrian walkways. This concluded the Board’s report.
The Chairman said that although the whole project to be considered was one development, he wanted the Chancery, north building and the coal house site to be treated as separate voting entities.

Mr. Martinez then introduced Arthur Cotton Moore, architect of the proposed north building, Alan Novak of Lano International, the developer, Peter Ohrstedt, department head of the Swedish National Property Board and Tomas Hansen of Wingardh Architects, Goteborg, Sweden, one of the architects of the proposed House of Sweden. Mr. Moore said that he would address the concerns of the Old Georgetown Board in his presentation and that the Chancery and the north building should be considered as a unified project. He then introduced Mr. Ohrstedt.

Mr. Ohrstedt briefly described the responsibilities of the Swedish National Property Board in relation to the House of Sweden. The Property Board would basically act as landlord to the House of Sweden, whose tenants would include the embassy and the conference center. The residential areas, he said, would be handled by the developer. He said that it was the policy of the Swedish government that good architecture was essential to all people, and that the proposed House of Sweden would be an example of this, as a representative of Swedish architecture outside of Sweden. He spoke of the competition through which the proposed design was selected, and acknowledged Gregory Hunt, dean of the School of Architecture at Catholic University and member of the jury. He then introduced Tomas Hansen to make the presentation.

Mr. Hansen said that he worked with Gert Wingardh, one of Sweden’s most prominent architects, on the design for the proposed House of Sweden. He said his Power Point presentation would be based on competition drawings. Except for a few additional images, the presentation was essentially the same as that given by Mr. Hunt at the 20 March 2003 Commission meeting. Mr. Hansen highlighted the role of the site in the design, the use of materials, especially glass, and the incorporation of Swedish landscape elements into the design. He discussed the interiors in some detail and the use of light on the interior and exterior.

The Commission had several questions for Mr. Hansen, primarily about lighting, glass and security. They asked how the wood panels would be lit and were told that lighting details had not been worked out yet, but that they were exploring different possibilities. Lighting the panels from the back could be one method, or they could possibly be lit from the top. As an example, Mr. Hansen showed an image of an interior project in Berlin which had an illuminated maple veneer. He also pointed out the optical fiber lighting in the ceiling of the Berlin interior would also be used in the House of Sweden. Mr. Hansen then showed the Commission glass samples using both a maple and a pine veneer. He demonstrated the transparency and luminosity of the glass by holding a sample up to the light.

Mr. Hansen briefly addressed the patterns that would be created by the riveted or “grommit-like” fastenings in the glass panels, when asked what their material and color would be. He explained that the effect would need to be further tested together with the material itself, but that the hope was that a specific pattern would be developed. The Commission asked if clear glass would be used on the residential floors as well. The concern was that the designers would have no control over what private residents would put in their windows and that the use of clear glass on the residential floors might risk the overall effect of the building if residents used their own blinds or shades. Mr. Hansen replied that the one reason for using cantilevered balconies on those floors was to minimize visibility into those spaces, so that the main visual element on the facade would be the balcony. The Commission suggested that they consider using glass on those floors that is not perfectly clear, to further minimize visibility. They also suggested that perhaps the inclusion of appropriate blinds or drapes be a condition of sale for the residential units.

While the Commission found it refreshing that the applicants did not seem to be obsessed with security, they nonetheless raised concerns about security in the underground parking lot. Mr. Hansen told them the parking lot would be for the use of the embassy and residents only, and that there would be security checks for entry into the embassy. Mr. Ohrstedt added that they had consulted security experts with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that they had no concerns about the proposed scheme.

Mr. Hunt was then introduced to say a few words about the selection of this design for the House of Sweden. He said that he had served as a juror in the competition in which the top five Swedish firms participated. He said that true to the open and democratic nature of Sweden, the jury spent six days thoroughly examining all five schemes. What they were looking for was a design that would convey the concept of “Swedishness;” that is, design that would be truly representative of Sweden. This design would do that for many reasons. Its transparent nature conveyed the openness of the Swedish government and its respect for nature was conveyed in the incorporation of metaphoric elements of the Swedish landscape. The design would contain the best elements of Swedish design, elegant simplicity and an innovative use of materials and color. Mr. Hunt then introduced the Swedish ambassador, Jan Eliasson, for concluding remarks.

Ambassador Eliasson spoke of the link between the United States and Sweden dating back to the establishment of a Swedish colony in Delaware in 1638. He commended the Commission on its work over the years, saying that when he served at the embassy in the 1970s, he was impressed that such care was taken by the Commission to ensure that new buildings in Washington would fit into the fabric of the city. Ambassador Eliasson thanked the Commission for their encouraging comments thus far, and expressed the hope that with their continued support, the proposed House of Sweden would come to fruition.

The Commission restated its enthusiasm for the proposed House of Sweden, and reiterated some of their concerns before taking a vote. The transparency of the residential floors would need to be reconsidered in terms of what devises could be used, such as types of glass and lighting, to avoid having the building’s overall effect compromised by the design choices of private residents. Security would need to be thought through at the outset to avoid the use of security add-ons, such as bollards, at a later date. While the lighting would be beautiful and evocative, care must taken as to its potentially excessive brightness. A motion to approve the design of the proposed House of Sweden in concept was carried unanimously.

b. O.G. 03-133, 901 30th Street, NW, New mixed-use building. Concept.

Mr. Moore began his presentation with a discussion about the interdependence of the mixed-use north building with the House of Sweden. He pointed out that the Chancery has no loading dock and that all of its mechanical services would be housed in the north building. Housing the mechanical services in this manner, he said, would allow the Chancery its clear roof.

Moving to the area between the Chancery and the north building, Mr. Moore said that this area would have two major functions, flood control and handicapped access. He said that the garden there would separate and articulate the Chancery. The Chancery and the north building would both be basically simple, horizontal buildings, with projecting elements forming a sort of belt around them, unifying them. The projecting element of the north building would vary in height and materials from that of the Chancery, since the desire was not to mimic the Chancery. The north building, Mr. Moore said, would be a commercial building, but it would have “all the facilities to make this wonderful pristine building of the south, the Chancery, work.”

Emphasizing the holistic nature of the proposed project, Mr. Moore discussed some of the individual features and parts which would comprise the whole. One of the features would be a turnaround area for vehicular traffic. In order to conceal this area, the north building would need to cantilever over that space and wrap around to the service area, “swallowing” the service area. Mr. Moore said the building would come out to form a sort of “port cochere” and also an entranceway to vehicular traffic.

Another part of the project would be the removal of the unused GSA coal house and its replacement with a park. The coal house was a very large building, taller than the Whitehurst Freeway. Its removal would make way for a park area which would be about the length of football field. The park would be at grade, and below it, there would be two levels of parking. Mr. Moore said that there were still some complexities to be worked out, including the transfer of the land from GSA to the National Park Service, and the expense and logistics of removing such a large building from a contaminated site. The benefit would be a very nice park with views through to Rock Creek Park. Parking fees would help defray the costs of the project.

The renovation of 30th Street would also be part of the project. Mr. Moore said that 30th Street was currently used for parking and truck loading and that there were Jersey barriers there. The plans for 30th Street would include a line of London plane trees, Washington globe lights and benches. Traffic would also be intercepted and directed to the turnaround mentioned earlier, where it would then continue on to the garage or loading dock. The reduction of vehicular volume and the aforementioned landscape elements, Mr. Moore said, would make 30th Street much more pleasant.

Mr. Moore went on to address the specific concerns of the Old Georgetown Board. He said that these concerns were with the entrance and its close proximity to vehicular traffic, the pedestrian experience of the first floor being half below grade and the materials. Referring to modifications made since the Old Georgetown Board meeting, Mr. Moore said that the entrance would be rotated. It would still have a presence on 30th Street and would still allow people to arrive by car and be dropped off under the cantilevered area. There would also be a separate residential entrance. In order to make the 30th Street half-grade elevation more attractive, an areaway was developed by dropping the grade of a portion of the sidewalk. The windows of that elevation would look into a lobby space with an art gallery as opposed to offices or cubicles. The works in the gallery could tie in with exhibitions at the Swedish Chancery.

Moving onto materials, Mr. Moore showed an illustration of the proposed entrance canopy, which would be brick with oak wood accents. A series of small incandescent lights would illuminate the oak and create a warm glow. Mr. Moore said that this method had been used successfully on other buildings, and that it would relate to the wood elements to be used on the Chancery. The glass below the oak cantilever would also converse with the Chancery. Mr. Moore emphasized that the north building would be a more “reticent” building than the Chancery. It would be a brick building, though many materials were considered, including steel panels and limestone. Just as the glass and oak elements would have a contextual relationship with the Chancery, the brick bands would relate to nearby Washington Harbor.

Mr. Moore concluded his presentation by restating the integral nature of the project, whose multiple parts would include the Chancery, the north building, the park above the two-level parking garage and the renovation of, and redirection of traffic from, 30th Street. The parts, especially the two proposed buildings, would be interdependent.

The Chairman said that because some of the materials presented had not yet been seen by the Board, the Commission would receive this as an informational presentation on which to comment, but not take action. The Chairman said that the Commission should comment, and if they feel it appropriate, act on the parkland after receiving comments from the members and the public. He then opened the floor for comments on the north building.

The Commission had several concerns with the cantilever. They said that the extruding edge was pleasant, but clumsy in its relationship to the corner. The cantilever, they suggested, essentially gave way to a garage, once it met the service area, which would be well-concealed. When asked if the entrance to the turnaround and service area, and subsequently to the parking areas, would always be accessible through one point of egress, Mr. Moore suggested the possibly of the addition of a second, switch-activated entrance. This second entrance could accommodate a person with disabilities attending an event at the Chancery, while parking for such an event would either be the garage under the park, or in the main garage by prior arrangement. When a member suggested that the rotated building entrance would still be too close to the service area, and asked if it couldn’t be moved to the other corner, closer to the Chancery, Mr. Moore replied that the unpleasant proximity to a major loading dock across the way would make that move prohibitive. The turnaround, Mr. Moore said, would have a very generous curve, and the cantilever would provide shelter to people being dropped off. When cautioned about the dubious potential success of a commercial art gallery in the building, as a solution to the pedestrian visual experience along 30th Street, Mr. Moore said that that area would actually be a lobby for the condominiums and therefore part of the residential area rather than commercial.

Alan Novak, the developer with Lano International, made some comments at this point. He said that he agreed with the Board that there was a need to enliven the 30th Street elevation, and that since the Chancery would regularly show art, exhibitions in that elevation could be coordinated to enhance the Chancery’s shows. He said that he felt that the overall pedestrian experience would be positive, since by the completion of the whole proposed project, the pedestrian on 30th Street would have experienced the park which would replace the coal house, the art gallery, the elliptical park and the Swedish Chancery. Proximity to views of the Potomac and Theodore Roosevelt Island would complete the experience, he said. Mr. Moore added that the redirection of traffic off 30th Street would help also. In response to a question about zoning, Mr. Moore said that the building would be the height limit as set by an agreement between the zoning board and the National Park Service. The mechanical equipment for the whole complex would be located on the roof of the north building.

The Commission commended the development of open space on the site and the proposed removal of the coal house. There was concurrence with the concerns expressed by the Old Georgetown Board regarding the traffic pattern and the darkness of the space below the cantilever. The use of an “English basement,” first floor, half below grade, was thought to be a somewhat unpleasant feature and it was suggested that a well-designed wall would be preferable to an art gallery on the 30th Street elevation. The massing and sense of horizontalilty was thought to be fine, but the elevation devices, in terms of their relationship with the corners, was said to have “a largeness of scale that seems to be uncomfortable.”

Mr. Moore responded by asserting that the corner proposed for the turnaround was really the only adequate option. The English basement would only descend four feet, and the openness of the windows and the display of art would create a pleasant atmosphere. Mr. Moore said that the elevations as presented were simple and linear, and contoured to follow the shape of Rock Creek.

The Chairman said that the project for the north building should be referred back to the Old Georgetown Board, and returned to the Commission once the Board had a positive recommendation. He then invited comments from the public, and recognized John Parsons of the National Park Service.

Mr. Parsons briefly explained the relationship of the Park Service to this proposed project. He clarified which parts of the site were owned by the Park Service, and which were owned by GSA. The Park Service had two concerns about the project which they requested that the Commission consider. The first was the cantilever and loading dock; specifically, whether the loading dock would be open or closed. This would effect the view from Rock Creek Park. The second was a podium designed by the Swedish design team which would extend into park. The Park Service feels that the terrace should be shortened in order for the space to be more welcoming to the public. The Park Service, he said, was very enthusiastic about this project.

Mr. Novak made some concluding remarks before the Chairman called for a motion. He stated that the project had received two approvals from the Commission in recent years, as the proposals for the site were developing. He said that he was very proud of the work of the design team and stated his intention to continue to work with the Board and the Commission to complete the project.

The Chairman said that approval had been given for the House of Sweden and that he would accept a motion to approve the park in concept, with Mr. Parsons’ stated concerns. He repeated that the north building should be referred back to the Old Georgetown Board as soon as possible. The motion was made and carried unanimously.

Whereupon, at 1:53 p.m., the meeting recessed for lunch until 2:40 p.m.

d. Appendix II.

Mr. Martinez noted that cases O.G. 03-161 and O.G. 03-144 were added to the appendix, since an earlier draft was circulated to the Commission. Cases O.G. 03-47 and O.G. 03-48, both involving a proposal for five new townhouses on the 1500 block of 32nd Street, were removed from the appendix at the request of the applicants. The Old Georgetown Board recommended against the approval of the concept design for the five buildings in the project. The applicants were appealing that recommendation. The Commission listened to the applicants and to neighbors opposed to the project. The Commission decided that, prior to taking further action, a site visit be arranged and the review of the cases was postponed until the May meeting. For a full record, please refer to the 22 April 2003 transcript of the meeting, pages 177-221.

(The Chairman left after the conclusion of the Old Georgetown appendix discussion, and turned the gavel over to the Vice-Chairman.)

D. District of Columbia Public Schools / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

CFA 22/APR/03- 3, Brightwood Elementary School. Nicholson and 13th streets, NW. Renovation and additions. Revisions-Final. (Previous: CFA 19/DEC/02- 1).

As introduction to the revisions proposed to the renovations and additions to Brightwood Elementary School, Mr. Martinez circulated copies of the Commission’s letter to the applicants, dated 6 January 2003, sent after this project was last reviewed in December 2002. He said that the design reviewed in December had had the skylights and monitors removed from the addition and that there were also concerns about the materials to be used in the inside of the court. Mr. Martinez then introduced Larry Osborn of Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn (EEK) to present the revised designs.

Mr. Osborn said that in the presentation, he and Dan Curry, the project architect, would address the concerns outlined in the aforementioned letter. The concerns they would address were the landscaping along Missouri Avenue, the proposal to delete the composite translucent material from the northern classroom elevations and replace it with glass, the brick selection and the reinstatement of the skylights. Mr. Osborn also wished to discuss an item not included the letter, the potential repair or replacement of the roof.

Mr. Curry continued the discussion, beginning with the landscaping on Missouri Avenue. He said Green Luster holly trees would be added along the sidewalk and would turn the corner of 13th Street along the fencing line. This would improve the screening relationship with the road.

The proposed glazing on sections of the north elevations, Mr. Curry said, would be modified to use clear instead of translucent panels. The translucent panels would remain in the gymnasium clerestory.

The initial proposal for the brickwork was to use the same palette on the elevations of the addition for the majority of the brickwork and then use an accent color for the upper recessed portion. Since the Commission recommended using the brickwork to differentiate more between the original school and the additions, Mr. Curry said, an alternative brick type would be used. He then showed material samples which represented their new palette. The main brick would be in the same tone as the existing brick, but would not have quite the same amount of range. It would be wire-cut and have a different texture. A complementary accent color would replace the brick for the recessed areas. The possibility of using a colored mortar, which would match the new masonry, to make a greater distinction to the overall tone of the building was also being explored.

As for the skylights, Mr. Curry said that the initial concept was to have skylights all the way across the gymnasium. For budgetary reasons, they were removed, and the Commission had requested in December that the possibility of retaining them be explored. In order to retain the skylights and keep within budgetary limits, a modified version of the monitors would be used that would taper back rather than go all the way across. There would still be four skylights, and the elevational quality would be the same as presented previously. The difference would be that in the north façade, the appearance would be reduced in terms of the length of the skylights.

Finally, Mr. Curry and Mr. Osborn discussed the materials for the renovation of the roofing and monitors. Mr. Curry said that the monitors would use standing seam metal cladding which would be complementary to the existing metal roof. Mr. Osborn said that the existing roof, made of a batten- type painted metal, was believed to be the original, dating to the 1920s. The roof had maintenance problems, including leaking, and would need to be repaired or replaced. With an eye on the budget, the applicants explored several possible solutions to the roof problem.

The most cost-effective option would be to patch and paint the roof. The second option would be to coat the roof with an elastomeric, waterproof coating. Another elastomeric option would be what Mr. Osborn called an “innovative replacement” with an elastomeric membrane roof, in which the existing roof would be pulled off and a thermoplastic roof with battens would be installed. This option was used by EEK for the Boat House in Central Park and could be done at a reasonable cost. The third option would be a standard prefinished standing seam roof and the fourth option would to replicate with an existing roof and replace in kind. This concluded the presentation, and the Vice-Chairman invited comments from the Commission.

The Commission commended Mr. Osborn and Mr. Curry for being so responsive to the concerns outlined as a result of their presentation in December. When asked to elaborate on the landscape plan, Mr. Osborn said that they would be reinforcing the existing street trees and adding planting around the perimeter of the building foundation. A request from the Commission was made to pay attention to the skylights, as they would “be the crown to this really splendid restoration.” A motion was made to approve and was carried unanimously.

E. District of Columbia Office of the Chief Technology Officer

CFA 22/APR/03- 4, Unified Communication Center. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Magnolia Street, SE (St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, east campus). New building for the emergency communications command center. Revisions to the landscape-Final. (Previous: CFA 21/FEB/02 - 10).

Ms. Alg recalled that when seen in February 2002, the Commission requested that the security plan be considered as an integral part of the design, and that they also provide further screening for the parking.  She introduced Richard Ladson, who introduced the architect for the project, Irina Savakova.

Ms. Savakova said she would address the Commission’s two concerns and also the exterior signage. She commented first on the screening for the parking, showing drawings and pointing out an additional line of trees that had been added. She noted that the Zoning Commission had commented on the pristine views from Suitland Parkway while driving toward the city, and she said that in reaction to this comment they had changed the line of deciduous trees that they had proposed when the Commission had first seen the project to a line of three different types of evergreens. More canopy trees had been added in another area to protect the views from the parkway.

Ms. Savakova then turned to the passive landscape security elements that were presented originally–a storm water retention pond and a security berm in front of the main facade facing Martin Luther King Avenue. She said further soil testing of the area had determined that the pond was not feasible and they had switched to a vault under the parking area for the storm water retention. The berm would be extended to ensure proper security toward Martin Luther King Avenue.

Ms. Savakova then discussed the signage. She said there would be two major signs, one for the main facility and the other for the child development center; in addition, there would be signs indicating staff and main entry. The metal signs would be set on a masonry base, using a dark brick color, similar to the building, with a capstone above the signs. In answer to a question she said the signs would be uplit.

Lastly, Ms. Savakova said they had replaced the security planters protecting the main drive with a more architectural form which would work much like a small berm, and which recalled the architecture of the building.  A question was asked about other security elements–fences and walls–and Ms. Savakova showed drawings, explaining the items in detail.

There were no objections to the final design, and it was unanimously approved.

F. General Services Administration

1. CFA 22/APR/03- 5, Federal Trade Commission Building. 6th Street, Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues, NW. Shade trees for child care playground. Design. (Previous: CFA 24/OCT/91-4- playground).

Mr. Lindstrom introduced the last three projects together, all submitted by the General Services Administration. He said that the three projects were proposals for three separate child day care facilities. The first two, at the Federal Trade Commission and the Internal Revenue Service, were in response to a new federal regulation that required that a certain percentage of a playground be shaded throughout the day. The third, at the Department of Transportation FOB 10A, was for modifications to the south elevation to add light to a day care space.

The Federal Trade Center or Apex building, Mr. Lindstrom said, was located on the Federal Triangle opposite the west wing of the National Gallery of Art and the site of the proposed Newseum. The initial proposal was for cantilevered shade canopies. The staffs of the Commission and the National Capitol Planning Commission recommended planting shade trees around the perimeter of the playground and GSA was incorporating that recommendation. Mr. Lindstrom introduced Michael McGill from GSA, who in turn, introduced James Clark of the architectural firm MTFA, to make the presentations.

Accepting the recommendations of the Commission and NCPC staffs, Mr. Clark said that ten new trees would be planted around the playground site, keeping the low hedges. The proposed height of the trees would be about 20 feet. They would have redbud pansies which would flower in the spring. Mr. Clark said the trees might not even reach full height because of a restricted area of soil on the site. He showed a board which illustrated the amount of shade that could be expected at various times throughout the day; using June 21, the longest day of the year, as an example.

(Mr. Childs left the meeting after the preceding discussion.)

2. CFA 22/APR/03- 6, Internal Revenue Service. 1111 Constitution Avenue, NW. Shade canopies for the child care playground. Design.

Continuing with the GSA day care submissions, Mr. Clark said that the facility at the Internal Revenue service was located on the interior of one of the courtyards. Half of the courtyard contained playground equipment and half was a landscaped garden. In order to provide fifty percent shade at any time of the year, prefabricated canopies would be used. The canopies would be about 20 feet by 20 feet, and be about 20 feet off the ground at the lowest point. Mr. Clark said they would be cantilevered to minimize the number of posts, as a safety measure. He showed material samples for the proposed canopy, saying that since the material was designed for shade, a small amount of rain could get through. The canopies would be angled at 45 degrees from the sides of the walls and the proposed canopy color was chosen to blend in with the surrounding architecture. The metal poles would be painted a similar color. There is a parking garage below the courtyard, so the poles would be anchored through the ground and connected underneath. There would be two supports on each side of the cantilever. Because of the courtyard location, wind resistance would not be a problem.

3. CFA 22/APR/03- 7, Department of Transportation-FOB 10A. 800
Independence Avenue, SW. New windows and glass doors for child development center. Design.

Mr. Clark said that this day care facility would need not shade but light. There was an existing facility in the building and GSA originally requested that a new facility be located on the Independence Avenue side. GSA guidelines require natural light into the facility, and in order to accomplish that, new windows would be required on Independence Avenue. Since the staffs of the Commission and NCPC advised against changes to the Independence Avenue façade, modifications would need to occur on the Maryland Avenue façade. The solution would be new windows within the stone framework.

Mr. Clark said that the new windows would not be very visible from the outside, as the canopy on the Maryland Avenue façade was already shaded. The size of the windows would be proportionate with the size of the stone that it would replace, and allow natural sunlight into the infant area.

A motion was made to approve all three GSA projects. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 4:12 p.m.


Frederick J. Lindstrom
Assistant Secretary