The meeting was convened at 10:17 a.m. in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, after a tour of project sites.
Hon. Harry G. Robinson III, Chairman
Hon. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Vice-Chairman
Hon. Carolyn Brody
Hon. Donald Capoccia
Hon. David M. Childs
Hon. Pamela Nelson
Hon. Eden Rafshoon
Mr. Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Ms. Kristina Alg
Ms. Sue Kohler
Mr. José Martínez
Ms. Susan Raposa
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Mr. Tony Simon Ms. JoAnn Neuhaus
A. Approval of the minutes of the 22 April meeting.
It was noted that the Secretary’s name was listed as being present at the meeting, although he was not; the Assistant Secretary noted the oversight and said the correction would be made. The minutes were then unanimously approved.
One of the members then made a motion that the succession of officers be discussed after the last item on the agenda had been taken care of. The motion was seconded and approved unanimously.
B. Dates of next meetings, approved as:
C. The Commission’s 93rd year: established 17 May 1910, and the Shipstead-Luce Act’s 73rd year: approved 16 May 1930.
The Assistant Secretary noted these anniversaries, a tradition with the Commission each year.
D. Report on the Committee of 100's Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Mr.Atherton.
The Assistant Secretary reported that Secretary Charles Atherton had asked him to attend the meeting of the Committee of 100 to accept this award, which he did, and subsequently sent the certificate to Mr. Atherton. Mr. Lindstrom then said that on Mr. Atherton’s behalf, he would like to thank the Committee of 100 for the honor bestowed on him. The Chairman commented on the award, saying that it honored Mr. Atherton’s exceptional forty-three years of service to the Commission.
II. SUBMISSIONS AND REVIEWS
A. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 15/MAY/03-1, National Museum of the American Indian, Independence Avenue and 3rd Street, SW. Perimeter security barriers and bollards. Designs. (Previous: CFA 18/MAY/00-2)
Staff member Kristina Alg said the primary focus of the security upgrade was vehicular control and would include stand-off distance requirements, perimeter barriers, and restricted loading dock access through the addition of barriers and security booths. She said the architects had tried to be sympathetic to future Mall area security plans as well as to the design of the building. She introduced Harry Rombach from the Smithsonian to begin the presentation.
Mr. Rombach noted that this project had been reviewed by the Commission five times previously over a number of years, but that new security needs had recently arisen which required changes in the landscape design to meet it. He said the National Capital Urban Design and Security Plan had been used as a guide, and he added that they had a very small window of opportunity in which to implement it as a permanent installation as they now had a contractor on the site. He introduced Hal Davis from Polshek Tobey + Davis to discuss the design.
Mr. Davis recalled that the Commission had last seen the design in June 2000 when final approval was given, and he said he would like to point out various aspects of it that related to the security proposals and then summarize what they would like to do. Beginning with the 4th Street side of the site, he noted the ramp down into the loading dock area, then the northern side with the principal entrance on the northwest corner, featuring an arrangement of “grandfather” rocks, the bermed forest area and tribal recognition wall on the north, more berming and a continuation of the wall along the wetlands area on the east, (3rd Street) side, and finally the bus drop-off and south entrance on Maryland Avenue, also with an arrangement of grandfather rocks. Mr. Davis then asked landscape architect Roger Courtenay to describe the changes that would be made.
Mr. Courtenay said the security requirements would be met primarily by using landscape elements already existing within the approved design and by adding bollards, the design and materials for which already existed in details seen within the building or on the exterior. There would be essentially no change on Jefferson Drive, 3rd Street and part of Maryland Avenue because the tribal recognition wall and its berms would provide the level of security needed. On 4th Street an existing curbed planter would continue to be used, but with the edges raised to a 30-inches to create a wall, and on Independence Avenue and parts of Maryland Avenue walls shown on the approved design would be retained with a slight raising of the height.
Bollards would be introduced where the absence of walls made them necessary. In the 4th Street loading dock area they would be primarily removable or hydraulic bollards made of a bronze-colored metal with a design taken from elements seen, either in the interior or on the exterior of the museum. This bollard would be used at all the entrances. On the south, bollards of the same grey granite used throughout the site would be set free-standing or within curbs. At the northwest entrance bollards would be interspersed with the grandfather rocks as necessary; a similar configuration would be used at the south entrance.
The last security element described was the guard house at the 4th Street loading dock entrance. It would be faced with metal panels in a matte grey, with the roof slightly darker, the color taking its cue from the mullions and other architectural metal on the exterior; this color in turn was based on the granite, “American Mist’, used for the foundation walls and elsewhere on the site, including the proposed bollards. Mr. Courtenay said the reason for choosing metal was that the structure was portable and could be moved or taken away as necessary.
Mr. Courtenay was asked if he had any details or a larger drawing of the guard booth. Mr. Davis replied that they had not brought any with them but could supply them. Asked if they were asking for approval of the guard booth at this meeting, Mr. Courtenay said they were. Another question concerned the grandfather rocks–was there any concern that they were not hardened, as were the bollards? Mr. Courtenay said their security advisers had assured them that the weight and size of the rocks and the depth to which they would be implanted was sufficient to meet their standards. One member asked if just the grandfather rocks could be used; Mr. Courtenay said they had considered that, but the rocks were very large and adding more of them would cut into the entrance space too much.
Clarification was requested for the treatment of the planters and the wall on 4th Street, with Mr. Courtenay explaining that the previous curb which had been raised to a 30 inch wall was now more in keeping with the tribal recognition wall. It was noted by several members that the museum had been undergoing review for several years, and it was regrettable that such security requirements had not been integrated into the original design. Mr. Davis said the guard booth was a late addition to the overall security program and so had not been part of the original design. The comment was made that actually most of the security requirements had been part of the original design; only the guard booth and the bollards had been added. Mr. Courtenay was asked if some of the bollards, particularly along the south side, could be replaced by hardened street furniture, such as stone benches, to avoid so much repetition. He replied that they had considered that, but considering the narrowness of the sidewalk and the number of people alighting or waiting for busses, they had decided that benches would be too constricting.
The general feeling among the members was that it was difficult to judge just how the added elements would look; more details, material samples, and a mockup of the bollard design to be used for the entrances were needed, for example, and models and section drawings of the walls, particularly the one on 4th Street, as well as details of the guard booth design. A question was asked about the Commission’s concerns about the color of the masonry, when seen at a recent mockup at the site; had they been addressed? The principal concern was that the color should be darker at the bottom and get progressively lighter as it went up, and that the texture should be rougher at the bottom and get smoother going up. Mr. Davis said they had been working with their suppliers and masons on this.
The consensus was that the security plan could be accepted in concept, but additional information of the kind outlined above, and a site visit, were required before final approval could be given. A motion was made to that effect, seconded, and carried unanimously.
B. Department of the Treasury/United States Mint
CFA 15/MAY/03-2, Fifty States circulating/commemorative quarter program for 2004. Designs for the Iowa state quarter. (Previous: CFA 22/APR/03-2)
Staff member Sue Kohler passed out the proposed designs for the Iowa state quarter and introduced Barbara Bradford from the Mint to talk about them. She said there were three concepts: the first, Foundation in Education, was based on the Grant Wood painting of the same name and showed a design based on a schoolhouse with a teacher and students outside. The second concept, Young Corn, was also based on a Wood painting, a bird’s eye view of a field of corn. Three coin designs interpreted the third concept, Feeding the World, and showed farm animals and crops, plus the state outline. Ms. Bradford said that in this case, there was no favorite design; the state embraced all five equally.
There was agreement that the Grant Wood paintings did not come across well, and the one with the schoolhouse did not seem to be particularly evocative of Iowa. Of the other three, the one labeled No. 5 seemed to have the best balance, with the farm animals in the center and the state outline behind them, an ear of corn on the left and branches of soybeans on the right. “Feeding the World” was at the top center, in a serif face which seemed too large and not really appropriate. It was requested that a smaller size letter in the same sans-serif face as “Iowa 1846" be used. It was also asked that the artist try to make the representations of the soybean and corn as bold as possible so that they would be recognizable at quarter size.
C. General Services Administration
CFA 15/MAY/03-3, Judiciary Square Historic District, bounded by 4th, G, 5th streets and Indiana Avenue. Draft master plan, information presentation.
Ms. Alg introduced this submission, noting first that the Commission and NCPC both had requested that a master plan be developed for the historic district, because of the number of projects proposed for the area; the objective would be to meet the needs of the occupants and retain or regain the historic character of the square. Before the design team made their presentation, Ms. Alg introduced Davis Buckley, architect for the proposed National Law Enforcement Museum, who had asked to make a statement.
Mr. Buckley said that Craig Floyd, Chairman of the National Police Officers Memorial Fund, could not be present but had asked him to read a statement on behalf of the fund. Basically, the statement argued that although the Fund was in favor of GSA developing a master plan for the rest of Judiciary Square, the plan should not show a specific design on the museum site that did not reflect their ongoing design development, and that they should be allowed to proceed at their own pace, independent of the master plan, in accordance with the design guidelines and time frame as stated in their legislation; it was noted that they had only seven and one-half years left to complete the design, obtain approvals and the required permits. Mr. Buckley noted that they had proceeded throughout the process “with the full participation and concurrence of the D.C. Court of Appeals and GSA.” (Mr. Buckley’s statement will be attached as an exhibit.)
The Chairman told Mr. Buckley that in looking at the master plan he did not see much that would prevent him from proceeding according to the Commission’s approval of the concept design. Mr. Buckley was asked if he was concerned that there would be some transgression of the museum’s legislation by the courts, and he said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on that. He was then asked by one of the members if the courts were still in concurrence with the museum plans since the development of GSA’s master plan, or were they concerned that their own plans might be impacted? Mr. Buckley said they had always been forthright in what they were doing and shared their plans with the courts before they presented them at any public hearing; he said the court’s plans had not been presented to him. He said that although he had been aware of the master plan and had had meetings with the courts, GSA, and the master planners, he had not been aware that GSA intended to present its plan to the Commission of Fine Arts at this time until informed by the Commission staff. He said they intended to continue to coordinate with the court’s architects and with GSA on technical matters, but they really needed to move forward with the design.
Michael McGill from GSA was then introduced. He said he would like to explain how GSA got involved in the master plan issue and exactly what the project was. He recalled that GSA had come to the Commission about a year ago with plans for a parking garage to be shared by both the D.C. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Military Appeals. At the time, the Commission said it could not approve the design until it saw a master plan for the area. He said GSA was already working on a facilities plan, but then decided to expand it to a full-fledged plan for the D.C. Courts which would include the whole area. He confirmed that they had had numerous meetings with the Law Enforcement Museum people, and were fully aware of the guidelines contained in their legislation regarding both the museum and the court’s expansion; some disagreements remained, but they were working them out. He said they had recently made an informational presentation to NCPC and would now make one to this commission. He noted that the D.C. Courts were also operating under congressional mandates, one of which said the courts should consolidate and expand the facility used for family courts. This caused the courts to ask that, since historic Judiciary Square had a number of underutilized buildings, a plan be developed to determine their use, address traffic problems, landscaping, etc. Mr. McGill then introduced Jim Stanford, the project manager.
Mr. Stanford said he had been involved with the D.C. Courts for some time, since they had come to GSA for guidance on how they could start renovating and developing several fine, historic buildings in their inventory. The first was the Old City Hall courthouse, which they saw as a home for the D.C. Court of Appeals. Mr. Stanford said a study was undertaken with the firm of Karn, Charuhas, Chapman & Twohey, and it was determined that what was needed was an underground assembly hall-type space and secure parking facilities. In working with the courts and their increasing need for expansion, it was realized that a master plan for all of Judiciary Square was needed. Mr. Stanford noted that GSA was also landlord of the Military Court of Appeals and of the National Building Museum on the square, each with its own needs. When GSA looked at the facilities being planned by the Law Enforcement Museum, it was realized that planning for the square was going to be very complicated, with a lot of support structures built in a very compact environment. He said the master plan needed to move forward so that all needs, including security requirements, could be addressed. To do that, the team of Metropolitan Architects and Planners, and Gruzen Samton, had been hired as consultants. He then turned the presentation over to Cathy Daskalakis from Gruzen Samton.
Ms. Daskalakis began by saying that the plan would be implemented over a long period of time, probably by a number of different designers. At this point she wanted to talk about the vision for the plan, the alternatives, and the guidelines which would act as the basic controls on the development of the plan. She reported that EDAW was the landscape architect, O.R. George & Associates the transportation consultant, and Robinson & Associates the historic consultants. Ms. Daskalakis said they had had many meetings with occupants of the square, the public in general, the Law Enforcement Museum, and the Department of Transportation. She showed slides of buildings on the square, maps, and drawings, pointing out in particular the court buildings and the proposed occupants of each building.
The outer perimeter of the plan area was bound by Pennsylvania Avenue on the south, G Street on the north, 3rd Street on the east, and 7th Street on the west. The area for which changes would be recommended was bordered by C Street on the south, F Street on the north, 4th Street on the east, and 5th Street on the west. Ms. Daskalakis reviewed the architectural history of the square briefly, saying that other than the Old City Hall, constructed between 1820 and 1881, most of the buildings now existing dated from the 1930s. Devoted to the uses of the judiciary since its inception, the square was now suffering from overuse and was overrun with vehicles of all kinds, including police cars.
Although the buildings were meant to be seen in a park-like setting, there was now a proliferation of surface parking, all used by court personnel, as well as street parking, most of that signed for police use only.
Ms. Daskalakis said the aim of the master plan would be to remove the surface lots and consolidate them into two underground lots, surround the square with a green ring of trees, enhance the north- south axis, and reactivate the square as a public place, with paths and seating; there would be a fairly open central area with a more defined outer edge. The objective would be to take care of all the operational issues relating to the workings of the court system, and to attract more cultural institutions, responding to the recent development to the west. Street furniture, sidewalks, and paving would also be upgraded.
Parking, service areas for the buildings, and options for these were then discussed in more detail. Since the Commission had reviewed preliminary plans for a garage to serve the D.C. Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, increased security requirements had brought about some changes to the design, principally because of the requirement to separate service areas from the garages; the entry would now be on 5th Street; the second garage, to the east, would have an entry on F Street. Ms. Daskalakis said guidelines for a number of other issues were then looked at, including circulation, open space, and security. She said these guidelines were at the heart of how the plan would be implemented. She noted that in the museum and courthouse area, only the footprints of structures as mentioned in the legislation, not the design of the museum or the courthouse, were shown, as well as the outlines of the two underground garages. At this point she mentioned the possibility of a third garage to get street parking off E Street and reduce it on Indiana Avenue.
The members had several questions for Ms. Daskalakis to clarify certain elements on the drawings. One concerned the indication of a handicapped entrance in the 500 block of E Street. Ms. Daskalakis said that also indicated what would be the primary entrance into the courthouse. She said the architects for the courts, Beyer Blinder Belle, wanted to move the primary entrance from the front of the historic building because of complications related to handicapped and security issues–accessibility and screening equipment primarily; they did not like the idea of seeing this in the lobby of the old building. She agreed this was a point of conflict between the master plan and the approved concept design for the museum, but she said there was a desire on both sides to reconcile, and GSA intended to schedule a meeting with the Law Enforcement Fund and its architects. Questions were asked for clarification purposes regarding service entrances and alignment of the museum pavilion with the old courthouse, and then the Chairman asked Mr. Buckley to talk about the court’s proposed new entrance from E Street and how difficult it might be to resolve the differences between him and the court’s architects.
Mr. Buckley said they were told during their last meeting with the courts that they agreed that a disability access from E Street was not practical. He said his firm had done previous studies that indicated the required ramp system would be difficult to install because of the change of grade involved, although he said there were options that could be investigated. It was his belief that this access could be, and should be from Indiana Avenue; this was the front door of the building and it was close to the Moultrie Building (the main courthouse), an important link to the Old Courthouse. Mr. Buckley added that the front section of the building was in bad condition, and the portico needed extensive renovation; he thought this was a chance to develop plans for handicapped access and to consider adding any needed underground space in the front. He noted also that there had been a portico on the back of the building, which was removed when the rear addition was constructed in 1881. He saw a restored rear facade coupled with lawn terraces as a suitable way to strengthen the north-south axis from the courthouse through the museum and law enforcement officers memorial to the Pension Building.
Ms. Daskalakis asked to respond. She said when GSA made its presentation NCPC on 1 May, the court submitted a letter saying that access from E Street was very important to them. She said they were all aware of the historic issues connected with the Old Courthouse, and GSA was aware of the site issues and the complexity of coordinating a project for both the museum and the courts. She noted that there was now an architect for the courts to complete the renovation of the courthouse, design the garage, and coordinate all the site issues. She said she was sure they would investigate the different options for entering the building.
Mr. McGill asked to comment at this point. He said that when it was decided to have the Court of Appeals move from the Moultrie Building to the Old Courthouse, GSA architect Enrique Bellini was asked to do a study of the historic building. He concluded that the court would need more space if it moved into the building; secondly, he said an enormous grade change in the front would make handicapped access very difficult; thirdly, the lobby was very small, and to have to install the various security checking machines required, as well as introduce handicapped access would severely stress its historic character. Mr. Bellini’s suggestion was to place the everyday working entrance–at the back door–on E Street where handicapped access was easier to solve.
Mr. McGill’s second comment referred to the museum’s legislation in reference to an E Street entrance. He said the legislation established an outline of the land reserved for the Court of Appeals; it also specified a 100-foot distance between the two museum pavilions with no structures to be erected in that space. Therefore, the courts had the right to put an entrance on E Street if they wished, or not, but that would make no difference in the allowable size or placement of the museum pavilions versus the placement and size of the land allocated to the D.C.Courts.
Ms. Daskalakis resumed her presentation, discussing the preliminary security guidelines first, saying they were still in flux. She noted the topography–sloping land up to the courthouse, and rather flat areas along 4th and 5th streets; each area would require its own type of security device. For the sloped areas a plinth wall was being looked at, 30-inches high according to the guidelines or perhaps a little lower; they would be used as retaining walls and would not be an obstacle to crossing the lawns. Some hardened streetscape elements would be used, but open fencing was preferred because it would keep the site open and inviting. In some place bollards would be considered. Also, as points of reference, there were the Department of Defense’s 33-foot building setback requirement and GSA’s 50-foot set-back to consider.
The last set of guidelines concerned open space, and Ms. Daskalakis said she considered these to be at the heart of this vision for Judiciary Square. She noted the green areas on a drawing, saying these areas would be reclaimed for landscaping; they were basically all the areas around the square, with the addition of John Marshall Plaza, which would undergo some improvement. The open space guidelines also included plans for narrowing some streets, notably Indiana Avenue in front of the Old Courthouse and E Street. This would be done to place more emphasis on the north-south axis and to provide more space between the buildings and the curb. She said they would also like to eliminate some of the parking on Indiana Avenue. Pathways through the square, as well as curb cuts for driveways, garage entrances, and service areas were also pointed out. Ms. Daskalakis commented that they were planning to present a draft plan to NCPC at their July meeting.
There were no further questions or comments from the members. The Chairman suggested that GSA set up a meeting as soon as possible with Mr. Buckley and his firm and try to resolve the question of pedestrian access to the Old Courthouse, which seemed to be the only remaining point of contention between the museum proponents and GSA’s master plan. Ms. Daskalakis said they would do that. As this submission was for information only, no action was taken.
D. Department of Defense / Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC)
1. CFA 15/MAY/03-4, WRAMC, Main Section. 16th Street, Aspen Street and Georgia Avenue, NW. Master Plan-final draft.
The Assistant Secretary introduced Marjorie Marcus, senior master planner at Walter Reed, to discuss the master plan proposals. Ms. Marcus gave the members a few facts about the Walter Reed campus before discussing the plan. She said the campus comprised 113 acres, containing four million square feet of space and sixty-five buildings. Only three of the buildings exceeded four stories in height; one was the very large seven- story hospital. She said development on the site was somewhat constrained by the rolling topography and steep slopes, some greater than 20 percent. Green buffers were maintained on all sides, to a depth of 40 feet around the three sides bordering residential development, and 100 feet along the 16th Street-Alaska Avenue frontage, with Rock Creek Park on the other side of 16th Street. Other boundary streets included Fern Street on the north, Georgia Avenue on the east, and Aspen Street on the south. Aspen Street would need a strengthening of the buffer to mask the industrial uses concentrated on that end of the site.
Ms. Marcus showed slides that outlined various aspects of the plan, such as current land use, plans for the historic district, and future development plans. The land use plan showed medical, administrative, and research and development facilities on the north and central areas of the campus; the historic district primarily in the center, with the buildings used for medical and administrative purposes; housing and community areas to the west (with smaller installations to the southeast); recreational areas to the west and southeast; and industrial facilities concentrated on the south.
Ms. Marcus then discussed briefly some of the more important projects being proposed. In the historic district, Building 40, originally the medical museum, would be renovated by a private developer who would then be granted a fifty-year lease. The renovation would proceed according to the historic structures report already prepared. Several projects critical to the utilities infrastructure would be undertaken, including a new electric switching station on the south end of the campus, replacing one damaged by fire, and a new backup generator/physical plant to serve the hospital. In the housing area to the northwest two projects were in the planning stages, one a child development center and the other a family housing replacement proposal. Buildings proposed for demolition were few and consisted mostly of temporary or badly damaged structures.
Ms. Marcus then commented that the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 had caused them to take a new look at controlling access to four of the gates into the campus. At the Elder Street gate, a visitors center for processing patients and visitors would be added to the existing guard station, and lanes would be widened to avoid the problem of vehicles queuing along Georgia Avenue. A new guard station was also planned for Alaska Avenue with a similar widening of lanes. Two new lanes would be created on Georgia Avenue in cooperation with the Department of Transportation, and there would be a resignalization of the traffic light. On 16th Street there would be a new turning lane for northbound traffic, as well as widening the incoming lanes. A guard station and a visitors center to process and check incoming trucks would also be added, thus shifting the commercial traffic from Georgia Avenue to 16th Street. This would keep the truck traffic away from the hospital, a change deemed necessary by a joint services security team. Another guard station would also be added at Dahlia Street.
A comment was made on the proposed visitors center at Elder Street and the proposed traffic management at the Georgia Avenue corner. It was thought that the proposal as shown for an extra turn lane would not work, and that a better solution would be to work with the District’s Department of Transportation to institute a no-left-turn at Elder Street for certain hours in the morning when there was a larger-than-normal number of patients arriving.
2. CFA 15/MAY/03-5, Fisher House III. WRAMC, Main Section. Dahlia and 15th Street, NW (adjacent to Fisher House II). New residential building. Concept.
Ms. Marcus said this house, which would be a gift of the Fisher Foundation to house families of patients undergoing long-term treatment at Walter Reed, had originally been sited across the street, near a historic chapel. Concern about the effect on the chapel and its site were expressed by the Planning Commission and the Historic Preservation Review Board, and so the site was moved across the street, next to Fisher House II. Ms. Marcus showed photos of the proposed site and said the prominent berm visible in the photo would be cut down to accommodate the house and its parking lot. This destruction of the natural landscape caused concern among the members, and suggestions were made as to how the siting might be improved, not only for the house but for the adjacent parking, which was also criticized for an excessive amount of pavement and the need for retaining walls. Keeping green space around the house was considered essential to retaining the residential character of 15th Street.
The house itself was also considered too large; it was thought that it should be no larger than the Fisher House II next door. Also, its pseudo-Georgian appearance was criticized, and it was suggested that the architect be advised to look at some books on Georgian architecture and revise his details. The Commission staff had already made some suggestions as to how the window treatment could be improved. The Chairman told Ms. Marcus that the Commission looked forward to another submission of a design revised according to the comments made.
E. Department of State
CFA 15/MAY/03-6, International Center, Northwest corner of Van Ness Street and International Court, NW. Guard booth. Revised design – final. (Previous: CFA 16/JAN/03-2).
Mr. Martinez introduced Donna Mavritte from the State Department. She told the Commission that the suggestions they made in January 2003 when they first saw the design for a guard booth to be installed on the northwest corner of Van Ness Street and International Court would be implemented in the revised design. She then introduced Sal Poulton, of Gileau-Poulton Architects, to explain the modifications to the design presented in January.
Mr. Poulton began with a brief overview of the project and of the Commission’s recommendations after the original presentation. He indicated on a presentation board the location for the proposed guard booth, which he said would be at the intersection of Van Ness Street and International Place, between the Pakistani and Israeli embassies. The booth would house a uniformed Secret Service officer. Mr. Poulton summarized the Commission’s recommendations as follows: create more vertical lines to give more presence of security, change the style of the bollards, change the paving coloration at the corner to match the red and change the coloration of the flashing and roof material to match the forest green coloration of an existing guard booth at the International Center.
Indicating elevations, Mr. Poulton said that the poured concrete base would be articulated with the metal fascia to create a stacked limestone effect. Steel mullions would be added to create a more divided appearance and the colors would be changed to match those of the existing guard booth. The bollards at the corners of the booth would have an obelisk design to reflect the style of the booth. They would be made of precast concrete with a steel core.
When asked the size of the booth and bollards, Mr. Poulton replied that the booth would be 4 by 8 feet, and the bollards would be 14 by 14 inches. The Commission felt that the bollards would be out of proportion with the booth, and that the obelisk design would not work on so small an object. At 9 feet 6 inches on center, the bollards would be ineffective at stopping a vehicle; they would need to be 4 feet on center. Since the bollards would, for all intents and purposes, be decorative, the Commission suggested that there would be no need to include them in the design. They also suggested more simplification, specifically that unused space be integrated into the paving of the whole corner, and that the bollards be removed, if their only function if decorative. Everything above the concrete base should be the matching forest green. The Commission requested that the applicants return with a revised design.
Whereupon, at 1:04 p.m., the Commission recessed for lunch until 1:46 p.m.
F. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
CFA 15/MAY/03-7, New York Avenue Metrorail Station, Red Line – between Florida Avenue and M Street on 2nd Street NE. Public Art enhancements (concept) and revised entrance pavilion canopy (final). (Previous: CFA 21/NOV/02-4).
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the next project proposed for the New York Avenue Metrorail Station. He said that the project had been reviewed in November 2002, at which time several suggestions were made about incorporating public art into the design. Mr. Lindstrom introduced John Thomas, project manager for Metro to present the project.
Mr. Thomas said that the comments made by the Commission at the November meeting would be addressed in the presentation. He indicated a rendering that showed the north entrance of the station as presented in November, and said that an additional element would be included. This element would be an elevator/stair tower for the Metropolitan Branch Trail. It was part of the proposal when the design for the station was presented in July 2001 and had been removed when presented in November 2002. At the request of the city of the District of Columbia, the tower would be reintroduced. Mr.Thomas then introduced Warner Bueller, to discuss the termination of the entrance canopy, in response to comments received in November.
Mr. Bueller said that as he understood the Commission’s comments, “there was a concern that the main structural members that carry the outrigger components of the canopy to either side and the central arched beam structure, that these two main carrier beams were a bit too heavy a little bit too strong, particularly as it related to the end of the beam.” This would be addressed, Mr. Bueller said, “by taking the end of the beam and rather than having a cut-off flat surface on it, a panel [would be inserted] into it so that the structural component of it [would project] out and there would be a concave end to it.” Additionally, the angle of the beam would be increased slightly at the end, so that the cantilever off the canopy skin would cantilever past the end of the beam, creating a shadow effect.
The Commission suggested that the design could be simplified, depending on the ways in which cantilevered. They said that “the structural diagram would have that becoming less of a structure as it gets to the end, except that the bottom corner of that truss needs it.”
The Commission then turned its attention to the proposed stair tower. Mr. Lindstrom said that the tower had been approved in concept, but was removed when the design was presented in November. The tower was removed, Mr. Lindstrom explained, “with a sort of caveat” that the possibly of its addition, either before or after construction, remained. He said that the tower would provide vertical access to the bicycle trail bridge that crosses the front of the station. There would be a elevator in the tower large enough to accommodate bicycles, and there would also be ramps to the trail at either end of the station.
At this point, the Chairman said that since the tower had been previously approved, and if the Commission was satisfied with the end condition of the cantilever, then the project should go forward with the provision the Commission review how the tower, if built, connects with the canopy.
The Commission had some concerns with the proposed tower. They wondered if the proposed location at the north entrance was really feasible, because of space constraints. Because there would be ramps on each side of the station, the Commission questioned if the stair and elevator were needed at all; or, if just an elevator could be constructed to the far left of the entrance, in order to create a smaller footprint. The Commission suggested that since the elevator would be closed with the station, as Mr. Thomas said, then anyone remaining on the trail could just as easily use the ramps as the stairs. Mr. Thomas explained that the stair tower was put back in at the request of the District to allow access to the trail from the north entrance. At the request of the Commission, Mr. Thomas agreed to convey their concerns, both in terms of utility and aesthetics, to the District.
Mr. Thomas then introduced the public art component of the project. He said that Metro went through the full Art in Transit process and involved the community in the selection of the artist. He said that Barbara Grygutis was the artist selected and that she was helpful in addressing the Commission’s comments from November regarding the metal grill-like fence proposed for the façade of the station. She suggested ways to make the fence work aesthetically as well as functionally. He introduced Ms. Grygutis to present the public art element of the station.
Ms. Grygutis said she was working with DC poet laureate Dolores Kendrick on the artwork for the station, and that the theme they had chosen was “Journeys.” She said that Ms. Kendrick wrote two poems about journeys and together, they developed the placement of these poems into the station’s environmental artwork. The challenge of the site, Ms. Grygutis said, was that the station would be very long and narrow, and that there was an undeveloped plaza. The artwork would start at one end of the station and end at the other. The leaf of the scarlet oak, the symbolic and native tree of Washington, DC, would be a recurring image throughout the work. It would be a metaphor for time, as time was important to a journey.
Using a model, Ms. Grygutis indicated the metal fence, which would run the length of the station. Four windows in the shape of scarlet oak leaves, would be installed within the grillwork of the fence. The leaf-shaped windows would be approximately 6 feet, and would be made of stained glass. In keeping with the metaphor of time, four leaves suggest the four seasons. The leaves would be spaced equally along the fence, which would terminate at the north entrance plaza, with a free-standing 28 foot tall leaf sculpture. This sculpture would be made of stainless steel perforated metal and would be transparent. It would be illuminated from within and controlled by a photo cell. Ms. Grygutis provided material samples of stainless steel, granite and stained glass and also photographs of similar works executed by her.
The text of the poems would be located on the leaf sculpture at eye level, and on a piece of glass attached to the rear wall in the station. The wall poem would essentially be placed behind the leaf sculpture, accessible through the station.
The Commission asked if the surface of the leaf sculpture would have a moiré pattern, and Ms. Grygutis answered that they would. She said the pattern on the leaf sculpture would change because of the complexity of the work and the light elements. In answer to queries from the Commission, Ms. Grygutis said the sculpture would be bolted to the concrete from the inside, possibly to one central pole which would cantilever out as a means of affixing other architectural elements. The granite around the sculpture would be flush with the concrete ground. The glass work would be done by Franz Meyer, a Munich firm.
The Commission praised the artwork and approved it unanimously.
G. District of Columbia, Office of Property Management
CFA 15/MAY/03-8, Material Testing Laboratory for the District Department of Transportation. 414 Farragut Street, NE. New laboratory building. Design.
Ms. Alg said that the proposed Material Testing Laboratory would provide laboratories and office space for the District Department of Transportation Investigation and Inspection Branch. She introduced architect Suman Sorg to present the project.
Ms. Sorg briefly described the functions of the proposed building as a facility that would test asphalt, concrete and other construction materials used for roadways and she showed the Commission the location of the proposed building, at Farragut Street NW, near an existing salt dome. She used boards to indicate other facilities in the general area, such as a Dydee Service site, the Lafarge Concrete Company and rows of two-story residences. Ms. Sorg told the Commission that her firm was hired to also do a master plan for the site, and she highlighted some of the aspects of that plan, including future facilities in relation to the proposed laboratory building.
In designing the building, Ms. Sorg explained, the idea was to reflect the industrial functions of the building in its design; as materials would be broken down to be tested, so the forms of the building would be broken down. A future “sister building” for vehicle maintenance would have a similar character with the same kind of broken forms. The materials for the proposed building would include masonry, that is, split face block, glass and metal. The metal on the exterior would be framed with the masonry. The building would have two stories, but it would be a fairly tall building, because the laboratory requires high ceilings. Architectural elements on the roof would help screen the flues projecting from the laboratories.
The lobby entrance would form a hinge for the building, separating the administrative and industrial functions. The reason for the hinge, Ms. Sorg said, was to allow enough room to have two or three buildings along the entire length of available space. The hinge would allow the building to turn and form the end of Emerson Street. The lobby, like the rest of the building, would have two stories. Ms. Sorg showed a materials board and indicated where each of the materials would be used. The Commission suggested that gray-colored split block face not be used.
The Commission commended Ms. Sorg for the project. They said it was the right design for the right place and that it was fun and inventive. The design was approved unanimously.
H. District of Columbia Public Schools / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
CFA 15/MAY/03-9, Birney Elementary School. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Sumner Road, SE. New school building. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/NOV/02- 12).
In her introduction of the Birney Elementary School, Ms. Alg recalled to the Commission that when they last reviewed this design in November 2002, they requested that the glazing of east elevation and the brickwork on the stair tower be studied further. She said that there was also some question as to whether the original entrance should be preserved or demolished. It was determined that the façade be demolished; a new façade was designed and the interior was reconfigured for this presentation. Ms. Alg then introduced Geoffrey Lewis and Felipe Turriago of Gauthier, Alvarado & Associates to present the project.
Mr. Lewis began by showing the school in the context of its site and surroundings. He said that the previous plan was to preserve the entrance façade, a compromise between the wishes of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the needs of the school. SHPO later recommended that the demolition of the entrance façade would have no adverse impact, freeing the architects and the school to proceed with a new façade.
Turning to the elevations, Mr. Lewis said that the previous geometry of the school would be picked up and the main central axis to the building would remain in the same place. The axis would be opened up, however, affording views of the Capitol, the National Shrine and the Library of Congress. A frontispiece would be similar to the three-part monumental archways of the old façade. Mr. Lewis said that the new façade would consist of an entry opening flanked by two elements. The materials being considered were teak ribs and stainless steel and a textile pattern of brick punctuated by small windows to the music room. These windows would allow colored light in during the day and would emit colored light from inside in the evening.
The rear of the façade, Mr. Lewis said, would consist of two main brick volumes. The pattern in this façade would be a colorful multi-polychrome that would be pulled around to the front of the volume, which would house the music room and principal’s office. A new stair tower would have a red and yellow brick pattern and a textile pattern with yellow, green and blue highlights. Mr. Lewis said that in response to comments received in November, vertical colors would be introduced to vary the appearance of the elevation. He said the glazing would contribute to the pattern, giving the elevation a less streamlined look.
The Commission was pleased with the revised design and had some additional comments. They liked the patterning, and felt that the elevations may benefit from additional patterns; however, they cautioned that there was a fine balance to be struck in creating patterns. Mr. Lewis said when the decision was made to demolish the entrance façade, the architects could be more flexible in their design. He said that he felt the lack of ornamentation on some spaces would contribute to the effectiveness of the pattern where it did occur. The Commission suggested that a model of the proposed school would be very helpful, and said that they would look forward to a material review.
I. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Old Georgetown Act
a. O.G. 03-47 & O.G. 03-48, East side of 1500 block of 32nd Street, NW. Five new three-story townhouses. Concept. (Last seen: 22 April 2003).
In his introduction to the proposal for five new townhouses on the 1500 block of 32nd Street, Mr. Martinez said that this project had been on the Old Georgetown appendix in April. At that time, the Old Georgetown Board recommended against the design in concept, and requested “that the buildings be lowered and be sensitive to the character of the buildings across the street and to the narrowness of 32nd Street.” Mr. Martinez pointed out that the Board had yet to discuss the architectural features of the design; that they had not gotten past the concept of the massing and scale. After this case was discussed during a presentation of the Old Georgetown appendix in April, the Commission requested a visit to the 32nd site. That visit occurred on the morning of 15 May, prior to the public meeting. Mr. Martinez circulated letters to the Commission, from neighbors and the ANC, expressing their concerns with the proposed project. The ANC letter, Mr. Martinez said, was a copy of their request to the Board of Zoning Adjustment to reconsider a zoning decision from 2001. After the Commission took a few minutes to read the letters, the applicants made their presentation.
Andi Adams, architectural historian with Shaw, Pittman, began by introducing Darren Phillips, the property owner, and George Stavropoulos and Carlos Hartman, the project architects. She thanked the Commission for taking the time to visit the site that morning, and clarified a point about zoning. She said that the applicants had a letter from the zoning administrator saying that the lots could be built upon. She said the ANC was appealing this decision on two of the lots, and that BZA had not yet responded; but as it stood, they could be built upon. Ms. Adams then showed the Commission photographs to support the assertion that other streets in Georgetown of similar size and character to 32nd Street have mixture of small structures with tall houses and apartment buildings, so that to build the proposed townhouses on 32nd Street would be in-keeping with the historic character of Georgetown. The examples she cited included 27th Street above P Street, the south side of Dent Place, Scott Place, Cambridge Place and 32nd Street above Q Street. She then turned the presentation over to George Stavropoulos, the architect.
Mr. Stavropoulos said that the goal of the applicants was to keep the buildings as low as possible, that these buildings would be entered almost from ground level. He said the masonry part of the buildings would be approximately the same height or a little bit lower that the buildings across the street. Indicating the site plan, Mr. Stavropoulos drew comparisons with the buildings across the street from the site, saying that they were all approximately 28 to 30 feet in height. The proposed three-level houses, he said, would essentially be two and a half stories, because the ground floor would comprise the basement and the main floor, in reality, would be on the second level. Mr. Stavropoulos briefly described earlier designs studies, which included English basements at one point and designs that were originally “more aggressive … with new elements.” To respond to the Board's comments, he said, plain facades with a Mansard roof would be used. Mr. Stavropoulos concluded by saying that the quality of the construction would make the buildings more substantial, and that if they were made any lower, they would be out of scale.
The Commission asked what the height of the proposed townhouses would be, in relation to the 28 and 30 foot buildings across the street. Using a scale on his drawings, Mr. Stavropoulos answered that the townhouses would range from approximately 25 to 34 feet in height. There was also discussion about issues involving the trees and the sidewalk. The neighbors and the Commission both expressed concern about the preservation of the trees, two of which were in questionable condition. The applicants stated that they, too, are interested in preserving the trees, and would do all they could to do so. The Chairman suggested that any excavation would be fatal to the trees, and said that if there was approval, there would have to be a commitment to replace the trees once they died, or to remove the trees during construction, and later replace them.
The Commission was divided on the proposed massing and scale of the townhouses. They agreed that there should be housing on the site. Some members were satisfied that the proposed height, massing and scale were appropriate, while others felt that the overall scale was too large. Members also agreed that the proposed design, in terms of architectural features, was not acceptable. One member suggested that a more modern design would be appropriate, and that the block of four townhouses should vary from the single house.
The Chairman invited members of the community to speak. Gunnar Halley, a neighbor, referred to the comparisons of other Georgetown streets made earlier by Ms. Adams. He said that he did not think the comparisons were relevant, since some of the streets were two-way streets, or allowed parking on one side, while 32nd Street was a one-way street. Mr. Halley noted that garages had been proposed for the townhouses and were eliminated, giving the architects an opportunity to scale down, which he felt was not explored. In summation, Mr. Halley said the neighbors were opposed to the scale and size of the proposed designs, as they feel that the townhouses would tower over the block. He said that historically, there had never been buildings of that scale at that location; that the site had previously held smaller auxiliary buildings to the Bowie-Sevier mansion, or two-story houses. Emily Eig echoed this last comment, saying that her research showed that only smaller scale buildings had been located on the site. She added that new houses that had been approved by the Old Georgetown Board in 1998 were of smaller scale, and more appropriate to the site. Another neighbor, Robert Steiner, was concerned about the disruptiveness of construction on the site, as the neighbors had already endured a long period of disruption with the ongoing work on the Bowie-Sevier house on Q Street, which is adjacent to the 32nd Street site.
The Chairman asked for additional comments from the Commission. One of the members was concerned about legal aspects, and requested that the letter from BZA, stating that the lots were approved by zoning, referred to earlier by Ms. Adams be produced. When a member suggested that there was great resistance to the design as presented, the property owner, Darren Phillips, said that there were different designs originally, that included garages and bay windows. Because of objections from the Board and neighbors, Mr. Phillips said, a design with flat fronts and Mansard roofs were considered “safest.” Four houses would have flat fronts and three stories. He said he was open to comments and suggestions from the neighbors about the architecture they would prefer.
After some discussion, the Chairman said that the scale, design and visual density of the street should reside with the Board. Although the case had been referred back to the Board when discussed in April, it was placed on hold, as Mr. Martinez pointed out earlier in the discussion, and was not reviewed by the Board in their May meeting. The Chairman stated that once the houses were redesigned to the satisfaction of the Board, they could be reviewed by the Commission. A member asked if the northernmost house was approved, in massing and scale, by the Board. Mr. Martinez said that the Board felt that the single house could be taller because it would relate more to the houses on Q Street.
A motion was made to approve the location, massing and scale of the northernmost house, on lot 73, with architectural design to be further discussed. The motion passed with two members opposing. The Chairman asked if the Commission would agree to refer the four remaining houses back to the Board for further review. Ms. Adams told the Chairman that if the Commission could not support the remaining four houses, that it would be more helpful to the applicants to have those houses disapproved, rather than sent back to the Board. She said that they would return with a redesign of the approved house on lot 73, but that a disapproval of the remaining would be preferable. The Chairman asked for a motion to that effect and a motion was made to reject the houses as a project on the four remaining lots. The motion passed with two members opposing.
The discussion concluded with clarifications offered by Mr. Martinez and Mr. Lindstrom. Quoting the Board’s recommendation from the previous month’s appendix, Mr. Martinez stated that “of the five houses proposed, only the one on lot 73 to the north could be taller that the houses across 32nd Street, as it would relate to the taller houses facing Q Street across the public alley,” and the four houses on the south should be redesigned to be more in keeping with the character. Mr. Lindstrom stated that the project, as proposed, was rejected by the Board, but that does not preclude the applicants returning with another proposal for four houses, as long as the design differs from the current proposal.
b. O.G. 03-37, 3030 M Street, NW. Three new commercial/retail buildings. Concept.
Mr. Martinez said the proposal for three commercial buildings at 3030 M Street NW was approved in concept by the Old Georgetown Board. Reading from the Board report, he said that they recommended further study of the detailing for the projecting cornices and applied storefronts to provide additional depth to the facades. He then introduced the architect, Leo Boeckl.
Mr. Boeckl said that he worked through various designs with the Board, and that the revised design was agreeable to all. He said that the Board requested revisions in the brick cobbling of the cornice and that the windows be double-hung, rather than single-hung. Mr. Boeckl said that the Board also recommended that the storefront on two of the proposed buildings come out two inches from the base of the brick with the window frame.
The Commission mostly agreed with the recommendations of the Board; one member suggested that more contemporary design would be as complementary as traditional design to M Street and
Georgetown. Mr. Martinez said that in the first review of this project, the Board was presented with two very different designs. He said that the Board felt that either design would be appropriate, and the applicant’s preference was for the more traditional design.
The Commission agreed that the concept could go forward.
C. Appendix I
Mr. Martinez noted that case O.G. 03-192, a residence at 1626 29th Street NW was added to the appendix since a draft was distributed to the members one week before. Case O.G. 03-175, a residence at 3212 P Street, NW, was removed from the appendix at the request of the applicant to allow time to review the design further. Mr. Martinez said he was awaiting final drawings for a couple of other cases on the appendix as well.
Case O.G. 03-120, a residence at 2908 N Street NW, was discussed at some length. In its recommendation, the Old Georgetown Board found no objection to the concept design for a rear addition to the historic building. The ANC and adjoining neighbors sent letters to the Commission voicing their objections to the proposed addition. Mr. Martinez described the project and the considerations taken by the Board during the review, including a Policy on Additions to Houses in Georgetown which had been adopted by the Commission on 17 April 1986. The Commission listened to a representative for the applicant and the neighbors opposed to the project and briefly discussed the policy. After reviewing the drawings, a motion was made to accept the Board’s recommendation for approval and seconded. The motion passed with a vote of 4 to 2.
For a full record, please refer to the 15 May 2003 transcript of the meeting, pages 246-268.
The remainder of the Old Georgetown appendix was approved.
2. Shipstead-Luce Act
a. Appendix II
Ms. Alg said that there were no changes to the draft appendix, except that one applicant wished to remove an item from the appendix for full review by the Commission. The item was case S.L. 03-78, 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue, for the installation of antennas and related equipment on the roof of the building. Ms. Alg said that staff had recommended against the issuance of a permit for the proposed installation, as shown in drawings received 2 May 2003 and recommended further study of either alternate locations or designs to create a less noticeable addition.
A representative from the Pennsylvania Quarter Neighborhood Association expressed concerns about visibility of the proposed installation from the street. The applicants then presented their proposal, which was basically to conceal the antennas with a stealth wall. The Commission and staff suggested alternatives to a stealth wall as a means of concealment so as to not compromise the view along Pennsylvania Avenue.
The applicants opted to request that their project to put on hold. They were advised to make that request in writing and assured that the staff would work with them to find a suitable solution.
For a full record, please refer to the 15 May 2003 transcript of the meeting, pages 268-298.
The remainder of the Shipstead-Luce appendix was approved.
Administrative item not on the agenda
There was a discussion of the succession of officers, per the motion that was made and carried unanimously at the beginning of the meeting. It was noted that the terms of three members, including the Chairman, were coming to an end. Following a lengthy discussion, the members elected David Childs to be Chairman and Donald Capoccia to be Vice-Chairman. It was agreed that Mr. Childs and Mr. Capoccia would assume their offices upon the replacement of the current Chairman, Harry G. Robinson, III.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 5:35 p.m.
Frederick J. Lindstrom