The meeting was convened at 10:12 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. David M. Childs, Chairman
Hon. Diana Balmori
Hon. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvoge
Hon. Pamela Nelson
Hon. Elyn Zimmerman
Mr. Charles H. Atherton, Secretary
Mr. Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Ms. Kristina N. Alg
Ms. Sue Kohler
Mr. Jose Martinez-Canino Ms. Susan Raposa
Ms. Sarah Garber
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Ms. Nancy Witherell
A. Approval of the minutes of the 19 June meeting. The minutes were approved without objection.
B. Dates of next meetings, approved as:
C. Report on the abolishment of the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee and the establishment of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. The Secretary said the reason for this change was to have a committee that could look at all coinage, not just commemorative issues, and also, he thought, to change the structure of it so that there would be no seat for the Commission of Fine Arts, non-voting though it was. He commented that some people had thought he might be trying to exert too much influence, but that had never been his intention. Ms. Diamonstein said she thought that had been the purpose of the participation, and she asked if the Commission could at least request a representative; the Chairman, too, thought that would be a good idea. Mr. Atherton recalled that the Director of the Mint had expressed a desire to meet with the Chairman and the Commission members, and he thought that might be a good time to bring it up. Ms. Diamonstein said she would like to do that, since everyone was so dissatisfied with the coin and medal designs.
D. Report on the Committee on House Administration’s hearing on the establishment within the Smithsonian Institution of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (H.R. 2205). The Secretary said this was a bill that passed the Senate without a hearing, but although originally site-specific, had been amended by the House to include four sites for consideration, sites that had been presented to the Commission at an informational presentation. The Commission was not asked to testify, and he said the staff had a strong concern for the wording of the bill, which would eliminate the review by both the Planning Commission and this Commission of both site and design proposals; contact with both commissions would be limited to consultation with the chairmen. He said a statement had been filed in protest, based primarily on the belief that if this action were taken, there would be no further avenue for any kind of public discourse. He noted that both Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s delegate in Congress, and a representative from the Coalition to Save Our Mall–both adversaries of the Commission in the past–had testified saying that the full Planning and Fine Arts commissions should be involved.
In addition to the listed administrative items, the Chairman had some comments to make to the members about procedural matters, including scheduling, travel plans, and review of the Commission’s letters sent to applicants after the meetings. The Commission then turned to the Submissions and Reviews section of the agenda.
II. SUBMISSIONS AND REVIEWS
A. Department of Defense/Arlington National Cemetery
CFA 17/JUL/03-1, Memorial to the crew of the Columbia Orbiter, Arlington National Cemetery. Revised design. Staff member Kristina Alg recalled the previous submission and said there had been significant revisions to the designs. She introduced historian Thomas Shurlock to discuss them.
Mr. Shurlock showed a drawing of the proposed front of the memorial, recalling the previous submission with portrait heads of each astronaut. These had been removed, and there would be only the logo of the orbiter with seven stars representing the astronauts and a brief inscription. On the back there would be a bronze low relief rendition of the official NASA crew picture and a short text explaining the elements of the logo. There was agreement that the revised design was a great improvement over the one originally presented, and it was unanimously approved.
B. Federal Highway Administration
CFA 17/JUL/03-2, Pennsylvania Avenue, between 15th and 17th streets, NW, and Jackson and Madison places. Material samples and final details. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/JUN/03- 1) This submission was postponed until a later date.
C. National Park Service
CFA 17/JUL/03-3, Georgetown Waterfront Park, bounded by the Potomac River and Water Street, from the Francis Scott Key Bridge to the terminus of 31st Street. Concept. (Previous: CFA 31/JUL/85-1) Staff member Jose Martinez introduced the proposal for the Georgetown Waterfront Park by indicating the location of the park and alerting the Commission to the presence of a large model of the proposal. He said that an informational presentation was made to the Old Georgetown Board at their 2 July meeting. There was a letter of support from the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2E in Georgetown and a letter from Heather Cass, one the Old Georgetown Board members. Mr. Martinez then introduced John Parsons of the National Park Service.
Mr. Parsons made some introductory remarks about the background of the site before introducing landscape architect Ignacio Bunster-Ossa of Wallace, Roberts and Todd Landscape Architects and sculptor Jody Pinto. He said that because the community of Georgetown predated the city of Washington, much of the land along the waterfront was privately owned until the 1960s when it was acquired for the purpose of building a freeway. Before the freeway idea was abandoned in the 1970s, asphalt was laid along the shoreline. Proposals for housing, retail and commercial projects were later made and in 1985, with the support of the Commission of Fine Arts, a proposal was accepted to establish the site as a park. The ownership of the land was transferred from the District of Columbia to the National Park Service in 1999. Mr. Parsons said that the current proposal had the support of the ANC and the Georgetown Waterfront Commission, a citizens advisory group formed at about the time of the land transfer. He then turned the presentation over to Mr. Bunster-Ossa and Ms. Pinto.
Beginning his image projection presentation, Mr. Bunster-Ossa said that the proposed design was informed by the unusual relationship of the site, as both a national park and a Georgetown community park. One example of this was the question of resolving the network of the District's paths and trails that flowed through the site in such a way that would fit with both the scale of the neighborhood and with the accessibility needs of people who utilized these trails city-wide. The solution, Mr. Bunster-Ossa said, would be to have a ten-foot bicycle trail paralleling the Whitehurst Freeway, and a pedestrian sidewalk below the freeway. The trail would provide screening to the roadway and street parking. He added that while the design would not engage the Whitehurst itself, there would be coordination with the DC Transportation Department to ensure that the configuration of the street would reinforce the activities and uses of the park.
Mr. Bunster-Ossa gave a brief history of the site and of plans for it. He said that the waterfront at Georgetown was unique in the city, since it was the only spot on the Potomac, within Washington, where the water was deep enough to dock schooners, or tall ships. He noted that the Key Bridge was built in 1923 and the Whitehurst Freeway was built in 1948, and that as the design for the park developed, the idea was to retrace the lines of the bridge and freeway into the design. Moving on to plans for the site, Mr. Bunster-Ossa said that Georgetown was industrial in the 1940s and 1950s. A modernist plan proposed in the 1960s would have placed homes at the water's edge, crossing the "divisive line" of the Whitehurst Freeway. He said that a 1972 plan would have put the Whitehurst underground, and that this plan also marked the first time a park was considered for the site.
In response to the community's desires as to what type of park would be preferred, Mr. Bunster-Ossa said the park would be more passive in nature, and that its design would speak to the varied edge of the waterfront between Washington Harbor and the Key Bridge. The design would emphasize views of the Key Bridge, as well as of the Theodore Roosevelt bridge. In considering how to celebrate the arrival of Wisconsin Avenue to the water, Mr. Bunster-Ossa said that art would be integrated into the design as a way of uniting the water and the city. The art would consist of pergolas within the park, and pavilions which would overlook the river. Ms. Pinto said that the design of the pergolas would reflect the flow of the water and embrace the plaza where a major fountain would be located. The functional purpose of the pergolas and pavilions would be to provide shade, but they would also connect the city with the park, through the Whitehurst Freeway, by their placement and orientation towards the river. Ms. Pinto said that although the Whitehurst was outside of the design area, it was still considered as an element through which light and activity would need to flow. Mr. Bunster-Ossa added that there would be river steps in this plaza area as well, which would allow people direct access to the water for activities such as rowing and fishing.
Mr. Bunster-Ossa indicated that the essence of Georgetown would be incorporated into the design, particularly, its "textural variety," which referred to its varieties of paving and structured greenery. There were two dominant structuring ideas in the plan. The first was the extension of streets into the park. This would attempt to recapture the historical condition of the grid coming to the water, while at the same time, provide for views to the Key Bridge to create a "counterflow." The second idea was the transition from the structured urban character, as found in Washington Harbor, to a more natural environment, as found in the progression upstream.
Several major features were then described by Mr. Bunster-Ossa in some detail, beginning with the fountain which would extend from the main plaza to the river. He said the fountain would have different water features, from steam to vapor. When looking down from Wisconsin Avenue, the fountain would be low enough in grade to make the river appear more prominent. The plaza would have views of Kennedy Center and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. Recalling the archaeological history of the site, its paving pattern would refer to the many layers of paving found buried there, including wood blocks, asphalt, Belgian blocks and concrete. This mosaic paving pattern would help interpret the history of the site and shoreline. The river steps might contain some wood, but because of the tides, concrete would need to be used. The promenade, Mr. Bunster-Ossa said, would be modest, to discourage bicycle traffic.There would be a railing to the waterfront, facing the Key Bridge.
The idea of "textural variety" would come into play in the perpendicular paths. The paths would use different types of materials, including granite framed by brick or Belgian stone, to achieve this variety. Mr. Bunster-Ossa said that there was precedent for this concept in the avenues of Georgetown as they look down into the waterfront, and in the allées of Dumbarton Oaks. The curvilinear paths would also define the "various rooms of activity" in the park, such as a children's sculpture garden. The overlooks would recall the likeness of ship architecture. At the request of the community, there would be a labyrinth, whose inscriptions would help interpret the historical aspects of the park. Engineers would be consulted for the recreation of an actual shoreline.
The lighting would be calibrated for the sake of continuity. Fixtures typical of those found in Washington parks would be installed on Water Street and K Street. Within the park itself, there would be a less obtrusive fixture in the shaded areas, which would allow more focus on the landscape and less on the fixture itself. The pavilions and pergolas would have their own special lighting features. Mr. Bunster-Ossa then showed various views of the model.
Ms. Pinto spoke briefly about the designs for the pergolas and pavilions. She said that the idea behind the designs for these pieces was to give one the feeling of being underwater and to reflect ships' masts, respectively. The materials would be steel and fiberglass. There would be seating made of illuminated fiberglass, so as to speak to the flow of water. Ms. Pinto showed images of a project she had done in Japan to illustrate what the effect would be. In that case, the fiberglass tubing was designed to be integral with snow, as it was located in an area of Japan that received the highest snowfall.
Mr. Bunster-Ossa interjected that the pavilions would be strategically located where shoreline conditions would best highlight them when illuminated and where they would be best reflected in the water. Ms. Pinto continued, saying the pavilions would be designed to resemble a crow's nest so as the give a viewer the feeling of hovering over water. The masts would be made of fiberglass and the sails would be fiberglass supported by steel rodding. The pavilion seats would be illuminated as well.
Concluding the projection portion of the presentation, Mr. Bunster-Ossa showed an image with a footprint of the proposed Georgetown University Boathouse. Alluding to the issue brought up earlier in the presentation about access to the network of the District's trails, Mr. Bunster-Ossa said that the pedestrian access in front of the boathouse would complete the Crescent Trail and allow access to the main trail.
The Commission was then shown a lighted model of the pergolas and pavilions, to illustrate the proposed lighting scheme and Ms. Pinto provided more specific information about them. The fiberglass canopies of the pergolas would be translucent with shades of blues and greens that would create a colorful "ground plane" or shadow below. They would be illuminated with sunlight during the day and with up-lighting after dark. There would be curved benches of interior-lit fiberglass. The steel poles would be canted, and the canopy height would vary from 9 to 14 feet, because of its wave design. The sails of the pavilions would also be made of translucent fiberglass, or possibly a netting or screening material. The sails would be supported by steel rods. There would be oval or half-oval seating. The deck oval would be made of timber and set into the promenade. The pavilions would be located on overlooks which would cantilever out over the river, to give the viewer the feeling of being aboard a ship.
The Chairman commended Mr. Bunster-Ossa and Ms. Pinto on their presentation and their proposed design. He specifically commended the use of both modern and historic elements, the hardscape elements and the sculpture. Referring to a letter he received from Old Georgetown Board member Heather Cass, the Chairman suggested that the design be simplified and more focused.
The members had several questions and concerns. Ms. Diamonstein asked if fiberglass used in this way as canopies had ever been tested, as she was concerned that the space under the canopies would be too hot. Ms. Pinto said that she had used fiberglass in a similar manner for rest rooms in Santa Monica. Ms. Balmori said she was familiar with the Santa Monica project, and felt that the material had worked well in that context. However, she agreed that the use of fiberglass should be tested specifically as proposed for the pergolas, since the variations in height might make a difference. Ms. Zimmerman suggested that other materials be explored as well, saying that there were materials that would transmit light, but not heat. Ms. Nelson asked if it was yet known what percentage of shade the translucent material would provide, to which Ms. Pinto replied that that would be determined as the design developed.
The Commission agreed that the design should be simplified, and were complimentary towards the general concept, especially the sculptural elements. Ms. Balmori commented that the treatment of river edges was very good, and that the river would benefit from having its shoreline restored. She felt the relationship between Wisconsin Avenue and the water was unclear, and that the fountain and river steps seemed to be competing for attention. She also suggested that the angled walk towards the bridge was a gesture that was repeated unnecessarily. Ms. Zimmerman suggested that the design team closely consider how people would interact with the edge of the fountain as the design develops. Ms. Nelson indicated that she was in favor of the park's "five room" concept and that she liked the "event-pause" rhythm of the landscape. In the interest of simplifying, she suggested that the walkways be edited, as they did not provide a long enough pause. The Chairman agreed and suggested that the lines between the "rooms" be blurred more.
The Commission members thanked the applicants for their presentation, and said they looked forward to reviewing the design in the future as it developed.
D. Department of the Treasury/United States Mint
CFA 17/JUL/03-4, Fifty States circulating/commemorative quarter program for 2004. Designs for the Michigan and Wisconsin state quarters. (Previous: CFA 15/MAY/03-2) Staff member Sue Kohler noted that these would be the final designs for the 2004 quarters and introduced Barbara Bradford from the Mint to discuss them. For the benefit of the new members, Ms. Bradford explained how the process of selecting and reproducing designs had evolved over the years since the program first began in 1999. She said that at first, the states submitted concepts and the Mint engravers prepared their renditions of them. Then the states began to submit finished artwork which they expected the Mint to follow. With the 2004 quarters the Mint had done just that, making no changes in the designs. For the following years, however, the Mint would be going back to accepting only written concepts, and the Mint artists would interpret them
Ms. Bradford showed the Michigan designs first, noting that they had already been seen by the new Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). All five designs showed outlines of the state, most showed it bordered by the Great Lakes; Ms. Bradford pointed out the topographical finish added to the two peninsulas, a request of the state, so that they would be differentiated from the water areas. One design incorporated several small icons of historic or architectural relevance; other showed the Mackinaw Bridge and/or an early automobile design. She said the CCAC had preferred design #4, without the bridge and using the automobile from #5. There was a discussion about the various designs, with the consensus being that the simpler the better, and so #1 became the first choice, with the request that the lettering of “Great Lakes State” be made slightly smaller, and, if possible, the image of the state and the lakes be enlarged.
The designs for the Wisconsin coin were shown next. There were two with an agricultural theme, one depicting scenic Wisconsin, and two interpreting cultural interaction–one showing a fur trader and an Indian, and the other a missionary and an Indian. There was no enthusiasm for any of the designs, but it was thought that numbers 3 and 5, depicting cultural interaction, showed some promise. It was requested that these be used as the basis for a new design, perhaps incorporating the state motto, “Forward”, and that the emphasis be on simplicity.
E. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 17/JUL/03-5, National Museum of the American Indian, Independence Avenue and 3rd Street, SW. Perimeter security barriers, bollards, and guard booth. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/MAY/03-1) Ms. Alg noted the Commission’s pre-meeting site visit to see mock-ups of the two bollard designs to be used. She noted also that there had been some changes to the security perimeter since the Commission had last seen the project, with the most significant changes having been made on the 4th Street side of the building, specifically more openings in the tree planter security barriers; she added that there were on-going discussions with the Planning Commission (NCPC) that might result in further revisions. She asked Harry Rombach from the Smithsonian to begin the presentation.
Mr. Rombach said they had talked with both NCPC and the D.C. State Historic Preservation Office about the proposed security measures, and he thought they had come up with a good design. He said the reason they were coming to the Commission so late in the design and construction process was that until about two years ago, when the building had already been designed, security requirements were minimal. After 9/11, a thorough security assessment was undertaken as soon as funding was available, resulting in the proposals shown to the Commission in May and now in a slightly revised form. He said he hoped the final design could be approved at this meeting, as they hoped to have the basement area ready for occupancy by the end of the year. He recalled also that the Commission had had some questions about the stonework, specifically the pattern of textural change from the base to the top of the walls, and he hoped that had been resolved during the site visit. Mr. Rombach then introduced Hal Davis from Polshek Tobey + Davis, architects, and Marsha Lee from EDAW, landscape architects.
At Mr. Davis’s request, Ms. Lee began the presentation by pointing out perimeter changes that had been made. Beginning at the north, Ms. Lee said this had not changed; the 30-inch-high tribal recognition wall provided security along that side, and at the northwest corner entrance, where most visitors would enter, grandfather rocks and the special museum-designed bollards would perform that function. Along 4th Street, additional breaks in the 30-inch-high granite wall, with light poles behind them, had been introduced to break up the monotony, and at the 4th Street and Independence Avenue corner, at the truck entrance, the wall had been made to curve into the site, helping to integrate the guard booth into the design. Ms. Lee then talked about the various security elements along the Independence-Maryland Avenue frontage, which consisted of free-standing granite bollards, granite bollards placed on 6-inch granite curbs when used in connection with existing planters, seating walls at the student entrance, a bus shelter(which might eventually be hardened), and museum-designed bollards and large rocks at the museum entrance. A line of twelve bollards had been removed from the southeast corner because the tribal recognition wall behind them would provide adequate security.
The members had several questions for Ms.Lee and Mr. Davis. One concerned the height of the bollards–36 inches–versus the 30 inch height of the walls: Why did the bollards have to be taller? The only answer given was that a 36-inch-high bollard was the only one that had been tested and shown to withstand the force of a bomb-laden truck. The Assistant Secretary observed that the new walls planned for encircling the Washington Monument were to be only about 26-inches tall It was thought that the height question was something that should be investigated. In regard to the bollards, it was also noted that when the bollard mock-ups were viewed on site, the diameter of the stone bollard seemed excessively large, and it was hoped it could be reduced somewhat. As for the bronze bollards, the Chairman said they should be truly bronze, not some other bronze-colored material. He thought the woven copper design on the bronze was very attractive, but thought the bollards would be less intrusive if they could be lowered.
There was general concern about the number of bollards on the south side, and Ms. Diamonstein asked if the wall coming around the southeast corner could not be continued west of the entrance. Mr. Davis said that would not be possible because it did not meet the required stand-off distance. She also commented on the seeming conflict between the overwhelming number of barriers set up while at the same time there was an insistence on permeability and porosity. Mr. Rombach said the porosity was needed in that area, where the tour busses would unload, because of the large number of people milling around.
Mr.Davis then showed the design for the guard booth, recalling that the end of the planter wall was now curved to provide a more comfortable setting it. He said it had to be removable to allow for repair of the heavy utility lines running underneath, and this had determined that it would be a metal structure. Drawings showed a simple panel design with a central glass area running around all sides, a glass door, and a slightly-curved roof. It would be painted grey, the same color as the window mullions of the museum building, and it would have an eggshell finish. Mrs. Nelson suggested it would look better if the door were not all glass but had a metal panel at the bottom, up to the window level. It was agreed by all that this would improve the appearance.
Ms. Diamonstein asked about lighting and signage for the museum generally. Ms. Lee said the Olmsted light would be used on the Mall side (Jefferson Drive) and the Washington Globe on the other three sides; Mr. Davis added that there would be no lighting on the paved areas. In regard to the signage, Ms. Lee said they would use the Smithsonian’s standard informational signs. Ms. Diamonstein requested that the Commission review these signs, to see what the relationship to the building and to each other would be like, and how compatible the color would be. The Chairman closed the discussion by telling Mr. Davis he thought he had the Commission’s endorsement, with the comments made, and he asked him to keep the Commission apprised of any further changes made by NCPC so that they might be reviewed.
F. Department of Defense
1. CFA 17/JUL/03-6, Fort McNair, National Defense University. Small Area Plan, including the siting of the Physical Fitness facility, a new main entrance, a future parking structure, and an expansion of the National Defense University. The Assistant Secretary said the first of the two Fort McNair submissions was for a small area plan modification to be made to the base’s master plan so that a new physical fitness facility could be accommodated; the second submission was for the design of the facility itself. For the benefit of the new members, he located Fort McNair and its major buildings on an aerial photograph, and then pointed out an existing parking lot which was the preferred location for the new physical fitness facility. He said part of the new plan incorporated a proposal to develop a new main entrance into the base, as well as a new parking facility and expansion of the National Defense University. He then introduced project manager Myrtle Bowen to begin the presentation.
Ms. Bowen said the project had been presented to NCPC and they would be discussing it during the August review; they had also consulted the D.C. State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). She said their overall objective was to construct a new physical fitness facility and to expand the Defense University. How this would be done would depend on whether they could purchase a piece of land, referred to as the Mariani land, or the Tempo C property. She introduced Leonard Morton from their facilities planning branch to discuss the two concept plans that had been developed.
Mr. Morton showed a plan of Fort McNair, pointing out the areas involved in the small area plan, part of the Historic District, the P Street parking lot (since 9/11 actually the main entrance to the base), the National Defense University area, and a site approved in the 1996 plan for the Physical Fitness facility. He said they had looked at their study area as being a transition between the historic area, with buildings no more than three stories high, and the commercial area with buildings 60 to 90 feet in height. He commented that the buildings they were proposing would not be higher than three stories.
If Concept I were developed, the Physical Fitness Center would be placed on what is now the parking lot for the National Defense University, and the expansion of the university would occur in three separate buildings along the Mall area. The second phase would include a parking structure with two levels below ground and two above; this would be placed just to the north of the historic National War College. A new main gate would be constructed with the entrance at Potomac Avenue extended and 2nd Street. It would be a monumental-type structure and would meet all security requirements–turn-around capability, car-searching, visitors center, etc. The original main gate on P Street would be used only as a ceremonial gate
The Chairman thought the Commission should visit Fort McNair now that significant changes were being proposed. He commented on the beauty of the historic site and the fact that the original McKim, Mead & White plan had never been completed. He said that although it might be tempting to fill in the gaps, any buildings placed on the edge of the mall would have a high impact potential and would have to be approached with the greatest care. Another real question was the proposal to build a parking structure in such close proximity to the War College.
Ms. Bowen said she would be happy to arrange a field trip. In response to the Chairman’s question as to why the parking structure was sited as it was, she said it had been just part of their concept of laying out the entire post; however, after talking with this commission and with NCPC, they had decided not to put the parking there. Mr. Morton said that if the purchase of the Tempo C property was allowed, under Concept 2 the parking structure would be located closer to the Defense University and the Physical Fitness Center. He pointed out other aspects of Concept 2, such as moving the Physical Fitness Center farther north into the Tempo C land, and building two new additions to the Defense University, one adjacent to the existing building, and a smaller one in front of it, facing the mall.
The Chairman told Ms. Bowen that the Commission would encourage the development of Concept 2 if the new land could be purchased, but again, he cautioned that the university addition proposed for the mall edge would have to be a design of the highest quality.
2. CFA 17/JUL/03-7, Fort McNair, 6th Avenue, SE. New physical fitness facility. Concept. The Chairman questioned Ms. Bowen about the siting of the facility, saying he understood she was submitting a concept design based on siting the building where it was shown on the 1996 master plan, that is, just north of the Defense University, the site that would be used if development concept 1 were carried out. She said that was correct, but she said they had also made plans for adjusting the building’s design so that it could be sited farther north if Concept 2 came into play and a parking structure were built adjacent to the university building.
Architect Suman Sorg and Greg Bordynowski of Sorg/KBR, were then introduced. Before Ms. Sorg began her presentation, Ms. Bowen said that the design had been shown to the staffs of NCPC and the Commission of Fine Arts, and to the D.C. Historic Preservation Officer.
Ms. Sorg commented first on the axial, symmetrical character of her building, pointing out that if Concept 1 were followed, the two buildings in front of hers, facing the parade ground, had been sited far enough apart so that the center of the fitness building would be visible. Also, she noted that this type of classical organization was seen throughout the historic campus and was an important aspect of the design guidelines for the fort. She said the building was basically a two-story U-shaped structure wrapped around a taller gymnasium placed at the rear. The gymnasium had a barrel vault roof to minimize its height, with the curve repeated in the three round-arched front entrance openings, a form seen frequently throughout the campus. Also echoing the early McKim, Mead & White work, especially on the War College were the tall, narrow, two-story windows with brick “pilasters” between. Ms. Sorg’s design continued the use of red brick as the basic material, with the glass ends of the gymnasium roof and the front dormer bringing a contemporary feeling and added light into the building.
Ms. Sorg said that if Concept 2 was implemented and the facility was moved onto the Tempo C site with its angled street boundary, she would like to have the opportunity to try to adapt the design to the new site. Ms. Zimmerman asked if there was a fixed time by which construction had to begin, even if the additional property had not yet been acquired. Ms. Bowen said there was, if they wanted to keep the funding they had. Ms. Zimmerman commented that the site change would seem to be a major one to deal with. Mr. Joe Schaefer from the Baltimore Corps of Engineers asked to comment. He said they had the funding, but what they did not have was permission from the Secretary of Defense; just as the project was being conceived he had placed a moratorium on the purchase of land in the National Capital Region. He said they had already asked for a waiver. The Chairman said that sounded promising, but he told Ms. Sorg that if it went through, the building design would have to respond to the diagonal of the street and she should be thinking about it.
Ms. Balmori commented on the design of the roof, saying that it seemed to dominate the rest of the building. The Chairman thought that was because she was looking at an elevation drawing, which always made visualizing perspective difficult. He did, however, suggest a minor change to Ms.Sorg which might help alleviate Ms. Balmori’s concern.
Mr. Bordynowski commented on the difficulties involved in fitting all the program requirements into a 43,600 square foot building, which they had been given as the limit. He then showed photographs of the base for the benefit of the new members, including not only the historic buildings, but others, including the huge bulk of the Defense University structure and the buildings behind it that were six to ten stories in height. There were no more questions, and Ms. Zimmerman ended the discussion by saying that she thought Ms. Sorg’s design was a very appropriate one for the site, and that she had succeeded admirably in incorporating all the stringent requirements into a building of limited size. The other members were in agreement, and the concept design was unanimously approved.
(The Commission adjourned for lunch at 12:45 p.m. and reconvened at 12:12 p.m. )
G. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
S.L. 03-116, 2025 F Street, NW (Square 103). George Washington University, new 103 unit residence hall. Concept. Staff member Kristina Alg introduced a proposal for a residence hall for the George Washington University at 2025 F Street NW. She said that the staff had some concerns about the west elevation and that there would be a submission for a zoning variance for the height. Ms. Alg said the square was zoned for a 90 foot height, and that the applicants would be requesting a 120 foot height variance. She then introduced Michelle Honey, director of architecture, engineering and construction at the University, and Alex Dearie, architect with Ayers, Saint Gross.
Ms. Honey began by telling the Commission that the BZA order for the University's campus plan required them to provide housing on campus for 70 percent of their undergraduate students. To comply with this order, the University proposed to place a 530 bed residence hall on square 103, within the campus boundary. Ms. Honey said that the University asked the architect for a simple, straight-forward design, placed mid-block, utilizing brick and precast materials consistent with other structures within the University. She then introduced Mr. Dearie to make the presentation.
With the help of an image projection presentation, Mr. Dearie acquainted the Commission with the site for the proposed building. He showed photographs of the immediate area from various angles, to illustrate the building massing, textures and various heights that existed along F Street. He then quickly showed floor plans, including the entry level, a typical floor and the roof plan. The building would have fourteen floors in all and one of those floors would be an English basement.
Moving onto elevations, Mr. Dearie pointed out the projected bays, which he said were standard with D.C. tradition. On the west elevation, he said, the projection of the front bay would come out and the facade would be rather blank, with the rest of the windows wrapping the projecting bay. The rear facade at the alley was described as "fairly functional," with windows which would light the long hallways within. Showing renderings, Mr. Dearie indicated how the bays would appear at bottom, saying that they would respond to the size of the support building adjacent to the site. He said that the building would respond to the height of the Francis Scott Key dormitory on the corner; that the attempt was to respond to the height of the cornice lines and certain beltcourses. In an effort to reduce the size of the massing, a brick material would be used to respond to the size of the facade on the Key building. Mr. Dearie concluded by showing perspectives to illustrate his points.
The Commission felt that the building, as proposed, was inappropriate for its location. While recognizing the University's obligation to house its students on campus, it was agreed that the height was out of place and that the bays, while a good approach, would be too overwhelming for the block. They suggested that the west elevation, from the inside, would benefit from more light, and the addition of windows on that elevation should be considered. The Chairman also suggested that the use of a model would be very effective in conveying proposals for site planning and massing.
Dorothy Miller, chairman of ANC 2A and commissioner for ANC 2A-05, testified that she, too, felt that the proposed building was too tall, and suggested that the University might consider utilizing their empty hospital for residence space. Ms. Honey responded that the University would be willing to meet with the ANC to present their plans and get feedback. She also pointed out that there were buildings one block away from their site that were 130 feet high.
The Chairman said that the Commission would look forward to considering further developments of the design, and restated that a model might be helpful in helping the University make its case. He emphasized, however, that the Commission felt strongly about the height. Concluding the discussion, the Chairman thanked the applicants for their presentation.
H. District of Columbia Public Schools/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
CFA 17/JUL/03-9, Walker-Jones Elementary School, 1st and L streets, NW. Replacement school building, revised design. (Previous: CFA 16/MAY/02-13) The Assistant Secretary introduced the next submission, a revised design for the Walker-Jones Elementary School from the District of Columbia Public Schools and the Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Lindstrom said that the proposal was for a replacement building at 1st & L Streets NW. A previous design was reviewed by the Commission in May 2002. He then introduced Dawne David of HSMM Architects to make the presentation.
Ms. David began with an overview of the project at the request of the Chairman, for the benefit of members appointed since May 2002. Using a site plan, Ms. David indicated that the current school would remain in place during construction of the new school. The new school would be built just south of the existing school, currently the the school's play area. The current school might also be used as swing space during the replacement of Terrell Junior High School to the north. Within the next three to five years, Ms. David said, the existing building would be demolished and its site would be used as a play field.
Moving onto massing and elevations, Ms. David said that the proposed building would comprise two parts. The first part would be the orthogonal classroom wing. The main entrance would be on the southeast corner and a secondary, or after-hours entrance, would be located on the west end of the block, at New Jersey Avenue. The administrative spaces would be located in the three-story classroom wing, with lower grade classrooms on the first floor, a play space behind and upper grade classrooms above. The second part of the building would have one story and would contain a double- height gym and cafeteria. Art and music functions would also be located here. This portion of the building would be closed off and accessible for after-hours functions.
The main entrance corner would have an octagonal tower, which would anchor the academic volume and also mimic a tower form prominent on corners in the city. Proceeding west, the massing would decrease towards the secondary entrance which would address New Jersey Avenue.
Ms. David showed the Commission a palette of proposed materials. She said the masonry base would be a light-colored split-face block and at sill level, all around the building there would be a band of ground face block. The pilasters at the bays would be split face. Towards the top of the structure, the materials would lighten by using exterior finish insulation system (EFIS), a stucco-like material with metal exterior shading. There would be blue and violet glazed tile accents and the stair towers would be yellow EFIS stucco.
The Commission was favorable towards the design, saying that the proposed building would have a clear civic presence and would fit respond well to the site. They felt the design had a playfulness and friendliness to it and that children would respond well to it. Ms. Nelson suggested that the yellow color to be used on the towers was rather acid, and that a more gold color would be better. The Chairman encouraged the school department and the Army Corps of Engineers to use models for future presentations. With those comments, the proposal for the new Walker-Jones Elementary School was approved.
I. General Services Administration
CFA 17/JUL/03-10, D.C. Court of Appeals (Old City Hall) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Judiciary Square, Southwest corner at Indiana Avene and 5th Street, NW. New shared underground parking facility. Revised concept–Phase I. (Previous: CFA 18/JUL/02-6) The Assistant Secretary recalled that the Commission had seen an earlier concept for this a year ago, became concerned with the number of projects being proposed for Judiciary Square, and asked GSA to prepare a master plan for the entire square. That was done, and he noted that the Commission had reviewed a draft of that plan during the June meeting. He said several things still needed to be worked out, especially between the courts and the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Foundation in regard to the siting of their additions on the land north of the Old City Hall. In spite of that, both NCPC and the CFA staff felt that GSA could go ahead with a revised concept for the underground parking structure, to be placed at the southwest corner of the square.
Mr. Lindstrom then introduced Mike McGill from GSA, who commented that this garage would make it possible to eliminate all surface parking from the block on which it was located. Mr. McGill then asked architect John Belle from Beyer Blinder Belle to make the presentation. Mr. Belle said he would be joined by Hany Hassan, his partner in the Washington office, and by landscape architect Elliott Rhodeside. He began with a reminder of the importance of retaining the cross-axis and the view corridor up Indiana Avenue when considering any development on Judiciary Square. He thought that was what the Commission was responding to when they looked at the first submission of the garage design and had concerns about the very prominent ramps and vent shafts that had been placed at the southeast corner of the garage site, in close proximity to the most important building on the square, Hatfield’s Greek Revival city hall (later the courthouse). He showed a plan with the boundaries of the courthouse project outlined; it would include the two park areas on either side of the courthouse (the one on the southwest was the site for the below-grade garage), and a rectangular north of the building for expansion. He said the southeast corner of the project area might have to be used for service access; he noted also the Metro entrance just across 4th Street. Mr. Belle then showed pictures of buildings on the square that would inspire their design for the entire courthouse renovation project, such as Nathan Wyeth’s classical 1930s limestone court buildings, the Victorian red brick Pension Building (now the National Building Museum), and smaller elements, such as the museum’s brick and stone sculptural markers at each corner of its site, and an old ivy-covered brick ventilation shaft on the garage site. All of these things would be considered, as well, of course, as the old courthouse itself, its granite plinth, and the way in which it was framed by the landscape at certain points.
Turning to the garage itself, Mr. Belle referred to the first design the Commission had seen, before he came on the project, recalling that all the major above-grade components–the ramps, elevator, stairs, etc.–were grouped in the southeast corner, where they would interfere with the vista along Indiana Avenue and with access to the courthouse itself. He said he understood that was a concern of the Commission’s and others, and the suggestion had been made that the access could be moved to 5th Street. He showed three different schemes that his firm had developed for the disposition of the above-grade elements, saying that the one he would recommend would group the elevators, vent shafts, and one emergency stair in the northeast corner; this would leave only the ramp and control booth to interrupt the landscape on 5th Street, with the second set of emergency stairs placed diagonally from the first, as required, farther south on 5th Street, within the treed area and away from the vista along Indiana Avenue and the old courthouse. The Chairman asked a question about an item on a floor plan of the garage, and in answering it, Mr. Belle commented that the garage now had only two levels instead of three, as the early plan had shown; as it had been brought up above the water table it would be much more cost-effective. He said they would provide space for 220 cars on those two levels.
Mr. Belle then discussed his proposal for linking the required small-scale elements that would combine a landscape feature with a structural one; it would be a loggia, covered with wisteria or another vine, which would also recognize the cross-park access from 5th Street to the courthouse and into Judiciary Square. It could take various forms and could be continuous or interrupted at the entrance to the Military Court building. He showed views of the different versions, and then asked landscape architect Elliot Rhodeside to talk about the landscape elements of the project.
Mr. Rhodeside first showed a slide from the master plan document related to security issues. He noted a black line which represented a 30-inch-high plinth wall along 5th Street and along the park section of Indiana Avenue; then, in front of the courthouse, the security element would change to bollards placed at the curb line with a sloped grass bank behind the 15-foot sidewalk. He showed several possible variations, including a continuation of the plinth wall all along Indiana Avenue, behind the sidewalk, with bollards around the courthouse stairs, or, as an alternate, bollards all along Indiana Avenue with the sloped grass bank behind the sidewalk. There was also the possibility of using a hardened streetscape fence along 5th Street rather than the plinth wall. The entrance into the park area from the corner of 5th Street and Indiana Avenue had been changed to a curved plaza-type entryway, with curved sections of a hardened fence delineating the inner boundary between the paths; Mr. Rhodeside said this would open up the view into the park better than the configuration shown in the master plan. He commented that he would prefer not to have the double row of trees on 5th Street as shown on the master plan because one row of trees was located below the plinth wall and one above. The Chairman said Mr. Capoccia (who could not be present at the meeting) had asked him to question a drawing that showed a nearly 300-foot line of bollards. Mr. Rhodeside said that had been an early master plan suggestion which was no longer valid. In answer to Ms. Balmori’s question, he said the bollards had now been supplanted by the stone plinth wall. Mr. Belle added that the wall would pick up on the granite base of the courthouse itself. In the park area itself, he had kept the major characteristics of the pathways and the informal planting of trees, as developed in the 1920s. The Darlington Fountain would be surrounded by evergreens and a series of benches. Indiana Avenue would be planted with a single row of trees approximately 30 feet on center, with room, if the expanded sidewalk shown in the master plan were implemented, to add another row. He said there were several things they were thinking about that were not shown on the drawings because they were not part of the scope of the work at this point. One was that the park area on the east side of the square would be compatible and similar to the park on the west side, with the needed security elements and possible trellises to minimize the effects of needed utilitarian elements. Finally, he mentioned the treatment of the north-south walkway and the preservation of the views up to the Pension Building. During the presentation the Chairman had asked a question about the depth of the earth on top of the garage roof. Mr. Belle said it was over four feet, that sufficient planting depth for trees had been a crucial factor.
The members had several questions for Mr. Belle and Mr. Rhodeside. The Chairman expressed some concern about several trees in the park that he thought might tend to block the Indiana Avenue vista, which he considered an important one. Ms. Balmori said she had had the same concern. Further questions were asked about the trees–their caliper, species, and whether some that were in the way of construction could be preserved and used elsewhere on the square. Mr. Rhodeside said they had not yet gotten to the point of selecting plant material, but expected to be able to get good-sized trees; he agreed that there were a number of attractive trees small enough to be transplanted, and they would certainly do that.
The discussion turned to the trellis, first to the plant material that would cover it. Mr. Belle said no final determination had been made; they were thinking of wisteria, but it could be another climbing vine. As to the trellis itself, Ms. Nelson was concerned that it looked a little fragile. She noted the existing trellis at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, commenting on its strength and the attractive patterns it made, and thought that another trellis might not be needed. The Chairman asked if the south entrance to the Military Court of Appeals was important enough that the proposed trellis would have to be broken for it; he was told that it was not used at present, that the main entrance was on E Street. In that case, Mr. Childs thought the entrance could be recognized in the design of the trellis at that point, but it need not be actually broken. Ms. Balmori asked what material was proposed for the trellis. Mr. Belle said that had not been decided, but they would probably start with metal in their explorations. Ms. Balmori expressed some concern about the number of materials being proposed for the project–stone, metal, and brick. A comment was made about the old ivy-covered brick ventilation shaft; it would have to be removed because of the construction, but should it be preserved somewhere on the site because of its historical importance or replaced by something modern? Mr. Belle said they would have to give that some thought.
There were no further questions, and the Chairman then opened the floor to Don Hawkins, representing the Committee of 100. Mr. Hawkins said the Committee had been invited to participate in the l06 process (of the Historic Preservation Act) for the master plan of Judiciary Square. He said they had had one meeting in this regard, and their sense was that under the new master plan the square would be better defined than under existing conditions by the double row of trees on all four sides, and by the relative openness of the space in the center, in which a number of significant free- standing buildings had been set. He noted, however, that a number of elements in the plan just shown seemed to run contrary to that, recalling the Chairman’s words of caution about the danger of too many trees within the park area obscuring the Indiana Avenue vista. He observed also that the opening up of the 5th Street-Indiana Avenue corner and making it a major entrance for pedestrians did not seem wise because it weakened the spacial enclosure of that corner. He noted that although the diagonal view was important, the number of people walking along it was actually not large.
The second design element Mr. Hawkins commented on was the trellis, “which as another element in the landscape becomes part of the composition that doesn’t on it own seem to be asking for another element.” He thought that it would cut off the bottom of the Military Court building and would compromise the diagonal view and make the two walls defining the corner less clear.
The third design feature commented on was the proposal for adding more trees to both the park areas. He said there were already trees there, and although there should be trees, the addition of more was likely to compromise the free-standing quality of the buildings.
The Chairman told Mr. Hawkins that he had made some very good points, particularly about the effect of opening up the corner, and he said he was sure that would be taken into consideration. The discussion ended with Mr. Childs thanking Messrs. Belle and Rhodeside for their presentation and saying that the Commission looked forward to their next submission.
2. CFA 17/JUL/03-11, James Forrestal Building, Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW. Perimeter security barriers. Final–Phase I (Remitted from last month) Ms. Alg introduced Michael McGill from GSA to introduce this project. Mr. McGill said first that this submission covered only security elements around the building and did not include 10th Street, which ran underneath the building. He said the security elements consisted mainly of a series of plinth walls and bollards, consistent with NCPC’s Urban Design and Security Plan. He observed that the security requirements would not be difficult to implement because of the elevated siting of the building and the fact that it was already surrounded by high retaining walls and planters. He introduced GSA architect Siamak Gorgeen to explain the project in more detail.
Mr. Gorgeen said the objective was to prevent vehicle penetration, and the security barriers would be placed at the maximum distance from the building. As Mr. McGill had said, there were already retaining walls and planters out at the sidewalk area. These would be hardened and new walls created as needed; the stairs would be retained with bollards added in front of them. These measures would be implemented on all sides of the building. Ms. Balmori asked about handicapped access, and Mr. Gorgeen pointed out ramps and normal sidewalks that sloped up to the entrances; bollards placed across any openings would be spaced so that a wheelchair could pass through.
There were no objections, and the proposed security measures were unanimously approved.
3. CFA 17/JUL/03-12, Frances C. Perkins Building, Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW. Temporary perimeter security planters. Design. (Remitted from last month) This submission was postponed.
4. CFA 17/JUL/03-13, Frances C. Perkins Building, Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW. Northeast fountain. Stabilization, moth-balling and installation of new landscaping. Design. Mr. McGill said this submission concerned a fountain that was no longer in use, where the employees tended to congregate for picnics and other social events. This would be a temporary proposal to make the area more usable, but in the future it would become part of the rehabilitation of the entire building and returned to use as a fountain. He introduced Cyrus Balan who, in turn, introduced architect Nicholas Pallas to discuss his proposal.
Mr. Pallas said the fountain was located over the garage and had been abandoned for many years. His proposal was to fill the fountain with sand, cover it with a patterned paving, and then landscape the perimeter and add a few walkways. The general consensus was that the design was too elaborate considering that the rehabilitation would take place within ten years, and Mr. Pallas was advised to simply fill it in, cover it with grass, and preserve the informal character of the existing landscaping. Exhibit L
5. CFA 17/JUL/03-14, Homeowner’s Loan Corporation Building, 320 1st Street, NW. Installation of 16 street lights for security lighting. Design. Mr. McGill introduced Jim Bartlett from Gadrill Architects to begin the presentation, and Mr. Bartlett introduced Dave Morreau from EBL Engineering, their consultants. Mr. Bartlett began by describing the building–a 10 story 1927 structure faced in granite to the beltcourse line between the third and fourth floors, with limestone above. He noted some mature landscaping which was partially obscuring the existing uplighting, placed at the beltcourse level. Their proposal was to install traditional Washington Globe street lights in the boulevard and not use the beltcourse lighting. Mr. Morreau said the lights would be about 15 feet tall, spaced about 20-25 feet apart. The Chairman thought that was a little too close and the light would be too bright. Mr. Morreau said they had been told to design for 2–4 footcandles so the security cameras could get usable photographs. The Chairman thought that was much too high, and Mr. Morreau said they had actually reduced it and would also be removing one light. Mr. Childs said that if the lights were 15-feet- tall there should be at least 30 feet between them; he also recommended reducing the intensity so that there would be no overlapping patterns of light. Mr. Morreau said they would be happy to look at these recommendations, and on that basis, the project was approved.
J. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Old Georgetown Act
a. Appendix I. Mr. Martinez said there had been one addition to the Appendix which the Board had approved for permit review, and another which the Board had disapproved with options for the owner to pursue; he requested that the staff be allowed to follow through on that. There were no objections, and the Appendix was unanimously approved.
2. Shipstead-Luce Act
a. S.L. 03-118, 5362 and 5364 27th Street, NW. Two new, single- family dwellings with detached garages. Concept. (Previous: S.L. 02-043, seen 21 March 2002) Ms. Alg introduced Stuart Zuckerman and architect Richard Speight to discuss this project. Mr. Zuckerman said this property was originally a single lot but they had purchased it as two lots, each of which was about 50 feet wide by 170 feet deep; they planned to build a house on each lot. The Chairman asked if that was the usual density in the area, and Mr. Zuckerman said it was a mix, with the houses along this street being a little wider, but in the neighborhood generally, about the same as these lots. One house was designed in a Tudor style and the other in a stone- faced vaguely Colonial style, both styles seen in the neighborhood. Each house had a detached garage in the rear, on a public alley. There would also be driveways in the front for parking, and Ms. Alg commented that the kind and color of the paving material would be especially important. The Chairman asked Ms. Alg if there had been any community views expressed, and she said there had been none. The Assistant Secretary asked that before the applicants returned for their permit review they contact the Rock Creek park staff about their intended landscaping to be sure they were not using any invasive plants. Mr. Zuckerman said they had already done that.
Rather than ask Mr. Zuckerman to come back again in September, the Commission agreed to let him work with the staff on the materials selection, and on that basis the design was given final approval, unless the staff felt that it had to be seen again by the Commission.
b. Appendix II. The Appendix was approved without objection.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:42 p.m.
Charles H. Atherton