The meeting was convened at 8:11 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. Donald Capoccia, Vice-Chairman
Hon. Diana Balmori
Hon. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel
Hon. Pamela Nelson
Hon. Earl A. Powell III
Mr. Charles H. Atherton, Secretary
Mr. Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Ms. Kristina Alg
Ms. Sue Kohler
Mr. José Martínez
Ms. Susan Raposa
NCPC Staff present:
Ms. Christine Saum
Ms. Nancy Witherell
A. Approval of minutes. The Secretary began the discussion of the administrative items with the approval of the minutes for the 17 July 2003. He pointed out that many of the administrative items on the agenda, including approval of the July meeting minutes, were carried over from the cancelled September meeting agenda. A motion made to approve the minutes of the 17 July 2003 was seconded and carried.
B. Dates of next meetings. The Secretary said that the dates of the next three meetings were as advertised and that the 18 December 2003 was optional because of its close proximity to Christmas. The Vice Chairman suggested that a determination be made on whether or not to hold a December meeting based on the projected workload as the month of December approaches. With that, the dates of the next meetings were approved.
C. Confirmation of the reappointment of Heather Cass, FAIA, to the Old Georgetown Board. The Secretary reported that Heather Cass has agreed to continuing serving on the Old Georgetown Board, and that the Georgetown community was supportive of Ms. Cass's reappointment.
D. Report and confirmation of the recommendations on the design of the Director of the United States Mint Medal and the design of the reverse of the 2004 nickel. Ms. Kohler reported that the Director of the Mint Medal was approved and that a letter to that effect was written two months ago. Several designs were presented for the reverse of the 2004 nickel, and members were asked for their preference. A letter reflecting that action was also written.
E. Report and confirmation of the recommended approval of the maquette of the Memorial to the Crew of the Columbia Orbiter (Previous: CFA 19/Jun/03-2). The Secretary said that the maquette of the proposed memorial was presented by Mr. Metzler, superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, on 17 September 2003, the day before the cancelled meeting. The Secretary said that the members felt that the maquette, as presented, was a vast improvement over the Challenger Space Shuttle Memorial. Although there were some concerns about the plaque at the center of the group portrait, the memorial was approved.
F. Report and confirmation of the recommended approval of the new lighting design for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Secretary reported that based on the members' visit to Kennedy Center on the evening of 17 September, the lighting design was approved.
G. Report and confirmation of the recommended approval of the design of the Peace Corps's logo. The Secretary reported the existing design for the Peace Corps logo was circulated to the members, and that a majority agreed that the design was suitable for continued use.
H. Report on the quality of night lighting on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House (Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site). The quality of night lighting on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House was universally agreed to be very poor, the Secretary reported. Among those contacted by Commission staff for an assessment of the lighting were the Advisory Neighborhood Commission for the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue, private property owners and the tenants association in Market Square. Rather than approach the Park Service, who have no funds allocated specifically for relighting Pennsylvania Avenue, the Secretary suggested that the Commission write a letter to the Appropriations Committee of the Congress, expressing their hope that funds could be found to improve the lighting.
Administrative item not on the agenda. Ms. Diamonstein asked to be briefed on a meeting that took place in New York, in early October, between members of the Commission and representatives of the National Park Service, since she had been unable to attend because of her observation of Yom Kippur. The Vice Chairman explained that it was an informational meeting to discuss the proposal for the grounds of the Washington Monument and the Monument Lodge. When asked by the Vice Chairman if it was possible to obtain a written record of that meeting, the Secretary replied that because it was an informal meeting, there was no transcript or recording of it. The Vice Chairman said that Ms. Diamonstein would be informed about what occurred at the meeting over lunch.
II. SUBMISSIONS AND REVIEWS
A. Federal Highway Administration
CFA 16/OCT/03-1, Pennsylvania Avenue, between 15th and 17th streets, NW, and Jackson and Madison places. Material samples, final. (Previous: CFA 19/JUN/03-1) The Assistant Secretary introduced this submission, saying that it would be a revisiting of the proposal for the redesign and reconfiguration of Pennsylvania Avenue, particularly the final proposals for material selection. He introduced landscape architect Michael VanValkenburgh to make the presentation.
Mr. Van Valkenburgh said the remaining question concerned the stabilized aggregate that would be used to pave the section of the Avenue in front of the White House and for Jackson and Madison places. He said he was comfortable with the progress made but thought it still needed some refinement, especially in regard to color, commenting that the polymer binder tended to change the color of the stone. He showed samples, noting that the color was darker than he had hoped for. He still thought, however, that it would be a fine alternative to bituminous paving, and he characterized it as a "humble and park-like" material that would work well with the granite pavers that would be used for the 15th and 17th street entrances.
Ms. Diamonstein recalled that a similar material had been used in London's PallMall, but in a tannish-brown color, and that it had held up very well after several years of hard use. She thought the color was much more satisfactory than the "dirty" color of Mr. VanValkenburgh's samples. He said they were going to experiment with using smaller size stone, thinking that might produce a brighter result. In answer to questions from Mrs. Nelson, he said the surface would not be shiny, and that with wear, the polymer would probably rub off and more of the natural character of the stone would be seen.
A discussion followed concerning the location of the various materials and where and how they met, particularly where curbs were involved. It was not clear from the explanation just how all this worked, and it was thought that a detailed plan of the area, with all materials identified, was required before a decision could be made. Mr. VanValkenburgh then showed the granite samples that had been approved, commenting that the darker color, which the Commission had questioned before, had been replaced with another kind of granite, which he thought was much better.
The final design for the guard booths were then shown. It was noted that the granite for the base would be the same as that on the Avenue, although in a honed finish, and that the glass would be clear. Ms. Diamonstein moved that these materials be approved; the motion was seconded and approved unanimously, but she also thought the Commission should see a rendering which would make clear the edge conditions, especially where the Jackson Place and Madison Place guard booths met the aggregate pavers, to be sure the materials were compatible in color and texture. Ms. Balmori had the same concern.
Several people asked to comment. The first was Dr. Robert L. Hershey, speaking on behalf of the District of Columbia Society of Professional Engineers. He said the stabilized aggregate was an unproven material, and he added that the variety of colors on the Avenue was a new thing, and not in any way historic. Dr. Hershey closed by saying that rather than rush to complete the Avenue for the January 2005 Inauguration, further research should be done and existing installations of the aggregate paving should be monitored to see how they were holding up.
Judy Scott Feldman, chairman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, spoke next. She thought the changing of the color would alter the character of the Avenue in front of the White House. It would no longer be a street, and the connection of the White House section to Pennsylvania Avenue above 17th Street and below 15th Street would be eliminated. It would become more of a park, especially with park-like materials used for paving. Symbolism would be another problem; there was a danger that satisfying security needs would accentuate the fear of attack. She said successful security measures should be as invisible as possible and also reversible, and she did not think the proposed design satisfied either criterion.
The last speaker was architect Don Hawkins, representing the Committee of 100 on the Federal City. He said he recognized the need for security, but not the need to change the character of the Avenue any more than necessary. He thought the change in color was not consistent with the general approach, which was to make the work that was done as reversible as possible.
The Vice-Chairman then recalled that there had been a motion that carried, approving the materials of the guardhouses; he then asked for a second motion regarding the two aggregate paving samples. Mrs. Nelson moved that the Commission ask for a detailed, rendered plan of the entire paving area , including additional colors and making clear the curb connections before giving any approval. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously.
B. National Park Service
CFA 16/OCT/03-2, Lincoln Memorial, West Potomac Park. Rehabilitation of the lighting. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom recalled that the Lincoln Memorial had not had an updating of its lighting since the 1970s, when the exterior was lit for the first time. He said the Park Service was requesting a new system along the same lines as that recently installed at the Jefferson Memorial. The designer would be the same-David Mintz of the Mintz Group-and he would make the presentation along with Sally Blumenthal of the Park Service, who was asked to begin.
Ms. Blumenthal said first, recalling the discussion of the poor condition of the Pennsylvania Avenue lighting during the administrative section of the agenda, that the Park Service would appreciate any help the Commission could give them on obtaining funds to redo the lighting.
Ms. Blumenthal commented that only one member of the present Commission had participated in the 2001 relighting of the Jefferson Memorial by the Mintz Group. She said it was considered quite successful, adding that the Park Service was looking forward to working with Mr. Mintz again on the Lincoln Memorial, which might be the most difficult of all the memorials to light. She said it could not be mocked-up in the same way as the Jefferson, but she would arrange for the Commission to view it at night before they had settled on the final adjustments The relighting would include both the interior and exterior of the building.
Ms. Blumenthal reviewed the early history of lighting at the Lincoln Memorial, saying that it went back to Daniel Chester French and his concern with the lighting of the statue during the day. She said the Commission of Fine Arts had been involved from the beginning, and noted the interesting material about the lighting in the French papers. Ms. Blumenthal then introduced David Mintz to show his conceptual design.
Mr. Mintz first noted that his firm was the Mintz Lighting Group, and the design/build contractor would be McKissack & McKissack; he also introduced his associate, Ken Douglas. Mr. Mintz began by showing a slide of the Jefferson Memorial before the relighting, noting that the steps were not lit, making it look strange architecturally and also raising a safety issue. He commented that the lighted steps had become a place for people to congregate, and he said that in spite of lighting about 30 percent more of the memorial, they had reduced the energy use by about 80 percent. He then showed a slide of the Lincoln Memorial in its present state, saying that it was lit with short-lived incandescent lamps; he noted the spotty condition and said it needed a lot of work. Again, the lighting did not connect the building with the ground.
Mr. Mintz said their goal was to make the new lighting compatible with that of the Jefferson, make it part of the context of the Mall, reveal aspects of the memorial not currently lit, and make maintenance easier for the Park Service. For example, he said the control service would e-mail the Park Service when a lamp had burned out. He showed computer drawings of his proposals, saying that he proposed to front-light the columns, as well as the walls behind them, to lose the "bird-cage" effect. The pediment and upper portion of the memorial would be lit, and he would demarcate the steps within the approachway with light, but not light the approachway itself. He thought the reflected light from the white building would provide ample definition.
On the interior, Mr. Mintz proposed to take the light off the back wall of the inner chamber and center it on the statue, with a small amount of light on the text. The angle of the light on the murals would be changed so as to minimize the annoying reflections now existing. The text panels would be lit in much the same way as they were at the Jefferson-just enough light to make them readable, and with soft edges so that the lighting would not be apparent. Ms. Balmori had a comment to make. She thought it was very important that the three different planes-the columns, the wall behind them, and the inner chamber with the statue-be lighted with different levels of light, so that the three-dimensional quality of the structure would be apparent and not get flattened out. Mr. Mintz said that was his intention, but Ms. Balmori said she did not understand that from his drawings. She said she hoped the Commission could see a demonstration of this, and Mr. Mintz said he expected that would be a requirement, as it was at the Jefferson.
Continuing with the description of his lighting proposals, Mr. Mintz noted that there was no light on the front of the memorial at present, but there were trees across the circle where standards could be placed to accomplish this in a way which would not be obtrusive; it would get some light on the steps and also help front-light the columns. The columns around the rest of the memorial would be lit from the stylobate, with groundmounted luminaires providing up-lighting. The lighting of the walls behind the columns would not change, but better units and a better distribution of them would be employed. The rest of the lighting would be in the attic as at present, but with better fixtures, and more refined sources, beam spreads and locations.
Ms. Balmori asked if there would be glare from the tree standards lighting the front of the memorial that would shine in people's eyes as they came down the steps. Mr. Mintz said that to some extent that would happen, but because of the height of the lights and the narrow beam spread proposed, he did not think it would be a problem. Mr. Lindstrom asked about motorists driving in from Virginia-would they be affected by the glare problem? Mr. Mintz said he did not think so. There was a discussion about the difference in placement of the pole lights at the Jefferson Memorial and the proposal for the Lincoln, with Mr. Mintz saying that they varied because of the difference in the location as well as the number of the trees at each memorial, and also because the Jefferson was a round structure and the Lincoln was rectangular. Sally Blumenthal said she understood the members' concerns about glare and this was something that they would look at carefully, but she said that similar pole lights had been used at the FDR, Korean and Vietnam Veterans memorials, and by careful placement, they were hardly noticeable. The Vice-Chairman asked if there were any further questions, and hearing none, asked for a motion to approve the concept design. The motion was made by Mr. Powell, seconded, and carried unanimously.
At this point it was realized that a member of the public wanted to comment, and Judy Feldman from the National Coalition to Save Our Mall was again introduced. She said she agreed with some of the comments that had been made, especially about the danger of losing the three-dimensionality of the building by using lighting that flattened it out. She had one question, and that concerned the lighting of the recently installed Martin Luther King Memorial Plaque; she said it was almost invisible, and she hoped the new lighting would be able to make it findable, especially at night. She said she did not understand why the lighting concept had not come before the public under the Section 106 process, which would be considering security proposals for the memorial, as well as proposed visitor amenities, street and sidewalk changes, and other things that would affect the historical, cultural, and esthetic qualities. She said that, by law, public consultation should begin before the Park Service sought approval, and she asked that the Commission defer even concept approval until that was initiated. The Vice-Chairman commented that Mr. Powell's motion for concept approval, which would be revisited again after all public testimony, was subject to the issues that had been brought up, which included the concern for glare from the pole lights and the modulating of the light to achieve the required depth perception. Ms. Feldman said she understood that, but the Section 106 process required public consultation prior to seeking approval. The Assistant Secretary reminded her that the Commission was not subject to this process, but she disagreed, still asking that approval be deferred. Ms. Blumenthal said the Park Service had intended to have the rehabilitation of the circle and the security elements before the Commission at this meeting, but due to a variety of circumstances, as well as the extreme length expected for this meeting, had conferred with the staff and reached an agreement to bring in the other elements at the November meeting. In regard to the Martin Luther King plaque, she said the Park Service had no intention of highlighting it, anymore than they had special lighting on the Alaska and Hawaii stones. She said it was something to be encountered, to come upon, and its location, on the landing at the top of the steps, should make it quite visible with the ambient light coming from the new lighting scheme.
The Vice-Chairman asked Mr. Powell if he wanted to make any changes to his motion. Mr. Powell said he would like to keep it as a motion for concept approval. Ms. Balmori recalled that the Commission had often said it did not like to consider projects like this piecemeal, and she thought that if changes other than lighting were being considered, it might be a good idea to amend the motion to say that the next submission should include all aspects of the larger project. Mr. Powell had no objection to that and said he would so amend his motion. Ms. Diamonstein moved that the amendment be accepted, and the motion was then approved unanimously.
C. Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority
CFA 16/OCT/03-3, Metro canopy project, 53 locations, system wide. Standardized system to cover exposed escalator entrances. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/SEP/01-6) The Assistant Secretary said there would be no formal presentation for this project, but he noted that the Commission had a site inspection of the canopy at the L'Enfant Plaza station on 7th Street, and great enthusiasm was expressed for the success of both the design and its execution. He introduced Ed Riley from Metro to answer any questions.
Ms. Diamonstein said the only thing that elicited some concern was the question of maintenance, especially for the glazed areas. Mr. Riley said they had kept their maintenance people informed all through the design process, and that was one reason, for example, that they had changed from a painted steel to a stainless steel finish. As far as the cleaning was concerned, he said they would have a power cleaner for the inside once or twice a year, and as necessary, the outside would be washed; it was expected that rain would wash off most of the dirt as there were no mullions to collect it. He noted that when the Commission saw the canopy, there was still some cleaning left to be done from the construction process.
Mr. Riley then talked about some refinements that had been made, such as using a total fiber-optic lighting system to avoid hot spots and produce a soft glow, and confining any welding, grinding or other finishing to the shop as much as possible and not do it in the field. In regard to the problem of replacement panes, he said all the panes were numbered on an as-built drawing and could be easily ordered from the factory so as to reduce their inventory of glazing panels.
The last question for Mr. Riley concerned the size range of the canopies. He referred this to one of the designers, John Lourie. Mr. Lourie said that in terms of width the narrowest was 12-feet wide, many of them were 17 feet, with the widest 28 feet. In length, they ranged from 30 feet to 70 feet, with the majority in the 30-45 foot length. There were no further questions; Mr. Riley and the designers were congratulated on the successful design and its construction, and the final results were unanimously approved.
D. District of Columbia Courts/General Services Administration
CFA 16/OCT/03-4, District of Columbia Old Courthouse, Judiciary Square, between D and E streets, NW. Additions and renovation. Concept. (Previous: underground parking garage: CFA 17/JUL/03-10) Staff member Kristina Alg introduced Judge Annice Wagner from the D.C. Court of Appeals to make the introductory remarks. Judge Wagner first introduced Judge Michael Farrell, also of the Court of Appeals, and noted that they were appearing before the Commission to present the concept for renovation of an architecturally significant building with a long history of court use. She said that after searching the country and looking at the applications of 24 architectural firms, they had chosen the firm of Beyer Blinder Belle to undertake the work. She said that everyone was excited about the project and that letters were beginning to be written concerning it. She said she would like the opportunity to respond to them, and the Vice- Chairman said that would not be a problem.
Architect Hany Hassan, with Beyer Blinder Belle, began a PowerPoint presentation, showing the courthouse in its relation to Judiciary Square, and Judiciary Square in its relation to the plan of Washington. Within the Square, he noted the northsouth axis addressed by the courthouse, noting particularly the vistas north from the Mall and south from the Building Museum, as well as its relationship to the other court buildings on its east and west and the culmination of the Indiana Avenue vista in the building's south portico. He reviewed again the several stages in the evolution of the courthouse, noting especially the removal of the north portico at some time during the 1917 restoration and reconstruction of the building. He said their intention was to renew this lost connection to Judiciary Square by providing a north entry, which would become the main one, and placing the additional court space below grade on the south side.
Mr. Hassan showed two concepts for the north entry, both primarily clear glass entry pavilions. The first would be a two-story structure, within the legislation limits so as to allow for the two entrance pavilions of the National Law Enforcement Museum, which he pointed out. The second concept was a three-story structure, as tall as the building, but very limited in footprint. He then stated that there was a difference in elevation between E Street and the first floor of the building of 6 _ feet, presenting the challenge of being able to access the building and mitigating the elevation difference. With the first concept, about half of the difference would be taken care of within the entrance pavilion in the form of ramps. In the second concept, the difference was mitigated outside the pavilion, permitting the smaller footprint, but there were implications to both the plaza and to the required 100-foot space between the Law Enforcement Memorial pavilions.
Mr. Hassan showed some perspective renderings of the two concepts, noting that in both he had introduced two sets of free-standing columns as way of recalling the old north portico. Also harking back to the old building were the light wells shown in the two-story scheme, between the old and new construction. He said the existing light wells in the center of the old building had been added when the north addition was built. Mr. Hassan said they preferred the two-story scheme because it limited the difference in elevation expressed on the outside and would not obstruct the entrance to the Law Enforcement Museum's pavilions. He noted also that with this scheme , in spite of its larger footprint, the ends of the wings would still be revealed, as would the third story of the courthouse; it would also touch the building in a minimal way and would create the new light wells.
Mr. Hassan turned to a model so as better to describe the project as a whole. He pointed out the location of the underground garage previously seen by the Commission and, on the 4th Street side, the service entrance that would accommodate the three court buildings. He recalled that the major addition, primarily for the ceremonial room and functions related to it, which was originally planned as below-grade space on the north, had been moved to the south, and would be placed beneath the courtyard flanking and in front of the historic south portico. There would be no impact on the exterior, with the exception of L-shaped skylights which would be installed within the light well; these would be below the floor level and so would not interfere with the current appearance of the building. The Vice-Chairman asked Mr. Hassan what they would be doing in the below-grade area on the north side that was originally intended for the expansion, and he was told there would be nothing there except the service function for the three buildings that he had mentioned before.
The discussion then turned to the two concepts for the pavilions on the north side. The Vice-Chairman asked Mr. Hassan what his thinking was in regard to the freestanding columns shown for both designs, as opposed to traditional columns that support another architectural element. Mr. Hassan said they were in a sense harking back to the columns of the original north portico and also repeating the column theme seen in the adjoining court buildings. There was no enthusiasm for the idea, however, with Ms. Diamonstein recalling that it had enjoyed a brief moment of popularity about twenty-five years ago. The idea of transparency was thought to be a good one, but the configuration of both designs was considered unacceptable. Ms. Balmori thought the three-story version was "detrimental to the whole facade of the [courthouse] building....", and Ms. Diamonstein felt that the roof line of the two-story version was not successful as an attempt at historic preservation. The Vice-Chairman, noting that the underground space in that area was no longer going to be used for additional court space, suggested that it might be looked at to see if it could in any way resolve what was happening above-grade. He questioned Mr. Hassan about the floor space in each version and was told that only the ground floor was usable in each version, and that it had to accommodate ramps (unless they were placed outside), security, and some ceremonial space. Either version could accommodate the program, although he had some concern with placing the ramps outside if the second version were used, in addition to its obstruction of the museum's entrance pavilions.
Ms. Diamonstein commented that this project had been before the Commission several times, many meetings had taken place, and still she had the feeling that this large open space, such an important one in the design of the city, was in danger of being filled in piecemeal, and it was hard to make an evaluation of any one piece independent of the others. She said she was at a loss to know how the Commission could help facilitate the project.
Judge Wagner replied that she was concerned that the Commission had the impression that there had been no collaboration. She said there had been both collaboration and compromise, and she said the court's feeling was that they had to live with the requirements of the legislation, and that is what their architects had been told to do. On the other hand, the court had always said that its main concern was to have an accessible main entrance on the north side. She thought their architects had provided that, and they could live with it, just as the Smithsonian castle learned to live with the Sackler pavilions. Ms. Balmori sought to clarify the Commission's position by saying that there was no objection to having an accessible entrance on the north side, but it should be one that was not such an enormous mass relative to the original building; the impact of the roof of the two-story scheme, in particular, made it seem like a huge building was being added, and all of it just for an entrance. She said the Vice-Chairman's suggestion that the ramps be exterior was made in an effort to solve the problem of excessive mass. After all, she said, steps up to an entrance don't usually have a roof, and a ramp wouldn't need it either. Judge Wagner then asked how much the Commission wanted to diminish the impact of the entrance to the highest court in the District, and Ms. Balmori replied that the Commission was worried about the impact on the historic building, and did not want to diminish the impact of the entrance. Ms. Diamonstein agreed, but pointed out that the proposed entrance pavilion would diminish the space of the plaza by cluttering it, that a more open vista was needed, as well as a better, more sympathetic, relationship between the museum pavilions and the court entrance pavilion.
Judge Wagner agreed that openness and separateness was needed, and she said the impression should not be conveyed that "in the United States of America law enforcement blocks the pathway to justice in the courthouse." Ms. Diamonstein observed that this philosophical concept was conveyed by the museum pavilions and their small size relative to the courthouse, but if the space in between were cluttered, the concept would be greatly diminished. She thought the courts should be more straightforward and request a ceremonial entrance to a fine historic building that did not diminish it by the use of an inflated roof line. It was stressed to Judge Wagner that it was the scale that was wrong, not necessarily the size, and that what was needed was an appropriate entrance.
At this point John Belle of Beyer Blinder Belle entered the meeting, apologizing for his travel-related lateness. He said that having heard some of the Commission's comments, he wanted to stress that they would be taken into account, and that what was shown at this meeting represented only the first phase of a conceptual design. He said the fundamental issues to be agreed on at this point were that "the new entrance should have a plaza, and an approach to the plaza which is...clearly the entrance to the court, not to something else, and that is landscaped in an appropriate way and most important to us, that it is universally accessible." Ms. Diamonstein agreed, but said that what was needed was a beautiful entrance that did not interrupt the vista and was sympathetic to the architecture of the old courthouse. The Vice-Chairman told Mr. Belle that he hoped he would work with the staff and come back as soon as possible with a design for an entry plaza that had been coordinated with the Law Enforcement Museum, so that the Commission could "evaluate the improvements to this important precinct based upon a master plan and a coordinated approach." Mr. Belle stressed that the only thing he had control over was to make sure the entrance to the court was appropriate, to which the Vice-Chairman replied that everyone involved should be aware that a small courtyard was being created which would have to be accessible to all parties.
E. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
CFA 16/OCT/03-5, National Law Enforcement Museum, Judiciary Square (Federal Reservation #7), E Street between court buildings E and C, and north of the Old Courthouse (Old City Hall). Concept. (Previous: CFA 20/MAR/03-2) Staff member Kristina Alg said architect Davis Buckley would make the presentation, but the chairman of the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Craig Floyd, had asked to make a few introductory remarks.
Mr. Floyd said he was in full agreement that collaboration between the museum and courthouse groups was essential, and he said there had already been a considerable amount, although more work needed to be done. He said the design work Davis Buckley had done would show that they had responded to the Commission's concerns in March, when they had received concept massing approval, and also to the Court's concerns relative to their access to their north courthouse entrance. He said they were concerned with the height and bulk of the two entrance pavilion designs the court had just submitted, as well as the amount of shadow these buildings would cast on the museum entrance pavilions. The fundamental difference between the two groups, however, was that the Law Enforcement Memorial people thought the plaza area was theirs to design, with the needs and concerns of the courts in mind, while the courts took the opposite approach. He noted a letter from Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, sent to the Chairman of the Commission, which said among other things that "Any accommodation to others with regard to the use or access of the museum site, including the plaza area between the two entrance pavilions, is and will be at the sole discretion of the Memorial Fund." (Senator Campbell's letter will be attached as an exhibit.) The Vice-Chairman noted also that the act said that any design work "shall consult with and coordinate with the Joint Committee on Administration of the District of Columbia Courts in the planning, design and construction of the museum", and Ms. Diamonstein added that it also required approval of the Secretary of the Interior, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the National Capital Planning Commission. She asked about the Secretary of the Interior's approval, and was told that the Secretary and the Park Service had been given the plans, but final approval had not yet been received; the same was true of NCPC.
Mr. Buckley then began his presentation. He showed the same animation he had presented in March, for the benefit of the new members, and then a new one that incorporated the changes that had been made. He itemized the changes that had been made to meet the Commission's concerns: 1. The belvedere curve had been changed to a much softer curvilinear form. 2. The distance between the pavilions and the court buildings to the east and west had been increased, from 20 to 25 feet. 3. The height of the pavilions had been decreased to open up the vista to the courthouse. 4. The size of the pavilions had been reduced from 10,000 square feet to 8,000. 5. When it was learned that the courts were not going to build underground on the north side, it was possible to lower the central lawn panel and then the skylights, which were in some cases also shortened. He noted also the curvilinear access routes, reminiscent of Olmsted's work at the Capitol. 6. A bridge had been added over the skylights to facilitate access to the courthouse. Mr. Buckley showed a brief animation of the bridge and discussed ways in which ADA accessibility could be met, pointing out also the use of hedgerows to protect the skylight and provide a more ceremonial entrance to the courthouse. He said that although the original design may have been compromised a bit, he thought that the revisions made the plaza work for everybody, but he realized that there was still a major philosophical difference between the two parties. He agreed with Judge Wagner about the separation of law enforcement and the courts, but he did not see that as requiring that the Law Enforcement Museum be pushed to the sides; he saw it "as a common ground for providing access to the courts through the plaza area and to try to accommodate them as best we can."
The Vice-Chairman returned to a previous discussion of the mechanical equipment for the pavilions and where it would be housed. Mr. Buckley showed a drawing, pointing out the location in an area below the high point of the sloped roof; he said there would be nothing projecting above the roof. The Vice-Chairman asked about the materials for the pavilions and was told they would be basically all glass.
The Commission returned to the previous concept approval for the massing of the pavilions, with the general consensus being that this submission went far beyond what had been approved before. The configuration of the skylights cut the plaza in two, and Ms. Diamonstein commented that the design almost demanded that the courts not use the north entrance as the main one. The Vice-Chairman noted that the bridge, which was a new and very prominent element in the design, really abrogated the function of the skylights, which was to bring natural light into the museum. He observed that the court's underground addition would now be on the south side of the building, and he wondered if it might be possible to alter the below-grade boundary so that the skylights could be in the form of two separate ones instead of one going straight across the plaza, and thus allow a principal entry to the new north courthouse entrance. Mr. Buckley thought that would require a new act of Congress.
Ms. Balmori said her concern was that the design had taken on the character of a fortress, that the division between the two had been accentuated so that the two projects seemed to have nothing to do with each other. She thought it was important that there be a generous public space leading to the courthouse. Additionally, she disliked the slanted roofs of the pavilions, finding them out of character with the rest of the space. Ms. Diamonstein agreed, saying to Mr. Buckley that he should try another form, perhaps more geometric and stepped, and she thought he should also look into other ways to design the skylights. Mr. Buckley said he would be happy to try other forms for the pavilions and the skylight, but he thought any modifications to the perimeter of the boundaries would have to go back to Congress. He thought the problems with access to the north entrance stemmed from the court's decision to change the main entrance from the south to the north; earlier, he said, he had provided paths on either side of the plaza leading to the north entrance, which was not at that time considered the main one. Ms. Diamonstein disputed this, saying that the Commission had always been told by the courts that they wanted to change the main entrance to the north side. Mr.Buckley said his principal concern was that the museum not be pushed off to the side so that there was nothing but "a 100-foot wide space going up to the courthouse to accommodate basically a security entrance and ramps."
The Vice-Chairman brought the discussion to a close by telling Mr. Buckley that the Commission understood that the concept approval was for massing of the pavilions, and that the skylight design and the addition of the bridge were new as far as approval was concerned and would have to be seen again. Most importantly, he said, the two sides would have to work together and come to some kind of understanding.
F. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
1. CFA 16/OCT/03-6, Eccles Building, Constitution Avenue, between 20th and 21st streets, NW. Perimeter security barriers and guard booths. Concept.
2. CFA 16/OCT/03-7, Martin Building, C Street, between 20th and 21st streets, NW. Visitor screening facility and perimeter security barriers and guard booths. Concept. Ms. Alg introduced Rick Elliott, manager of engineering and facilities, to make the presentation. Mr. Elliott first introduced his design team: Eric Groft and Eric Davis of Oehme VanSweden & Associates, landscape architects, and Larry Woolford, architect , with URS Corporation, the architect-engineer firm on the project.
Mr. Elliott commented first on the complexity of the Federal Reserve's campus. He noted that the south lawn of the Eccles Building and the north lawn of the Martin were considered public parklands; the Federal Reserve actually owned the land, but it was controlled by the National Park Service. The Federal Reserve's underground parking facility north of the Martin Building with parkland on the surface was maintained by the Federal Reserve but actually belonged to the Park Service. Mr. Elliott commented that they intended to preserve the open character of these parklands and would also add a significant number of trees and other landscaping so that the overall green appearance of the complex would increase markedly.
The buildings themselves added to the complexity: The Eccles Building, considered one of Paul Cret's finest buildings, was built of white marble and completed in 1937 in the "modernized classic" style. The Martin building, directly behind the Eccles Building and separated from it by C Street, was erected in 1974 in the modern style of that period in light-colored precast concrete. Both buildings had the advantage of being constructed with significant built-in security elements: the Martin Building was erected on a platform with a masonry retaining wall around it, and the Eccles Building was supplied with marble retaining walls around the site and other terrace walls. It had the disadvantage, however, of its rear facade being right on C Street, and its 20th and 21st street facades, with offices behind large windows, only about 15 feet from the sidewalk.
The first security element discussed by Mr. Elliott was a series of guard booths. He said the way they had opted to deal with the thousands of tourists and other people who liked to walk around the site or sit by the fountains was to have a relatively large number of security officers stationed around the perimeter. These officers needed protection from the weather and enclosures for radio and television equipment, etc., and so they had planned to place guard booths around the site, with the philosophy that the site would generally be kept open to the public, but the officers would be there to make a determination as to who might be hostile.
Mr. Elliott then turned to the major security elements proposed. He said that in general they had followed the NCPC recommendations for security, but had departed from them when they did not fit this specific situation. He noted the large number of existing retaining walls and planters on the Eccles Building site and said they would use those where possible, adding others as necessary and using bollards where planters were not possible; metal fences with bollard/posts in a design suitable to the architectural style of the building would also be used. He began with the Constitution Avenue, or main facade. The existing bollards at the steps on Constitution Avenue would be removed, and there would be a continuous planter wall along the avenue with an opening in the center, followed by a fence and bollard arrangement forming a forecourt to the building, and individual bollards as necessary. There would also be posts and a railing at the front steps to discourage entrance, and two guard booths, at the east and west terraces to keep people from getting too close to the front wall; he noted that the executive offices were all in this area.
Along 20th and 21st streets, where the existing retaining walls were not high enough, there would be a combination of bollard/fence panels and individual bollards. The Vice-Chairman asked if the wall height could not be increased to the required 30 inches, but Mr. Elliott said that would require a change to Paul Cret's original design, and they did not want to do that. He noted also that parking would be eliminated from the west side of 20th street and the east side of 21st Street, although the lanes would remain open for traffic. The curb location would not change, and there would be a planting area between the curb for 8 inch caliper oak trees, 30 feet on-center, and a narrowed sidewalk. The grass area between the sidewalk and the building would remain
Mr. Elliott said C Street bisected the complex, and was at present devoid of all trees and had a narrow sidewalk. The curb line would be brought out 8 inches, and there would be a line of bollards across the entrance, about 18 inches from the curb to facilitate getting out of a car, with a bollard/fence installed along the remaining frontage. The same oak trees used on 20th and 21st streets would be planted near the curb line. A 4- foot median planted with trees would be installed in the street to slow traffic; there would be no parking on either side of the street, and a bus stop near 21st Street would be relocated. Basically the same treatment would be used on the north side of C Street, in front of the Martin Building. The Vice-Chairman asked if there would be controlled entry at either end of C Street, and Mr. Elliott said there would not. Twenty-first Street would be treated the same as along the Eccles Building frontage, although parking would not be removed along the park area north of the building.
The fountain area to the east would remain open to the public, but existing walls in the area would be raised and others added to form a vehicle barrier. The wall around the east side of the fountain area would be a seating wall facing the fountain. Pedestrian walkways on the north side of the building would be closed and turned into planting areas. A metal fence/bollard strip would replace existing bollards at the north entrance to restrict pedestrian entry; all pedestrian entry to the platform area would also be restricted.
Mr.Elliott then turned the presentation over to landscape architect Eric Groft. Mr. Groft recalled that his firm, Oehme Van Sweden Associates, had been the landscape architects for the Martin Building when it was built. He said their goal was to change the existing landscape as little as possible and blend in with the historical aspect of the Eccles Building, and to make this as much of a landscape solution as possible, not a hardscape solution. He said more than fifty street trees would be added , noting that at present there were none on 20th, 21st, or C streets. He discussed further the fountain area in the park east of the Martin Building and the new bench wall.
Architect Larry Woolford from URS then talked about the bollard/fence design. He said they had developed two designs, one to harmonize with the Eccles Building and the other with the Martin Building. He showed drawings of both. The Eccles fence design was taken from a window in the building, and the bollard design had a cast metal cover of a traditional design with a cap over a 10-inch round steel pipe. For the Martin Building, the bollards had a precast covering without a cap that would reflect the perimeter walls and the fence was slightly more simple in design. Ms. Balmori asked if the same design could not be used for both buildings. Mr. Elliott said it could, and they had received the same comment from NCPC.
Questions were asked by the members to clarify placement of planters, bollards, and fences, and how much protection the guard booths would supply. In answer to the latter question, Mr. Elliott said the burden was really on the officers who used the guard booths, on their ability to determine when there might be a potential threat. He said he realized that there had been trade-offs, and there had been lengthy discussions about making the security elements as unobtrusive as possible and still making it clear to the normal person that there were restricted areas that were not to be entered.
Drawings of the guard booths were then shown. Again, they were not the same, varying slightly to harmonize with the building they served. For the Eccles Building, the stone base would match the planter stone, with the rest of the structure being metal, with ornamental cast aluminum or bronze metal panels below the glazed area and an anodized aluminum pent roof. For the Martin Building, the lower part was stone, matching the site walls, and the gable roof was anodized aluminum to match an existing stairwell enclosure. For the Eccles Building fences and bollards , a dark bronze was shown, with perhaps a lighter bronze for the handrail and possibly the post. A patinated green bronze would be used for the fence and posts in front of the stairs.
Ms. Balmori was concerned about the design of the Martin Building guard booth; she said she had not seen the existing structure it was based on, but she thought it looked like the worst commercial architecture and out of character with the rest of the design. Ms. Diamonstein agreed with Ms. Balmori's assessment but thought the rest of the proposals had been very carefully considered and were very appropriate; she said she would feel comfortable in giving the project concept approval, with the recommendation that the Martin Building guard booth be seen again. Ms. Balmori said she would also like to see a rendering of the landscape plan and possibly some photographs, so she could get a better idea of its character. With those caveats, Ms. Diamonstein moved concept approval; the motion was seconded and approved unanimously.
G. United States General Accounting Office
CFA 16/OCT/03-8 GAO Headquarters Building, 441 G Street, NW. Perimeter security barriers and guard booths. Concept. The Assistant Secretary introduced Mallory Andrews, director of facilities management for GAO, and Ingrid Stead, their design program manager to present this project.
Mr. Andrews said first that there was pressure from the security people to take drastic steps when it came to protecting the building, such as closing streets, putting planters all the way around the building, etc., but both he and Ms. Stead were opposed to that. He said they had come up with a compromise that pleased the Comptroller General and that was what they would present. Mr. Andrews noted first that they needed to achieve a 30 foot stand-off, and that the building came very close to the street throughout most of its perimeter. Starting on 5th Street, he noted the small alley, saying that it had originally run through the entire block before the GAO building was erected. Now, it was used for restricted parking and lead to a raised loading dock. All the trucks that could not get into the underground loading dock on 4th Street unloaded here. There would be two spherical stone monoliths placed across a sidewalk along the alley and a barrier and guard booth at the alley entrance. Three more bollards would be placed across the sidewalk at the guard booth site. He noted another ingress and egress off H Street, and drive entrances to the underground parking on G Street. Trees along 5th Street and around the entire perimeter would be ringed with a bollard and railing enclosure; the bollards would be 30 inches high and 8-10 inches in diameter; again, he said it was necessary to put security elements right out to the curb line to maintain a 30-foot stand-off. Bollards would be placed at the curb line on 5th, H, and 4th streets, with all vehicular entrances fitted with barriers and guard booths. The main entrance on G Street would be protected by the existing granite walls and their extension. Stainless bollards would be used across the main entrance. In answer to a question from Ms.Balmori he said they had changed from black because there was a lot of aluminum trim on the building, and these bollards seemed to look better in that color; the black bollards were more typical of the cityscape. The guard booth at the front entrance would pick up on the granite and aluminum seen on the building. Other guard booths would be slightly smaller and simpler in design.
Following up on the NCPC security guidelines, Mr. Andrews said the bus stop on H Street would be hardened as much as possible, and there would be hardened benches and even lamposts, to the extent possible.
The Vice-Chairman suggested that unless there were further questions, the applicants be requested to come back with further details on the bollards and guard booth designs, material samples, and a landscape design. Mr. Powell made a motion to that effect which was seconded and carried unanimously.
H. General Services Administration
1. CFA/16/OCT/03-9, Department of Justice Main Building, Constitution Avenue, NW, between 9th and 10th Streets. Security gates for vehicular/courtyard entrances. Concept. Mr. Martinez introduced Michael McGill of GSA to present the next three projects. The first project was security upgrades to the vehicular entrances at the Department of Justice building. Mr. McGill, in turn, introduced Richard Kent of the Smith Group to make the presentation.
Mr. Kent said that vehicular entrances to be renovated were located on 9th and 10th Streets. He showed photographs of the existing conditions at those locations with views from the street and from the courtyard within the Justice building. Vehicles entered the courtyard from these points, as pedestrians had access to the building through revolving doors within these gates. Basically, Mr. Kent said, the project consisted of the addition of several security features, the alteration of existing architectural features and the removal of some that did not harmonize with the building. He emphasized that what was being proposed were security upgrades, rather than an entire perimeter upgrade to the building.
William Hendrix, vice-president with Smith Group, picked up the discussion. He said that the swing arms located on both 9th and 10th Streets would be removed, retractable bollards would be added at the street line and guard rails would be added to separate vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Two sets of metal vehicular security gates would be added within the portals. Locking mechanisms would be added to the revolving doors and pedestrian gates would be added in the courtyard. The scope of the work for both 9th and 10th Streets would be very similar, except that 9th Street was more of a service entrance while 10th Street was more of a vehicular entrance. Should the 9th Street entrance need to be closed, a truck entrance would be provided at 10th Street. The historic fabric of the building would be interfered with as little as possible, Mr. Hendrix said, and in the future these changes could be reversed. With the assistance of Reshef Gabay, project designer with Smith Group, he showed the Commission renderings illustrating what the entrances would look like at various levels of security alert status. He called attention to the two sets of metal gates of the entry porticos. These would be designed to be proportionally in keeping with the interior architecture, though not duplicative of the existing iron ornament. The proportions would be designed to avoid contact with the historic mosaic ceiling, and there would be lighting in that area also. The gate at 10th Street would need to be higher to accommodate trucks. Having two sets of gates could also create a vehicular trap.
The Commission was very complimentary towards the project, saying that the removal of the swing arms is a good thing and that their proposal was an elegant solution, sensitive to the historic fabric of the building. They asked that special attention be paid to the design of the bollards as the project progresses. A motion made to approve the project in concept was seconded and carried.
2. CFA/16/OCT/03-10, Environmental Protection Agency, East and West Buildings, 1200 block of Constitution Avenue, NW. New landscape design and installation of demonstration Low Impact Development (LID) storm water management systems. Concept. Ms. Alg introduced the next submission from GSA, which was a proposal for a garden and Low Impact Development storm water management systems at the East and West Buildings of the Environmental Protection Agency. Michael McGill of GSA said the EPA was proposing a landscape plan that would be water-conserving as well as attractive and that it would also serve as a example of how to reduce surface runoff and pollution. He introduced Neil Weinstein of the Low Impact Development Corporation to make the presentation.
Mr. Weinstein began with a brief discussion of the District's water quality problem, saying that essentially, storm water and sewage get into the same system. He said that one of the biggest challenges of compliance with recent government greening initiatives was in retrofitting existing facilities, particularly, historic buildings. Working with GSA and EPA's environmental, sustainable building, security and historic preservation groups, Mr. Weinstein said that they looked at ways in which native landscaping could lead to water conservation. To this end, a rain garden with bioretention cells was being proposed for EPA's East and West Buildings, facing Constitution Avenue.
A landscaped area would be slightly depressed to allow water to drain into it. This area would include a soil mix where run-off would be stored and filtered. Pollutants such as nutrients and run-off from the roof and sidewalk would be filtered through the soil mix and treated through stable and native plants. Plants would also be selected based on what would fit with the existing landscape. There would be four bioretention cells in total.
The Vice Chairman asked if there was already perimeter security in place on Constitution Avenue, and Mr. Weinstein replied that there were temporary planters. Ms. Diamonstein asked if a more permanent perimeter security proposal could be submitted along with the current landscape proposal, to avoid ending up with a piecemeal effect on Constitution Avenue. Mr. McGill replied that the current proposal would conform to the NCPC Urban Design and Security Plan for the Federal Triangle. The security plan, with its low plinth walls and backfill, would not be at odds with the proposed rain garden. Mr. McGill said that GSA had not yet received funding for the security perimeter, which was why there was not, as yet, a concept proposal for it.
The proposal was very well received, and the Commission warmly commended the EPA for the ecological soundness of their proposal and their use of plant materials and bioretention cells. This submission was approved.
3. CFA/16/OCT/03-11, Environmental Protection Agency, Ariel Rios Building., Constitution Avenue and 12th Street, NW. New courtyard design and landscaping. Concept. Mr. Weinstein said the second EPA project for the south courtyard of the Ariel Rios Building. He said that there archaeological considerations on that site that they had to be sensitive to. Bioretention cells, using a variety of native landscaping would also be used in the courtyard and these would intrude as little as possible. Using the existing fountain as a starting point, Mr. Weinstein said that the final design would include a patio area which would use the same type of flagstone already in use in the courtyard. There would be a pathway made of permeable concrete, with gravel below to filter storm water. There would be flexibility in choosing the most appropriate color for the concrete. In the interest of incorporating environmental features into the design, there would be solar lighting and benches made from recycled materials. Signage and brochures would describe how the design and materials in the courtyard were selected for their ecological advantages. The idea is demonstrate how federal facilities can retrofit existing areas.
Rick Harlanschneider of Inscape Studio presented the pair of pavilions proposed for the courtyard. He said that there were four objectives in the design of the pavilions. The first was that the pavilions should provide shelter. The second was that the existing view corridor be maintained. The third was that the pavilions, with their green, vegetative roofs, be an educational component, and fourth, the pavilions should be harmonious with the landscape plan. The pavilions would be 8-feet in height and roughly Z-shaped, "like two cobras or two hands," and their edges would roughly face each other. They would be placed around the round fountain, as though they were once one unit that had been divided. This placement would allow the visual axis to be retained, and would also be in keeping with the geometry of the courtyard. The green roofs would assist in storm water management, as they would act much like a bioretention cell. There would be holes in the ceilings with glass or Plexiglas around the interior of the holes, to create a cross-section. The purpose was to show people the innards of the pavilions, as a way of demonstrating how they would work on an ecological scale.
Ms. Balmori praised the use of materials and the bioretention cells, calling the ecological intentions "superb and very rare." However, she felt that the landscape design need to be simplified, and that as presented, it was more appropriate to a suburban backyard, rather than an urban courtyard. The paths, she said, might have more of a pattern, rather than a variation in widths. Also in the interest of simplification, fewer plants might be used. Ms. Nelson echoed this point, and said that while she understood that the intent was to educate, the result may be a too-cluttered design. A lesser number of plant material would have a stronger educational impact. Ms. Balmori also suggested that the pavilion holes be moved from the roof to a lower location so that the crosssections could be more easily examined.
In summation, the applicants were praised for their ecological approach and for the educational aspects of the proposal for the courtyard. They were instructed to simplify in terms of the varieties of plants, the varieties of paths and the elements within the paths.
Before adjourning for lunch, Ms. Diamonstein said, for the record, that compliments were due the Commission staff for the high level of submissions seen that morning. It was clear, she said that consideration and input on the part of the staff contributed to the quality of the submissions, and she thanked them for their efforts.
(The Commission adjourned for lunch at 12:54 until 1:50.)
I. Department of Defense / Department of the Navy
CFA 16/OCT/03-12, Washington Navy Yard, 11th and O Streets, SE. Security improvements to O Street Gate and renovation of Building #126 for a visitor processing facility. Designs. Mr. Martinez introduced Larry Earle to present the Navy Yard's proposal for security improvements to one of their gates and renovations to an existing building, Building 126, to be used as a visitor facility. Mr. Earle said that the intent of this project was to regularize and improve the situation that grew up out of September 11; essentially, the increased use of the gate at 11th and O Streets into the Navy Yard. He said that previously, the Navy Yard was a fairly low security facility. Since the advent of September 11 and because of the variations in threat levels, improvised security installations at the gate site were introduced. These installations included floodlights, guard placements and a temporary building to serve as a pass and identification office for visitors.
Mr. Earle showed the Commission images of the site, highlighting the gate itself and the structure set up as a temporary pass office. The project, he said, would clean up the area. The existing vocabulary of gate structures, guard booths and fencing would be used for this project. Certain sections of the wall would be demolished and new wall and gate structures would be installed. Starting southbound on 11th Street, Mr. Earle demonstrated the progression of a visitor through the proposed system. Vehicles entering through the 11th and O Street gate would be checked at a guard booth and proceed to an existing parking lot at Building 126, presently an administration building, proposed to be renovated to serve as a and pass and identification building. Once proper identification is obtained, a vehicle may, circumstances permitting, proceed to a second guard booth before entering the main area of the Navy Yard. If the level of security is increased to the point where no vehicles without Navy Yards would be permitted anywhere on base, these vehicles would be directed to a third guard booth and to an area below Building 166.
Turning to Building 126, Mr. Earle said that the alterations proposed to transform this historic building from an administrative to a pass and identification facility would be fairly minor. Brick salvaged from a demolished block-like building nearby would be used in the south elevation. The entrance at this elevation would be replaced with a window, and the principal entrance to the building would be located on the lower part of the west elevation. Mr. Martinez noted that the State Historic Preservation Office had approved this proposal. The roof material for the building, as well as for the guard booths, would be standing seam metal.
A motion to approve the project was made, seconded and carried.
J. Union Station Redevelopment Corporation
CFA/16/OCT/03-13, Union Station Parking Garage, H Street, between 1st and 2nd Streets, NE. Garage expansion. Concept. This project was postponed until November.
K. District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department
CFA/16/OCT/03-14, Metropolitan Police Department Multi-function Facility, 2175 West Virginia Avenue, NE. New building. Final-revised design. (Previous: CFA 19/JUN/03-13). In his introduction to the multi-use police facility, Mr. Martinez recalled to the Commission that they had approved the project in concept in June 2003. He introduced Rachel Chung of Sorg Architects to present changes to the design since June. The proposed multi-use facility, Ms. Chung began, would be a 60,000 square foot building with two stories and one lower level. For budgetary reasons, the architects were asked by their client to eliminate the parapet that projected up and down and the portion of the wing walls that returned back to the roof. In an effort to maintain the playfulness that characterized the design approved in concept, the parapet panels would still project from the façade, but the height of the panels would be reduced, so that the parapets would still project up and down, but would be a lower height. There would be two levels of parapet, a constant level on the back side and a higher up and down projection on the front.
The Commission agreed that the design presented in concept was very successful and that the proposed changes would take away from that success. A motion was made to approve with return of the configuration of the parapets, to the original concept design. The motion was seconded and carried.
L. District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 16/OCT/03-15, Georgetown Historic District, Way-finding sign program. Concept. Mr. Martinez said that the DC Department of Transportation was presenting a concept proposal for wayfinding signs within the Georgetown Historic District. Originally on the agenda for the September meeting of the Commission, the proposals were reviewed by the Old Georgetown Board in September and October. In September, the Board asked for an indication of the signs' proposed locations, a list of historic sites to be highlighted in the signs and a material sample. At their October meeting, the Board was shown a map indicating the proposed locations of the signs and a material sample, the same items now before the Commission. Mr. Martinez said that the Board and the ANC have requested a mock-up showing the material, the size of the signs and how the signs would be attached to the lamppost. The Board was also concerned about how the signs would fit in with pedestrian traffic patterns of major intersections. Mr. Martinez then introduced Karyn Good of the Department of Transportation to introduce the project and the design team.
In her brief history of the project, Ms. Good said that the proposed signs were designed to be appropriate to the historic character of Georgetown. The Department consulted with the community, the ANC and the Old Georgetown Board and determined that the number of signs should be minimal and their sizes reduced, to avoid overwhelming their surroundings. She emphasized that the signs were intended for pedestrians rather than vehicles. She said that there would be three gateway signs and that these would be located at Whitehaven Street and Wisconsin Avenue, at the Key Bridge entrance and at Pennsylvania Avenue, by the Four Seasons Hotel. The gateway signs would be larger than the historic site signs. All the signs would be affixed to existing light poles, and no additional sign poles would be installed. As Ms. Good introduced Jeff Lee and Adrienne McCray of Lee and Associates, Mr. Martinez told the Commission that the Board had yet to see the particular drawings that they, the Commission, were reviewing.
In the exchange that followed, the Commission learned that the signs would be affixed to the poles with black clamps that would blend in with the poles themselves. The clamps would be similar to those used for traffic signals, in order to support the weight of the signs. The length of the blade-style signs would be 46 inches. The sign material would be recycled plastic designed to simulate slate. It was a material used for roofing in some historic districts and, Mr. Lee said, approved by the Historic Trust. The cost and availability of this material was still in question and actual slate, thin with etched out lettering was also being considered. Mr. Lee said that 3-inch lettering would be used on the gateway signs and 2-inch lettering would be used elsewhere. The lettering would be carved or molded into the material and painted with a color that would read white in the daylight and iridescent and reflective after dark. Ms. McCray added that 2-inch lettering was within ADA guidelines for a pedestrian scale sign that would be at least 15 feet off the ground. These signs would be about 7 feet from the ground, and the reason for the 46-inch sign length was to accommodate the 2-inch ADA lettering requirement.
The Commission had several concerns about the proposed sign material. They felt that the simulated slate had not been adequately tested for durability against sun and scratches and that with the stated concerns about the cost and availability of the material, the expense of replacing a sign could be prohibitive. Ms. Diamonstein suggested that a more traditional sign material, such as porcelain enamel, would work well with their chosen typeface and be easier to replace. There were also concerns that the length and weight of the signs would not be adequately supported on the sign poles, and it was suggested that some of the longer place names be placed on two lines, so the signs would not need to be as long. The applicants were reminded to adhere to District codes for projections over public space, which limit projections to no less than 8-ft above the sidewalk.
The Commission was complementary to the concept of the wayfinding signs and said that they looked forward to future presentations as the details of the design developed.
M. District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation
CFA 16/OCT/03-16, New Community Center, 2809 15th Street and 1480 Girard Street, NW. New four-story building. Concept. Ms. Alg said that the community center proposed by the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation at 15th and Girard Streets was being submitted for concept approval. She introduced Michael Winstanley of Leo Daly, to make the presentation.
Mr. Winstanley said that the community center was the second phase of an existing project, and that the first phase was the new Park Center, currently under construction. The community center would be a four-story facility of approximately 50,000 square feet. From the outset there were two requirements. The first was to provide ten parking spaces and the second was for a gymnasium. In order to accommodate these two requirements, the gymnasium would need to be located on the second floor. It would look out onto the park on the east side, so that even though the gym would not be at ground level, there would still be a connection between it and the park.
There would be two principal entrances to the center, one would be located on the east side, so that people could enter the building from the park and the other would be located on Girard Street, so that people could easily be dropped off. Moving to the elevations, Mr. Winstanley, indicated that the entrance on the north, or Girard Street elevation would be located close to the corner towards the east side, in order to signal that the park was there. Turning to the east elevation, Mr. Winstanley indicated its entrance below the gym, highlighting the gym's two-story windows. He said that the entrance from the park should be fairly obvious to those entering from there. When asked how people know where to enter the building, Mr. Winstanley said that the entrance from the park should be fairly obvious to those already there. The fenestration on the north elevation was designed to call attention to the programs within the community center, thereby making that elevation vibrant and accessible. Asked about signage, Mr. Winstanley said that the designers had not yet gotten to that stage.
Mr. Winstanley then discussed the intention to establish patterning in the bricks on the elevations. He said that whether this would be accomplished by using different colors or textures of brick had not yet been decided, though for maintenance purposes, recessed brick would probably not be used. Shadowing would be accomplished on the windows by extension of mullions and use of precast lintels and sills.
Ms. Balmori and Ms. Nelson both expressed concerns that the entrances were not clearly defined or emphasized and that they should be revisited and made more welcoming. Otherwise, the Commission was complimentary to the design and a motion made to approve in concept, with the caveat of the entrances, was made, seconded and carried.
N. District of Columbia Public Schools / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1. CFA 16/OCT/03-17, Hardy Middle School, 1819 35th Street, NW (at Wisconsin Avenue). Additions and renovation. Final. (Previous: CFA 21/NOV/02-10 (O.G. 02-335)). Mr. Martinez said that the proposal for alterations to the Hardy Middle School were reviewed and approved in concept by the Commission in November 2002 and that the final drawings were reviewed by the Old Georgetown Board at their 2 October 2003 meeting. The project involved the demolition of a gymnasium wing, the construction of a new gymnasium and the construction of a classroom wing. He said there would also be some highlights to the 35th Street entrance. The Board felt that the final drawings conform to what was approved in concept. They did, however, have concerns about the proposed windows, which they thought too bright, and requested an opportunity to review a sample panel for both the materials for the new work and for the windows. Mr. Martinez then introduced Bill Levine from the architectural firm of Einhorn Yaffee Prescott.
Mr. Levine said that the intent was to make the new wing look as though it was always there. To that end, the brick and mortar would match those on the existing building and a precast material would match the existing limestone. He showed the Commission a window sample and pointed out that the panes and muntins would match the existing windows. The sample was a single-hung window, but the actual windows would be double-hung, he said. As to the color, Mr. Levine said that the existing windows were white and that, based on the sample, the Board was concerned that the final product would be too white and glossy. He showed a sample sheet of available colors for the selection of a light color that would not be glossy. He said that a mock-up panel would be constructed and that the Board would be invited to review it and help pick an appropriate color.
The Vice Chairman said that he felt that the applicants had addressed the Board's concerns and thanked Mr. Levine for his presentation.
2. CFA 16/OCT/03-18, Woodson High School, 55th and Eads Streets, NE. Rehabilitation and alterations. Final. (Previous: CFA 20/FEB/03-10). The Assistant Secretary, Mr. Lindstrom, said that the design team for the rehabilitation of Woodson High School were returning with their final presentation. He said that the two principal comments from the previous concept review concerned the addition of windows along the rear, or south, façade and the request for a more developed landscape scheme. He then introduced Konrad Judd of the SHW Group, who in turn introduced Bruce Mongrain, project manager with SHW Group.
Mr. Mongrain very briefly reviewed the project, neighborhood and existing site conditions. Mr. Judd began with a discussion of the forecourt area. He recalled that the Commission had responded favorably to the forecourt when concept approval was given, and that the only change to the forecourt since then was the reduction in size of the dining space. Turning to the most recent site plan, Mr. Judd pointed out proposed landscaping of the forecourt, with attention to the area to the north where trees would buffer the site from existing residences and also from the service area. The plaza in the forecourt would have ornamental cherry-type trees, and the building entrance would be pulled back.
Moving onto the south elevation, Mr. Judd indicated, on the elevation drawing, the locations of the recently added windows. The size of the windows, he said, would be approximately four by four and four by six. He also briefly discussed materials, explaining that the proposed brick color was incorporated into the renderings. A precast panel was being considered for the upper portion, large unit masonry resembling the precast and brick masonry would also be used. He indicated that he had brought materials for the Commission's review.
The Commission had several comments. Ms. Balmori noted that there was a large amount of space dedicated to "blacktop" and cars relative to the small amount of trees, and that what trees there were would be small. This was particularly significant to the forecourt, because of the close proximity to the school's entrance. Ms. Diamonstein agreed, and added that the lack of landscaping there would make the area seem oppressive and less inviting. The Vice Chairman asked if the parking area at the forecourt, intended for visitors and some faculty, could be relocated so that the drop-off area could be simplified and additional landscaping could be accommodated. Ms. Diamonstein suggested that perhaps a portion of the service area, to the northwest of the forecourt, could be used to accommodate parking. Ms. Balmori said that even a single line against the buffer could provide enough gained space for a green band by the entrance. Mr. Judd replied that the space requirements for deliveries might make additional parking in the service area difficult, but that that option could be studied. He said that perhaps there was an excess of paving in the forecourt area, and that the District's request for accessible parking was a consideration. There was a brief discussion about the trend towards placing parking areas further away from buildings, and Mr. Judd said that traveling to the building [on foot] would be a nicer way to experience it. The Vice Chairman said that judging by the scale of the rendering, the relocation of parking and the creation of landscape separations could be possible.
In reference to the south elevation, Ms. Nelson was concerned that it appeared too commercial, since the proximity of the larger parking lot to the public entrance was reminiscent of a retail facility to customer parking. She noted that the various visuals showed two versions of signage. The sign in one of the renderings, for example, read "H. D. Woodson High School" while the same view in one of the elevation drawings read "HDWHS." Mr. Judd said the former, the full name, would most likely be used, and Ms. Nelson felt that the full name would be better and less corporate in appearance. Reiterating that the building massing was approved in concept, with compliments to the architects, the Vice Chairman focused on the previous suggestion that windows be introduced to the south elevation. He noted that this was done, though there was concern within the Commission that the windows, as presented, would be neither large nor numerous enough to allow sufficient natural light. Mr. Judd answered that although all classrooms on that façade would have windows, those windows would not necessarily be located on the south elevation. In some cases the windows would be located an opposite side.
After a review of material samples, which were favorably received, a motion was made to approve the materials and recommend further study of the landscape scheme and additional fenestration on the south elevation. The motion was seconded and carried. 3. CFA 16/OCT/03-19, Birney Elementary School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Sumner Road, SE. New school building. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/MAY/03-9). Ms. Alg introduced Geoffrey Lewis to make the presentation for Birney Elementary School, which was last reviewed by the Commission in May 2003. Mr. Lewis's colleague, Felipe Turriago, also participated in the discussion. Mr. Lewis noted that at the last review, there were comments about the front entrance and also about the scale. A model was presented to address concerns about scale, particularly the close proximity of Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Sumner Road to the building. To review, the existing school would be removed entirely and be replaced by a new 82,000 square foot building. The new building's front entrance would face the corner, same as the present building, creating a triangular front lawn space. At the request of the Commission, Mr. Lewis quickly reviewed site elements including automobile access, surrounding sports facilities and views from the school of the Capitol dome, the Library of Congress and the Shrine at Catholic University.
The Vice Chairman asked Mr. Lewis to specifically address the concerns raised at the last review, namely the patterning of the facades. Mr. Lewis showed a brick mock-up indicating how the multi-colored brick would be used on the rear façade. For the front façade, he said that the small colored windows would be expanded to create more of a pattern. The red brick portions of the façade would have a subtle shadow line pattern, where there previously would have been a consistent field. Returning to the rear façade, Mr. Lewis indicated that there would be large two-story openings. Some of the red brick mass would be "peeled away" to expose the textile weave pattern of buff and greenish colored brick. There would be a slight recess for the spandrel and red brick. A vertical blue accent line, used in conjunction with windows, would create a three-dimensionality. Mr. Turriago reminded the Commission that the whole concept behind the pattern was African textiles and kinte cloth patterns.
The Commission found the proposed accent color on the rear elevation to be too strong, and suggested that a more subtle color be used. The idea and concept behind the pattern was well-received, though a more sparing approach to the patterning was suggested. The Vice Chairman suggested that a more detailed mock-up of the pattern might better illustrated the concept. The Commission said that there was too much going on at the school's entrance, and that there should be simplification there as well. It was suggested that rather than using cedar at the entrance wall, a darker colored beige brick be used. The blue accent color at the entrance might also be toned down.
With these suggestions, the Vice Chairman asked the applicants to return revisions and also with a proposal for landscaping.
(The agenda order was altered and the Inspection of the Freer Gallery of Objects was discussed prior to the Shipstead-Luce projects.)
Freer Gallery of Art, Objects proposed for acquisition, confirmation. Ms. Diamonstein reported that Commission members visited the Freer Gallery of Art on 15 October and approved the objects presented. These objects were a 17th century Buddhist scroll, a group of ceremonial masks and a porcelain apothecary vessel. A motion to confirm the approval was made, seconded and carried.
O. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Shipstead-Luce Act
a. S.L. 03-138, 2025 F Street, NW (Square 103), George Washington University. New 103-unit residence hall (dormitory). Concept. (Previous: S. L. 03-116, CFA 17 July 03). Ms. Alg distributed hand-outs to the Commission that included materials from the ANC and a letter from the law firm Shaw Pittman. She said that Adam Gross of Ayres Saint Gross would be making the architectural presentation, but first introduced Allison Prince of Shaw Pittman, the author of the aforementioned letter, to address the Commission.
Ms. Prince, speaking on behalf of the University, had two points of emphasis. The first was there would be no need for height variance or relief from the Height Act of 1910 if the University's request for rezoning is granted. She said the site of the property was zoned at R-5-D, and that there was a request pending to rezone the property to C-3-C. The 100-foot width of F Street, she said, would allow a 120-foot high building in a C-3-C zone. The second point was that as the building was being processed as a Planned Unit Development (PUD), there would be enough flexibility to allow the maximum number of beds within the permitted height. She stated that it was the University's legal obligation to provide more than 5,600 beds by the fall of 2006 that gave the proposed residence hall project its sense of urgency.
Ms. Alg reminded the Commission that the two major concerns that arose when the project was last reviewed in July were the height and the west elevation. In response to Ms. Prince's letter questioning the Commission's jurisdiction over the project, the Vice Chairman said that the Shipstead-Luce Act has been amended numerous times and that, after consultation with Commission staff, the Commission believed that the property in question fell within one of those amendments. Adam Gross then began his presentation.
Mr. Gross referred to the letter sent by the Commission to Michelle Honey, the University architect, after the last review in July, and said that he would respond specifically to the points outlined in that letter. He began by indicating a scale model, designed to support the assertion that the proposed residence hall, at a height of 120 feet, would not be out of scale with the neighborhood. He cited the neighborhood's diversity and indicated nearby buildings of comparable height such as World Bank and the Red Cross. He went on to describe the proposed residence hall as primarily a brick structure with upper areas of limestone. An articulated series of bays on the ground floor would lower the scale. The building would be in a "T" form and this form would be evident in the west elevation. Large windows would be added at the end of the corridors on the west elevation, in response to the Commission's suggestion to enliven that elevation.
Moving onto the penthouse, Mr. Gross said the height of the penthouse, which would house mechanical equipment, could possibly be lowered by 7 feet from the originally proposed 18 feet, depending upon the type of elevator used. The cooling tower, however, would need to remain at 18 feet in order for the tower to function properly. Mr. Gross then put up two boards highlighting the differences between the scheme seen previously by the Commission and the newly proposed scheme. He said that the new scheme would set back the top two floors of the building, where previously, they were flush to the street. The scheme would sit along the street at 103 with a set-back of about 14 feet, rising to 120 feet in the back. However, the building would lose about 41 beds.
As he concluded his presentation, Mr. Gross reasserted that the diversity of the neighborhood would accommodate the proposed building. He also expressed the concern that the building might appear too "squat" in terms of its overall proportions if there was not enough verticality in its design.
Three members of public addressed the Commission. The first was Dorothy Miller, Chair of ANC 2A and speaking on behalf of that ANC. She said that at some six stories above any of its immediate neighbors, the proposed building would be too tall. Since it had not yet been approved for a PUD or a change in zoning, she said, the building, as proposed, would violate the Shipstead-Luce Act. She suggested that there were other alternatives to meeting the student housing mandate, and cited the site of the empty hospital as an example. She felt the number of students proposed for the residence hall would overwhelm the site, and that the hospital could more easily accommodate that number of students.
David Lehman, a neighbor residing at the Statesman apartment building at 2020 F Street spoke in support of the proposed residence hall. The residence hall would relieve the population pressure of students living in residential rental properties such as the Statesman, he said, and asserted that occupancy of his building was currently about 95 percent student. When balancing the need for student housing against the impact of the proposed building height versus the impact of students living in private commercial residences, he felt that the direction should be towards providing more campus housing. He also said that the proposed building height was not inconsistent with other buildings in the area such as the World Bank, IMF and the G.W. Elliott School.
Don Lincoln, a resident of Watergate East, also spoke in support of the University's proposed building. He acknowledged concerns about the building's height, and said that based on a briefing he attended on the proposed new building on 2 September, he considered it to be a well designed building. He said he does not believe that the proposed height should be a matter of concern based on the uniformity of F Street between 20th and 21st Streets. Mr. Lincoln said he believed the building would have minimal impact on the neighborhood in terms of views, light and air, and applauded the University on their proposal for what he called a handsome structure.
The Commission was prepared to withhold comment on the proposal until the Zoning Commission rendered its decision on the University's rezoning request. However, Ms. Prince said that the Zoning Commission would not consider their case without input from the Commission of Fine Arts and the Office of Planning was holding its report in abeyance until it had input from the Commission. Ms. Prince said that what was needed was the Commission's reaction to the aesthetics of the proposed building under the Shipstead-Luce Act. As a point of clarification, the Assistant Secretary said that the Shipstead-Luce Act did not set building heights, but allowed the Commission to regulate building height from an aesthetic standpoint. In other words, is the height aesthetically acceptable at this location?
The Vice Chairman said that given the revisions that had been made regarding the setbacks, that the proposed height of the building was not inconsistent in the context of the neighborhood. Mr. Powell agreed, and encouraged Mr. Gross to explore the alternate elevator option, though he felt that there were still outstanding design issues, as did Ms. Diamonstein, Ms. Nelson and Ms. Balmori. Ms. Balmori disagreed with the Vice Chairman and Mr. Powell on the aesthetic of the height, saying that the mechanical height was too high. Ms. Diamonstein also felt that the height could be reduced and that it was too soon to consider a motion to approve the massing in concept.
Because the University's Zoning Commission hearing was scheduled before the next Commission meeting, the Vice Chairman said he felt a responsibility to provide an answer and asked for a motion. The Commissioners, with the exception of Ms. Diamonstein, supported a larger scale building, up to 120 ft in height, provided the design was appropriate for such height. The applicant was required to return for further review and was instructed to re-address the design and massing of the building, pursuing every avenue to reduce the apparent height of the building, including set-backs, material changes and overall design revisions.
b. Confirmation of the approval of the 18 September 2003 Shipstead-Luce Act Appendix. The 18 September 2003 Shipstead-Luce Act appendix was approved, with compliments to the staff for the thoroughness and clarity of the appendix.
c. Appendix I. Ms. Alg said that case S.L. 03-131, a stone archway at 3451 Mount Pleasant Street, was removed from the Shipstead-Luce appendix at the request of the applicants. She said that the archway was built without a permit, and that the applicants, Ms. Kay Westcott and Mr. Michael Eldridge, were present to address the Commission. Ms. Westcott and Mr. Eldridge made their case for the archway and the Vice Chairman said that the Commission would consider the case and render a decision, which would be announced at the next public meeting in November. For a record of this discussion, see the transcript for the Commission of Fine Arts, meeting, pages 379-393.
The remainder of the Shipstead-Luce Act appendix was approved.
2. Old Georgetown Act
a. O.G. 03-289, 1525 32nd Street, NW. New single family dwelling. Concept. This project was postponed.
b. Confirmation of the approval of the 18 September 2003 Old Georgetown Act Appendix. Mr. Martinez said that there were some changes to the September Old Georgetown appendix since it was circulated prior the cancelled September meeting. These changes were reflected on the revised September appendix as addenda. He highlighted the proposed library building at Dumbarton Oaks and a house on O Street postponed for further review.
The 18 September 2003 Old Georgetown Act appendix was approved, with compliments to the staff for the thoroughness and clarity of the appendix.
c. Appendix II. Mr. Martinez said the agenda item O.G. 03- 289, a single family dwelling on 1525 32nd Street NW, was postponed and that the applicants would have another opportunity to return to the Old Georgetown Board as they developed the concept. He said that by the time the project is presented to the Commission, it would be in a more final stage.
An item from September's appendix postponed to October's was O.G. 03-241, an addition to 2908 N Street NW. This item was also postponed from October's appendix, as the applicant wished to bring the project to the attention of the Commission for further discussion.
The remainder of the Old Georgetown Act appendix was approved.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 4:38 p.m.
Charles H. Atherton