The meeting was convened at 10:10 a.m. in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the
National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.
Hon. David M. Childs, Chairman
Hon. Diana Balmori
Hon. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel
Hon. Pamela Nelson
Hon. Earl A. Powell III
Hon. Elyn Zimmerman
Mr. Charles H. Atherton, Secretary
Mr. Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Ms. Kristina Alg
Ms. Sue Kohler
Mr. José Martínez-Canino
Ms. Susan Raposa
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Mr. David Hamilton
Mr. Gene Keller
A. Approval of minutes of the 15 January 2004 meeting. The minutes were approved without objection.
B. Dates of next meetings approved as:
18 March 2004
15 April 2004
20 May 2004
It was noted that there would be evening site inspections of lighting for the Lincoln and Marine Corps memorials the evening of 17 March, and the members were asked to reserve this time on their calendars.
C. Revised schedule for the Commission’s Executive Working Sessions
The Assistant Secretary called attention to this schedule in the members’ folders and suggested that any questions regarding it could be discussed during the lunch period.
D. Report on the inspection of objects proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Lindstrom noted the Commission’s pre-meeting inspection and approval of these objects.
E. Report on the WMATA’s proposal for advertising in the Metro system. Mr. Lindstrom said there had been a proposal, not yet approved, to increase substantially the amount of advertising in the subway and bus system, and that several items within the proposal had already generated considerable opposition. He said he had talked to members of the Metro staff, and a number of them were also opposed to the extent of the program. New signs for the Metro stations were also being considered, to help passengers find their destinations, and some had been installed in the Gallery Place Station on a trial basis. He said the head of Metro’s facilities would be talking to the staff early in March, and he would report on the meeting next month.
The Secretary commented on the art programs for the stations, saying that they had been very successful, and he thought the kinds of advertising being proposed would just diminish the art work and the appearance of the stations in general. He said a lot of the success of the art program was due to the work of Mr. William C. McBride, who ran the program for the entire Metro system; he then introduced Mr. McBride. The Chairman asked how the Commission could play a role in the process, and Mr. Lindstrom said he thought it would be helpful to ask a representative to come in and talk to the members. The Chairman asked Mr. Lindstrom to follow through on this.
F. Report on the U.S. Mint’s conference on coin design. Mr. Atherton said this would take place on the following day, and he was planning to attend. Actually, he said, it was more of a welcoming to the artists who would take part in what the Mint called its “Artistic Infusion Program” He said the process of employing outside artists to participate in coin design was one the Commission had been endorsing for many years, and he hoped it would make a difference in the quality of design seen in our coins.
G. Request from the Senate Appropriations Committee for testimony on the projects in Judiciary Square for the D.C. Court of Appeals and the National Law Enforcement Museum. Mr. Lindstrom said Mr. Atherton had been asked to give testimony about the progress–or lack of it–being made in these two projects, and that NCPC would also be testifying. He said a draft of the proposed testimony would be sent to the members before the hearing on the 25th.
II. SUBMISSIONS AND REVIEWS
A. American Battle Monuments Commission
CFA 19/FEB/04-1, World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer, France. New visitors center. Concept. The Assistant Secretary introduced General John Herrling, Ret., from the Battle Monuments Commission, to present this project.
General Herrling said the building of the interpretive center had been authorized by the passing of H.R. 107-159 in 2001, its purpose being “to put the D-Day landings and the following battle in Europe in perspective and as one of the great military achievements of all time....” He said the ABMC was directed to work with the National Park Service regarding the placement, scope and character of the new center, as well as with the American Folklife Festival and the Library of Congress. In 2002 the SmithGroup was selected as the A&E firm, and they selected Gallagher & Associates to do the interior design and displays. In March 2003 a charette involving all the knowledgeable parties resulted in a proposal for a site, an outline of the themes to be developed , and the establishment of parameters on cost and design.
General Herrling then explained the themes. The first involved an overview of the site of the invasion–why was Normandy chosen over other locations? The second theme was competence–exhibited from the highest levels of leadership to the leadership shown by all those who stormed the beaches. The third theme was courage– Eisenhower’s when he made the decision, “Let’s go”, down to that demonstrated by the individual soldiers, sailors, and airmen who took part in the invasion. Finally, sacrifice–the enormous human cost of that day, told in part through individual stories. He said they were about fifty percent through the development of story lines and would be holding another charette next month to review the material developed. General Herrling recalled that they had had an informal meeting with Mr. Atherton and Mr. Lindstrom to inform them of their plans. The Chairman told General Herrling that the Commission was happy to see this project, and he commented on the historic relationship between the two agencies, referencing particularly the recent cooperation on the World War II Memorial.
The presentation was continued by architect Colden Florence, who first passed around material that would give the members a feeling for the character of the “highly manicured, very neo-modernist” cemetery. He spoke briefly about his team, which included landscape architect Michael Vergason, with whom the Commission had frequently worked, as well as French architectural and engineering firms who would oversee construction. He showed photographs of the cemetery, the memorial, the reflecting pool, the stone work, and the woodland area surrounding the site, all of which, he said, played an important role in developing a suitable design for the interpretive center.
Mr. Florence stressed that the interpretive center would not be a museum; its purpose was to educate those who no longer had a historic sense of what the battle, or even the war, was all about. Nor would it compete in any way with the cemetery; he wanted its profile to be constrained and he wanted to establish a certain degree of transparency, noting that the site was all about vistas and open space and he did not want any negative impact on that. He said they had been working with the French authorities, and he commented that the Conservatoire was interested in reconstituting the hedgerows, which were so critical in the battle and which in Normandy were actually part of the topography.
Mr. Florence then described the site for the new interpretive center. It would be located in the eastern portion of the grounds, behind the World War II Memorial, on the north-south French grid, with the original hedgerows restored along the grid, paralleling the building. The memorial and the cemetery had not been placed on that grid, but rather ran roughly east-west. However, the relationship of the center to the cemetery and the memorial would be recognized by placing the entrance to the center on that east-west axis. He noted that the setting for the center was a naturalistic one, in contrast to the highly-manicured setting of the cemetery itself. Visitors would come primarily by car or bus. The parking lot, directly in front of the proposed center, would remain in its present location but would be enlarged, organized and clarified, with special areas for busses, and options for the visitor to proceed directly to the memorial and cemetery or go to the interpretive center first. Leaving the parking lot at the drop-off plaza, the visitor would proceed to an outdoor orientation pavilion with information on the several destinations on the cemetery site. Those wishing to go to the interpretive center would walk past a garden and to the main entrance, roughly in the middle of the long, rectangular building and on axis with the memorial.
Mr. Florence then turned to the building itself, saying that it would be a low, unobtrusive, contemporary structure with two levels, one partially below grade on a sloping site. Parallel stone walls would extend beyond the ends of the building. The upper level, with large areas of glass, would contain a lobby, exhibition space, and offices, as well as opportunities to look out over the site, and over a raised reflecting pool to the English Channel. Below would be an orientation gallery, the Competence and Courage galleries, and a transition corridor to the separate Sacrifice gallery, within a second set of parallel stone walls, and featuring a two-story skylit double cube of glass, enclosing a courtyard; this would be a space for reflection and meditation. Outside this gallery would be an overlook and access to the cemetery as well as paths to the beach. Mr. Florence noted that the transition corridor to this gallery on the lower level and the two-story meditation area had been skewed so that they were on the same axis as the cemetery itself. Materials would be glass, metal, and stone. The stone would probably be the rough limestone so frequently seen in Normandy, laid horizontally; he commented on its wonderful texture and color. Mr. Florence ended his presentation by asking if the Commission had any questions.
The Chairman had a question about the approach to the building, which Mr. Florence answered, noting that there was some discrepancy between a drawing and the model; he said the building would not be entered at the orientation pavilion location; he said it would be possible to slip right past the building at that point and go on to the cemetery, or continue around the side, along the garden to the front entrance. Ms. Balmori had some questions about the parking lot, and Mr. Florence asked landscape architect Doug Hayes to go into more detail about the plans for that area. He said they would increase the number of spaces for cars from about 195 to about 400, and for RV vehicles and busses from 30 to about 60. He said they were trying to be flexible because of seasonal demands, and had planned to use a ring of grass for overflow so that there would not be just a sea of asphalt during the off-months. Ms. Balmori asked if they had considered one of the perforated materials instead of asphalt, and Mr. Hayes said they were investigating all of these materials, but the problem was that Normandy was very wet and rainy, which made their use questionable. Mr. Florence noted that they had added a central, tree-lined “spine” for pedestrians and people coming from their cars and had also broken up the lot into smaller “rooms”. Ms. Zimmerman asked what kind of trees would be used, and Mr. Hayes said probably London plane trees. Ms. Balmori asked about the material for the paths and was told they would be the same kind of reddish asphalt there now. Mr. Hayes commented generally on the landscaping, saying that it would accentuate the rugged indigenous landscape the soldiers had to deal with, full of barberries and brambles, as opposed to the lush, pastoral landscape of the cemetery.
Ms. Balmori asked why the center was being built–had a need for it been expressed? General Herrling answered this, saying that it was becoming increasingly apparent that the veterans of Normandy were getting old, and in a few years there would be no one who remembered it first hand, so it was to educate younger generations as to what took place and what an impact it had on civilization. The Chairman commented that while interpretive centers were often overdone, he thought this approach was correct; it had been made part of the landscape, moved back, and the visitor could make the choice of going through it or not.
Mrs. Nelson commented on a completely different aspect of the project. She was bothered by the use of the word “competence” to describe one of the themes. She said she understood what was meant, but the word seemed wrong. The Chairman and Ms. Balmori both agreed with her, but General Herrling seemed not have a problem with it, feeling that it described the incredibly brilliant planning and execution of this most complex endeavor. Mrs. Nelson had one other question, and that was whether people left little tokens at the graves, as they did at the Vietnam Memorial; she noted how pristine and untouched the Normandy cemetery seemed. General Herrling said sometimes flowers were left, but not mementos. He said there were over a million visitors a year, most of them French, and Ms. Diamonstein said conventions were probably different there, although General Herrling said it didn’t happen at other military cemeteries, either.
There were no further questions. The Chairman thanked General Herrling and Mr. Florence for their presentation, and Mr. Powell moved that the concept design be approved. The motion was seconded by Mrs. Nelson and carried unanimously.
B. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Mint
1. CFA 19/FEB/04-2, Congressional Gold Medal for Dr. Dorothy I. Height. Staff member Sue Kohler introduced Jack Sczerban from the Mint to present this project. Mr. Sczerban said this medal was authorized by Public Law 108-162 and would honor Ms. Height for her many contributions as a civil and social rights activist over a period of sixty-five years. He showed the portrait of Ms. Height planned for the obverse, which she had selected, and it was agreed that it was a very good likeness; however, several of the members commented that the large hat, with little texture to define it as a hat, looked more like a halo.
Mr. Sczerban then showed eight reverse designs, each with variations of items Ms. Height wanted to include on her medal. They included a depiction of the building on Pennsylvania Avenue which housed the National Council of Negro Women, of which Ms. Height was president, and two quotations from her speeches. Each design had its strong and weak points, and the decision was to begin with design #8 and make some changes that would simplify it but still include the elements Ms. Height wanted. A letter was to be written to the Mint describing the recommended changes in detail.
2. CFA 19/FEB/04-3, Reverse design for 2004 platinum proof coin. Mr. Sczerban noted that the obverse of this coin always stayed the same, showing the upper torso of the Statue of Liberty; the reverse changed every year. For 2004, four of the designs were derivations of Daniel Chester French’s statue America in front of the New York Customs House; the fifth proposal was a version of the heraldic eagle. The theme for 2004 was America, the land of plenty and the land of opportunity, and it had seemed that the French sculpture would be appropriate, particularly because it utilized the eagle, and the coin was part of the American Eagle Platinum Proof Program.
Ms. Balmori thought design #4, one of those based on the French sculpture, was the best because it was the most legible and elegant and the others were unnecessarily complicated. Ms. Zimmerman and Ms. Diamonstein did not think any of the designs accurately reflected French’s work, and Ms. Zimmerman said that although she did not think the eagle design was anything special, it at least represented the land of plenty with its depiction of fruits and berries. There was no unanimous agreement on which design should be approved, but the majority favored design #4, with the request that it be kept as simple as possible.
3. CFA 19/FEB/04-4, Fifty States circulating/commemorative quarter program for 2005, Designs for the Kansas, Oregon, and Minnesota state quarters (Previous: CFA
20/NOV/03-3) Ms. Kohler introduced Barbara Bradford from the Mint to present these designs. Ms. Bradford said these would be the first to follow the new design guidelines whereby the states would send the Mint only a written description of the themes desired; no visuals would be provided.
Ms. Bradford began with the designs for the Kansas quarter. There were four: design #1 showed the statue, Ad Astra,at the top of the state Capitol building, with the state motto, “Ad Astra Per Aspera”, depictions of wheat and a sunflower, and the state outline in the background. Design #2 showed a buffalo, the state animal, in the center, depictions of wheat and a sunflower at the sides, and the state outline in the background. Design #3 had a large sunflower in the center, stalks of wheat on each side, and a ribbon band in the center carrying the words “There’s No Place Like Home” from the Wizard of Oz. Design #4 showed the state outline in the center with the words “Home on the Range”, the state song, with a buffalo head on one side and sunflowers and wheat on the other. There was unanimous agreement that the only possibilities were #2, using only the buffalo, or #3, using only the sunflower. The Chairman thought the sunflower was unique and the buffalo might be confused with the old buffalo nickel. It was agreed that this was a good point, and the recommendation to the Mint was that they use Design #3 eliminating everything but the sunflower, and making it as large as possible.
Continuing with the Oregon coin, Ms. Bradford again showed four designs. Design #1 represented the Oregon Trail and showed a prairie schooner in the distance, with the wheel ruts continuing prominently into the foreground, mountains in the distance, and Indian dwellings on the right. Design #2 showed Mount Hood in the distance, a red-tailed hawk in flight, a forest of Douglas fir, the state tree, at the base of the mountain, with the Columbia River and a large Ponderosa pine in the foreground. Design #3 featured a large Chinook salmon swimming upstream, with a background of the river and several Douglas fir trees. Design #4 was a rendition of Crater Lake. There was at first a leaning toward recommending design #2, using a Douglas fir in the foreground, but Ms. Zimmerman pointed out that Oregon was very closely associated with the Chinook salmon, and using just the fish, enlarged, much like the Kansas sunflower, would make a handsome coin. The rest of the members agreed, and it was decided to recommend design #3, using just the salmon.
Lastly, Ms. Bradford showed four designs for the Minnesota quarter. Design #1 had three elements superimposed on a background of the state outline: a snowflake to represent Minnesota’s geographic location as the farthest north of the lower forty-eight contiguous states; a plow to recall the state’s agricultural background; and a loon, the state bird. Design #2 also used the state outline as the central element with a background of a lake, a grouping of fir trees, two fishermen in a boat, and a loon in the foreground. An inscription read: “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. Design #3 took as its theme “Headwaters of the Mississippi River” and featured a bridge across the river, leading to a depiction of the mills and factories characteristic of the state’s industrial character, with the river winding upward toward the top of the coin and into the distance amidst a natural forested landscape. Design #4 again used the motto, “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, and showed two men in a canoe, a loon in the foreground, and a depiction of the tree-lined banks of the lake in the background. There was a discussion of the merits of each design, and it was agreed that #4 had the most to work with. The final decision was to use that design, but get rid of the landscape in the background and just keep the men in the canoe and the loon, with some indication of reflections in the water so that it had some definition.
C. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
a. S.L. 04-042, 2555 M Street, NW, chancery for the State of Qatar. Facade alterations for new chancery. Concept. (Previous: S.L. 02-130, Sept. 2002) The Assistant Secretary located this building, on the edge of Rock Creek Park across from Georgetown, and recalled that the Commission had already approved alterations to this building as a chancery for Qatar, but the government now had a different architect and a new design. He introduced architect Barbara Mullenex from OPX to make the presentation.
Ms. Mullenex first introduced attorney Robert Brahms of Patton Boggs, representing the embassy of Qatar. Then she showed a photograph of the existing dark, red-brown brick building, noting that it had been built in 1972. Next she showed the previous proposal for facade redesign, noting the addition of a light-colored stone base, a frame around the entry with some applied decorative elements, a stone pier and iron picket fence around the property with a gate, and some decoration applied to the top floor. She said the government had decided they did not want such an ethnic feeling but preferred instead to have a more business-like appearance, something that would be appropriate to Washington, D.C. She noted that the first floor would be the public floor, the location of the consulate and some exhibit space. The fifth floor would be the ambassadorial space, with the intervening floors devoted to chancery purposes. Ms. Mullenex then pointed out that in her design, the stair connecting the floors had been brought forward and expressed on the facade by a curved glass element that extended from the second through the fourth floors. The idea of a stone base–limestone or precast–had been retained, and the fence was similar but with a little different modulation of the pillars. Ms. Nelson asked if they wanted it to be made evident that this was an embassy or did they want to make it more low-key in appearance? Ms. Mollenex said they wanted it “more business-like than Qatar-like” since the building was obviously not of African origin in its design. She said she did want to develop some abstract patterning for the glass and use some Islamic patterning on the fence. The Chairman thought some meaningful iconography would be helpful. He asked Ms. Mullenex why she had filled in the corner at the base level, and she replied that she thought it added some strength to the base and would also allow the fresh-air intake for the garage to be raised above the street level, which was preferable for security reasons. Mr. Childs thought she should look at that carefully, because it could easily make the base look applied, emphasizing the fact that the base and the rest of the building were not by the same architect. He also thought the curved glass stair enclosure gave the same impression–that it didn’t really belong to the building, but was an afterthought. He thought the building could be broken there and the entry made stronger, but not in that way. Ms. Diamonstein thought the building was really not worthy of being Qatar’s chancery. The Chairman said he was not aware of the budget for this renovation, but if Qatar wanted to do a really first-rate job, the Commission would certainly endorse it; he noted that it was on a very desirable piece of property, being on the edge of the park and overlooking Georgetown.
Mr. Brahms had some questions about how long the Commission’s approvals were valid which he discussed with the Chairman and Mr. Lindstrom, and then he asked whether the Commission would approve a design in which precast concrete rather than limestone was specified. Mr. Childs said the Commission had approved many precast buildings and some of them had turned out quite well, but for a governmental building of this type, he would still recommend the use of limestone.
b. S.L. 04-040, The Portals, 1201, 1301, and 1399 Maryland Avenue, SW. Phase III, New office building. Revised concept. (Previous: S.L. 02-001, CFA 18 Oct. 2001) Ms. Alg introduced architect Arthur Cotton Moore to discuss his design for this building, a continuation of his work on the multi-building Portals project. Mr. Moore said this was Phase III of a five-phase project (Phase I being the south building and Phase II the FCC building), and he recalled that he had received concept approval in October 2001 and was now back to present the design development phase.
Because so many of the members had not been on the Commission when the concept design was approved, Mr. Moore gave them some background material in the form of slides. He said the Portals site comprised about 10 acres, and he showed views of the general area, the site plan based on a grouping of buildings around a circle, the treatment of Maryland Avenue, the completed buildings, and the decorative treatment of the columns and their capitals, and the use of swags. Then he showed drawings of the approved concept design, pointing out what part of the building they were seeking approval for this time, followed by drawings of the more fully developed design he was presenting at this meeting; he said very few changes had been made. In answer to a question from Ms. Zimmerman, he said the swags and the capitals would be made from the same material he had used earlier–a composite of ceramic and fiberglass; he observed that it had proved to be very durable, and he added that it would be very similar in color to the precast. Other questions were asked about the principal material, which was a very light-colored brick, the material of the window frames–aluminum, and the color of the glass–clear. Essentially, Mr. Moore said, this building would repeat the materials and colors used in the other completed buildings. Mrs. Nelson was concerned about the swag-like decoration applied to the fence; she thought it might be a little too much when used at ground level. Mr. Moore said the fence would be painted a dark green, and that detail would not really stand out.
The Chairman expressed some concern about the visibility of the building when approaching from the southwest, particularly the penthouses. Mr. Moore said they were set back, and in response to comments made during the previous presentation, he had increased the size and projection of the cornice to mitigate any view of the penthouses. The Chairman asked if there was any way the louvers could be joined together and placed a little lower in their elevation on the wall so that the feeling of horizontality, so noticeable in the building itself, could be increased. Mr. Moore thought that was a good idea and said he would look into it. Mr. Childs commented that it was hard for him to jump into a project that had been started back in 1986, but it seemed to him that what Mr. Moore was doing with this building was in line with the original plans and with the concept design the Commission had approved two years ago.
Mrs. Nelson was concerned about the flat end wall and what would happen if the section of the building that was to be joined to it was never built? Mr. Moore said they had a commitment to the District government so see that it did not remain indefinitely, and he noted that the developer was present to tell the Commission how many millions of dollars was at stake depending on his timely removal of that wall. Mr. Steven Grigg was introduced, and he explained the terms of his acquisition of the property and the necessity for his own good that the final section of the building be erected as soon as possible. The Chairman asked Mr. Grigg how the wall would be finished off during the interim period, and he said they would do what they did when a similar situation occurred during the construction of the FCC building, that is, employ an articulated joint system, using Dryvit, and paint it to match the color of the building.
The Chairman asked if there were any other questions or if there was a motion to approve the revised concept. Mr. Powell made the motion, which was seconded by Ms. Balmori. Ms. Diamonstein then asked for a discussion about the decorative details on a group of columns which varied from the others; she was referring to the applied elements occurring midway down these columns. Mr. Moore said these center section columns had been made smaller because of a tight spacing situation, and so he had gone to a different design. Ms. Diamonstein and Mrs. Nelson both thought there was too much applied decoration on the building; Mrs. Nelson recalled her comment on the ornamental elements applied to the fence. Mr. Moore commented that these were very large buildings and really needed some added richness; he thought also that since the use of these decorative elements had been established with the first Portals building it would be better to continue them to create a sense of unity within the project. Ms. Diamonstein thought the use of the non-traditional, decorative capitals provided enough continuity, and there was unanimous agreement that this was true. The motion was amended to include the elimination of the “swags” occurring midway down the smaller set of columns, and also to include the recommendation to restudy the penthouse louvers in an effort to arrange them in a continuous horizontal format. The motion was then carried unanimously.
(The agenda order was then changed and item II.C.d. discussed next.)
d. S.L. 04-036, Tregaron (The Causeway), 3100 Macomb Street, NW (alternative address, 3029 Klingle Road, NW). Plan for Planned Unit Development, concept. Ms. Alg passed out information regarding the project, including historical background on the estate, information on the architect and landscape architect, and also letters from organizations having issues with the project in general. She introduced Cynthia Giordano, representing the client, the Tregaron Limited Partnership; Craig Curtis representing the architect, Miller Hull Partnership; and James Van Sweden and Sheila Brady, representing the landscape architecture firm. She asked Ms. Giordano to begin the presentation.
Ms. Giordano said she was from the Arnold & Porter law firm and represented the Tregaron Limited Partnership, which had owned the site for over twenty years. She described it as a 14-acre site, part of the original Tregaron residential estate of 20 acres. It was purchased out of the estate, which could no longer afford its upkeep, in 1980 by the Washington International School and the Tregaron Limited Partnership. The concept at that time was that the school would use 6 acres for the school, which they had been doing, as well as build additional facilities on the site, and the Limited Partnership would develop the remaining acres as residential property by building houses. She said that there had been a number of proposals to develop the site, most of them proposing at least 100 houses, but they had not been supported by the city government. She said her client had stepped back from this approach and searched the country for architects who would respect the historic context, ultimately selecting Miller Hull in partnership with Oehme, Van Sweden as landscape architects; she said she thought they had come up with a very reasonable development solution, which would take only a little more than one acre, leaving the balance as open space, and including some restoration of the historic elements of the landscaped site, which she noted had fallen into disrepair over the years. She introduced landscape architect James Van Sweden to begin the presentation.
Mr. Van Sweden said his job had been to fit the design seamlessly into a very important historic place that was in a very dilapidated condition. Only ghosts remained of Ellen Biddle Shipman’s landscape plan–a staircase in ruins, a pond totally filled in and almost invisible, some very important trees and many others that should also be kept, and some paths that could be brought back and used by the community. He said that, luckily, the developer was interested in doing a fine job and had hired a first-rate architectural firm. He asked Craig Curtis from that firm to begin the presentation, to be followed by Sheila Brady from his firm.
Mr. Curtis began with a powerpoint presentation to explain how the property had evolved into its present state and what their design concept for it was. First he showed a 1915 sketch plan, noting that at that time the historic landscape elements mentioned were already in place–the great twin oak, the pond, a bridle path through the property, and the formal garden, as well as the vistas from the mansion. Tregaron was a private estate until 1958; from 1958 until 1980 it was used for a variety of purposes, and in the latter year six acres were sold to the Washington International School, with the Tregaron Limited Partnership purchasing the remaining 14.6 acres. He noted that the school had made a number of changes to the property, erecting a classroom building in 1988, a very large gymnasium in 1997, and adding sports fields; he noted that further expansion was also being planned. The direction of travel on the causeway had also been changed, placing the entrance on Macomb Street rather than to the south on Klingle Road. Mr. Curtis then showed photos of the estate in its prime, and then views of the present condition.
Turning to his proposals for development, Mr. Curtis said first that the developer had not given them any specific number of houses to plan for, or told them to site the houses on any particular part of the property; they were told only to look at the entire site and approach it in a way that would appeal to the various reviewing agencies. With this in mind, they had looked at ways to develop it so that what was there would be protected, and he said the key to that was the existing topography and the mature woodland now existing; to that end they had ordered a very detailed topographic and tree survey and hired an arborist to determine the health of each tree. As to the number of houses planned, he said they had started at twenty-five, but after several meetings with the District’s Office of Planning, they had reduced the number to sixteen, which would take only about an acre and one half of the 14 acres.
Mr. Curtis showed a site plan, pointing out that thirteen of the houses, a few possibly duplexes, would be sited in a hilly area east of the historic mansion, along a new road roughly parallel to the old causeway road and joining it at both ends. The new road would be set low at the edge of the forest so that it would not be visible, and the houses set just into the tree line; they would be sited and designed so as to disturb the topography and the trees as little as possible, and to reduce their visibility. Vehicles would be kept on the other side of the road in underground garages with planted green roofs, again, to reduce visibility. Mr. Curtis showed section drawings to explain the siting of the houses and garages. Guest parking would be along the road on a pervious surface parallel to a stone wall that would be dropped into the site. In answer to a question about the size of the houses, he said the footprint of each would be about 2,500 square feet and the entire house would be about 4,500 square feet. He said the houses would be expensive because of the cost of the infrastructure, the underground garages, pervious paving and other undertakings to preserve the character of the historic site. Not the least among these would be better management of storm water and the reduction of the runoff that had been so damaging to the natural features and trees on the down-grade areas of he site. He introduced Thomas Cahill, a specialist in water management, to talk about this.
Mr. Cahill said he had spent most of his life managing water, especially on development sites, and his firm was one of the principal advocates of sustainable site design. He noted the damaging results of paving over the land in urban areas, and he said the results could be seen in the severely-degraded stream down-grade on the Tregaron site and the rapidly declining health of the woodland. He said he would put in place an infiltration system that would cause the water to soak into the ground before it ran downhill. He said that after seeing the site and reviewing the concept design he could say that the housing project could be built “with zero impact from storm water from the site.” Sheila Brady, from Mr. Van Sweden’s office, commented that magnificent beech trees and others were falling from the effect of too much water on the down- grade section of the property. She told Ms. Balmori, as a landscape architect, that they would be working with paving systems that were primarily pervious, including the asphalt, and that the sidewalks would be more like grass.
(Ms. Diamonstein left the meeting during this discussion.)
Mr. Curtis spoke briefly about some of the enhancements possible on the site. These would include restoration of the pond, some restoration work around the twin oak, creation of a new walking path following the old bridle trail, restoring the stone steps and numerous stone walls, and some understory restoration. Questions had been asked about the property lines, and Mr. Curtis said that although the property had not yet been divided into lots, the intent was to find the legal means to create a conservation easement on the open space of the development site, so that it would never be changed or developed more intensely. He said the Office of Planning had asked them to look at the scale of the buildings and the views of them, and he showed slides of a computer model showing where the massing of the houses would be, and the view from the backs of the houses on Macomb Street; other slides showed similar views from various critical sites, and included views of the two new houses proposed on or near Macomb Street and one on Klingle Road. He said the house on Macomb Street would be designed in a style similar to the other houses on that street, the one near Macomb but further into the property would be similar in materials and detailing to the historic mansion. The Klingle Road house would be compatible with other houses in that area. The thirteen houses on the new road would be contemporary in style and custom designed, though similar in form, detailing, and materials. He showed pictures of some of his firm’s work and that of others working in a similar way. Recalling the questions asked about lot size, Ms. Brady said there would be no fences or swimming pools, and the yards would be integrated as part of the woodland, not as individually- designed yards.
Ms. Brady continued the presentation by giving more information on the landscape proposals. She said that from the beginning they realized that they were dealing with a historic landscape and needed “to understand thoroughly the intentions of the previous designers and recognize that it’s a space that we can’t necessarily impose our own free will on.” She showed slides of the viewsheds that would be maintained. She said they also looked at the vegetation, and she noted that it was not the same as it was in the time of Charles A. Platt and Ellen Shipman Biddle; she showed the tree survey at the edge of the woodland where the houses would be placed and said the healthy trees had been identified, and the houses would be placed so that these trees could be kept. She then noted the several amenities on the site, remnants of a bygone period which would be unlikely to be developed today; these included the pond, the bridle path, and the stream. These and the historic steps would be restored, and the open space would be kept in perpetuity as conservation land–both the woodland and the public open space.
Ms. Balmori was particularly concerned about the plans of Ellen Biddle Shipman–what remained and what could be restored. Ms. Brady showed a historic plan, noting the bridle path, the existing road, and the viewsheds they would be concerned with. She said they had overlaid this plan with the existing vegetation plan and noted that the space had changed quite dramatically: the cow pasture had disappeared and many other open spaces had been swallowed up by the ever-increasing woodland. She said they were not imposing on any open space; the houses would be placed within the woodland environment. She noted that rather than setting the new road high, as an engineer would normally do, they had been able to set it low and parallel it with a stone wall which would maintain the tree line and keep the road out of sight. Ms. Balmori asked if the road could be moved towards the edge of the open space, “ to keep the original intention of where the open space was.” Ms. Brady said they would look at it, noting that they had succeeded in their goal to keep the road out of view, but it could be tucked further down the hill. This would, however, make the road steeper and perhaps the walls would be higher. Ms. Zimmerman asked about the conservation easement–would it apply to the school property also? Ms. Giordano said it would not. In closing, Ms. Brady suggested that the Commission visit the site, as it was very difficult to comprehend the plan without doing so.
The Chairman thanked Ms. Brady and asked if there was anyone from the community who would like to speak. Bonnie LePard, president of the Friends of Tregaron Foundation, was introduced. She described the foundation as a nonprofit organization that had been in existence for thirty years dedicated to the preservation of Tregaron; she said they had over 500 members. She described the estate, designed by architect and landscape architect Charles Adams Platt in 1912 and said it had been made a D.C. landmark in 1978 before the Tregaron Limited Partnership bought it and was subsequently, in 1990, placed on the National Register. Before proceeding, she noted that the school intended to return the traffic pattern on the road to the original causeway entrance, off Klingle Road, to ease traffic problems. She said the Commission had received letters from her organization and others in opposition to the current development project because it would not enhance or retain the historic character. She thought it was hard to make the argument that this character would be retained by surrounding the historic mansion with many new buildings and when the green space would be filled up with a road and garages and a significant number of trees would be cut down. Also, she noted that the property was adjacent to Rock Creek Park, and the natural setting next to the park would be severely impacted. Two streams that flowed through Tregaron flowed directly into the park, and both the streams and the woodland were part of the Rock Creek Park system. She said she did not think the property was in terrible shape, and she thought there was a significant amount of Ellen Shipman’s work remaining; she said the original plans were extant and the landscaping could be returned to the way it was originally. She noted a letter from Charles Birnbaum, the landscape historian of the National Park Service, expressing his opposition to the plans and saying they would destroy one of the few remaining examples of Shipman’s landscape design. A two-year- old staff report from the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board opposed another plan that proposed only four houses on a very small part of the property. Adrienne Coleman from the Rock Creek Park Division of the Park Service had expressed her opposition, as had the Casey Tree Foundation. She closed by saying that there was no way the new houses would not be seen from the mansion or the road, or from the woodlands of Rock Creek Park.
The Chairman said he would like to begin a discussion of the proposal. First, he wanted to say that he thought it had been an excellent presentation, with excellent materials, and that a wealth of information had been brought out. He also congratulated the developer for selecting an outstanding team and charging them to take into account sensitive issues. He observed that many attempts at developing old estates had not turned out well, and he thought that there was value in examining ways of maintaining landscapes in an affordable way, and in setting in motion legal means for saving properties, such as were discussed in the presentation. He said he understood neighborhood concerns and people who wanted to preserve the status quo, but he observed that the property in question was only a part of the original estate, and he thought the proposals had showed great sensitivity in placing the buildings in the historic space and were unusually conscious of environmental issues. He then asked Ms. Balmori, the landscape architect member of the Commission, for her comments.
Ms. Balmori said first that she would like to commend the professionals on the team as well as the developer for the level of the presentation and the detail provided, since that was the beginning of making a responsible decision. She observed that in developing a historic landscape, there was always the question of how much could be saved, and that was an enormously difficult question to answer; landscapes changed over time, so some changes always had to be made. She said she had several questions that remained in her mind. The first concerned the road and whether it could be moved to respect better the original intentions of the space. She noted that Ellen Shipman had been less fortunate than others in that so many of her landscapes had been lost, and so losing any part of this one, one of her best, would be keenly felt. Her second question concerned the number of houses and whether there might be slightly less impact if the number were reduced. Her last question was about the maintenance of the landscape in the future–was there any legal document that said that the Shipman landscape would be maintained–not just the maintenance that had to do with the houses but with the specific elements of her work. Mr. Curtis said he had touched on that earlier and there had been lots of discussion about ways to accomplish it, but they would have to come back at a later date when more decisions had been made.
The Chairman asked Mr. Curtis about the possibility of moving the road–would their plan for the garages be compromised if the road were moved slightly farther down the hill? Ms. Brady answered that question by saying the plan for the garages would still work, but the road profile would become steeper. Ms. Alg noted that the stone retaining wall would also be significantly higher. The Chairman told Mr. Curtis that a presentation showing the pros and cons of each road position would be an important part of any future submission, and Mr. Curtis said they would come back after they had studied it further.
Ms. Zimmerman asked Mr. Curtis if they had to have the number of houses they were showing now to make the project feasible. He said they were just at the point of sitting down with the builder and looking harder and harder at the numbers, so he couldn’t answer her question specifically. One option they had talked about was to change some of the duplexes to single-family homes, which would make them smaller and easier to fit into the forest. Ms. Zimmerman’s other question was to the people opposing the project–she asked them what they would do to maintain the existing landscape, what would they do that would be better than this project?
Ms. LePard answered this question. She said they were talking to charitable buyers and to the Trust for Public Land as their intermediary, and as money came in they would set up an endowment. She said the Friends of Tregaron had been around for over thirty years and had a bank account which was being added to regularly, so they would make sure there was an endowment. Also, she noted that Charles Birnbaum’s letter mentioned a restoration project for Ellen Shipman’s gardens now going on, and they would be applying for funds from that. Another possibility would be to acquire the land and give it back into the Park Service’s hands, but with a funding basis to help them. The Chairman noted that at this point the Park Service couldn’t even maintain the Mall, and they would certainly need a fund for this project. He thought the question of what the private groups would do was an important one, because other people had been concerned in the past but nothing got done. He said that in the project just presented there was an economic engine, and that was the sale of the houses that would provide the maintenance money. And more important than the number of houses was “that the public aspects be achieved and that the impact of those houses be minimized for the landscape reasons, not for the views from the outside surrounding roads.” He said the project looked very comfortable to him, very loose and open, and he was sure Mr. Curtis’s client had already been forced to take a more minimal approach than they would have liked.
Ms. Zimmerman said that, to her, the construction done by the school had had more impact than the houses would, tucked away in the woods. Ms. LePard said quite a few of the buildings in the school area were originally on the site, and were out of the important viewshed, as were the new buildings, which had, in fact, been downsized from the original intentions. The Chairman asked if the Commission had approved the new school buildings and was told that it had.
Ms. Balmori asked Mr. Van Sweden his views on restoring the landscape. He replied that at this point they were concentrating on getting an accurate tree survey, making plans to restore the woods and replant the understory so that there wold be a carpet of green on the ground plane, something which really did not exist at present. He thought one of the most important things to do right now was to get the storm water problem under control, which would greatly improve the possibilities of having a really beautiful forest. Ms. Balmori asked specifically about the Shipman landscape, noting that at Dumbarton Oaks Washington had one of only two of Beatrix Ferrand’s major gardens, and it would be great if the city could have a fine example of Ellen Shipman’s work, now that so much of it was gone. Mr. Van Sweden said he agreed completely, and in the next stage of his work they would bring back as much as possible. He said he was a good friend of Charles Birnbaum and would work with him.
Architectural historian Emily Eig asked to comment. She said she had been working on this property for quite awhile, providing documentation to the architect and landscape architect to help them understand the site. She noted that two areas of Ellen Shipman’s work had been identified in the Friends of Tregaron report, but there was also work done on the school property, and every effort had been made not to touch it. She said there were extensive landscape drawings made of work on the estate, and they were at Cornell University, but sixteen were missing. She showed a drawing of the grounds printed in Samuel Howe’s American Country Houses of Today (1915) that identified different landscape features and was used as the basis for the National Register documents. She showed the drawing of current conditions with the placement of the houses and road added, noting that there would be no impact on the Shipman elements.
There was a discussion between Ms. Zimmerman, Ms. Balmori and Ms. Brady about the bridle trail and the new road, and Ms. Brady said she understood their concern, and she would prepare more studies for the Commission to see. Ms. Nelson commented on the duplexes, thinking that they could be removed or at least reduced to single-family houses, because she didn’t think there would be a market for them in this high-end development. She also wondered if there couldn’t be a legal requirement that the amenities had to be completed before the houses, so that part of the landscaping would be guaranteed. Mr. Van Sweden thought that would not work economically, but Ms. Giordano said that part of the PUD process would be the creation of a covenant that would run with the land that would include those conditions, and it would have to be approved by the zoning commission. Regarding the duplexes, she thought it might be correct that they would not be readily marketable, and although single-family houses would not be that much smaller, there would be fewer garages, fewer cars, and fewer people.
The Chairman said he had a sense that while there were still questions remaining, there was an endorsement among the members for the concept design to move forward, with further submissions to come. It was agreed that this was the general consensus, with Ms. Balmori adding the proviso that the maintenance question be addressed. The Chairman said that and all other concerns would be addressed in the letter to be sent to the Tregaron Limited Partnership, and with that assurance, the concept design was unanimously approved.
c. S.L. 04-039, 1414 22nd Street, NW. Conversion of existing office building to condominiums with new facades. Concept. Ms. Alg said that the next submission, located at 1414 22nd Street NW, was a proposal to convert an office building into residential space. She introduced Michael Hickock and Jack Mevorah of Hickock Warner Cole Architects to present the project.
Using an area plan, Mr. Hickock showed the Commission that the building was located at the intersection of 22nd, 23rd and O Streets, NW, next to the historic service station that faces P Street. Rock Creek Park was located across 23rd Street. It was six stories tall with about 60,000 square feet. At 60 feet, the building would be a nonconforming height for a residence, but that height would be retained. Parking would remain below grade and there would be no changes to the points of access. Mr. Hickock then showed a series of photographs of the existing building and other nearby buildings to establish context.
Because the client wished to pursue a “Georgetown demographic,” Mr. Hickock explained, the architectural approach to the building would be more conservative in its style, than that of the existing building. The building would consist of a base, middle and top in a traditional manner. There would be four defined towers on each corner so that each facade would be framed by a set of towers. The facade areas between the towers would address the whichever street they faced. The east elevation facing 22nd Street would demarcate a formal entry. The west elevation which faced Rock Creek Park would be more transparent, to allow for views of the park. To frame the service station on the north side, the north elevation would have a connecting element across the top.
Mr. Hickock concluded by saying that although a conservative approach was being used early in the design process, the hope was to be a little less conservative in design details, such as the cornice, grills and the corner units. As to materials, the facades would be mostly brick, with the top portions being either precast, stone or a different colored brick. The idea was to create contrast, but not a very sharp contrast.
The Chairman said that the direction being proposed, taking away the facade and using the structure in a historicist manner, was a valid yet worrisome one. He said that the historicist approach had to be done well or not at all, and that a more modernist approach might be less risky. Mr. Hickock acknowledged the Chairman’s concern and pointed to the American Chemical Society building at 16th and M Streets, as an example of his firm’s past work in that vein. Ms. Balmori and Ms. Nelson both noted that the location of the existing garage entrance of the south elevation was too off-center from the more symmetrical approach the design proposed taking. Mr. Hickock suggested that an additional row of windows might provide some balance, and Ms. Nelson suggested a metal grill, similar to what would be used on the balconies.
The project was approved in concept and the Chairman recommended that the architects contact the National Park Service, since the building abuts Rock Creek Park.
D. Department of Defense / Department of the Navy
1. CFA 19/FEB/04-5, Naval Observatory and the Vice President’s Residence. 34th and Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Perimeter security upgrades at the south Gate. Final.
2. CFA 19/FEB/04-6, Washington Navy Yard. Anacostia River waterfront. Perimeter security fence. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/JAN/04-3). This submission was postponed.
3. CFA 19/FEB/04-7, Anacostia Naval Station. Harden Firth Stirling Gate at
South Capitol Street, SE. Perimeter security upgrades. Final.
Mr. Martinez stated for the record that the Commission made a site visit to the Navy Yard that morning, and that this was an appropriate time to provide any comments to the Navy’s representative, Larry Earle. Mr. Martinez also said that the design for the security perimeter fence for the Anacostia waterfront was to be revised, and would be shown to the Commission in the future.
The Chairman said, on the record, that the Commission did indeed tour the Navy Yard prior to the meeting and found the tour quite useful. There was also a security discussion that morning that involved the Naval Observatory, which was also very helpful. He said the Commission would look forward to meeting with the Navy as specific proposals came in for the Washington Navy Yard.
Mr. Earle said that the Navy would be presenting two security projects at this meeting. These were security upgrades for gates that did not meet current terrorism force protection standards for the Navy. One was the main gate of the Anacostia Naval Station, the Harden Firth Stirling Gate located at South Capitol Street. The other was the South Gate of the Naval Observatory, off Massachusetts Avenue. This gate was used as a working gate for Navy personnel. Mr. Earle then turned the presentation over to Mark Rengel, architect with Einhorn Yaffee Prescott.
Mr. Rengel began by describing the intent of these projects. He said that the two gates being presented were pilot projects for future security improvements to be undertaken by the Navy, and these two gates would be upgraded according to various Navy regulations. Mr. Rengel noted that the most prominent feature was the vehicle barriers. He also noted that the two gates were the working gates for their respective facilities, that they were the primary entrances for all personnel and visitors. Because of their heavy use, the vehicle barriers would primarily be in the down position, unless the threat protection level changed.
Moving on to the gates themselves and beginning with the Firth Stirling Gate at the Anacostia Naval Station, Mr. Rengel indicated the initial row of barriers located approximately 250 feet in from South Capitol Street. A second set of barriers would create a containment area for vehicles that passed through the first set. These would be raised in the event of threat level change. Indicating photos of current conditions at the South Gate of the Naval Observatory, Mr. Rengel pointed out the Jersey barriers which would be removed once the vehicle barriers were added. He said that the Navy was concerned with the aesthetics of the gate areas and to that end paid close attention to the masonry and wrought iron fencing in those areas. The effort to maintain that aesthetic informed the gate improvements being proposed. Other items such as pedestrian turnstiles and powder-coated black decorative bollards would also be examined in the future.
The Chairman asked for clarification on exactly what aspect of the proposal the applicants wished to be reviewed. Mr. Rengel’s answer was the lay-out and location of the vehicle barriers. He pointed out that at the Firth Stirling Gate, the barriers would be located behind the existing wrought iron fence, in order to be out of public view, and also to allow for closing the fence. He also indicated the guard house and the addition of bollards to protect it. The South Gate, located about an eighth of a mile off Massachusetts Avenue, was considered the back entrance to the Naval Observatory. The entrance was the termination point of a circular drive known as Observatory Circle. Using a photograph, Mr. Rengel showed the Commission where the delta barriers would be located in relation to an existing turnstile and a chain link fence that separated the property from National Park Service land to the south. The replacement guardhouse is also part of the project. Because of their less prominent location and heavy use by Navy employees, the barriers would remain in the down position for a majority of the time.
The Chairman asked for a motion to approve the projects. A motion was made, seconded and carried.
E. Department of Defense / Department of the Army
CFA 19/FEB/04-8, Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 16th Street, Alaska Avenue and Georgia Avenue gates. Temporary canopies for security screening stations. Final. In his introduction to the presentation by Louise Bodnitz of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Assistant Secretary said the canopies being proposed over the security areas at the entrances of Walter Reed were to be temporary installations, not to exceed three years. He said that plans for new security facilities at the entrances were being developed. These plans would also incorporate canopies for the purposes of screening security personnel and protecting them from the weather.
Ms. Bodnitz said the canopies would be made of Teflon-coated polyvinyl. The color would be beige, because beige would be both neutral and translucent. The polyvinyl would extend down the sides to a height of three feet. The16th Street entrance would be the only one to allow trucks, so the canopy there, at 78 x 85 feet, would need to be large enough to accommodate as many as two trucks at a time. The canopy would also need to be large enough to sufficiently shelter vehicle inspectors from the weather, and allow them to perform thorough inspections. Ms. Bodnitz pointed out that members of the public, as well as security personnel, would be sheltered by these canopies. Since Walter Reed is a hospital, individuals ejected from their vehicles for vehicle inspection may have special needs, necessitating shelter. Additionally, vehicle inspection should have an element of privacy, which would be provided by the canopy.
The Commissioners were unanimous in their concerns for the proposed canopies. They felt that the canopies would be far too large and too high. They questioned the temporary nature of the canopies, given that “temporary” structures in Washington often stood for many years, and were also concerned about the role canopies would play in the more permanent installation being planned. With agreement from the Commission, the Chairman asked Ms. Bodnitz to please return with another design. He asked that she be mindful of the Commission’s concerns about the overall excessive size, and to please work with the staff to find a more appropriate solution.
F. Union Station Redevelopment Corporation
CFA 19/FEB/04-9, Union Station Parking Garage, H Street between 1st and 2nd Streets, NE. Garage expansion. Concept. (Previous: CFA 20/NOV/03-7). Mr. Martinez recalled to the Commission that when they last reviewed a proposal for Union Station garage expansion, the applicants were proposing to either continue the design of the original garage or to try something different. While the Commission was not adverse to continuing the original design, they encouraged the applicants to look at temporary designs in the United States and abroad. Mr. Martinez introduced David Ball of the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation to introduce the project.
Mr. Ball began by acknowledging the design team of Tim Haahs and RTKL. Mr. Ball said that the proposed garage expansion would complement the Columbia Plaza area with an eye to future development of the air rights areas to the north and east of Union Station. He said that the goals of the project were to clean up Columbia Plaza, relieve the bus deck of vehicle parking in order to make it more accessible to tour buses and provide drop-off space for Metro buses. Mr. Ball then turned the presentation over to Rod Henderer of RTKL.
Mr. Henderer said that the areas to the north and east of Union Station would be developed in the future, making the north and east facades ultimately a party wall. Since the timetable for future development was not known, the designers were approaching the project with the idea that the facades would be visible for the foreseeable future.
After showing illustrations of screening materials used for parking garages in Denver, Philadelphia and the Cologne-Bonn Airport in Germany, Mr. Henderer discussed specific design elements. A screening material would be added to the upper edge of the garage that was adjacent to H Street. An egress stair, that would act as a sculptural element, would be built beside the screened area and would be partially veiled by the screen. The stair and the screen would be linked by two horizontal rails. These rails would also house light elements that would up-light the screen to create a veiled effect after dark. There would also be a frosted glass “Union Station” sign along the lower part of the screen. Mr. Henderer showed the Commission two material samples for the proposed screening.
Moving to the 1st Street elevation, Mr. Henderer said that some of the precast elements would be removed and the existing openings would be enlarged and made asymmetrical within the new panel. Part of the skin would be removed and replaced with screening material. This would lighten up the garage, allow more natural light into the garage during the day and allow for more natural ventilation. Removal of the precast panel in favor of a screen would also occur on the G Street axis.
Mr. Henderer said that the elevation with Union Station in the foreground would be more problematic because of the steel truss within the wall that was encapsulated by poured concrete. Two horizontal rails would be wrapped around this facade, and a screen would be placed over the openings. A frosted glass “parking” sign would be placed between the rails. Finally, the east elevation would include architectural precast on the spandrel panels. The east elevation would not receive the same level of treatment, since future development will block its visibility. However, it would be visible enough for the time being to warrant treatment.
The Chairman said that he felt the design was moving in the right direction, but suggested that a lighting mock-up would be helpful in assessing the proposed effect on the screening material. Ms. Balmori suggested that, given the urban setting, the original precast concrete, on the 1st Street elevation for example, might be preferable because of its simplicity. She felt that little would be achieved by complicating the facades with the elements proposed, although the addition of scrim material might work better on some facades than on others. The Chairman acknowledged Ms. Balmori’s concern and suggested that the length of some of the facades, including 1st Street, would benefit from the addition of the proposed elements. Based on Ms. Balmori’s comment, he suggested that the facade seen behind Union Station might be left as is. He further said that he thought the signs were a good idea, particularly on the Union Station side. Ms. Nelson suggested that the signs, though lighted, not be overly prominent. She also asked about color elements and what the material between the screening would be. Mr. Henderer said it would be the existing concrete, possibly with a new finish.
With these comments, the Chairman asked for a motion to approve, and the project was approved.
(The agenda order was changed at this point, with the appendices, I. 1, I. 2, being discussed next, followed by the DC Department of Parks and Recreation community center, H. and finally, the Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg Dwellings HOPE VI Project, G.)
I. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Old Georgetown Act
a. Appendix. The Old Georgetown Act appendix was approved.
2. Shipstead-Luce Act
a. Appendix. The Shipstead-Luce Act appendix was approved.
H. District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation
CFA 19/FEB/04-11, New Community Center, 2809 15th Street and 1480 Girard Street, NW. New four-story building. Final. (Previous: CFA 16/OCT/03-16). Michael Winstanley of Leo Daly, highlighted changes made since the last presentation of the proposed community center. He said that the mayor and city council member Jim Graham asked that elements from the existing building on the site of the proposed community center be reused in the new center’s construction. Another reason for reusing existing materials was to obtain sustainable certification. To that end, the brick from the existing building would be reused for the new building. The new building would not be an exact match of the existing one because a parking garage would need to be accommodated.
There would also be changes to the entrance. The canopy would extend out further and signage in the form of a metal fin would extend out from above the canopy. The sign would contain the building’s address, so that it can be seen from a distance. The brick color would be changed at the entrance in order to highlight it.
While the overall design and proposed changes to the entrance were well received by the Commission, they questioned the wisdom of reusing the existing bricks. The Commission felt that using the existing materials in the ways proposed would not improve the quality of the building. As an example, the Chairman noted that new mortar between old bricks would result in a very different building than what may be anticipated. The project was approved, but the District was strongly cautioned against the reconstruction of the historic facade remnant.
G. District of Columbia Housing Authority
CFA 19/FEB/04-10, Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg Dwellings HOPE VI Project. The portion bounded by 3rd Street on the west, Virginia Avenue on the north, 7th Street on the east and M Street, SE on the south. New Housing Complex. Informational presentation. Ms. Alg introduced Paul Rowle of the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) and Cheryl O’Neil of Torti Gallas and Partners to make the informational presentation for Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg HOPE VI project. Mr. Rowle began by indicating the location of the project, in Southeast DC just below the Southeast-Southwest Freeway. He said that the project represented a major redevelopment for DCHA. 707 conventional housing units would be replaced with 1,600 units of mixed income housing, including rental and for sale units. Additionally, there would also be 650,000 square feet of commercial office space divided among three buildings, 51,000 square feet of retail space and 18,000 square feet of community space in the form of a community building. Mr. Rowle said that the project was also significant because it would be supportive of the mayor’s proposed Anacostia Waterfront Initiative. Ms. O’Neil then continued the discussion with a visual presentation and review of the various design elements.
Ms. O’Neil emphasized the richness and diversity of the project, in terms of the varied number of uses overall, as well as the diversity within the housing program alone. Referring to the master plan, Ms. O’Neil said that a key component of the project would be the resurrection of Canal Park, which was currently being used for bus parking. The housing and some of the commercial space would abut the park. The ground floor spaces in this area would have retail activity which would encourage animated public spaces. The remainder of the office space would be distributed along M Street, in keeping with the redevelopment of that commercial corridor. The low-rise housing units, which would consist of both public and for-sale housing at a range of income levels, would be arranged in the northern part of the blocks, up to the Southeast Freeway. These units would provide an appropriate transition from Capitol Hill to the north.
The new community center, Ms. O’Neil said, would be located on the site of the existing community center. It would be adjacent to the new Marine barracks and their parade and recreation grounds. The community would have the use of the parade and recreation grounds for activities associated with the center. The two new senior buildings would be located to the north and south of the community center. These buildings would comprise 300 of the 707 public housing components.
The height and massing of the buildings would follow a fashion found traditionally in the District, where taller buildings would be located on the broader avenue (i.e. M Street) and along the park. The idea was to create a character reminiscent of Capitol Hill, and also to provide a transition from Capitol Hill. Ms. O’Neil showed a set of before-and-after images for Canal Park and 4th Street. Canal Park was currently composed of asphalt and used for parking buses. Under the proposed plan, a green island would be created in the center of the park with higher density buildings adjacent to it. The proposed plan for 4th Street would recall the residential fabric of Capitol Hill.
New streets were also proposed as part of the new development. Ms. O’Neil pointed to one example, 3rd Place. It would divide the larger blocks of public housing and assume the character of alleys, places and other minor streets found within the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The circulation plan would also reopen existing streets, including 2nd Street and a portion of L Street. The public and private housing would be interspersed and evenly distributed throughout the blocks. Ms. O’Neil said that the character and quality of the architecture would be very similar, so that from the outside, one is not immediately distinguishable from the other.
The project was very well received by the Commission. The members were supportive of the goals of the program and with the elements proposed to reach those goals. The Chairman cautioned against the use of historic design features that were too reminiscent of those found in the nearby Capitol Hill neighborhood, and suggested that this project presented an opportunity to explore more modern and innovative architecture. Ms. Nelson concurred, and added that the recreation of a “Main Street” would not ring true without the veneer of age. Ms. O’Neil replied that the purpose of reflecting Capitol Hill styles into the design was to reintegrate the community into the fabric of the city. She said that the residents have felt stigmatized by more modern attempts at architecture in the past. The Chairman said he understood, and acknowledged that modern architecture of public housing in the past had been unsuccessful. However, modern design need not be bad, and he encouraged the applicants to reconsider. He concluded the discussion by complimenting the applicants again on their work.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:01 p.m.
Charles H. Atherton