The meeting was convened at 10:05 a.m. in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, after an inspection tour of Fort McNair.
Hon. David M. Childs, Chairman
Hon. Earl A. Powell III, Vice-Chairman
Hon. Diana Balmori
Hon. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel
Hon. Pamela Nelson
Hon. Witold Rybczynski
Mr. Frederick J. Lindstrom, Acting Secretary
Ms. Kristina Alg
Ms. Sue Kohler
Mr. José Martínez
Ms. Susan Raposa
National Capital Planning Commission Staff present:
Ms. Nancy Witherell
Before the administrative items listed on the agenda were discussed, the Chairman expressed his thanks to Mr. Powell for making the National Gallery of Art available for the previous evening's reception in honor of retiring Secretary Charles Atherton, which celebrated his forty-four year association with the Commission. Mr. Childs said it was a bittersweet occasion, and Mr. Atherton would be greatly missed. He then thanked Mr. Lindstrom for agreeing to accept the official title of Acting Secretary, adding that this was an auspicious day, since the swearing in of new member Witold Rybczynski would make the Commission a whole family again.
A. Administration of oath of office to Witold Rybczynski.
Mr. Lindstrom then read the oath to Mr. Rybcznski, who accepted its terms and was then congratulated by the other members and the staff.
B. Approval of minutes of the 20 May meeting. The minutes were approved without objection.
C. Dates of next meetings, approved as:
21 September 2004 (Tuesday)
In regard to the date of the September meeting, the Vice-Chairman noted that the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian was scheduled for that day, possibly causing a conflict. There was no clear idea of the number of events or when they would occur, however, and so it was decided to approve the date until more information could be obtained. The date had been moved from the normal third Thursday because of deference to a religious holiday.
D. Proposed year 2005 meeting schedules and submission deadlines for the Old Georgetown Board and the Commission. The Acting Secretary noted that the schedule had already been forwarded to the members, and that it had been checked carefully for any conflicts. It was then unanimously approved.
E. Report on the pre-meeting site inspection to Fort McNair. The Acting Secretary commented on the tour, made possible by the Department of Public Works for the military community. He noted the tour of the old War College building, designed by Charles McKim, and the unusual chance to see the old library room and other special areas. He said the tour had been arranged so that the members could become acquainted with the fort in general, and with the site of the proposed new physical fitness facility in particular, since they would be reviewing the revised concept design at this meeting. Ms. Diamonstein expressed the members' thanks to Mr. Lindstrom for arranging the tour, especially for the opportunity of seeing the interior of the War College.
II. SUBMISSIONS AND REVIEWS
A. CFA 17/JUN/04-1, National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum (Old Patent Office Building). 7th and F Streets, NW. Courtyard enclosure. Concept. Ms. Alg introduced the courtyard enclosure, designed by Sir Norman Foster, proposed for the Old Patent Office Building. Marc Pachter, director of the National Portrait Gallery introduced the project.
Mr. Pachter spoke at length about some of the history of the Old Patent Office Building, which housed the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The building was currently undergoing extensive renovations and was scheduled to reopen on July 4, 2006, the 170th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone. Mr. Pachter also detailed ways in which the courtyard would be utilized once the building reopened. Essentially, the courtyard would be a gathering space, but it was also envisioned as a space for ceremonial occasions, formal dinners, concerts and exhibitions. It would be a possible venue for the Smithsonian Craft Show, and hopefully the new home of Horatio Greenough's statue of George Washington, currently on loan to the National Museum of American History. Mr. Pachter said that Betsy Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, joined him in his enthusiasm for the glass roof proposed for the courtyard. Dan Sibert and John Drew of Foster and Partners gave the actual presentation.
Messrs. Sibert and Drew showed a projected visual presentation and used a model to illustrate their proposal. After a brief discussion of ideas inspired by the Patent Office Building, and how those ideas were developed, the presenters detailed the concept for the proposed roof to enclose the courtyard. The enclosure would be a glass lattice-patterned diagonal grid element. The beams that would comprise the grid would be steel. The enclosure would be a wavy form, rather than a flat horizontal one, that would be supported above the existing parapet by eight columns within the courtyard. The columns would be approximately two feet wide. A structural reason for this design was that the walls of the courtyard would not be able to take any load. The undulating grid, as well as the columns, would bear the load.
There were several environmental and functional factors to be considered, and these were addressed by various elements of the enclosure's design. Ventilation would be achieved by lightly lifting the roof's edges above the parapet. The grid's angles would be more vertical at the perimeter, in order to allow the reflection of light to spill into the galleries facing into the courtyard. A series of fins atop the roof would follow the pattern of the grid below the glazing. These fins would be angled in such a way as to allow increased solar levels around the edges, while supporting more shading towards the center. The finish of the grid below the glazing would be conducive to high acoustic absorption throughout the courtyard.
The contours of the roof would respect the existing pediments in order to avoid drastically altering the elevations of the Patent Office Building. The rise in the center of the roof would be sufficiently concealed in daylight hours behind the pediments which were at the centers of each of the Patent Office Building's facades. From the south elevation especially, the roof would be virtually invisible. The idea was not to conceal the roof completely, but rather to make its presence more subtle. The roof would be lighted at night, and the intended effect was that of a subtle glow, rather than an highly illuminated presence.
The proposal was very well received by the Commission and deemed entirely appropriate to the historic building. The Vice Chairman had two concerns relating to Washington's climate. In light of the region's heavy rain and temperature fluctuations, he asked about drainage and condensation. Mr. Drew said that the low points of the roof would be at the columns, and the columns would act as drain pipes. Mr. Sibert said that use of double glazed windows should preempt condensation. Ms. Balmori noted that care must be taken with the lighting and also with the resolution of the how the new roof would meet the old building. Ms. Nelson was complimentary towards the celebratory tent-like nature of the roof, though she was concerned that the columns might be proportionally too small.
With these comments, a motion to approve the proposal in concept was made, seconded and carried unanimously.
B. CFA 17/JUN/04-2, Southeast Federal Center. Urban design and plan for development. Concept. Before the presenters were introduced, the Chairman recalled the May discussion of a Memorandum of Agreement that this Commission and the Planning Commission were developing with GSA that would state the relationship both commissions would have in reviewing projects for this property, which Congress had recently decided to sell to private interests. He noted that this commission's agreement would vary slightly from the Planning Commission's. Mr. Childs said GSA's first position had been that since the Center was no longer federal property and not protected under the Shipstead-Luce Act, the Commission would have no jurisdiction. After several conversations he had had with GSA, however, they had agreed to describe in a Memorandum just what they would be submitting to the Commission and on what time schedule. While some questions remained in regard to the time schedule and other details, he thought it was a step forward, and he wanted to be sure the staff followed through on it. Mr. Lindstrom assured him it had not been forgotten.
Before the presenters were introduced, Ms.Balmori said she had been working with one of the development teams and wondered if she should recuse herself and leave the room. The Chairman it would be permissible for her to stay but not make any comments. Michael McGill from GSA was then introduced to begin the presentation.
Mr. McGill said the property would be developed according to the Southeast Federal Center Public-Private Development Act of 2000, an unprecedented law for them, which said the land should be developed in whatever way would enhance its value to the federal government, and with great flexibility as to how it would be disposed of. He said they had developed a plan in consultation with the D.C. Office of Planning that laid out a basic street grid, allocation of uses, size of office space, residential, etc. and a substantial amount of open space. Zoning had been taken care of and design standards had also been developed. Applications were received from developers and reviewed by both former Commission Secretary Charles Atherton and a representative from NCPC. Finally chosen was Forest City Washington, and Mr. McGill said GSA was engaged in negotiations with them so that in six months they would have in place an agreement specifying exactly what was to go on the site, contain the financial terms of the agreement, establishing a series of phases for the work to be implemented, and very soon thereafter, have the 35 percent designs for phase one. He said what was being proposed in the Memorandum of Agreement for both this commission and NCPC was that both agencies review the design submissions for each phase; just how these phases would evolve was not yet certain. He said NCPC had reviewed and approved the equivalent of a master plan in May, and this commission would see the same thing at this meeting. It would be seen in the form of the design guidelines and the GSA plan that were in the RFP (Request for Proposals), and the submission that came from Forest City Washington which had been selected as the basis for their negotiations, which he described as an artist's concept of what should happen on the site-an allocation of uses, space, streets, and a design format that would be the basis for negotiation. He introduced architect Shalom Baranes to make the presentation, noting also the presence of Deborah Ratner-Salzburg, president of Forest City Washington, and Patricia Daniels, GSA's project director, to answer any questions that might arise.
Mr. Baranes began his presentation by saying that the boards he would be showing were the competition boards, and that it was expected that the concept would evolve over time and what would be built would probably be somewhat different from what he would show at this meeting.
He commented first on the history of the site, noting that had developed in quite a different way from the rest of Washington. In the early days, it had a street grid based on the L'Enfant plan and buildings were erected; then it was all demolished over the following 100 years after the Navy took it over; the development into a naval base accelerated during the Civil War and afterward, reaching its peak during World War II. At present he said it was a fairly fragmented piece of land, with several significant buildings left from the naval period preceding World War II; these buildings would be saved under GSA's RFP. He pointed out on a site plan other, non-historic buildings that would be removed. He located the Navy Yard, directly to the east, and said that the idea for developing the Southeast Federal Center property was to bring much of the texture of the Navy Yard into this site, particularly on the east side. Turning to the street development, he noted that earlier development had extended the L'Enfant grid primarily into the west side of the property; therefore, they would be extending New Jersey Avenue through the site, as well as the major side streets: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th streets, but the east side would tend to follow the Navy Yard street patterns.
Mr. Baranes then showed photos of the site as existing, especially for the benefit of Mr. Rybcznski, who had not been a member when the Commission toured the site several months previously. He noted particularly the water's edge, which he said was the most important aspect of the site, and he pointed out the sewage pumping station, not part of their site, which had to remain. He also showed photos of the historic buildings on the site which would be renovated and restored, and views of the Navy Yard and its structures. He noted M Street, the northern boundary of the Navy Yard and the Southeast Federal Center, and said that it had always been a barrier, shutting off the rest of the city. Pointing out a historic wall along part of M Street, he said that would remain, but the plan was to pull the street grid through as much as possible and connect the Center with the neighborhood to the north.
Mr. Baranes then showed a land use plan. The commercial part of the development would be located near the Metro station at New Jersey and M. A high-rise office building with retail at its base would face M Street between 1st Street and New Jersey Avenue, followed by the Department of Transportation building, already under construction, between New Jersey and 4th Street, then another high-rise office/retail building, and finally, a high-rise residential/retail building extending to Isaac Hull Avenue, the Navy Yard boundary. Lower heights and primarily residential/retail structures would fill in the southern part of the site, with a major green space planned for the foot of New Jersey Avenue, a larger one along the riverfront, roughly between 2nd and 5th streets, and smaller green areas scattered throughout the site. A new street, called Water Street, would run east-west through the southern part of the site from 2nd and 5th streets. Mr. Baranes pointed out the industrial development zone, abutting the Navy Yard, where most of the historic buildings were located. These buildings, and any new construction, would be developed as mixed-use buildings, with retail on the lower floors and residential above. Heights of new buildings would relate to the old, and there would be a change of materials, with the upper stories being of a light glass and metal construction and the lower floors masonry, relating to the older buildings.
The Chairman commented on the great importance of this site to the city, and he said that it was one that both this commission and NCPC had worried about for a long time. He thought the development of a waterfront park in this area was of special importance, and said he was very pleased that GSA had brought these plans to the Commission. He asked if the other members had any further thoughts on the project at this early stage of development, and Mr. Rybczynski asked to comment. He thought the idea of bringing the texture of the Navy Yard through the project was a good approach, and he thought that it should be applied to the development of the park area as well, that it should not be just a lawn, but should somehow carry through the industrial theme, that it should be a sort of industrial waterfront park; he recalled that this had been tried elsewhere, possibly in Germany. The idea was considered well worth exploring, and Mr. Baranes commented that one of the precedents for open space in Washington was the formal parade ground, and he thought in some ways, given the proximity of the Navy Yard, an interpretation of the military type of parade ground might be something to think about.
There were no further comments, but the consensus was that the project was off to a good start. Mrs. Nelson moved that the Commission approve the early concept; the motion was seconded by Ms. Diamonstein and carried unanimously, with Ms. Balmori not voting.
(The agenda order was changed and the items under II.D, Old Georgetown Act, was discussed next.)
D. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. O.G. 04-197, 901 30th Street, NW, two buildings, mixed-use complex. Permit. (Previous: O.G. 04-31; 18 December 2003 - North building & O.G. 03-108; 23 April2003 - House of Sweden building). Mr. Martinez said that there was no Old Georgetown Board report for the proposed complex at 901 30th Street because the applicants were allowed to forego a Board review and present a proposal for permit directly to the Commission. He said that the staff had reviewed the drawings and would bring questionable or unclear details to the Commission's attention. Reviewed as a whole in 2003, the proposed House of Sweden and a building to the north would be connected by an underground parking lot. It would stand in a prominent location on the Potomac River at the end of Georgetown. Details on the House of Sweden included the grading of the material from translucent at the bottom to a gradual increase in opacity at the top. Mr. Martinez said that a sample mock-up panel was usually constructed for the Commission's review on the site, and that such a review should be part of their recommendation.
Mr. Martinez stated for the record that the developer, Alan Novak was present and he introduced the architect, Arthur Cotton Moore. Mr. Moore began with a brief overview of both buildings and then discussed details of the changes. The landscape on the side of the courtyard that approaches the House of Sweden would be simplified to accommodate utilities and a ramp would be lengthened to comply with ADA requirements. The landscaping at the waterfront was also changed in include a "stabilized lawn" that would provide open space to allow maneuvering of the trailers carrying 70 foot boats and provide access to the water.
At that point, the Chairman asked Mr. Martinez to convey comments, based on the staff's review of the drawings. Mr. Martinez noted that the drawings showed a glass railing that would go around the top of the north building, where there had previously been none. The louvers under the windows were aluminum in concept, and were now being proposed as glass, and the building will be clad in limestone. Mr. Martinez invited Mr. Moore to address these changes to the Commission, as he had done with the staff. Mr. Moore explained that the louvers would serve as sunshades, and that glass was chosen for its elegance and transparency. The louvers would also serve as solar fins and they would be mounted on stainless steel tubes. They would reduce the solar gain which was particularly important for the west and south elevations.
Mr. Martinez pointed out other elements that differed from concept to permit. He said that the placement of planters and the limestone-clad retaining walls at the garage vents facing Rock Creek were more clearly defined. The design of the courtyard had changed. Steps going down to a lower courtyard were added to both the north building and the House of Sweden and a flood protection device, heretofore unseen, was added. Mr. Moore responded that berming would be used throughout instead of planters, as a precaution against floods. At the request of the National Park Service, there was always a walkway through the courtyard for public access. The landscaping in the waterfront would be less dense to accommodate trailers carrying the 70 foot shells, as mentioned before. The flood control device was not shown before because it was not a visible, permanent element, but would appear only at the time of a flood.
The Chairman felt that the changes constituted the normal refinement of design development and said that the glass railing in particular was an improvement. He also expressed his appreciation to the staff for reviewing the submission. Ms. Balmori said that the current landscape design for the courtyard was too piecemeal, and that the treed and grassed areas were less integrated. With that comment, Ms. Balmori made a motion to approve which was seconded and carried unanimously.
2. O.G. 04-187, 3700 O Street NW, Georgetown University. New five-story building for the McDonough School of Business. Concept. Mr. Martinez said that the concept proposal for the new building was well received by the Old Georgetown Board and that it would fit in with the master plan for the University. He introduced Alan Brangman, university architect for Georgetown.
Mr. Brangman briefly discussed the campus plan and how the new building would be integrated. The plan, developed by Robert A. M. Stern in 2000, called for the creation of quadrangles modeled after the main quadrangle at Healy Lawn. The concept was to create a campus that would be more responsive to pedestrian needs and have more green space. The McDonough School of Business would be the first building of the new campus plan. It would be located south of the Leavey Center on a site currently being used as a temporary parking lot. A science facility would later join McDonough on the site. Mr. Brangman then introduced Rob Chandler, an architect with Goody Clancy, to continue the presentation.
Mr. Chandler said that the proposal would create broader campus connections, including a north-south connection across a major grade change. The north-south connection would be achieved by building a terrace between the proposed McDonough School and the Leavey Center. Steps would lead from the terrace down into the atrium area proposed for the east elevation of McDonough. The addition of the science building to the east of McDonough would complete an east-west connection. The building's south, west and north elevations would be similar in form, materials and scale to other historic buildings on the campus. The east elevation would contain a glass structure surrounding an interior atrium.
In keeping with the master plan's philosophy that new buildings should be walls to outdoor rooms and spaces, the McDonough School would serve that purpose with its elevations. The south elevation would open onto the forecourt, athletic field and lawn. The formal ceremonial entrance and larger scaled elements, such as windows, would be of an appropriate scale to the vastness of the field and lawn. The curtain wall on the east elevation would face onto a smaller scale green quadrangle, towards the site of the future science building. Its entrance would be smaller and less formal as the space was envisioned as a day-to-day gathering place for students as well as a point of egress to the science building. The north and west elevations would be of a smaller, more appropriate scale to the their surroundings, as the north elevation would face the terrace proposed to abut Leavey and the west elevation a tight roadway and retaining wall.
The proposal was well received by the Commission, who concurred with the Board's recommendations to further study the east facade to integrate the atrium with the quadrangle space. The Chairman said that he hoped it would be possible for the glass structure itself to open onto the courtyard, rather than just have the entrances on the solid side. Mr. Chandler was encouraged to carefully consider circulation patterns on the east elevation as the design developed. A motion to approve the submission in concept was made, seconded and carried.
(Ms. Diamonstein left the meeting after the Georgetown submissions.)
E. Union Station Redevelopment Corporation
CFA 17/JUN/04-4, Union Station Parking Garage, H Street, between 1st and 2nd streets, NE. Garage expansion, revised details-final. (Previous: CFA 20/MAY/04-9) Mr. Martinez introduced David Ball from the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation who said they were back with another material for the screening of the garage. He also showed a concrete sample before introducing architect Rod Henderer to talk about the screening material.
Mr. Henderer said they had hoped to have a mock-up of the new material ready today, but the manufacturer had not been able to install it, but he did have a sample. Before talking about the new material, he made an observation about the original material that had not occurred to him until the mock-up was installed. One of the issues was the lack of transparency, which had been brought up at the May meeting, but he thought there was another, and that was the nature of the ribs in the concrete versus the ribs in the screening: they were too much alike, and they tended to merge as one material. For these reasons, he was recommending a perforated matte finish stainless steel with one-and one-half inch square openings; the metal area between the openings would be 3/8 inch. He said that the mockup would be ready the middle of the following week, and hearing that Mr. Ball wanted to release the construction documents by the second week in July, the Chairman asked if there was any way the Commission could see the mock-up before the July meeting on the 15th. Mr. Henderer said he would photograph the installation, but the Chairman preferred that the Commission actually see it. He said that if time was a problem for a number of the members, the Commission might want to delegate the inspection to him, as he would be in the city several times before the next meeting, and to the Vice-Chairman, who lived in Washington. This seemed preferable to the other members, and Mr. Childs said he and Mr. Powell would also take photographs to show at the July meeting.
F. General Services Administration
CFA 17/JUN/04-5 Postal Square, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Replacement stair and signs. Concept. (Previous: CFA 18/APR/96-10) The assistant Secretary introduced this project, saying that it was a proposal for the Capitol City Brewing Company, the occupants of the main floor of the old City Post Office, to replace the temporary wood staircases which allowed access to and from their restaurant to their outside terrace dining area; it would be the only access to the restaurant during the evening hours when the Postal Square lobby was closed. The Commission had looked at this proposal in 1996, and had approved the alteration of the windows into doors, but had not approved the stairs, seeing them as inappropriate to the landmark building. Subsequently, the windows were altered and temporary wood stairs put up. Now they were returning with a different design for permanent stairs. He introduced Michael McGill from GSA.
Mr. McGill said this project had been the result of the 1996 Cooperative Use Act, which encouraged the Federal Government to lease space in its buildings for public use, such as restaurants and retail. He said Capitol City Brewing Company was an example of this. The Chairman commented that the remembered how long it took to get that act passed, and he was glad it had not been a casualty of the security restrictions following the 9/11 attacks. Mike Buffington, facilities and project manager with Capitol City Brewin Company, was then introduced.
Mr. Buffington described the proposed stair as an aluminum stair of simple, classic design which would not be fastened to the building but would just rest up against it. Aluminum had been chosen to avoid any rust stains that might occur with the use of steel. It would be lit at night for safety reasons, but only by side illumination through the stringers, so that there would be no light coming out onto the street. The stairs would be encased at the base by aluminum panels; he showed samples of the finish on the panels and on other parts of the structure. The Chairman and the Vice-Chairman both thought the appearance would be a little more gracious if the stair could get a little wider at the bottom; Mr. Buffington said that would not be a problem.
There would be backlit signs at the top of each stair that would be replacing the awnings now in that position. The supports for the signs would be the old awning supports, behind the columns, and no new electrical connections would have to be installed. Mr. Rybczynski thought it important that the sign seemed to float in the space. The Chairman suggested that the staff be delegated to follow through on this, and to ensure that the integrity of the building was retained when the final drawings were prepared, and that the present cluttered look be avoided. On this basis, the Vie-Chairman made a motion to approve the project; it was seconded by Mr. Rybczynski and carried unanimously.
(The Commission adjourned for lunch at 12:31 and reconvened at 1:18 p.m.)
G. Department of Defense/Department of the Army
1. CFA 17/JUN/04-6, Fort McNair, National Defense University. New physical fitness facility, revised concept. (Previous: CFA 15/APR/04-8) Ms. Alg introduced this project, recalling the pre-meeting tour of Fort McNair and the inspection of the site for this facility. She introduced Greg Bordynowski to make the presentation.
Mr. Bordynowski began by showing the old site plan and shape of the building, which had a slightly concave front entrance, and had been change to bow out slightly, requiring a change in the shape of the driveway from round to oval. He said they felt the new shape was more in keeping with the historic character of the fort without mimicking it. Recalling the Commission's questions about the new main gate for the fort, and whether the new gym facility would be the first thing visitors would see, he showed a segment of NCPC's plan, pointing out that it would probably not be their building, but a future building shown on the plan.
Turning to the changes that had been made in the design, he said they had looked at the brick patterning on the rear wall as had been requested, using it to break up the large expanse of plain wall, and had ended up making rather extensive changes to the fenestration also and the pattern it made, as well as getting rid of the doors and moving them to the side walls. Other changes had been made to the side walls as well, including a pattern of recesses and projections, and the use of one large vertical piece of glass integrated with the newly-located doors. On the front facade, the windows remained tall vertical elements, and the new bowed-out entrance provided a welcoming gathering place. He showed drawings of the brick patterning, saying that they had spent a lot of time looking at the War College detailing and interpreting it in a fresh way. He noted also that the curving out of the ends of the vault had been eliminated, as had been requested.
There was agreement that the design was greatly improved. There was a discussion with Mrs. Nelson about proposed landscaping and with Ms. Balmori about the roof of the vault-its color and its height. Mr. Bordynowski said it would probably be a matte grey in color, and he was not sure yet what the material would be, but he would bring samples of both color and material. As to the height, he reminded her that it would be set quite far back from the front of the two-story building-about 30 to 40 feet. Ms. Balmori also had some questions about the doors-something about the proportions or the framing did not seem quite right.
The Chairman then asked for a motion for approval of the revised concept design, noting that materials, a landscape design, and any further refinements would be seen later. The Vice- Chairman made the motion for approval, which was seconded by Ms. Balmori and carried unanimously.
(The agenda order was changed and item C, the U.S. National Arboretum, was discussed next.)
C. Department of Agriculture
CFA 17/JUN/04-3, U.S. National Arboretum, New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road, NE. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. Courtyard renovation. Final. Mr. Martinez recalled the Commission's recent visit to the Arboretum, noting that the members had looked at the Administration Building and the greenhouses behind; he pointed these out on an aerial photograph and noted the location of the bonsai pavilions adjacent to them. He said the upper courtyard had been paved fairly recently to make it accessible to the handicapped, but the plans had not been reviewed by the Commission. He said the paving project was a phased one, and the Commission was now being asked to look at the plans for Phase III, paving the lower courtyard, which was closer to the actual bonsai exhibits. He said that at present these courtyards had a gravel surface which was very hard for those in wheelchairs to use. He then introduced Dr. Thomas Elias, director of the Arboretum, to give the members some background on the bonsai collections and on their plans for the courtyards. Before Dr. Elias began his presentation, the Chairman thanked him again for making possible the Commission's tour of the Arboretum.
Dr. Elias said the bonsai collection began twenty-even years ago when, as part of the bicentennial celebration, Japan presented the United States fifty-six bonsai. This led to the building of a pavilion to house the collection, which in turn led to the development of a North American bonsai collection and a building to house it. Then, since the art from had originated in China, the Chinese pavilion was built, as well as an international pavilion. The bonsai collections attracted an increasing number of visitors, and he said he had been amazed to discover that they were the most visited of all the Arboretum's collections.
Turning to the reason for this submission, he said all the pavilions had been built around a courtyard with an uneven gravel surface, and this is what they needed to correct, because many of their visitors had ambulatory problems of some sort and found it difficult to get around on the gravel. Dr. Elias said they would like to use irregular bluestone pavers, since the planting beds around these pavilions were irregular in shape, rather than repeat the use of rectilinear stones as they had done in the upper courtyard, where the beds were more regular in shape. The other thing they wanted to do was to build a small pavilion in the courtyard for demonstrations and other educational purposes. He noted that seating was necessary for these demonstrations, and this was very difficult to do on the gravel surface.
The Chairman asked Mr. Elias if he had some descriptive drawings of the pavilions and the courtyard that the Commission could look at. Mr. Martínez recalled that the members had received detailed working drawings in their pre-meeting packages, but Mr. Childs explained to Dr. Elias that these did not give the members any idea of the way the courtyards would look when completed; what was needed was something like a perspective drawing. He recalled also the Commission's request to see more integrated plans for phased work so that the final effect, and the relationship to other nearby areas of the Arboretum could be understood. It would also be good to be able to see material samples.
Ms. Balmori echoed the Chairman's statements about seeing something akin to a master plan, so that materials would not be chosen piece-by-piece but rather with a view to the whole; for example, how was the bluestone going to fit in with whatever material was used for pedestrian paths? Her second comment concerned a possible alternative to the bluestone, and that was bluestone dust, which would give a harder surface than gravel, but would be permeable and more gardenesque in character. Also, she said they could consider using the stone dust for accessible paths through the courtyards, leaving the gravel in the rest of the courtyard area. Dr. Elias said they could certainly consider that option. Mr. Lindstrom said they should look at the surface used at the National Gallery's sculpture garden, which was fully accessible and might be an option.
The Chairman said he was pleased that under Dr. Elias's direction the Arboretum was finally getting the attention it deserved, and he thanked him for bringing the project in and being willing to work with the Commission on the development of a master plan. Dr. Elias said he thought the Commission would be happy to know that he was working toward having a landscape architect on the staff and also having an architectural historian available. Mr. Childs said that was indeed good to hear, noting that the Commission had suggested that both would be valuable additions to the staff or in a consulting capacity. He thought that Dr. Elias could proceed on this project by working with the staff on the final details, and he hoped that as future projects were planned, the Commission would see them in a master plan context at the earliest stage possible. Mr. Martínez noted that the drawings sent to the members including those for phases four and five of this project, and he asked if these two phases were also delegated to the staff. The Chairman said he would be happy to do that. He asked for a motion for approval, and Ms. Balmori said she would make the motion, provided the Commission could see the materials. There were no objections to this, and the motion was unanimously approved.
Before Dr. Elias left, the Acting Secretary asked him if he could give the Commission an update on the large oak tree at the proposed Bladensburg entrance. Dr. Elias said he had asked their engineers to go back to the company that had designed the entrance to see if it was feasible to save the tree. He said it would be difficult to move the entrance, which had been placed at the high point of Bladensburg Road, because they might then encounter a safety issue with traffic. The other issue was the height of the tree; Dr. Elias said if the soil around the tree pit were dropped too far, the water table would drop and the tree would slowly decline. He said he had asked their landscape architecture firm to take a look at it.
(The Commission returned to the remaining projects under II. G, Department of Defense/Department of the Army.)
2. CFA 17/JUN/04-7, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Main Section.
16th Street and Elder Street gates. Security barriers, guard booths, visitor registration facilities, and other modifications. The Acting Secretary introduced Louise Brodnitz and Jefry Zalewsky from Walter Reed and asked Ms. Brodnitz to begin the presentation of the 16th Street gate project.
Ms. Brodnitz began by describing the numerous functions of the medical center, including administration of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command; she said they had very high-profile targets and therefore very serious constraints. Regretfully, she said, the only feasible site for the expansion of the 16th Street gate was on a sloping site with many trees, requiring considerable cutting into the grade to accommodate the space needed for the stringent security requirements. She described the many things they had tried in an effort to reduce the size, but she felt there was really nothing more they could do and still meet the security requirements and the neighbors' concerns about traffic. She said they had been successful in reducing the height and the length of the wall.It would no longer be stepped, which would improve the appearance, and skillful use of landscaping would minimize its appearance from 16th Street and the campus. She said she wished they could do better with the footprint but did not see how that would be possible.
The Chairman said he was very much aware of the pressures they were under, and for Mr. Rybczynski's information, he said the Commission had been spending an enormous amount of its time in the past two years dealing with security matters and trying to avoid making the city look like it was under siege. He said that in reviewing the material received this month, the Commission had been pleased, and he asked Mr. Zalewski to give a quick presentation of the highlights and then they could talk about it.
Mr. Zalewski said the project included four gates, but he was going to focus his attention at this meeting on the 16th Street and Elder Street gates. However, he wanted to bring the Commission up to speed on the two smaller ones, Dahlia Street and Alaska Avenue, because they were proposing a guardhouse at each of these gates. Sixteenth Street would need a guardhouse and a visitors center, and Elder Street would need a visitors center; it already had a guardhouse, which would remain. He said he would deal primarily with the architectural elements, and their landscape architect would discuss that aspect of the project.
Beginning with 16th Street, he said the turning radiuses for truck inspection were the biggest problem, but he thought the amount of pavement had now been reduced to its bare minimum. The wall had been reduced by half from what the Commission had seen in May, much of this made possible by grading, and it had been done without losing any additional trees; he said it had been 350-feet long when seen last month and had now been reduced to 172 feet. There would be an ornamental metal fence on top to reduce fall hazards, placed on a cast stone coping. The major part of the wall would be faced with brick, with a cast stone watertable and then a concrete base with a stone veneer facing. At its highest point it would be 11feet 8 inches. Mr. Zalewski said the area would be heavily landscaped with buffer zones between the gate area and the neighborhoods; this would be true for all the gates, although there would be constraints on vegetation at some of the sites. He then showed site plans, beginning with 16th Street, and described how the vehicles came in and proceeded through inspection; he said they were required to provide for two tractor-trailers simultaneously and could accommodate as many as seven private vehicles. He noted the visitors center where badges were picked up, and the parking area for visitors while they were in the center. There would be a similar approach at the Elder Street gate, which was the primary entrance for hospital traffic, which meant there was a need for a bus inspection area as well as one for private vehicles and a visitors center. An existing guardhouse would remain. At both gates there would be separate islands to facilitate vehicle inspection and avoid backing up of traffic on Sixteenth Street or Georgia Avenue.
Mr. Zalewski then turned to drawings of the visitors center and guardhouse. For the center, he said they were proposing a structure that would meet the requirement of Walter Reed that it be a contemporary style structure but at the same time compatible with the Classical Revival style of most of the buildings on the campus. The main body of the building would be faced in a brick that would be similar in color to the older buildings, but there would be projecting elements designed in a more contemporary style, using prefabricated aluminum panels. The masonry structure would have a pitched roof, with flat roofs for the lower, contemporary style elements. For the guardhouses they were proposing a fabricated structure, similar in style to the visitor centers, with a masonry base installed in the field.
Mr. Zalewski then turned the presentation over to landscape architect Steve Lauria. He began with the 16th Street gate. He noted first that the vehicle search area and the parking area were in a depressed bowl about 8 feet down from 16th Street and 12-15 feet down from the rest of the campus. The retaining wall would be heavily landscaped in front and on the top. In front there would be small ornamental trees with large shrubs between; forsythia would be planted on the top with the expectation that it would weep down over the wall about 3-4 feet. Heavy screening landscaping would be planted between the south end of the gate area and Aspen Street, along 16th Street where possible, and in other places as needed. The trees most frequently used would be magnolia and foster holly, both evergreen; this would apply to the other sites as well. The side of the wall facing the campus would be planted with a ground cover and low shrubbery; Mr. Lauria suggested buddleia, a showy plant with a long flowering period that was hardy in this area. and would provide a visual screen to the heavy traffic of 16th Street.
When Mr. Lauria had finished, the Chairman commented on the design of the visitors center. He said he thought the approach was acceptable, but observed that the detailing on the projecting contemporary pieces needed to be as refined and light as possible; the canopy could be thinner and more elegant, perhaps even made of glass, and the additions as a whole differentiated more from the mass in the center. He thought these details could be worked out with the staff. He then turned to Ms. Balmori and asked if she had any comments about the landscape plan.
Ms. Balmori said she would like to make a comment on the truck turnaround plan, not just as it applied to this project but to others in the future. This involved a system now being developed by traffic engineers whereby the trucks enter in a straight line and do not have to turn around, thus saving a great deal of space. The Chairman thought this would work in some places but probably not here because of the stacking problem. Mr. Zalewski said it required much greater distances, and while they had done it at other locations, the slope of the site here would preclude its use. Mr. Lauria said the requirement here for the large turning area had two purposes-the vehicle inspection and the ability to cope with vehicles that were refused; without the turnaround they would have to be escorted all the way through the post, close to high-value targets. Mr. Rybczynski asked where the gate was that would stop private cars, and Mr. Zalewski said it was further up Main Drive, and in the future there would be a series of vehicular barriers that would have to be overcome.
Mrs. Nelson questioned the need for the visitors center, asking why the person at the guardhouse couldn't hand out the badges. Mr. Zalewski said it involved more than that-vehicle inspection, filling out forms, photographs and making a laminated badge. He said there were just two places where visitors could enter; the main one was at the Elder Street gate, on the other side of the campus, near the hospital. The 16th Street visitors entrance was provided for those coming from the other side.
The Chairman said these security installations presented difficult problems, and the Commission had, and would in the future, accept many of the proposals with great reluctance. He thought the applicants in this case had made enormous improvements since the first submission, and the Commission had learned a lot, too. Mrs. Nelson was concerned about the statement that other vehicular barriers would be added in the future, and Mr. Zalewski assured her that the design for these would be brought to the Commission; Mr. Lauria said they would be either bollards or planters. Mr. Rybczynski commented that technology was moving so quickly that he thought that within five years time these physical barriers would not be necessary.
The last item was a request by Ms. Balmori to add some landscaping at the gate area. Mr. Zalewski said that depending on where they were placed, trees could become a security risk, but he would look at it and certainly some ground cover and shrubbery could be added. The Chairman then asked if there was a motion to approve the project. The Vice-Chairman made the motion; it was seconded reluctantly by Mrs. Nelson, and was carried, with Ms. Balmori abstaining.
3. CFA 17/JUN/04-8, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Main Section, between buildings 1 & 2. Hospital energy plant; addition to Building 2 (hospital). Final. The Acting Secretary said that what brought about the need for this project was a major power failure at the hospital about a year ago that resulted in the evacuation of the portion of the building. Since then emergency generators had been housed in trailers on the site, which would be replaced by this building. It would be built between the hospital and Building 1, adjacent to it on the south.
Don Parker, a corporate resource manager architect from Walter Reed, was then introduced; he in turn introduced architect Peter Feibelman from HS&M. Mr. Feibelman said the 19-foot-high building would be filled with generators and other equipment, but the roof, which would be on the same level as the hospital's veranda and partially sheltered by the overhang of the hospital's cantilevered upper three floors, would be developed as an amenity for patients and staff and planted as a garden space with benches and trees in containers. It would be connected to the hospital by two bridges. Mr. Feibelman showed photos of Building 1, noting its classical design, and commented on the drastic difference between this building and the hospital- both in design and size. To make a better transition between the two, he was proposing to repeat the materials and elements of the style of the old building on the parts facing the old building. This included the use of red brick, cast stone coping and quoins on the walls of the stairs going up to the roof garden. Mr. Feibelman said that at this oint the development of the roof garden was considered an alternate as far as the bidding process was concerned.
The Chairman said the addition of this building, as he saw it, was ameliorated by the amenity of the roof garden as an extension of the hospital terraces; if that was not to be the case, he thought the Commission might have a different opinion of it; the other members agreed with this assessment. Mr. Parker said it had always been the intention to develop the roof garden; it was just that during the budget problems of the last year it was felt that it would have to become a future rather than a present effort.
Mr. Rybczynski asked for a further explanation of the treatment of the facade facing Building 1. Mr. Feibelman described it in more detail, and Mr. Rybczynski said that although it was rather odd, he found it interesting. He said his only problem concerned the scoring of the concrete part; it seemed unnecessary, and he thought it would look better with a rougher, stucco texture.
There was agreement that this would be an improvement, and with that, the Vice-Chairman made a motion to approve the project design, with Mr. Rybczynski's recommendation; it was seconded by Mrs. Nelson and carried unanimously.
H. Department of Defense/Department of the Navy
17/JUN/04-9, Washington Navy Yard, Building #101. New entrance canopy, alterations and landscaping for Building #1. Concept. Mr. Martinez introduced Melissa Devrich from the Department of the Navy, who would be taking over presentations previously done by Larry Earle before he retired. The Chairman welcomed Ms. Devrich and she presented the proposed alterations to Building 101 at the Navy Yard.
Ms. Devrich said that this was one of a series of projects at the Navy Yard whose focus was to move the commandant off the perimeter of the base to a more secure location in the interior. The commandant was to move to Building 1 and his staff to Building 101. There were numerous renovations to be done at Building 101, including an interior renovation to the existing breezeway that would affect the exterior. The breezeway connected the two wings of Building 101. It was open in its existing configuration and the proposal was to enclose it in glass.
As part of an effort to create a stronger site connection between Buildings 1 and 101, a new entrance canopy would be installed at the entrance of Building 101. Ms. Devrich explained that the canopy would reflect the building's industrial nature with its use of steel lintels for example. The landscaping and paving patterns between the buildings would create a connection.
The Commission agreed that both elements, as proposed, would seem too foreign to the building. The Chairman suggested that more literal cues be taken from the existing infill of the breezeway as the proposed design differed too greatly from the current hierarchy. Mr. Rybczynski said that the canopy was a rather complicated piece with a complexity not found in the building. It, too, felt too foreign and would also benefit from a more literal approach. With those comments, Ms. Devrich was encouraged to revise the designs of the breezeway and canopy using details present in Building 101.
I. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
CFA 17/JUN/04-10, National Law Enforcement Museum, Judiciary Square (Federal Reservation #7), E Street between court buildings E and C, and north of Old City Hall. Informational report on design developments and project coordination. (Previous: CFA 15/APR/04-4) Ms. Alg said Davis Buckley was present to make an informational presentation
just to update the Commission on some new ideas he had developed for his design; no formal action was required. She said Beyer Blinder Belle had also sent a letter notifying the Commission that they planned to be at 95% with their construction drawings and hoped to be ready to submit by the end of July. Mr. Lindstrom said current drawings for the Courthouse had just been received, which he knew Mr. Buckley had not seen, and he expected the Commission would see them next month. The chairman recalled that the big change that the Commission had suggested was to combine the truck loading dock area, which would be advantageous to the Museum's program; Mr. Buckley agreed, if they could come to an agreement with the courts.
Mr. Buckley had prepared a group of sketches and had also brought a model, which he used to show the biggest design change proposed: the pavilions were no longer wedge-shaped, they had been significantly reduced in size and height, and they were entirely glass-enclosed structures, with the part containing the necessary functions placed towards the court buildings on either side in an opaque enclosure, and the section opening on the plaza left completely transparent. The pavilions would be roofed with a slightly arched glass and lattice-type structure. The transparency of the pavilions would allow views from the area between the old courthouse and the court buildings on each side through to the memorial across E Street.
Mr. Buckley also talked about some proposals for landscaping that would bring more green into the open space on both sides between the old courthouse addition, the newer court buildings and the pavilions. This took the form of an allée of trees along each of the curving paths, thus concentrating the view on the central open space of the plaza; it would also frame the entry structure for the old courthouse. Lastly, he talked about the grades throughout the project, saying that his landscape architect, James Urban, had worked out a grading system which would allow all the ramp systems throughout the site to have a less than 5% grade, making it possible to eliminate handrails.
The Chairman commented that there were really two aspects to Mr. Buckley's presentation; one was the changed design of the pavilions, which he thought was headed in the right direction-smaller and simpler was what was needed. The other aspect was the landscape proposal, and he said that created a rather awkward situation because he was making design suggestions for another project's area which had already been designed by an architect, approved by the Commission, and was already 95% complete in working drawings. He thought both approaches were reasonable, although the programmatic needs of the court might make his proposal not practical. He suggested, as the Commission had done from the beginning, that he and John Belle sit down and talk about it and both of them appear together at the next meeting with some resolution of the problem. Mr. Buckley said that was what he intended to do. Mr. Lindstrom said he had offered to both architects the chance to sit down and see if they could blend the two projects so that the result was a more orderly, unified approach to the landscape of the entire site. The Chairman commented: "The joint is always the most important thing, and this ownership line is only in the legal files. It shouldn't be, you know, seen here." With that, he said he hoped to see both Mr. Buckley and Mr. Belle at the next meeting.
J. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Shipstead-Luce Act
(The Shipstead-Luce appendix was discussed prior to S.L. 04-090.)
b. Appendix I. Ms. Alg said that there were two changes to the appendix since the draft was circulated, both concerning items with recommendations against. One item was proposed and additional drawings received for the DeSantos residence, case S.L. 04-089 changed the recommendation. Ms. Alg also noted the addition of a sidewalk cafe at the Willard Hotel, since Commission members often stay there when in town for meetings.
A motion to approve the Shipstead-Luce appendix was made, seconded and carried unanimously.
a. S.L. 04-090, 1414 22nd Street, NW. Conversion of existing office building to condominiums with new facades. Revised concept. (Previous: S.L. 04-039, 19 February 2004). Ms. Alg introduced Lawrence Caudle to present changes to the concept presented in February 2004. Mr. Caudle said that the building was a 1970s precast and glass office building to be converted into condominiums. The entire skin of the building would be removed and replaced with a more traditional facade of brick and recast. Using boards, Mr. Caudle highlighted the proposed elevations. The north and south elevations would be similar and have a strong presence as they would be visible from a long distance in each direction. These facades would be articulated with green-gray metal spangle accents along the top. The east elevation would be the entrance facade. It would have a two story entrance with a precast base, basically dividing the elevation into three parts in an effort to create more verticality. The west elevation would have more glass and sunrooms since it would face Rock Creek Park.
The Chairman suggested eliminating the metal accents and most of the members agreed. Mr. Rybczynski added that a continuous cornice would unify the building, as the base does. Ms. Nelson said she found the round windows bothersome and the Chairman agreed, saying that the windows were "not quite in the spirit" of the building. With those recommendations, the revised concept was approved and the Chairman said the Commission looked forward to the next presentation.
2. Old Georgetown Act
Appendix II. Mr. Martinez said that a number of projects were postponed for further review with the Georgetown Board. They remained on the draft appendix pending a written request for postponement. Case O.G. 04-183, 3252 N Street, was recommended against, but together with the applicants, architects and neighbors an acceptable solution was reached. Case O.G. 04-189, 2816 O Street also lost its recommendation against following receipt of supplemental drawings.
Two Old Georgetown cases were discussed at the meeting. These were cases O.G. 04-176, 3124 Q Street and O.G. 04-186, 1400 34th Street. For a record of these discussions, see the transcript of the 15 17 June 2004 Commission of Fine Arts meeting, pp. 238-276.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:53 p.m.
Frederick J. Lindstrom