The meeting was convened at 10:00 a.m. in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.
Hon. Diana Balmori, Acting Chairman
Hon. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel
Hon. Pamela Nelson
Hon. Witold Rybczynski
Mr. Frederick J. Lindstrom, Acting Secretary
Ms. Sue Kohler, Historian
Mr. José Martínez, Architect
Mrs. Kristina N. Penhoet, Architect
Ms. Susan Raposa, Information Specialist
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Mr. David Hamilton
Ms. Nancy Witherell
A. Approval of minutes:
21 September 2004
B. Dates of next meetings:
18 November 2004
16 December 2004
25 January 2005 (Tuesday)*
* Changed from previously announced meeting date of 20 January 2005 - Inauguration Day.
II. SUBMISSIONS AND REVIEWS
A. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 21/OCT/04-1, National Zoological Park, North side of the Olmsted Walk. Asia Trail, Phase II-New Elephant House and yard. Concept. (Previous: CFA 20/JAN/04-7 & 8, Phase I-final, Phase II - concept). Mr. Martinez recalled that the members (with the exception of Mr. Rybczynski who had not yet been appointed) had gone to the Zoo in January to look at the Asia Trail site and also at a model. He said the proposed new expanded elephant exhibit was intended to be on the existing site, but it had since been moved to an area adjacent to the Administration Building, the current site for the cheetah and zebra exhibits; a new master plan would be developed for that portion of the Zoo. He then turned the presentation over to Harry Rombach from the Smithsonian.
Mr. Rombach said that after consultation with animal, exhibit, and preservation people, it had been determined that remodeling the historic elephant house for modern use was not feasible, and that it would be better to move the exhibit and build a new facility. He asked Leon Chatelain of Chatelain Architects to continue the presentation.
Mr. Chatelain showed a slide of the model, pointing out the areas involved to orient the members, and he noted that besides the effect of remodeling on the historic elephant house, there would have to be major retaining walls built and a considerable amount of land disruption if the old site were to be used. The new site would be north of Olmsted Walk and would comprise about three acres and would provide space for research labs, community stalls for the elephants, who liked to live in family groups, and holding areas for both cows and bulls, each with a pool and a trek for exercise purposes. There would be an amphitheatre for visitor viewing, and other amenities for visitors, as well as for the keepers and the animals themselves. The facility would accommodate up to eight elephants. The entire south front of the building could be opened up by means of large folding doors. Another feature would be a "green" roof. There would also be a space on the roof that would accommodate dinner parties. The north side would house utilitarian functions. Mr. Chatelain showed facade and section drawings to illustrate his remarks, and in answer to Mr. Rybczynski's question, explained how the public would enter the facility. He pointed out three places of entry off Olmsted Walk, noting that the facility and the animals themselves would not be visible from the walk but would be screened by plant material; he said this was in response to a concept developed in the 70's when Olmsted Walk was restored. Next Mr. Chatelain showed a computer-generated animation, taking the viewer around the complex and further explaining its features. He stressed that the design was still in a very conceptual stage at this point.
Ms. Balmori, as Acting Chairman, asked if there were any questions. Mrs. Nelson recalled Mr. Chatelain's statements about the use of artificial rock work- particularly in the area of the cow yard where it would be used for retaining wall purposes. She said she was concerned about its appearance and wished real rocks could be used, although she understood they would be expensive. He said that was part of the reason, but it was also a lot easier to construct the walls with artificial stone, and if done well, the difference would hardly be discernible. He said there would be real stone in various parts of the exhibits, both in the public and animal areas, and they would try to replicate the kind of stone seen in the elephants' main habitats.
Ms. Balmori said she had noticed during the animation that there was a pattern or texture on the concrete, and she wondered what it was. Mr. Chatelain went through a list of some of the materials, saying that the main community stall area would behorizontal board-formed concrete, the lab area would be faced with a natural stone veneer, the parts of the building facing Olmsted Walk would be a patterned concrete, and the rear utility areas-loading dock, mechanical equipment, etc., would have corrugated metal facing as well as both clear and translucent glass. Ms. Diamonstein told Mr. Chatelain that the Commission would want to see actual material samples, and he said he intended to bring them as soon as final choices had been made. She had some questions about the trees seen in the animation and whether they were existing or were to be planted, and she also asked if there had been any discussion about a percent for art program. Mr. Chatelain said they had not had any of those discussions yet, and Ms. Diamonstein said she hoped there would be.
Mr. Rybczynski liked the idea of the sodded roof, and he thought that roughness should be carried further in the selection of materials for the building. Ms. Diamonstein commented that there should be a maintenance plan for the roof, too. Ms. Balmori asked for a detailed landscape plan with the next submission and she also asked about the bars used to contain the elephants, saying they seemed to have a prison-like character. He said the animation was somewhat deceiving, that these were bollards, spaced so that the keepers could get through if they had to, but he added that there were several other methods of containment, including charged steel cables, which were not as noticeable
Ms. Balmori then asked for a motion. Ms. Diamonstein moved that the concept design be approved in light of the comments that had been made about what the Commission needed to see during the next presentation. Mrs. Nelson seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.
B. National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
CFA 21/OCT/04- 2, National Law Enforcement Museum, Judiciary Square (Federal Reservation #7), E Street between Court Buildings E and C, and north of Old City Hall. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 21/SEP/04- 2). Ms. Penhoet introduced Craig Floyd from the National Law Enforcement Officers Foundation to make an opening statement. She also noted that Judge Annice Wagner from the D.C. Courts would be arriving shortly and would like to make a statement.
Mr. Floyd said he thought they had made further improvements in the design since the September meeting. One was a way of providing direct handicap access up through the center of the space while maintaining a level grade. The second was a change in the plaza skylights so that they were no longer a part of the paving pattern, which had been a concern; he stressed how important the admission of natural light was. Third, and he thanked Mr. Lindstrom for this, his architects and the court's architects had gotten together for a meeting on 13 October and had gone over the plans in detail. He said what they were asking for at this time was concept approval, realizing that there would still be a lot of work to do during the design development phase. He noted that they had been coming before the Commission since March 2002 and he thought they had made a lot of progress; they were now in a hurry to get started so that they could break ground in the spring of 2007, and also, they needed to be able to show prospective donors what the museum would look like. He then asked architect Davis Buckley to discuss the changes that had been made.
Using models and drawings, Mr. Buckley compared the design seen in September with the new proposals. Beginning with the plaza skylights, he said they had been removed from the central paving area and placed to the side, where the planters were previously. They would be 2-feet high with a water feature and an 18-inch high bench around them, using the same detail as the bench around the water element at the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. Another change that had been made in response to the Commission's concerns was the removal of the central steps at E Street so that handicap access was not impeded; the steps were placed off to the sides, with the addition of 18- inch walls to make the transition in grade The planter/skylights on each side near the steps going up to the court entrance had been narrowed so that the rectilinear shape of the court terraces could be maintained instead of being cut off at the corners in a curved shape as had been proposed in September. Ms. Diamonstein asked about the height of the pavilions and was told it was 18 feet but would rise to 25 feet at the top of the curved lattice structure that was set back from the edge; he said the extra height was needed there to accommodate the functions located in that part of the structure as well as the mechanical space and the overrides for the elevators.
Landscape architect James Urban then was asked to describe his plan for the handicap ramps leading to the court entrance. As compared to the scheme developed by the court's architects, Beyer Blinder Belle, which used a ramp with an 8.3 percent grade, thus requiring handrails, their ramps had been stretched out farther and maintained a grade of no more than 5 percent, with minimal use of handrails. Ms. Balmori asked Mr. Buckley if he had received a reaction from the court to this scheme. Mr. Buckley referred the question to Mr. Lindstrom, who said he had arranged an informal meeting the previous week between Mr. Buckley and Hany Hassan, from Beyer Blinder Belle, the court's architect, at which time Mr. Buckley explained his scheme to Mr. Hassan. Mr. Lindstrom said that as it was the first time Mr. Hassan had seen it, he was hesitant to comment, but there would be another meeting in a few weeks to see what the response would be, and at that time also, there would probably be some information for Mr. Buckley on what the court's security requirements would be. Ms. Balmori then asked for any comments on the presentation.
Mr. Rybczynski thought the design was much improved. He thought that by eliminating the steps the approach to the court became much more elegant and the plaza became part of that movement and not related just to the pavilions. He added, however, that the new skylight design was something that needed a further look, as they became very important elements. Mrs. Nelson expressed some doubt as to how open the approach to the court would be if it had to be surrounded by bollards when the security plan was developed, and she thought that if the new skylight plan was used, the architects might consider making them slightly longer.
Mr. Buckley then commented briefly on the emergency vehicle access and security questions. He said the roads on either side of the museum were 13 feet wide and could accommodate ambulances or a small pumper truck, but if they were going to be used by a pumper truck, the roads would have to be reinforced at a significant cost, as the museum space was directly below; he said this would have to discussed with the Foundation and the courts. He noted that around the perimeter of the square, the courts had 1,335 feet of accessibility, while they had 310. Also, E Street did not have the width that Indiana Avenue and D Street did. In terms of security requirements, he said their consultants thought there might be an opportunity to provide it just south of the defining perimeter between the court's and the museum's property; he thought with some cooperation between the two of them, it might be worked out architecturally in a sensitive way so that it didn't appear as "a row of badly spaced teeth across the face of a good friend."
Ms. Balmori then asked Judge Annice Wagner for her comments. Judge Wagner thanked the Commission for its "wise counsel" during the previous deliberations on this project, noting that it had already approved the courts' plans. She said their interest continued to be that any plans for this historic site be consonant with the architectural heritage of the Old Courthouse and the other court buildings on the Square and with Judiciary Square itself. She said she was pleased to see that the glass pavers and the E Street steps which impeded universal access had been removed, and that Mr. Buckley had agreed to show on his plans the security features needed by the courts; she said they would provide the requirements and trusted that Mr. Buckley would work with their security staff in developing the necessary elements.
Judge Wagner said that in looking at Mr. Buckley's latest plans they continued to have three major concerns: 1.) The question of emergency access had not yet been addressed, and they had been informed that these plans were not consistent with the guidelines affecting minimum turning requirements. She said she understood that Mr. Hassan had clarified these requirements for Mr. Buckley and she trusted the matter would be resolved. 2.) Noting that the site for the two pavilions was not a large one, she thought the planters previously presented appeared to crowd the space between the pavilions and block the courthouse entrance. She thought the new skylights with their water features and benches did the same thing-they blocked what should be a simple, gracious public space leading up to the courthouse. She felt they should respect the wide- view corridor that was intended, as well as the "separate societal functions" of the two entities that had to share occupancy of the square. 3.) She was concerned that the mechanical functions in the pavilions might protrude through the roofs and be unsightly; she expected that Mr. Hassan would discuss this matter with Mr. Buckley at their next meeting. She said she did not know at this point how the ramp designs Mr. Buckley had just submitted would affect Mr. Hassan's already-approved plans, and so could not comment on them
Judge Wagner then thanked the Commission for the opportunity to speak, and she said she looked forward to the day when all these issues would be resolved satisfactorily and Judiciary Square would be returned to a beautiful, park-like condition.
Mr. Buckley commented on some of Judge Wagner's concerns. In regard to the mechanical equipment, he said it would not extend above the roof, and as the glass on the arched top section would be fritted, the equipment would not be visible. Ms. Balmori had a question for Mr. Buckley about his proposed altering of the Beyer Blinder Belle plan, as far as the lower part of the ramp was concerned. Mr. Urban answered that question, explaining how they had simply stretched the ramp out slightly to lower the grade, but had kept the elevation at the base of the steps exactly as Beyer Blinder Belle had it. Mr. Buckley added some further explanation and then turned to the new skylight design, saying that it added some needed animation to the space, especially because of the water element with its fountains, but was actually very unobtrusive. Mr. Urban observed that there was a need for some seating before groups entered the museum, and also after they came out, for purposes of reflection. He replied to Mrs. Nelson's request to study increasing the length of the skylights by explaining that the space was already very tight.
Ms. Balmori brought the discussion to a close by asking the members what they thought the next step should be. Mrs. Nelson said she thought the meetings between the architects should continue, and she was happy that Mr. Lindstrom had started arranging them. Ms. Balmori then asked the members another question-did they think that the plaza would be improved by having the skylights removed, so that there would be a free- flowing space reaching toward the court? Ms. Diamonstein thought it would; she said she would prefer more open space there, that the pavilions should be the sculptural elements. Also, there was no way at present to know if security elements might be needed at that location, causing further clutter. She hoped that Mr. Lindstrom would keep the meetings going, that Judge Wagner would be kept apprised of all developments, and that the project would soon be brought to a reasonable and pleasing conclusion. Mr. Rybczynski agreed, saying that even though the Museum proponents would be unhappy about losing their skylights, retaining the open space was more important.
Ms. Diamonstein then made a motion that the design be given conceptual approval, subject to the caveats expressed, including the removal of the plaza skylights. It was seconded by Mr. Rybczynski, and approved unanimously.
C. National Children's Museum / L'Enfant Plaza Project Team
CFA 21/OCT/04-3, L'Enfant Plaza, 10th Street Promenade, SW. Concept Area Development Plan for the National Children's Museum. Informational presentation- additional development of massing and building forms. (Previous: CFA 15/JUL/04- 1, Informational presentation). Ms. Penhoet introduced Fred Clark, from Caesar Pelli and Associates, who then introduced Cathy Southern, president of the National Children's Museum. Mr. Clark then began the presentation by noting that the project really had two separate components: the commercial component, with JGB as the client, which was about 30 percent through with the schematic design phase, and the National Children's Museum, which because of its programming had a longer conceptual time and so was in the early schematic design phase. He said he would be talking about both components.
Mr. Clark began with a PowerPoint presentation, as a review of what he had said in July and to acquaint the members with new developments. He noted the location in L'Enfant Plaza, the cluster of I.M. Pei buildings, and the expectation that the new project would be a hinge between the central part of the city and the Anacostia Waterfront. Recalling a discussion at the July meeting, he said it was even possible to see the Washington Monument from L'Enfant Plaza. He pointed out the location of the Metro station, an important asset to the success of the project. It would be connected to above- ground retail and the children's museum by a galleria, providing weather protection. While the existing plaza and its underground shopping area might seem rather "austere and forlorn", its very plainness made it a perfect candidate for a more unusual development. He recalled the plans for three new buildings: an office building and a residential building, flanking the existing east building, and a building within the open plaza space, which would house both the National Children's Museum and an office building. The new office and residential buildings would be quiet buildings, filling in the open corners, but they would be light and delicate in contrast to the heaviness of the existing building. He noted that the residential building would have a potential for excellent views out towards the Anacostia River.
The building within the open plaza space would depart from the rectilinear form and orthogonal siting and would instead have a roughly elliptical form and be set diagonally across the plaza. There would be a curved glass, multi-story iconic piece announcing the Children's Museum and serving as an entrance, although the museum space would be essentially below grade. Some of this would be two-story space, with a tie-in to the plaza level. Mr. Clark recalled that David Childs had asked, at the July meeting, if this building could possibly have "a shape in section as well as in plan that relieves the tightness of its relationship to the existing building." He said that had been considered, and he pointed out that the building was now sloped in section and chamfered at the ends so that it had become more three dimensional. On the other side of the building there would be a separate entrance to the office section, which had not yet been worked out. This side would be a more quiet area, with a considerable amount of landscaping, one that would be used primarily by office workers and residents of the new residential building.
Mrs. Nelson asked about the loading docks-would they be shared by the children's museum and the commercial users and where would they be? Mr. Clark said the museum would have its own loading docks as would the other users. He said they were very fortunate in that all the infrastructure was already in place; everything was underground, nothing would be visible at ground level. Ms. Balmori said she was concerned when looking at the model about the narrowness of the corridor coming from the Metro to the museum. He said it was about 30 feet, but he noted that everything in that area was new and could be reconfigured so the walkway could be wider. He commented that they intended to bring as much light as possible into that area through the use of light wells. In answer to a question from Mrs. Nelson, he said children arriving by bus would be brought in to an already existing bus drop-off below grade and would enter the sky-lit lower level of the icon piece. He noted that there was already a two-level road system below L'Enfant Promenade. Mrs. Nelson observed, as she had at the July meeting, that with so much going on underground, and it was easy to enter that way, there was a danger that the vitality of the plaza would be lost. She thought that had been the problem with the existing development; that was why it had become so dead as a public space. Mr. Clark said he would agree with that.
Mr. Rybczynski had one urban design comment. He thought that if any part of the new building was to advance toward L'Enfant Promenade, it should be the Children's Museum; the architects had done that, but they had also pushed a section of the office building right out to the sidewalk line. He said this was just a comment, but they might want to look at it. Mr. Clark said he thought it was a good comment. Mr. Rybczynski added that he was much more convinced of the decision to go with a non-orthogonal building now that it had gained the dynamism of three-dimensionality.
Ms. Diamonstein asked Mr. Clark if the building didn't look like something that had landed there from another planet. Mr. Clark agreed that it did, but he said that was on purpose, that they were actually going to show the Commission some ideas for the children's museum icon that were in the same vein. He said one of the things they were trying to do was to play off the austerity of the existing buildings with something that had "a bit more pizzazz". However, the building still had to be elegant and respectful of its context.
Mr. Clark then turned to the several ideas that had been proposed for the design of the museum icon. These went even further into the exploration of architecture from another planet. One idea was that the entrance piece could be developed as a 7,000-8,000 square foot garden in the air, which would include trees, accessed by an interior ramp. Or it could be a simple canopy reaching out toward L'Enfant Promenade, going past the "nose" of the office building, at least at street level, where it would have more presence than the office building. Another idea was that it could be a very sculptural shape that was an entrance lobby or a gift shop but could really be seen as a piece of public art. Mr. Clark showed small models of a number of these ideas placed in front of a model of the building; the members reacted most favorably to the idea of a garden within a raised structure. Mrs. Nelson asked what was contemplated for the median strip of the Promenade where a red circle had been placed on the model. Mr. Clark said that had not been worked out yet, but it should be something that referred to the museum and visible from the Smithsonian-he noted that it was really only a short walk away. Mr. Lindstrom interjected at this point that at present that area was designated as the site for the Banneker Memorial, so it might not be possible to put anything in that spot.
When Mr. Clark had finished his presentation, Ms. Balmori said the next step would be for him to come back for a concept review, considering Mr. Rybczynski's comment about the projection of the office tower vis-a-vis that of the Children's Museum icon; Mrs. Nelson's remarks about not draining all the energy from the plaza level and directing it below grade; and her own questioning of the tightness of the connection from the Metro to the children's museum. She thanked Mr. Clark for the thoroughness of his presentation and said it was much appreciated by the Commission.
D. Department of State
CFA 21/OCT/04-4, International Center. Embassy of Singapore, International Drive and Van Ness Street, NW. New entrance pavilion and security gates. Concept. Mr. Martinez said the embassy wanted to add several security elements, and he noted that the architects would be RTKL-the same ones who had designed the building. He then introduced Donna Mavritte from the State Department, who introduced Ron Henderer from RTKL to make the presentation.
Mr. Henderer said the embassy was finished in 1993, at a time when security elements were more minor considerations than they are now. At this time they wanted to add a guardhouse, a separate entrance for people coming to get visas, a screening facility for mail, and a gate at the garage entrance.
The modifications involving screening of people and mail would occur at the main pedestrian entrance. The entrance would be moved so that it was on center with the entrance to the embassy building and would become a gate house with a guard booth on one side and a mail screening facility on the other. Mr. Henderer said the design of the gate house would have the same character as that of the embassy-a roof that would float over the building, dark grey granite for the basic structure, and wood for the doors, which would have openings in them to give some sense of transparency. The window pattern for the guard booth would be very similar to that used on the embassy. To reach the visa application office, the visitor would go to the guard booth and be directed by the guard to the entrance in the embassy building. A change in slope from the gate house to the visa entrance would require building a ramp and stairs.
Turning to the garage entrance security, Mr. Henderer said that at present there were no gates or any other security elements. The proposal was to extend the brick walls used around the garden and also use the same kind of gate, a combination of metal and wood grillwork. The brick wall would extend from the garage opening to the fence used around the International Center. There were some questions asked about this wall, which seemed to be too long and obtrusive, shutting out the pleasant greenery now visible. Mr. Henderer said they could take the International Center fence and return it into the wall, making the wall shorter. That was considered a much better solution, and with that modification, the project was unanimously approved.
E. Department of the Treasury / Bureau of Engraving and Printing
CFA 21/OCT/04-5, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, main building, 14h Street and Raoul Wallenburg Place (15th Street), SW. Replacement guard booths. Final. Mr. Lindstrom said only one of these booths would be presented at this meeting, the one on 15th Street, as they wanted to reconsider the other one, on 14th Street, to look at a way to incorporate it into an existing boundary wall along the street. He said the staff had encouraged them to detail the booth so that it wold be similar to the ticket booth on 15th Street, approved by the Commission, so that they could keep all these small objects in the same family. He introduced Joseph Mancuso to discuss the proposed 15th Street guard booth.
Mr. Mancuso described the booth as being made of ballistic grade steel, painted a light grey to match the limestone of the building. The roof would be a standing seam, terne-coated stainless steel roof, the same as the roof of the main building. The decorative pattern on the base of the booth would match that on the existing ticket booth and other guard booths at the annex, and had been taken from a similar design on the main building. The existing gates and fence would remain. He said the booth would be manned by two officers, who would control the gate and the pop-up bollards.
Mrs. Nelson asked why there had to be bollards when the booth was made of ballistic grade steel; she thought that if extra protection was needed, it could be incorporated into the booth itself, since it was being designed from scratch; this might also be used as a prototype for booths in other places. The other members agreed, and the decision was made to approve the design of the booth, with the proviso that the base be thickened to add the protection needed, even if the walls had to be bumped out somewhat to accomplish this.
[Whereupon at 1:00 the Commission adjourned for lunch, returning at 1:40.]
G. Department of the Army / Walter Reed Army Medical Center
CFA 21/OCT/04-7, WRAMC. Building #40, Dahlia and 14th Streets, NW. Renovation and additions. Concept. Ms. Penhoet said there would be some changes within the building itself; the most important aspect of the project was the enclosure of the two courtyards. She introduced Louise Brodnitz from Walter Reed to begin the presentation.
Ms. Brodnitz said they were very excited about this project and thought their design team had come up with a great solution to the enclosure of the courtyards. The architect was Leo A. Daly and the preservation architect Mary Oehrlein. It was being developed under an enhanced use lease, with a duration of 50 years, and the developers would finance, develop, and design it for use as office space. She introduced Mary Oehrlein to continue the presentation.
Ms. Oehrlein said the building was built in three pieces: the south wing in 1923, the north wing and the center piece, containing a large auditorium, in 1932, and the newer west wing in 1962. For the exterior, the work would be essentially restoration-the removal of all the vestiges of the former lab use, such as vent pipes, exhaust flues, grilles, etc. Masonry would be restored and windows repaired. In answer to Mr. Rybczynski's question, Ms. Oehrlein said she did not know the names of the architects. Mr. Rybczynski thought this information, which would reveal the importance of the architect, was relevant to the review. Ms. Brodnitz said she would try to find out and left the room to make a telephone call. Ms. Oehrlein then asked architect Francesca Franchi to discuss the design of the new additions.
Ms. Franchi said that on the exterior, the two elements that would affect the appearance of the building were the profiles of the two skylights over the atrium, which might be visible from a distance; the two entry canopies on the west side, and a handicapped lift and stair to the basement. Ms. Balmori asked where the main entrance was. Ms. Franchi said there really was no main entrance; as the additions were put on, entrances were added, and employees used whatever entrance was convenient.
Ms. Franchi then described how the existing courtyards on either side of the auditorium would be enclosed with glass curtain walls and skylights and converted to public spaces. She explained that the curtain walls would not touch the historic brick walls, and that there would be a combination of clear and fritted glass used. As she explained, it was "all about trying to play off the new and the old and having transparencies." Ms. Balmori commented that since the building was empty, it might be possible to reorganize the interior so that it would again have a main entrance; she thought the multiple entrances were at odds with what the exterior design of the building was saying. Ms. Franchi thought that was a good idea and she would investigate it. Mr. Rybczynski thought there should be as few doors as possible, especially considering security requirements. Ms. Oehrlein commented that because the building was considered a contributing element to the Walter Reed Historic District, the entrances that were in question could not be altered. Mr. Rybczynski said he hoped the canopies would not have to be in a modern style; he saw them as very small elements that would fit in better if they were related to the style of the building; it was an entirely different situation with the courtyards. Ms. Oehrlein said the intent was that no one would mistake them for an original part of the 1962 wing on which they would be located. Ms. Franchi said they would be very light and transparent, using a light frame and fritted glass.
Ms. Balmori told Ms. Franchi that the Commission would like to have more attention paid to the entrances, including one unattractive one with stairs from the parking lot. She thought this issue was important on such a major building. She also thought there should be a landscape architect called in, since they didn't have one; Ms. Franchi agreed this was necessary. Mrs. Nelson questioned the exterior lift shown for handicap use at one of the entrances and wondered if it would be reliable since it had no weather protection. Ms. Franchi said there were some that had been proved reliable, and in this case, a ramp had not been feasible.
Ms. Diamonstein asked for a clarification as to who would use the building and was told that the tenants would not all be part of Walter Reed; the space not needed by Walter Reed would be leased to outside tenants picked by the developer. Anthony Williams, representing Keenan Development, explained that these tenants would be made up of agencies with missions related to that of Walter Reed.
Ms. Brodnitz had not returned with any information about the architects of the building, and it was decided to table the project until later and go on with the rest of the meeting.
(Later in the meeting Ms. Brodnitz returned and said that there was no architect's name attached to the 1923 or 1932 structures; they were designed by the Quartermaster Corps Construction Services. The 1962 wing was designed by Ronald S. Senseman. Ms. Diamonstein then made a motion that the concept design be approved with the caveats made-the questions about the entrances, canopies, and other new interventions, and the need for a landscape architect. Mrs. Nelson seconded the motion, and it was carried unanimously.)
[The agenda order was changed and item II.F., Boundary Channel Drive at the Pentagon, was discussed next.]
F. Department of Defense
CFA 21/OCT/04-6, Pentagon, Boundary Channel Drive, Arlington, Virginia. River Terrace and Corridor 8 Pedestrian Bridge. Entrance pavilion and skylights for new library and conference center. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom said this project involved the rebuilding of an existing physical fitness facility underneath the River Terrace for use as a library and conference center and some office space for their security branch. They would like to build a new entrance pavilion, accessed from the Corridor 8 bridge connecting the north parking lot to the Pentagon proper, and introduce two new skylights to bring natural light into the underground space. He noted the presence of Susan Kasun, design manager of the PenRen project, Jeffrey Landis from Coakley Williams Construction, and Robert Osborne from BBGM Architects. He asked Mr. Osborne to make the presentation.
Mr.Osborne said the existing building had no handicap accessibility, and so they wanted to enlarge the entrance to include elevators to provide this, as well as a new stair and escalators. He showed photographs showing the location and clarifying existing conditions. He said there would be minimal interventions to the exterior. One would be the addition of two large skylights, which would bring natural light to a portion of the library and to the circulation area of the conference center. They would be located within the confines of existing 10-15-foot-high hedges and would be 5 feet high at their highest point, making them minimally visible from the upper levels of the Pentagon. The second exterior modification would be a new entrance pavilion. It was designed in a style similar to the Pentagon and of similar materials-Indiana limestone with a bronze finish on the windows and doors.
There were no objections to the skylights or to the design of the entrance pavilion, but the members did not like the appearance of the box-like addition, containing a guard booth and metal detectors, or the diagonal line of fencing. Mr. Osborne said this was actually a combination fence and gate and would be left open under normal conditions. Mr. Rybczynski thought these elements looked like afterthoughts and detracted from the attractive new entrance pavilion. Mr. Osborne said they were a difficult problem because they didn't have any relationship to the main use of the pavilion. Mrs. Nelson suggested making the pavilion slightly larger to accommodate the security functions, and Ms. Balmori thought a jutting out, in the same sense as the window treatment, might work. Mr. Osborne was asked to study this problem further and return with a different solution; the other elements were given concept approval.
H. Department of Defense / Department of the Navy
CFA 21/OCT/04-8, Naval Observatory, Massachusetts Avenue and 34th Street, NW. New building to house the National Master Clock. Concept. Mr. Martinez said that a design for a new building to house the National Master Clock at the Naval Observatory was being presented in concept. Part of the proposal was the demolition of buildings considered to be part of the historic area for the Observatory. Melissa Devnich, of the Naval Facilities Compound, and Paul Heflin, project architect with Ewing Cole Architects, made the presentation.
Ms. Devnich began by circulating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Navy and the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Office concerning the demolition of certain buildings at the Observatory. She then briefly described the function and importance of the Master Clock as the backbone of the timekeeping system for several crucial systems including military, air traffic control, cellular phones, the Internet and global positioning systems. The clocks had stringent requirements for temperature, humidity and vibration control as well as a triple redundancy backup system.
The building that currently housed the Master Clock dated to about 1940. It was insufficient and inadequate for the new clocks being developed. The proposed building would be concrete frame with concrete fill and would have a standing seam metal roof and walls of synthetic stuccoed Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) panels. Inside, a series of laboratories serviced by one corridor would house the clock box and supporting equipment. Additionally, there would be mechanical yards on either side of the building that would have the same concrete and standing seam metal roof treatment.
In order to construct the new building, two small shed-like structures would need to be demolished. These structures, buildings 6 and 7, were designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt. They were both wood frame buildings in a dilapidated condition. They were no longer in use, since they had supported the original Master Clock. Citing the aforementioned MOU, the foundations of these buildings could be saved and repaired and markers and interpretive materials could be incorporated. But in order to restore the buildings, they would need to be razed and reconstructed.
Mr. Rybczynski asked about the purpose of the clerestory roof, to which Mr. Heflin replied that the roof would allow for ventilation and, to a degree, maintain temperature and humidity control. Primarily, the roof would give the building a less utilitarian appearance, as befitting the historic significance of the Naval Observatory.
Ms. Balmori and Ms. Diamonstein both felt strongly that it would be a mistake to demolish the two Hunt buildings. Mr. Rybczynski suggested that the importance of the Master Clock perhaps warranted better treatment than what was being proposed, despite its very utilitarian function. He felt that there was insufficient information for the Commission to take action. Ms. Balmori added that the Commission would need to know more about the site before making any recommendation. Mr. Heflin said that the Navy
anticipated making a formal presentation of what would be built on that site in the future, and Ms. Diamonstein suggested that the Commission should delay action until they see that presentation. Ms. Balmori requested that the Navy arrange for a site visit with the Commission staff. The Commission deferred taking action until they had more information.
[The agenda order was changed and item II.K.1.a., the Old Georgetown appendix, was discussed next.]
K. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Old Georgetown Act
a. Appendix I. Mr. Martinez said that two items were added to the updated appendix, and several were placed on hold at the request of the applicants. For case number O.G. 04-281 at 3333 M Street NW, supplemental drawings were expected and Mr. Martinez requested that approval for proposed signs be delegated to the staff, provided that the staff recommendation concurred with the opinion of the Old Georgetown Board.
The Commission agreed to delegate approval to staff and approved the remainder of the Old Georgetown appendix.
[The agenda order was changed and item II.J., the Southern Avenue bridge over Suitland Parkway, was discussed next.]
J. Federal Highway Administration / District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 21/OCT/04-13, Southern Avenue bridge over Suitland Parkway, SE. Replacement bridge. Final. Jack Van Dop, of the Federal Highway Administration, gave the presentation for the proposed Southern Avenue bridge. Showing images of the existing bridge, Mr. Van Dop said the structural problems with the bridge were severe enough to warrant a replacement rather than a repair. The bridge would be replaced in kind, that is, the new bridge would be built in the exact same location, and the Maryland- District of Columbia line.
The existing steel bridge would be replaced with a concrete structure. The cobra head lights would be replaced with Washington globe lights. Because the Washington globes were smaller, there would be more of them and they would be closer together. The chain link fence would be replaced with a picket-type fence, angled rather than arched at the top. The curved piers would be replaces with straight piers and the Jersey barriers currently at the foot of the piers would be replaced with stone walls, compatible in design with other stone structures on Suitland Parkway.
The Commission members agreed that the proposed replacement would not be an improvement on the original, in terms of aesthetics. They preferred the curved piers to the straight ones, saying that there was a better sense of continuity between the piers and the deck. They also felt that there would be too many lights, too close together and that a color would be preferable to the proposed white. Since this bridge was to be a prototype for other bridges, it was important that it be of higher quality. Mr. Van Dop was thanked for his presentation and asked to submit a revised design.
[The agenda order was changed and items II.I.1-4, District of Columbia Public Libraries, were discussed next.]
[Ms. Diamonstein left the meeting prior to the discussion of the libraries.]
I. District of Columbia Public Library
1. CFA 21/OCT/04-9, Anacostia Branch Library, 1800 Good Hope Road at 18th Street, S.E. New replacement building. Concept. Ms. Penhoet introduced Melanie Hennigan of Grimm and Parker Architects to make the presentation for the next four items on the agenda, replacement buildings for four of the District's branch libraries. Ms. Hennigan began by announcing that one of the libraries, the Watha T. Daniels branch, had just been put on hold and would not be presented.
Grimm and Parker Architects and Hess Construction were selected as the design team to carry out the design-build schemes for these four branch libraries. All four buildings would be completely replaced rather than renovated. Over the spring and summer of 2004, the design team held several meetings with members of communities served by the library branches and the branch staffs. There was also a Town Hall Meeting in early September. These meetings helped inform the designs as the team took community and staff concerns into consideration. The concept designs being presented were considered 30 percent design development or schematic designs. In other words, the design development was still in a very early phase, and the design team acknowledged that and indicated that they looked forward to working with the Commission as the designs evolved.
Ms. Hennigan presented a digital slide show for all the libraries, beginning with the Anacostia Branch Library. In keeping with the spirit of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, the library design would have a nautical theme to connect it to the Anacostia River. The site plan of the present library showed a building of 9,000 square feet in both a commercial and residential context. There was a park behind the library with a garden.
The existing building was red brick, set back from Good Hope Road. The new building would be 14,000 square feet and would have a front porch element at its main entrance at Good Hope Road. The porch canopy would run the length of the facade, creating an overhang to throw shadows on the glazing. The windows would have blue and green translucent glass and there would be windows on the corners of the building to complement interior elements such as the meeting room. The blue and green glass, or "evergreen" glass, was intended as part of the nautical motif. The detailing of the porch element, when developed, would also be nautical in theme. The roof was being developed with the potential of being a one-third green roof.
Parking presented a challenge, since the community was adamant that parking not be located underground, as originally proposed. Because the community was concerned about safety and car theft, they asked that parking be on-grade and in sight. To address this, a wide driveway accessed from the 18th Street side to the rear of the building was being considered. There would be an accessible entrance from the parking lot at the rear of the building.
The members favored the idea of a porch as a welcoming gathering spot, but felt that it should be developed further to create it as a more useful space, rather than as just a roof overhang. Ms. Nelson said that a nautical theme felt forced and might not work. Mr. Rybczynski suggested that the west side of the building could have been more sympathetic to the street. The Commission acknowledged the problematic parking situation, but encouraged examination of additional options for the configuration of the site and its parking spaces. Ms. Balmori said that parking in the rear, via the new driveway, would effectively cut off the site from the library, and would not make the best use of the nice garden area currently located there. She suggested that perhaps the public alley on the east side could be utilized.
2. CFA 21/OCT/04-10, Benning Branch Library, 3935 Benning Road near Minnesota Avenue, N.E. New replacement building. Concept. Ms. Hennigan continued her presentation with the Benning Branch Library. Like the Anacostia Branch, the Benning Branch was located in both a residential and commercial context, with the neighborhood facing the library from the front and a shopping center in the rear. Thematic elements would reflect both the history of the community and library programs. The community had two specific requests regarding the design; one was to invite people in from Benning Road and the other was to connect with the shopping center behind the building.
One community theme would be bridges. There were several bridges nearby and the library was in fact named for William Benning, who built the first wooden bridge across the Anacostia River. In the spirit of making these connections, a side porch would be part of the design. The porch would be located on the side of the building, because of its proximity to a bus stop. The intent was to invite people in from the bus stop. The porch would lead to a stairway that would connect the library to the shopping center below. Lack of sidewalks presently made egress difficult and the stairway to the porch would correct that.
The current red brick building would be replaced with a lighter colored building with a banded checkerboard pattern, in honor of the library's chess program, and a more soaring roof. Like Anacostia, it would have multi-colored glass to enhance the interior spaces as well as the exterior. There would also be parking in the rear, but unlike Anacostia, parking would be available under the library. An accessible entrance would be located at the rear, from the parking lot. Since the majority of patrons came to the library by foot, parking would be used mostly by staff and persons with disabilities.
The Commission were favorable towards the concept, though they felt that the design should be simpler and more unified. For example, if the chess theme was to integrated, then were the colored windows really necessary? Ms. Hennigan said that the windows could certainly use clear rather than colored glass. Ms. Nelson suggested that permanent chess tables would be a nice addition to the side porch to encourage more overall activity as well as the chess program. The Commission also encouraged further development of the through-site connection to the shopping area, while emphasizing the importance of the library's maintaining an independent civic presence.
3. CFA 21/OCT/04-11, Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Branch Library, 1701
8th Street at Rhode Island Avenue, N.W. New replacement building. Concept. This project was postponed.
4. CFA 21/OCT/04-12, Tenley-Friendship Branch Library, 4450
Wisconsin Avenue at Albemarle Street, N.W. New replacement building. Concept. The Tenley-Friendship Branch Library was located on a very busy corner at Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street, across the street from the Tenleytown-AU Metro station. The entrance would be located near the center of the Wisconsin Avenue facade and vehicular traffic would circulate from Wisconsin Avenue along the west side of the building in a one-way pattern to Albemarle Street. Parking would be located under the building. The corners of the building consist of flaring glass windows as a way of opening up the building to both Wisconsin Avenue and Albemarle Street. This would call attention to the activities within the library, especially from the Metro corner.
Two materials options were presented for the exteriors. One was for a two-toned beige brick with multi-colored glass for the flared windows and the other was for red brick without multi-colored glass. In both cases the windows would follow various patterns, including an asymmetrical arrangement of square and rectangular windows designed to be playful for younger children and more symmetrically placed Zen windows.
The Commission had several concerns about the concept. They felt that the transparent corner would be strong, but Mr. Rybczynski pointed out that that concept may be too ambitious, given their budgetary constraints. He was concerned that if, in the course of construction, there was a need for value engineering, then the concept would come off looking cheap. It would be preferable to approach the open corners with a more realistic eye towards the budget. Ms. Balmori said that there needed to be a more balanced relationship between glass and brick, as the brick had more of a wallpaper effect with respect to the glass. Other parking options should be explored also, to allow more space for the building, since as it was, a portion of the first floor would be sacrificed.
Ms. Balmori noted that a recommendation could not be given in the absence of a quorum, however, she asked that Ms. Hennigan and her team consider the Commission's comments and return with revised designs.
[The order of the agenda resumed with item K.2., however item K.2.b. the Shipstead-Luce appendix, preceded item K.2.a.]
K. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
2. Shipstead-Luce Act
b. Appendix II. Ms. Penhoet said that several items that had appeared on the draft appendix with recommendations against were resolved by the receipt of additional information and revisions. Case number S.L. 04-112, 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, was postponed at the request of the applicant.
Case number S.L. 04-115, Clyde's at Old Ebbitt Grill located at 675 15th Street NW, was removed from the appendix and discussed at the meeting at the request of the applicant. For a record of the discussion, see the meeting transcript, pp. 229-238.
The remainder of the Shipstead-Luce appendix was approved, pending a full quorum.
a. S.L. 05-004, Knollwood, The Army Distaff Foundation, Inc., 6200 Oregon Avenue, NW. Major addition and new parking lot. Concept. Ms. Penhoet said that an addition was being proposed for the rear of the building at Knollwood and that a parking lot was being proposed for the front of the property. She introduced Andi Adams, architectural historian with Shaw Pittman, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Adams began by introducing the design team, Vernon Feather, project architect with SFCS and Mike Bello, landscape architect with Kimley-Horn and Associates as well as General Donald Hilbert, Executive Director of the Army Distaff Foundation and Paul Tummonds, zoning and land-use attorney. Ms. Adams said that concept approval was being sought for an addition to the existing building which would house the facility's Special Care Unit and also apartments for independent living patients. The proposed addition as presented was the result of working with neighbors, the D.C. Office of Planning and the ANC for the past year. A formal mediation process determined the location of the addition as well as its footprint, massing, height and parking. Ms. Adams circulated copies of a letter of support for the project from Adrienne Coleman, Superintendent of Rock Creek Park.
Mr. Feather continued the presentation with a digital slide show. Showing a campus plan, he indicated that the addition would be located in the southwest corner of the property near Stevenson Lane and 29th Street. That location was chosen because it would have the least impact on Rock Creek Park. Because the property slopes downward at this location, Mr. Feather asserted that the addition would be invisible from Oregon Avenue. There would be sufficient screening from Stephenson Lane and 29th Street and in response to neighbors' concerns about proximity to their properties, the addition would not exceed the boundaries of the parking lot which previously occupied the space.
The addition would not mimic the existing 1962 building, but it would contain elements that would connect it to the original building. These elements would include bands of brick, similar to the brick on the existing building and punched windows wrapped with pre-cast stone bands. The windows to the residences would be aluminum clad wood, large enough to create a sense of openness. In response to concerns of the Navy, the upper floors that face Stephenson Lane would be stepped back. The same would be true for the 29th Street elevation. The overall height would be one floor below the existing building.
Mr. Bello presented the proposed landscape design and screening for the buffer area. A variety of evergreen screening plants, including trees and shrubs, would create a textured, layered screen from 29th Street and Stephenson Lane. A wandering garden would be planted in close proximity to the addition. The parking lot to the northeast, near Rock Creek Park from Oregon Avenue, would also be screened with a variety of evergreens as well as flowering shrubs. Evergreens would also provide screening from Tennyson Street to the parking lot.
Ms. Nelson asked if there would be fencing around the wandering garden and was told that a retaining wall would provide security while being integrated into the landscape. Ms. Balmori suggested that use of the flowering shrubs seemed forced and out of character with the site, and that greenery would be sufficient.
The project was given conceptual approval.
[Because the applicant for case number 04-288 was not present when item II.K.1.a., the Old Georgetown appendix, was discussed, the meeting concluded with a discussion of this case.]
K. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. Old Georgetown Act (cont.)
a. Appendix I. Despite the absence of a quorum, the Commission agreed to hear the applicant for case number O.G. 04-288, 1417 28th Street NW, as the applicant wished to appeal the Board's recommendation. For a record of the discussion, see the meeting transcript, pp. 251-264.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:19 p.m.
Frederick J. Lindstrom