The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 9:10 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Pamela Nelson, Vice-Chairman
Hon. John Belle
Hon. David M. Childs
Hon. Witold Rybczynski
Hon. Elyn Zimmerman
Mr. Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Mr. Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Ms. Sue Kohler
Mr. Jose Martinez
Ms. Kristina N. Penhoet
Ms. Susan Raposa
National Capital Planning Commission staff present:
Mr. David Hamilton
Ms. Christine Saum
Mr. Tony Simon
Ms. Nancy Witherell
Approval of the minutes of the 21 July meeting. The minutes were approved without objection. Mrs. Nelson noted the mention of future site visits to the Armed Forces Retirement Home and the Children's Museum / L'Enfant Plaza development site and said she wanted to be sure the staff followed up on those.
Dates of next meetings, approved as:
There was a discussion of the need to hold a December meeting, and Mr. Luebke said he had not yet had a chance to check the members' schedules or the possibility of submission requests, but he would get back to them as soon as possible.
Confirmation of the last two items on the 21 July agenda. Mr. Luebke noted that there had not been a quorum at this meeting during the discussion of the last two items on the agenda, which concerned the installation of security cameras on the Lafayette Building at 801 Vermont Avenue, and the approval by the Old Georgetown Board of improvements to Blues Alley. He said the three members present approved both items, but their action needed to be confirmed by a full Commission vote. He asked for a motion for approval, which was made by Mr. Childs, seconded and carried unanimously.
Reappointment of Pamela Nelson to the Commission. Mr. Luebke said he was pleased to report that the White House had announced that Pamela Nelson would be reappointed to the Commission. He noted her recent election as Vice-Chairman and said the Commission looked forward to working with her for another four years. Mrs. Nelson said the appointment was now final and she was honored to be able to continue her service to the Commission. She was then congratulated on her reappointment.
Confirmation of the reappointment of Mary Oehrlein to the Old Georgetown Board. Mr. Luebke said that Ms. Oehrlein, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, had been serving on the Board since 1996 and had been a very effective chairman since 2002. He asked for a motion to accept her reappointment to this position, which was then made by Mrs. Nelson, seconded by the Chairman, and carried unanimously.
Establishment of a Consent Calendar. Mr. Luebke recalled the discussion of this topic at the July meeting and the decision to move forward with it. He said that since then a change in the Commission's Rules and Regulations had been submitted to the Federal Register, where it was published on 23 August. As a result six cases for the Consent Calendar had been prepared and placed on the agenda as Appendix I for the Commission's pre-meeting review. He said he hoped this change in operations would make the Commission more efficient, and he referred to the Calendar as a work in progress, saying he would welcome any comments.
Submissions and Reviews
Appendix I. Mr. Luebke asked if there were any cases that the members would like to have removed from the Consent Calendar for discussion. Hearing none, he said he would like to have a motion to accept it. Mr. Childs made the motion, which was seconded by Mrs. Nelson and carried unanimously.
Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
CFA 15/SEP/05-1, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King Congressional Gold Medal. Design. Staff member Sue Kohler introduced this submission, noting the presence of Jack Szcerban, Barbara Bradford, and Jana Prewitt from the Mint and asking Mr. Szcerban to make the presentation.
Mr. Szcerban said this medal was being awarded to the Kings in recognition of their contributions to the nation on behalf of the Civil Rights Movement. He showed drawings of the obverse and reverse, which had been sent to the members in their pre-meeting packages. The obverse featured two portraits which had been selected by Mrs. King; below the portraits was a banner with the inscription, "For their service to humanity." On the reverse was a depiction of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change at the top, with two inscriptions selected by Mrs. King in the center and a laurel wreath, signifying victory, at the bottom. Mr. Childs asked if the inscription would be legible when reduced to medal size. Mr. Szcerban said there would be no problem since the medal would be 3 inches in diameter; there would also be 3-inch bronze duplicates available to the public as well as a 1- and 1/2-inch bronze version. Mrs. Nelson liked the portraits of the Kings, done at a relatively early time in their lives, feeling that they showed their dignity, optimism and determination.
The only design element that raised questions was the depiction of the King Center. Mr. Rybczynski noted that it was not an iconic building that people would recognize, and it postdated Dr. King and his achievements. Mr. Childs agreed and thought that using just the powerful quotation on the reverse would make the obverse more interesting. Mrs. Nelson observed that removing the building would perhaps allow the lettering for the inscription to be made slightly larger. Mr. Rybczynski made a motion that the medal be approved with these comments; it was seconded by Mr. Childs and carried unanimously.
(Mrs. Nelson left the meeting at this point, to return later in the day.)
CFA 15/SEP/05-2, National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum (Old Patent Office Building), 7th and F streets, NW. Courtyard enclosure and landscape. Concept development. (Previous: CFA 25/JAN/05-2&3) Mr. Luebke recalled the previous submission of this project for a glass enclosure for the courtyard, new landscaping for the courtyard, and perimeter landscaping of the building. In June it was reported that NCPC had disapproved that project based on the review by the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation and the impact on the historic building; further study was requested. Since then, he said the Smithsonian had come before NCPC twice to show further design development and a presentation of the landscape plan by landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson. Following these presentations, NCPC approved the project as well as the reconstruction of the (1873) monumental south stair on F Street. Mr. Childs interjected that the proposal should be stated as the construction of a stair, not as a reconstruction. Mr. Luebke said he was not sure of the exact phrasing but that Mr. Childs's comment would be noted. He also recalled that the Commission had thought that the proposal for the stair as a sort of mitigation for the courtyard enclosure was questionable, had not been approved, and would have to come before the Commission again for proposal. He then introduced Harry Rombach from the Smithsonian to introduce the project.
Mr. Rombach said they would be discussing the old business of the canopy and the new business of the landscaping. He said Dan Sibert from the office of architect Norman Foster would discuss the canopy first, and then Rodrigo Abela from the landscaping firm of Gustafson, Guthrie and Nichol would discuss the landscaping of the courtyard and the perimeter of the building.
Mr. Sibert said he would discuss briefly the minor changes that had been made to the canopy, but most of the presentation would be on the landscaping which the Commission had not seen. Using a PowerPoint presentation, he reviewed the way the canopy would float over the top of the building, showing the grid of beams, unchanged from when the Commission had last seen it. In answer to a question from Mr. Childs, he said the grid was just off-square, about a 6-foot grid, and the depth of the beam was about 2 feet. Mr. Childs asked if the depth had increased since the Commission's last review and was told that it had. He asked how it compared to the beam used in the British Museum and was told that it was about three times deeper because the individual glass panels were larger and it had been developed taking into consideration the acoustical qualities needed for the space. Ms. Zimmerman asked about the surface of the metal–was it shiny? Mr. Sibert said the basic metal structure would be covered with acoustical material and a pattern of white rods which had been developed through a series of mock-ups, keeping in mind the question of maintenance and collection of dust. There followed a discussion between Mr. Belle, Mr. Childs, and Mr. Sibert about the depth of the grid compared to that in the British Museum, with Mr. Belle expressing his deep concern that the depth of the grid would caste shadows that would greatly change the feeling of the courtyard.
Mr. Sibert then showed exterior views of the canopy as it would appear from various vantage points, emphasizing that it must appear to be floating over the building. A discussion of the amount of light emanating from the structure at night and particularly the nature of the daylight inside the courtyard followed. A very white, low-iron glass, with a frit used as necessary to control the light was being considered, but as large trees had been proposed for the courtyard, providing a considerable amount of shade, a final decision on the glass had not yet been made.
Mr. Siebert then turned to a history of the courtyard, discussing the plan after the fire of 1877 and showing historic photos of the two cast iron fountains placed within the courtyard at that time and now in storage. He said no decision had been made as to whether they would be installed outside the building or somewhere within it. The large elm trees remembered by many Washingtonians were not placed in the courtyard until later. Mr. Siebert then introduced Rodrigo Abela from Kathryn Gustafson's office to discuss the proposed landscaping plan.
Mr. Abela first commented on a relationship between the Smithsonian and the Patent Office which had determined the philosophy of their approach: The Smithsonian was the keeper of the nation's heritage while the Patent Office was the repository of its aspirations for the future. This suggested a method of approach based on building on the past while looking forward to the future. He said that programmatically the courtyard would be changed from a "secret garden" to a much more public place, able to accommodate a wide range of activities–from lunch to art fairs to elaborate nighttime galas. What they were attempting to do was to combine the typology of a conservatory with that of a grand ballroom, laying over the whole a rich palette of colors and materials that would make the space inviting.
Mr. Abela then commented on the enclosing building mass, noting how it varied from the sandstone of the first (south) section with an apse in the center, to the other three gray granite walls, including one (west) with a central projection, creating an asymmetrical, complex series of large and small spaces, with a "bias toward the east" because this was the sunniest area of the courtyard over the course of the day. Turning to the planting plan, he talked first about determining the size of the planters that would accommodate trees, noting that except for the south side of the courtyard, they would be working on top of a slab over the new basement space. It was determined that planters 3 feet deep would be needed, but this would make them too high, since they would block existing windows and cut off views; therefore, seat-height planters were being considered, which unfortunately would limit their choice of plants, already limited by the indoor climate. There would be a total of five planters. Stone colors for the main part of the floor as well as accent colors–possibly one that could be used to recall large carpets of lawn–were also being studied. Mr. Abela said one of the principal features of the courtyard design would be two narrow rectangular water features, running east-west through the courtyard on the south side. These would be essentially water scrims, about 1/4 inch deep, that could be walked on; alternatively, water jets could be turned on. Two large trees would be planted on the south side, where there was no basement to limit soil depth. Vines would also be planted on that side that would grow up only to the height of the base of the building. To take advantage of the sun, the café and its seating would be located in the northeast corner of the courtyard. The catering wall shown previously had been eliminated; instead, one of the planter walls in the café area could be raised when catering for an event was needed to form a screen for the stoves, sinks, and fans that would be brought in for the occasion.
A major new feature would be the addition of a balcony on the north side of the building, with stairs from the courtyard and an entrance into the building at the top. The balcony would be constructed of clear blue glass and would balance the apse of the south wall.
Mr. Abela then commented on the historic fountains once located in the courtyard. He said they had been looking for a place to put them and were now proposing that they be placed outside flanking the east stair. With that he turned to a brief discussion of the exterior landscaping, saying that the Park Service was going to do a Cultural Landscape Report, and until that was done, his comments at this time would comprise only an initial look at the exterior proposals. Mr. Rombach confirmed that statement. Mr. Abela then said one of their early thoughts was that the large grass planes which were present when the stair existed should be restored. He noted that they were truncated when the stair was removed, and could be restored, along with the old fence line and the slopes around the other sides of the building.
There was a discussion among the members about what they were being asked to approve. It had been assumed that concept approval was being requested for the courtyard enclosure and the landscaping of the courtyard, but at this point it seemed that the approval was to include the exterior landscaping, as far as it had gone. Mr. Childs commented that it would be hard to approve a concept for something that was in such a preliminary stage as the exterior landscaping. The Chairman thought the exterior plans should really be considered as being shown for information only, and Mr. Luebke added that perimeter security issues needed to be addressed before any kind of approval was requested. Mr. Rombach agreed that the concept approval should not include the exterior, although he hoped the Commission might comment on the idea of moving the fountains to the 7th Street entrance. Mr. Belle said the process did not work that way, that such comments would have little relevance until the whole exterior landscaping proposal could be seen.
The Chairman then asked for comments from the members. Ms. Zimmerman had several concerns about the water elements–about their 50-foot width in what was a rather narrow courtyard and when the jets would be used. Mr. Abela said the jets would be placed in the center and would be about 9 feet high; when they would be on would be up to the museum. Sections of them could be turned off, and although current plans showed only one walk across them there could be two. She asked if any other kind of water feature had been considered, something not so broad for the contained space of the courtyard; Mr. Abela said at this point they had not considered any other option.
Mr. Belle said he had two lines of questioning. The first concerned the details of the roof that he had commented on earlier. He referred to a rendering which showed how the depth, width, and proportions of the grid caused shadows which completely deconstructed the architecture. He thought the roof was a wonderful idea, but he needed to be convinced that it would not have this effect on the architecture. His second comment was on the proposed observation platform; he asked why they felt they should put it where they did–right at the point on the north facade where the width of the courtyard had already been narrowed by the apse on the south. Mr. Abela said it was done to add a little more symmetry along the east-west axis. Mr. Childs asked if this platform functioned only as an overlook, and Mr. Abela said no, that the idea was that it would connect to the upper gallery on the north side. Ms. Penhoet observed that to make that connection an existing window would have to be converted to a door. Mr. Childs thought the platform had an enormous impact on the architecture, and he agreed with Mr. Belle's comments. He also expressed concern about the planters, which he compared to the sort of thing found in malls which connoted a "thin, manmade world" with built space underneath it, rather than the simple landscape of the old courtyard with the two great elm trees which showed that there was "mother earth" below. Mr. Belle agreed, and he pointed out that with the reduction in the height of the planters, it was unlikely that trees of any size would grow in them. He asked what kind of species was being considered, and Mr. Abela said they had not picked one yet because they were still working with the glass people to see how much light would come through, noting that they would have not only reduced light levels but rather low humidity–a difficult environment for trees. Mr. Childs's last comment was that there seemed to be a lot of things going on in this landscape, and he thought the simpler the better should be the rule.
There were other questions. The Chairman asked if one or both of the museums intended to have exhibits in the courtyard; Mr. Abela said they were told there would be no exhibits in that space. Ms. Zimmerman asked about the kind of stone to be used for the rims around the planters and was told that it would be a rich, warm stone, perhaps marble. Mr. Rybczynski asked for further information on the location of the fountain jets, and he also commented on the overlook platform, echoing Mr. Childs's concerns, and saying that since there was nothing going on up there it just looked like a big landing. Mr. Abela said that since there were only four small entries into the courtyard, and they were at ground level, this seemed like a good way to connect the courtyard to what was the main floor of the building. Mr. Rybczynski said he would feel more convinced if the initiative for this had come from the Smithsonian rather than from the landscape architect deciding to add an architectural feature.
The Chairman then brought the discussion to a close by telling Mr. Rombach that with his approval he would like to divide the Commission's action into two votes: a final one on the roof and a conceptual approval for the landscape design with the comments made. Mr. Childs made a motion that the roof be approved with the request that in the final studies attention would be paid to attempts to minimize the structure and to ensure the maximum transparency by the use of iron-free glass. Mr. Rybczynski seconded the motion, and Mr. Belle asked to abstain. The Chairman said the Commission would still have a quorum, even though Mrs. Nelson was not present. Mr. Powell said she was very supportive of the roof design but had not left a proxy. He asked for a vote, and Mr. Childs's seconded motion was carried, but not unanimously. The Chairman then turned to the vote on the landscape design, suggesting that it be approved with the concerns expressed taken into consideration for another presentation. Mr. Childs thought that was a good suggestion and the vote was taken; the motion was carried unanimously.
Before continuing with the next submission, Mr. Powell told Mr. Rombach that he assumed that the "reconstruction" of the stairs–to use the Planning Commission's word–would be discussed later. Mr. Rombach said he would have to come back with that, noting that NCPC's approval included the requirement that the stairs be reconstructed. It was noted by Mr. Childs and the Chairman that the Commission members had previously expressed their unanimous concern about putting the stairs back, prompting Mr. Rombach to say that that decision put the applicants "between a rock and a hard place."
Before going on with the next item on the agenda, Mr. Powell had one observation to make on the effect of certain kinds of glass on plants grown in atrium spaces. He said that when the National Gallery was first built, there was no U.V. filtering in the glass in the two skylit spaces, but when the original glass was replaced with glass with U.V. filtering, all the landscaping died. He said he thought the Frick Museum had had the same problem, and it was something to think about.
National Park Service
CFA 15/SEP/05-3, Victims of Communism Memorial. NPS Reservation #77B at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues, NW. Concept. (Previous: CFA 17/MAR/05-2, Site selection). Mr. Lindstrom introduced the submission for a concept design for the proposed Victims of Communism Memorial to be located on National Park Service Reservation #77B. The site was approved by the Commission in March 2005 and the applicants were now returning with a concept for plaza on which the selected sculpture, the Goddess of Democracy, would stand. Mr. Lindstrom introduced John Parsons, from the National Park Service, Mary Kay Lanzillotta from Hartman Cox, and Dr. Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Sculptor Thomas Marsh was also present.
Mr. Parsons began by informing the Commission that the National Capital Planning Commission had also approved the site for the memorial, as had the Secretary of the Interior. He said that due to the modest, yet important nature of the memorial, the concept being presented was rather detailed. He introduced Dr. Edwards to make preliminary remarks.
Dr. Edwards briefly traced the history of the memorial, saying that a committee was formed three years ago to determine an appropriate design. Committee members included members of the Foundation's board as well as experts on communism. Ideas for the memorial included depictions of gulag barracks, a watch tower, barbed wire, boats evocative of vessels used by people of South Vietnam and Cuba to flee political oppression, a tiger cage, the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall. The Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall were considered too large and unwieldy for the site but the Goddess of Democracy was deemed appropriate both in scale and symbol.
Dr. Edwards cited several reasons, besides scale, for the selection of the Goddess of Democracy. The first reason was that the figure was erected in Tiananmen Square in the Chinese student demonstrations of June 1989 against their communist government. The students had based their design on the Statue of Liberty. Over time, Dr. Edwards said, the statue had become a global symbol of freedom and democracy, with replicas being erected in Britain, France, Nigeria, Taiwan, Canada and Chinatown in San Francisco. The statue was also reminiscent of the statue of Freedom that stood atop the U. S. Capitol. Finally, the Foundation learned that a small replica of the Goddess of Democracy was awarded every year by the National Endowment for Democracy. It was through the Endowment that Thomas Marsh joined the project. Mr. Marsh produced the Endowment statuettes as well as the Chinatown statue in San Francisco. Dr. Edwards then turned the presentation over to Ms. Lanzillotta and Mr. Marsh.
Ms. Lanzillotta discussed the site and the proposed placement of the statue. The statue would be oriented to align with the Capitol dome by way of New Jersey Avenue. The figure would face northwest in order to address Massachusetts Avenue with its approaching pedestrian and vehicular traffic. It would be 10 feet high and cast in statuary bronze. The 3 foot 6 inch high pedestal would be circular and the name of the memorial, "Victims of Communism," would appear on the base. The portion of the base facing Massachusetts Avenue would have the following inscription: "To the more than 100 million victims of communism and to those who love liberty." The obverse would read: "To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples." The sculpture would stand on a paved area of approximately 900 square feet. The linear paving design, Mr. Marsh explained, would symbolize light and also create shape units which would represent 10 million people per unit, of the over 100 million victims of communism worldwide. Seating would be provided on raised benches at the southwest edge of the plaza. The base would be peribonka granite and paving would be a combination of Swedish mahogany and charcoal black granite. Red maple trees would be planted at the rear of the reservation to provide color and texture. A Park Service wayside would explain the origins of the memorial.
Ms. Zimmerman said that the proposed memorial seemed too small a gesture in terms of scale with the commemoration of 100 million victims of communism. Dr. Edwards replied that the hope of the Foundation was that the memorial would be only one step towards commemoration. Other initiatives would include a virtual, Internet-based museum, created in collaboration with related organizations based in Budapest, Vilnius, Moscow and Berlin as well as an actual "brick and mortar" museum. Mr. Childs asked about maintenance and Dr. Edwards told him that the Foundation would establish a fund for maintenance, under the terms of the legislation.
Because of the details provided in this concept submission, the Chairman proposed that final approval be delegated to the staff. Mr. Belle seconded that motion and it carried.
CFA 15/SEP/05-4, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, West Potomac Park. Site selection for new underground visitor education center and proposed design guidelines. Concept. Mr. Luebke reviewed the legislation for this visitor center, saying that it had been authorized by Congress to be in an underground facility at or near the existing memorial. He said the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation had conducted a site selection study over the past year and had ended up with three locations which they had presented to the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission. The site to be discussed at this meeting was termed Site A, the two others being one on the Mall grounds near Constitution Gardens and the other in the Interior South building on Constitution Avenue at 20th Street. During the Memorial Commission meeting, the Constitution Gardens site was taken out of the running. Questions were raised about Site A in regard to the visual impact on the approach to the Lincoln Memorial and the problems of crossing Bacon Drive, a busy roadway. The same traffic problem was raised in regard to the Interior South building, in this case, it was Constitution Avenue that would have to be crossed. Other concerns were the lack of a program and how big the facility would be. He said the proposal before the Commission at this meeting for Site A assumed a size of about 25,000 square feet, and he commented that the Commission would probably want to have more details than was in the proposal at this time. He asked John Parsons from the Park Service to introduce the project and the team for Site A.
Mr. Parsons said the legislation had been passed in 2003 and stipulated that the visitors center was to be underground and subject to the Commemorative Works Act, which normally guided construction of an actual memorial. He noted that it had become a tradition of the agencies concerned–this Commission, NCPC, the Memorial Commission, and the Secretary of the Interior–to develop design guidelines at the time of site selection, and he said these had been placed in the members' packages. The intent of the guidelines was to mitigate concerns that normally developed during the site selection period. Mr. Parsons said he had been working with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for two years on a very thorough and conscientious analysis, and he then introduced Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Scruggs said they were building the visitors center for current and future American citizens, and he thought the educational impact of the wall and the center working in synergy with one another would be an unparalleled experience. He said they were honored to have General Colin Powell as honorary chairman and General Barry McCaffery to guide the team working on the messages that would be conveyed to visitors at the center. The site study was done by landscape architects Henry Arnold, J.C. Cummings, and George Dickie, who were all well-acquainted with the Mall and its preservation aspects. He said the architect, James Polshek, architect for many major projects throughout the country, had assured him that there was no doubt that the project could be carried out on Site A. The exhibit design would be done by Ralph Appelbaum, best known for his work at the Holocaust Museum. He noted also that Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Memorial, was on the jury which helped select the architect.
Mr. Scruggs then said he would like to dispel the idea that this visitors center would lead to request for similar centers attached to other memorials. He said it would not be devoted exclusively to the Vietnam Memorial, but would teach universal values present in all the country's military conflicts. He said the specifics of this program would be discussed later. Mr. Scruggs said the issue at hand was the approval of Site A, and he noted that what they were proposing was consistent with other planning by the Park Service on the site, particularly a refreshment stand. Mr. Scruggs then turned the presentation over to Joseph Fleischer, Thomas Wong, and Charles Griffith, asking Mr. Fleischer to begin.
Mr. Fleischer summarized the site-selection study, saying that the purpose was to preserve the existing memorial, enhance the visitor experience, comply with the authorizing legislation, and preserve the Mall. He said the project would be built underground and would not encroach on the memorial or the open space or sight lines on the Mall. Using a PowerPoint presentation, Mr. Fleischer went through the three sites selected as possibilities, saying that only Site A met all the criteria. He showed various views of the site and discussed the traffic situation on Henry Bacon Drive, which would have to be crossed to get from the memorial to the center, noting that it was less of a problem than the traffic on Constitution Avenue, which would have to be crossed to get to the other two sites. He pointed out that there was existing recreational activity on Site A which they would try to retain within the design context. He noted the tree canopy on the site and said their goal was to keep everything they were doing inside that canopy. The overall triangle of the site was 5.2 acres, including the tree canopy and the site for the Park Service's kiosk, but the actual site area for the center would be 2.3 acres, with a footprint of approximately 25,000 square feet. Mr. Fleischer then discussed the grade changes in the areas immediately surrounding the site, saying that the areas to the north rose quickly and the site itself was roughly at the lowest elevation, with the Lincoln Memorial site rising to the the south.
Mr. Fleischer turned the presentation over to Tom Wong, who said he would focus on the view context in and around Site A. Noting that the principal view from the Lincoln Memorial was to the east, he said he would concentrate on the peripheral view to Site A. Two views were taken, one from Elevation 48, the landing between the main set of steps, from which he noted that the site was actually hidden by the substantial amount of growth at the base of the memorial. The second was from Elevation 58, the chamber level, from which a limited view of the site could be seen underneath the tree canopy. (In summer) Other views were taken, including those from 23rd Street, Henry Bacon Drive and Constitution Avenue, and the approaches to Theodore Roosevelt Bridge. From these studies, they determined that the critical views were those along Constitution Avenue looking across Site A to the Lincoln Memorial; those were the only ones that could be affected by an underground facility on Site A.
A site section drawing from Constitution Avenue across Site A through the Lincoln Memorial was shown. A view cone was established, taking the view from 3'-6" above the sidewalk, so that a handicapped person or a child looking up at the chamber level of the Lincoln Memorial would still maintain that view cone; that would leave an 18-foot-high zone above ground that would allow for some manipulation of the ground plane. Mr. Fleischer hastened to explain that this did not mean that the underground facility would rise 18 feet into the air, only that some components–particularly entry components such as ramping–might push into this 18-foot-high zone. He said they were looking for some degree of flexibility in developing means of getting people in and out without using an elevator structure. Since aging and war injuries would be common to many of the visitors, he wanted to reduce the length of ramping as much as possible. As the goal was to have a gentle slope towards the entrance, a shift in topography would help reduce the length of the entry path. He said they were trying to keep the ramping low enough so that it did not really count as a ramp and would not require railings.
Mr. Fleischer then enumerated other aspects of the project which had been considered in relation to their effect on the Mall and views to it. He began by saying that the hardscape elements, which would include paths, ramps and an entry plaza, would not make up more than 10 percent of the area. Every effort would be made to save existing trees and retain active recreational use of the site. The air handling would not result in vertical structures in the grass panels, and there would be no vertical emergency exit structures, although if necessary, they might have to use pop-up panels. No additional accommodations would be needed for a bus drop-off as they would work within the bus drop-off plans already planned by the Park Service. There would be no separate service ramp or loading dock; to the extent they had to deal with such services it would be underground or through the entry. Finally, he reiterated that whatever change of grade had to occur would stay within the wedge shown on the section drawing and between vistas so that no view to the chamber level of the Lincoln Memorial would be blocked to a person of any height or seated in a wheelchair; nor would any view be blocked as one walked along Constitution Avenue or any of the vista streets.
The Chairman thanked Mr. Fleischer and Mr. Wong for their presentation and then turned to the members for their comments. Mr. Childs said that his recollection from his work on Constitution Gardens some thirty years previously was that there was a 19-foot, 50-year flood plane across the site and no mention had been made of this. He said part of the design effort at Constitution Gardens was to keep an open grass plane; the idea was to have a great lawn with a large canopy of trees, pruned high enough to allow light to flood the space. He said he was delighted that everyone had stayed away from building underground on that site–including the World War II Memorial which originally did plan for a large underground visitors center. He was concerned that allowing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to do so would set a precedent. Mr. Childs observed next that it was common knowledge that underground facilities always expressed themselves on the surface, and that it was apparent that there was something other than soil underneath. The kind of mounding that would occur at this site, which would have to have quite sharp embankments, would be something quite different from what was anticipated by the McMillan Commission and Henry Bacon, who envisioned only a simple flat disc surrounding the mound which held the Lincoln Memorial. It would also be quite different from the soft undulations of the Constitution Gardens site. He likened the effect to a carpet on the floor versus a carpet with a shoe underneath it. He said he would prefer the Interior South building as the site, because it would get the center out of the ground and not disrupt the very carefully considered grading around the Lincoln Memorial; the thought of disrupting it, especially when it could be sloped up as much as 18 feet above the existing grade, made him nervous.
Mr. Fleischer said there was no intent to elevate anything up to 18 feet or to fill that zone across the site. Their biggest problem was to deal with the entry, with problems of access and height. To do that there had to be some manipulation of the surface, and although they understood the need for this to be a gradual movement, the result was not going to be flat ground. Mr. Childs said he had an alternate proposal to make, and that was to take a lesson from 18th century Paris and the placing of pavilions in parks and do something similar here. He thought it might have a less damaging effect than all the mounding that would be necessary for the kind of entry being proposed. Mr. Fleischer said he had not ruled this out, but every sense of direction they had received was to avoid any structure above grade, and he noted also that they were not talking about a few people walking into a small pavilion and waiting for an elevator–they were talking about a visitation expectation of 1.5 to 2 million, which was about half the visitation to the Vietnam Memorial. He said he was not certain the site had to remain a flat plain, but he understood Mr. Childs's point.
Mr. Parsons then responded to some of Mr. Childs's points. In regard to the flood plain problem, he said the flood-control devices were on the west side of 23rd Street to keep water from running down Constitution Avenue and the site would be well-protected, at least to the 100-year flood level. As far as this visitors center setting a precedent, that would not happen since Congress had amended the Commemorative Works Act to say there would be no visitor centers within the Mall reserve area. As to the Interior South building, that had been analyzed carefully. It was found that the basement area which was proposed for use had ceilings that were only 9 feet high, not enough for exhibits, and the rest of the building was used for offices. Also, the Secretary of the Interior said she would not agree to having the building used for this purpose given these conditions. Another drawback was the difficulty that would be encountered with having large groups, especially children, having to cross Constitution Avenue. As to the possibility of using an above-ground pavilion as a point of entry, Mr. Parsons said they had insisted to the applicants that there should be no consideration of a structure penetrating this space or any other in the green landscape that surrounded the Lincoln Memorial. Mr. Childs said he was only suggesting that by lifting the ground and having an entrance into it, more damage might be done than by using a smaller above-ground entry place. Mr. Parsons said their mistake had been to show the 18-foot cross section, implying the lifting of the ground to that elevation; he said that was certainly not their intent.
Ms. Zimmerman had some questions concerning the desirability of building underground structures, as far as the visitor was concerned. She said the Commission had had experience recently with the underground museum proposed for the Law Enforcement Memorial, and she had realized how difficult it was to make such spaces comfortable to be in and how to light them properly; she said she knew of other museums throughout the country that had had the same problem. She asked Mr. Fleischer if they had given much thought to how they would achieve a pleasant underground experience while still maintaining the green space above more or less intact.
Mr. Fleischer said they were very conscious of this problem and had been working with their exhibit designer, Ralph Appelbaum, who was present at the meeting, to find ways to do this, and they hoped to find some way of bringing natural light into the space. He said another issue they had to keep in mind was that this was not a memorial, and should not compete with the actual memorial outside. Ms. Zimmerman thought that if they did not want to compete with the memorial in any way they would be better off with one of the more distant sites, one which was not so sensitive. She asked if these sites were also restricted to underground development, and Mr. Fleischer said they would be according to the legislation, which assumed that the center would be somewhere on the Mall or within its context. He said the Memorial Advisory Commission, after having been given detailed information on all the sites, had narrowed them down to Sites A and E, but Mr. Parsons said that didn't mean that the Commission could not express its preference for one of the others, noting that the Interior Department had ruled out Site E.
Mr. Childs said that not much had been said about the program for the 25,000 square foot space. Mr. Scruggs said Mr. Appelbaum's program was extraordinary and would be addressed once the site was approved, but not at this point. Mr. Belle said it didn't work that way, that it was understood by all concerned that a 25,000 square footprint was a rather large one, and for it to work underground it would have to penetrate the ground plane in a certain way for certain functions. In order for the Commission to approve the site, something had to be known of the program. Mr. Rybczynski commented that there was a big difference between an underground building and one covered with dirt, as Mr. Childs had pointed out, and he was concerned that if they were going to have a 1:20 entry slope to avoid railings, as they had said, it would mean 300 feet of entry path to enter the building. Another thing that bothered Mr. Rybczynski was the risk of watering down the emotional effect at the memorial of moving down and then moving up again by repeating it at the center.
There was further discussion of the problems the Commission had with granting approval to the site and the design guidelines at this point. Mr. Childs said the problem was that if approval were granted, then the applicant would come back with a number of constraints inherent in the site and say the Commission had to agree to them. There was more discussion about what action the commission should take, and in the end Mr. Childs made a motion that the Commission approve Site A conditionally, with final approval dependant on the development of a satisfactory architectural and landscape solution. Mrs. Nelson seconded the motion which was carried, but with Ms. Zimmerman abstaining. (Mrs. Nelson had rejoined the meeting during the discussion of this project.)
(Ms. Zimmerman was not present for Georgetown Waterfront Park discussion)
CFA 15/SEP/05-5, Georgetown Waterfront Park, bounded by the Potomac River and Water Street, from the Francis Scott Key Bridge to the terminus of 31st Street. Revised concept for overlook structures. (Previous: CFA 16/JUN/05-3). Staff architect Jose Martinez introduced the revised concept for overlook structures for the proposed Georgetown Waterfront Park. He said that in June 2005, the western portion of the park received final approval and the Wisconsin Avenue terminus was approved in concept, but the overlooks were not. At that time, the Park Service was directed to simplify the overlooks design. A revised concept was presented to the Old Georgetown Board at their meeting of 1 September 2005 where it was generally well received. Mr. Martinez introduced John Parsons of the National Park Service to present the project.
Mr. Parsons stressed the importance of the overlooks in the proposed park as places from which different views of the river could be experienced. He introduced Kent Sundberg of Wallace Roberts and Todd to make the presentation.
Mr. Sundberg indicated the locations of the three overlooks as points where visitors could get closest to the river. Two of the overlooks would be located at the ends of streets and would therefore be prominent. Based on the Commission's comments to simplify, the designs for the overlooks were reconsidered to incorporate landscape elements rather than sculptural elements. The revised designs would also present opportunities for site interpretation.
The overlook structures would be composed of two granite elements. Each structure would consist of a red granite piece that would be used for seating, integrated with a sloped darker granite piece that could be used for interpretation. The dark granite may contain an etching or some manner of narrative about the history of Georgetown and its waterfront. The seating element would envelop the interpretive element on two sides. The three overlook structures would not be identical but rather, their designs and orientation would allow for differing views of the river and would be specific to their respective locations. For example, the structure at the easternmost overlook would be in two pieces because of the largeness of the space. Mr. Sundberg pointed out that granite was to be used at the Wisconsin Avenue terminus and also in the water feature, thereby creating a sense of continuity. Indicating the model, Mr. Sundberg said that the heights of the overlooks would be about 3 to 4 feet and that the guardrail in the overlook locations would be stainless steel.
The Old Georgetown Board Report included some suggestions. Because the paving and granite surfaces of the overlooks might be attractive to skateboarders, integrated deterrents should be studied. If there are to be engravings in the granite overlooks, then one large image would be preferable to numerous smaller images. The Commission agreed that a skateboard deterrent would be important, to which Mr. Sundberg replied that a rough block or cobble surface would be unattractive to skateboarders. The issue of shade was also raised, as granite could be very hot in direct sunlight, and therefore not a very inviting place to sit. Mr. Sundberg said that trees could be accommodated in the designs for the overlooks.
A motion to approve the revised concept was made by Mrs. Nelson, seconded by Mr. Belle and passed unanimously.
American Battle Monuments Commission
CFA 15/SEP/05-6, World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer, France. New visitor center. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/FEB/05-4). Ms. Penhoet introduced John Nicholson, of the American Battle Monuments Commission and Coke Florence and David Greenbaum of SmithGroup Architects to present minor changes proposed for the Normandy Interpretive Center since it was last reviewed and approved in February 2005.
In his introductory remarks, General Nicholson noted that Normandy American Cemetery was the most visited overseas American cemetery, with more than 1 million visitors per year. Revisions to the Sacrifice Gallery were approved in February and there were very minimal changes since then. He turned the presentation over to Mr. Florence and Mr. Greenbaum and thanked the Commission for their work on this important project.
Mr. Florence echoed General Nicholson's appreciation for the Commission's participation and said the final design would relate to all previous approvals. Quotations for the exterior and interior of the center would not presented as originally planned, as they were still being vetted and would be submitted at a later date. He acknowledged the presence of Elsa Santoyo, the project manager, and said that she would be available for questions.
Mr. Greenbaum continued the presentation with visual materials and detailed the proposed changes. The Sacrifice Gallery tower would no longer project, but would be dropped into the gallery completely. The gridded patterns that had been part of the tower's design would be worked into the overall design of the gallery. The tones, details and patterns of the granite on the facades would vary slightly. Paving and landscaping details from the point at which one would emerge from the Sacrifice Gallery would begin with stone jointing and progress to wood paving and landscaping. Fenestration details were altered slightly to accommodate the proposed surface exhaust smoke patterns. There would be variations in the detailing of the coursing and projections of the east wall.
The proposed changes were favorably received by the Commission. Ms. Zimmerman complimented the proposed use of zinc-coated copper for the east facade overhang. Mrs. Nelson commented that she had visited Normandy over the summer and felt privileged to be part of the visitor center project. Ms. Zimmerman made a motion to approve and was seconded by Mr. Belle. The motion carried unanimously.
Department of the Treasury / Bureau of Engraving and Printing
CFA 15/SEP/05-7, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, 14th Street and Raoul Wallenburg Place (15th Street), SW. New building lighting. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom said three Commission members and three staff members had attended a lighting mock-up the previous evening and listened to Mr. Leland Gammon from Wiley & Wilson describe the lighting proposals and show variations in intensity and position. He was joined by Victor Angell and John Roth from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The members present had some suggestions to make, but Mr. Gammon had come to the meeting to make a fuller presentation to all the members. He turned the presentation over to Mr. Gammon.
Mr. Gammon said first that he would like to clarify the scope of the project; he said it would include all sides of the main building as well as the annex, which was across 14th Street from the main building. He said the project was initiated about two years ago to improve nighttime security around the buildings and was in a preliminary stage at this time. He said he would review the lighting on the main facade which he had shown during the evening site visit for the benefit of those who had not been able to attend, and would then discuss the other facades and the annex proposals. He commented first on the importance of the main building because of its location, marking the entry into the city by way of the 14th Street Bridge. He said the building was also admired for the quality of its design and was a national historic landmark.
Mr. Gammon said that for the mock-up of the main facade the preceding evening they had erected all the pole lights and fixtures proposed and experimented with them by turning some off to see what different looks they could produce. He said there were four types of lighting to be used. Pole lights place out in front would produce a flood of light on the face of the building and light the two garden areas 40 to 50 feet wide in front of the building as well as the central stair area. The second type would be the floor-mounted fixtures behind the columns which would reduce shadows on the face of the building created by the pole-mounted floodlights and would separate the columns from the building and provide depth. The third would be ground-mounted floodlights along the entire front facade which would light the base of the building, providing separation of the building from the illuminated garden areas. The fourth would consist of ledge-mounted floodlights to illuminate the upper band of the building from the cornice above the third story.
Turning to the south facade, Mr. Gammon said pole lights had also been proposed, but he was aware that they had not been well-received for any facade. He said the distance between this facade and the fence separating their property from an alley was very narrow, and he thought ground-mounted floods aimed up at the same angle as on the main facade would probably give it a similar look. He noted that there were pilasters rather than columns on this facade.
The 14th street side with its wings and courtyards presented a different problem; the ends of the wings were treated in a classical manner with pilasters and ledges but the courtyards had a strictly industrial character. He said they had proposed pole lights and upper ledge-mounted floodlights to illuminate the ends of the wings, but Mr. Belle suggested that they place fixtures against the low wall that runs along the street and Mr. Gammon was thankful for that suggestion. Ms. Zimmerman asked if lights could be mounted on nearby buildings to solve some of their problems, but she was told that 14th Street was too wide for buildings on the other side to be used. For the courtyard area Mr. Gammon asked that they be allowed to replace the existing wall-mounted fixtures, not necessarily a one-for-one replacement, with ones that were better designed and would give a more attractive light.
For the narrow north alley separating the building from the Holocaust Museum, similar wall-mounted lights were also proposed because there was no room for ground-mounted fixtures. They would be mounted along a band between the basement and the first floor and at a mid-fourth floor location.
The Commission agreed that there was not much choice for the courtyard or the north alley, with Mr. Belle commenting that the height at which the wall-mounted lights were located and the degree of lamping were what counted.
Mr. Gammon then brought up the matter of lighting the attic story, or fourth level. He recalled that at the mock-up demonstration they had fixtures mounted on the upper ledge to keep that top story from going completely dark; these lights were placed on the main facade and on the south alley facade, since both facades were visible from 14th Street and from the Mall. They were also placed on the ends of the 14th Street wings, where the same architectural feature was used. He said his understanding was that the members present asked that he eliminate the attic story lighting entirely, and he said that would be fine with him.
Mr. Belle commented that eliminating that lighting would help the budget considerably, but there was one thing he had liked about it, and that was the warm color of the light; it was far better than the cold light they had used on the rest of the building. He told Mr. Gammon that it was his sense that those present at the mock-up thought the pole lights should be eliminated, and that the building should be lit up to the top of the cornice but not above, as just discussed. He urged Mr. Gammon to continue to refine the degree and angling of the lighting so that the architectural features were accented. Mrs. Nelson added that he should also pay attention to the color of the light.
Mr. Gammon then discussed proposals for lighting the annex building on 14th Street, across from the main building, and bounded by C Street, D Street, and 13th Street. He noted first that there was very little land between the city's sidewalks and building itself. He said lighting this building had been very difficult, adding that they had been working with the city's transportation department. He said the city said they would be willing to get rid of the cobra-head street lighting they had been using there and would allow their contractor to come in and erect Washington Globe fixtures around the entire building, which he thought would make a big difference. They would use double-globe Bacon fixtures on 14th Street since that was the tradition there, and single globes on the other streets, with the poles placed 60 feet apart. He added that he would prefer a lower level of brightness for these fixtures than the District was using. Mr. Belle agreed and then asked Mr. Gammon what the second row of fixtures was, close to the building. Mr. Gammon explained that there were areaways around the building which needed to be lit so that the security cameras up on the corners of the building could see down into them. He said the fluorescent lights used would be mounted on the inside wall, about a foot down, aimed downward, and have reflectors on the top so they would not be visible from the street.
Mr. Gammon returned to the main building's 15th Street facade to ask about the lighting of the steps up to the main entrance; he was concerned that they were going to remain dark. Mr. Belle recalled that the suggestion had been made at the mock-up demonstration that they use lighted handrails like those used at the National Gallery; these would light the steps and then the lighting on the entrance doors could be increased by raising the light level from behind the columns of the middle four or five bays of the building.
The Chairman told Mr. Gammon that he was quite far along with the whole lighting scheme and that he should explore all opportunities, come back to the staff and develop a final submission.
General Services Administration
CFA 15/SEP/05-9, Department of Education Building (FOB 6), 400 Maryland Avenue, SW. Plaza improvements. Final. (Previous: CFA 21/APR/05-10). Mr. Lindstrom introduced Michael McGill of GSA to present the final design for the Department of Education building plaza. Mr. McGill said that the triangular-shaped plaza at Maryland and Independence Avenues was deteriorating and in need of basic repair. Additionally, GSA saw the needed plaza work as an opportunity to renovate the plaza and make it a more attractive gathering place. He introduced architect Jim Clark of MTFA and landscape architect Marisa Scalera of Oehme, van Sweden to make the presentation.
Mr. Clark said that there were not many major changes to the design since it was approved in concept in April 2005, but that certain elements had been refined. Focusing his discussion on the hardscape materials, Mr. Clark said that in keeping the monochromatic materials of FOB 6, the hardscape would be rather neutral in color. The central gathering space would be comprised of grey concrete pavers. Existing granite would be reincorporated into the grid areas to embellish the concrete areas. The planters would be about 18 inches in height and would have a textured pebble finish. The top surfaces of the planters would be smooth.
Ms. Scalera then discussed the landscaping elements. She said that in contrast to the neutral hardscape, the plantings would be colorful and dramatic. The proposed plantings were chosen because of their ability to thrive in Washington, their long bloom time and their low maintenance requirements. The plants were designed to show their themselves throughout the seasons with the yellows and whites of jasmine in the spring, purple berries from summer into fall and grasses that will maintain their color and height throughout the winter. A variety of rose was selected because it bloomed bright pink from May into the summer and fall. Plantings located in front of the north face of the building would be shade tolerant.
Mr. Rybczynski asked why strips of granite of were integrated in the grass between the plaza and the lawn. Mr. Clark replied that the reuse of the granite in his location would link the plaza with the lawn. Mr. Belle was concerned that the presence of granite would make maintenance difficult. Dilip Chitre, architect with GSA, said that he did not foresee a maintenance issue here, since it was a relatively small area and if it could not be mowed, it could be maintained with a trimmer.
Ms. Zimmerman made a motion to approve the project and seconded by Mrs. Nelson. The motion carried unanimously.
CFA 15/SEP/05-10, Federal Office Building #8 (former Food and Drug Administration Laboratory), 2nd and C streets, SW. Building modernization and renovation. Concept. This submission was postponed.
CFA 15/SEP/05-8, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Pennsylvania Avenue and 17th Street, NW. Building modernization, renovation, security modifications and scissor-lift loading platforms - Phase II. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/SEP03-4, by delegated action). Mr. McGill introduced the next GSA submission, phase II of the modernization and restoration of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Martin Denholm, architect with SmithGroup, made the presentation.
The replacement and upgrade of windows and other elements of the building would conform to the proposal that was approved in concept in September 2003. The second part of the submission concerned the addition of two scissor-lift devices, to be installed in front of the carriageway entrances on the 17th Street side of the building. The scissor-lifts would facilitate the loading and unloading of delivery trucks that cannot clear the carriageway arches and therefore are not accessible to the loading docks. The loaded lifts would be wheeled to the loading docks, unloaded and returned to the carriageway entrance. They would be installed behind a row of bollards on a bridge that goes over a moat. The scissor-lifts would be painted a neutral color and would be flush with the pavement when not in use.
The Commission had no objection to either part of the submission. A motion to approve was made by Mr. Belle, seconded by Mrs. Nelson and carried unanimously.
Department of Defense / Department of the Army
CFA 15/SEP/05-11, Fort McNair. National Defense University, New building: Lincoln Hall. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 18/NOV/04-3). Ms. Penhoet introduced the next submission, a revised concept for Lincoln Hall at Fort McNair. She said that minor changes since the project was last seen in November 2004 included alterations to some of the entrances. Two significant changes were the addition of penthouses and a covering on the entry dome. Rod Garrett of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill made the presentation.
Mr. Garrett began with a discussion of the penthouse. He said that the original hope was to keep the mechanical systems inside the building; however, as the design developed, it became clear that a penthouse solution would be necessary. There would actually be two penthouse structures located on either side of the massing, set back approximately 30 feet around the perimeter. The materials, patterned brick with a limestone cap, would be the same as the rest of the building.
At the suggestion of the Commission, options for covering the ceremonial entry drum were studied. The entry drum's increased significance within the design necessitated the development of a covered space for gathering and events. A very light lens-shaped glass canopy would be installed within the precast piece. Such a canopy would allow for rain cover, but would still have the feel of an exterior space. In order to accommodate the 90 foot span and keep the structural elements as light as possible, a "king-post" structural system was devised to put the structure in tension, like a bow, taking the thrust out of the drum. The glass panels of the canopy would be fritted to allow light, but also provide subtle shading.
The two proposed changes were well received by the Commission. Mr. Belle suggested that the limestone cap on the penthouses be stronger. His motion to approve was seconded by Mrs. Nelson and carried unanimously.
CFA 15/SEP/05-12, Fort McNair. National Defense University. New Physical Fitness Facility. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/JUN/04-6). Ms. Penhoet introduced Greg Bordynowski to discuss the changes to the final submission of the physical fitness facility at Fort McNair.
Mr. Bordynowski said that some of the changes were made in response to developments in the master plan and to new fort protection requirements. The physical fitness facility site was compressed due to security checkpoint space requirements between buildings. Trees that were to go against the back wall would be eliminated because of their close proximity to a fence. A row of trees along the property line fronting Lincoln Hall would be retained.
When discussing materials, Mr. Bordynowski showed material samples, including brick and fritted glass. The grout color would blend with the selected brick and the cornice would be constructed of glass-fiber reinforced cement, which has the look of limestone. The metal roof would be a warm, or dove-grey, color and the rails would be painted to match the brick. The fritted glass for the upper part of the gymnasium will striped to allow for sun control and for decorative purposes. The brick patterning was simplified, since the brick was already textured. There would still be recessed brick in some areas.
The Commission complimented Mr. Bordynowski and his firm for their work and Mrs. Nelson moved the approve the project. Mr. Belle seconded the motion and it was carried unanimously.
(The agenda order was changed and item J.1.d, the Shipstead-Luce appendix and item J.2.a, Old Georgetown appendix were discussed next.)
District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Appendix II. The Shipstead-Luce appendix was approved without objection.
Old Georgetown Act
Appendix III. The Old Georgetown appendix was approved without objection.
Department of Defense / Department of the Army (con't)
CFA 15/SEP/05-13, Fort Myer, Carpenter Road (near the Hatfield Gate). New Child Development Center (CDC). Concept and Final. After acquainting the Commission with the site for the proposed Child Development Center at Fort Myer, on the southern portion of the campus between Tensa Terrace apartments and the Radar Clinic, Mr. Lindstrom introduced project architect Gregory Lukmire to present the project.
Mr. Lukmire began by discussing the site conditions and the particular requirements those conditions created. He said that the proposed facility was not only intended to replace a center at Fort Myer, but also the center at the Pentagon. It would house 438 children from the ages of 6 weeks to 12 years. School-aged children would use the facility after school, on weekends and in summer for camp. He noted that the site was not in a historic section of Fort Myer, and pointed out various buildings such as the Radar Clinic and the commissary for context. The design was intended to link the more red brick historic part of Fort Myer with the tan brick "big box" or more contemporary section. A setback requirement of 83 feet from any road constrained the site to approximately 100 feet wide by 600 feet long. The building would be 400 feet long.
The facility was actually intended as a combination child development center and youth services center. Normally, the Army has a standard design for each facility, but site restrictions necessitated the combination. The architects were required to use the dimensions of the standard child care module, for infants and toddlers, which were approximately 30 by 40 feet. For the youth services module, the requirement was for a two-story section to accommodate a gymnasium. The gymnasium would be located at one end of the building and it would be the only two-story element. In order to break up the very vertical feel of the building, gabled forms would punctuate the front elevation at various intervals. The building would be mostly red brick, but would be accented with tan brick in order to serve as a transition between the historic and contemporary.
Mr. Rybczynski expressed his extreme disappointment with the quality of the design, suggesting that it was not up the usual standard of military architecture for which the Army was known. Acknowledging the Army's need for a quick review of the project, he made a motion to approve the project for concept and final and was seconded by Mrs. Nelson. The motion carried.
District of Columbia Department of Transportation
CFA 15/SEP/05-14, Bicycle Transit Center, Union Station, west side plaza. New structure for a bicycle service station. Concept. Ms. Penhoet said the staff had been working extensively with DDOT on this project, and representatives were available to make a presentation if needed. The Chairman asked the Vice-Chairman for her comments. Mrs. Nelson said she was very excited about the project and thought it was a good one to have in the urban fabric. She said she had just been in Chicago and seen a similar facility, although that one had showers which the one proposed for Union Station did not. Regardless, she thought it was a wonderful concept and she would be happy to approve it. Mr. Rybczynski said his only comment would be that the structure needed to be lightened up somewhat; it seemed far too heavy for its use, although he thought the shape was interesting and would not change that. The Chairman asked that the applicant work with the staff on complying with Mr. Rybczynski's request and come back with a final proposal.
District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
S.L. 05-091, Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street, SW Additions, alterations and reconfiguration. Final. (Previous: S.L. 03-074, CFA 22 April 2003) Ms. Penhoet noted that Mrs. Nelson was the only member present when this project was first presented and asked the Chairman if he wanted the architect to give some background information before the new material was presented. Mr. Powell said he thought only the changes since 2003 were needed at this time.
Architect Bing Thom was introduced and said the revisions were basically very minor, and if the final decision was approved at this meeting, they would go about getting their building permit. He said the changes were mostly in the areas where they had previously had water elements. He noted the waterfall on the Maine Avenue (west) elevation and said it had been eliminated out of concern that it would not work too well during the winter months. Instead, that concrete wall would be given a slight texturing and it had become a ramp with large letters on it saying "Arena Stage." For those driving along Maine Avenue, the sign would tend to move with their sight line. Also, there had been a red emergency exit element coming out of the original Fichandler theatre which was too heavy and did not allow the theatre to sit well on its own; it had been changed to glass instead. Other formerly solid red elements shad also been changed to glass. He said the exterior would still be zinc, but it had been given a more striated pattern. He also pointed out a slight change in the cantilever because of the way the geometry was working out in the building. The roof element had not changed–it still had the cable stays. He noted that the existing trees on Maine Avenue were still retained, and he pointed out an emergency stair on the back that could be used as another entrance to the Arena once the waterfront had been developed. Mr. Thom commented that the concept for the project had been the idea that the theatres were really three temples on an acropolis, and the shop and administrative spaces treated as though they were on a mountain.
He then talked about the twenty-one artists' apartments above "the Cradle" (the new theatre) and said the form had been changed slightly to allow a more regular pattern of glass for the sake of economics, noting that all the glass fins would be displayed; he thought this would be an improvement when looking from the ground up, as it would not look like a glass extrusion coming out of a zinc box. The roof plane of the apartment element remained basically the same except for some mechanical elements that had to be added but were set back from the edge.
The major changes had been on a side elevation facing a set of apartment houses, with only a narrow gap between them and the Arena. They were mainly changes to windows to get more daylight into rehearsal or shop rooms. He said the terrace had not changed except that the balustrades had been brought up a little higher. He noted that this large outdoor terrace would be used for fund raisers and had a view of the Washington Monument.
Mr. Thom then showed material samples, including recycled wood, using wood chips that had been developed on the West Coast, and he described the large, 60-foot-high wood columns, a major feature of the interior which tapered, becoming larger at the top. A sample of the horizontally- striated, titanium zinc that would be used for the walls was shown.
The members had some questions for Mr. Thom, asked mainly to clarify the complicated organization of the many elements comprising this project, since only Mrs. Nelson had seen it before, but there was unanimous agreement that it was very exciting and would be a great addition to the city. Ms. Zimmerman moved that the final design be accepted; the motion was seconded by Mr. Belle and carried unanimously.
(The Chairman left the meeting at this point and turned the gavel over to the Vice-Chairman.)
S.L. 05-095, 400 7th Street, SW. The Nassif Building (U.S. Department of Transportation Headquarters Building). Building renovation and new facades. Revised concept. (Previous: S.L. 05-076, seen 22 July 2005). Ms. Penhoet introduced David Varner and David King from the SmithGroup to present a revised concept for this building. She noted that the Department of Transportation would be vacating it soon and moving to new quarters in the Southeast Federal Center. Mr. King made the presentation, saying that they had left the last Commission meeting and gone back with the members' comments, looking at Edward Durell Stone's work to plan a new approach that would take some of his work into consideration. He commented on the Commission's criticism that the building was too complex, that they were trying to do too many things to a building that in its present form was strong, simple, and straightforward. A second comment concerned the re-entrant corners, an unusual feature in Stone's work, which he thought might be a source for a new look for the building. Therefore, there were two basic strategies they wanted to show at this meeting: one was the reconfiguration of the basic wall system in glass rather than the original marble columns; the other was a distinctive treatment of the corners. He said they had looked at the National Geographic building with its tripartite division of the facades–recessed ground floor, several typical floors, and a recessed glass top floor– and took that as a starting point.
Mr. King then showed drawings of his revised design, pointing out the stone and glass base, more consistently solid than before, then the glass wall system that would rise up to two floors from the top, where there would be a second recessed glass area topped by an overhang–a typical Stone treatment. Unlike his earlier version, which filled in Stone's re-entrant corners, this one kept that distinctive configuration and the stone material–also seen on these corners at the National Geographic building–but broke up the stone area by turning the center section of the curtain wall so that it intersected with the re-entrant corner, dematerialized it somewhat, and introduced the ability to add windows to this area. Near the top, at the line of the recessed glass area, was a large square area of glass, thus introducing the tripartite division into the corner area. Mr. King then showed the D Street facade, with the Metro entrance, saying that he expected to be able to create a very large skylight, in what was now an internal plaza area, that would bring natural light into the Metro space.
Mr. King then showed a site plan with a planting scheme, pointing out the landscaping adjacent to the building with the exception of the main entrance on 7th Street; there was also landscaping within the cutout corner areas. There was a fairly generous sidewalk and the usual security elements of bollards, raised planters, and benches at the curb line, generally running in the plane of the street trees. He observed that the cut out corners generated setbacks that allowed them to pull bollards and any other protective devices away from the street corner, thus allowing the intersection to have a normal feeling.
Mr. Rybczynski asked if it would be possible to eliminate the large square glass areas near the top of the corners and make the corner walls solid stone. Mr. King said they had experimented with that but were reminded that the top corner of the building was always the most coveted office space and had to have windows. He thought, however, that they might be able to carry the stone down somewhat. Mr. Belle asked what the "stone" material would be, and Mr. King said he was not sure at this point; it could be some form of concrete. Mr. Belle then asked if the overhang would be the same material, and he was told that it was the original concrete cornice and would either be painted or clad.
The Vice-Chairman said that although she had abstained when the concept was first presented, she thought it was much improved. As it was such a large building, she thought it needed the weightiness at the corners that he had introduced. She asked for a motion to approve the revised concept which was made by Mr. Rybczynski, seconded by Ms. Zimmerman and carried unanimously.
S.L. 05-094, 748 Jackson Place, NW, (Lafayette Square). Stephen Decatur House Museum, National Trust for Historic Preservation. New entrance canopy on annex building, signs, banners, and sidewalk improvements. Concept. Ms. Penhoet introduced this project, saying that the architect had been working with the staff, who were generally supportive of the project except for the request for a banner, or blade sign on the long H Street elevation. She said the Commission typically did not approve such signs and there was concern about setting a precedent. She said Tom Striegel from Davis Buckley Architects would make the presentation. Before he began, Mrs. Nelson asked if that sign was a banner or a permanent fixture. Mr. Striegel said it was a banner that was a permanent fixture, attached to the building.
Mr. Striegel introduced Cindy Malinick, executive director of Decatur House, John Ireland, a board member and chairman of the Building and Grounds Commission, and architect Davis Buckley. He began his presentation by saying that Decatur House was one of three Latrobe houses in Washington, and it was celebrating its 50th Anniversary as a National Trust property next year. He said the basic problem he wanted to discuss was that because of heightened security and staffing issues, the main entrance on Jackson Place was closed and the entrance placed around the corner and down the block on H Street, where it was not easily seen; the goal was to increase, in subtle ways, the awareness of this important property.
He began a PowerPoint presentation, showing drawings of the historic Jackson Place facade and the H Street facade, which consisted of the three-story main house, a two-story dependency, and then the carriage house, which had a 1985 structure behind the facade. He showed a photo of the front facade, noting a small, oddly-proportioned sign in front directing visitors around the corner to the entrance. He noted also the new brick sidewalks in front, done at the time of the recent Pennsylvania Avenue-Lafayette Square improvements, and the concrete sidewalk on H Street. He said the first door on H Street, a contemporary aluminum storefront door, was locked, and the prospective visitor had to walk further to the actual entrance, announced only by some small lettering on the glass windows and a small brass plaque with a light over it. He said there was no sense of the fact that the historic front of the house was around the corner on Jackson Place. On this frontage he noted the street light on the corner and an existing bracket for an earlier flagpole. As a precedent for enlivening the streetscape, he showed photos of the many banners mounted on buildings or poles in the immediate neighborhood. He said their proposals included: restoring the flagpole and flag in front; hanging banners from the corner streetlight as well as from the streetlight beyond the H Street entrance; iron enclosures around the tree boxes with recessed uplights and planting within; extending the brick border that was recently put in along Jackson Place around the corner and down H Street and at the entry; a perpendicular banner on the wall halfway down H Street; and a glass canopy, lanterns, and glass sign cases at the main H Street entrance. Accent paint color would be used at the entry to match that used on doors, windows, and shutters, and recessed, ground-mounted, wall-washer lights would be installed to light the carriage house facade.
Ms. Zimmerman thought the suggestions were positive ones and would dress up that side of H Street, especially the canopy and the glass sign cases. Mrs. Nelson agreed, although she thought the mid-block banner was unnecessary because of the banners on the streetlights at both ends of the complex and the lighted glass canopy at the entrance. There was further discussion about the mid-block banner, or blade sign, with Mr. Rybczynski commenting that the streets were becoming full of banners, and no one paid any attention to them anymore. Mr. Belle had one more question, and that was about the treatment of the H Street sidewalk; he wondered if their budget had permitted it, would they have considered brick all the way down H Street? Mr. Striegel said they would have, and Mr. Bell replied that that would have unified everything.
Mrs. Nelson then asked for a motion for approval of the concept. Mr. Rybczynski made the motion, saying that the concept was approved minus the blade sign or banner on H Street; it was carried unanimously.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:38 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke