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 10:05 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Pamela Nelson, Vice-Chairman
Hon. Diana Balmori
Hon. John Belle
Hon. Michael McKinnell
Hon. Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
Hon. Witold Rybczynski
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 15 April meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the April meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes upon a motion by Ms. Nelson. Mr. Luebke said that the minutes will be made available on the Commission's website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings: 17 June, 15 July, and 16 September; he noted that no meeting is scheduled during August.
C. The Commission's 100th Year and the Shipstead-Luce Act's 80th year. Mr. Luebke reported on the Commission's two historical anniversaries falling in May: the 100th anniversary of the Commission's establishment on 17 May 1910, and the 80th anniversary of the Shipstead-Luce Act which was approved on 16 May 1930. (See next agenda item for special events related to the centennial.)
D. A report on the events of 19 May 2010 to commemorate the centennial of the establishment of the Commission of Fine Arts in 1910, and the 2010 Charles H. Atherton Memorial Lecture by Daniel Libeskind. Mr. Luebke noted the significance of the Commission's centennial, observed earlier this week, and reported on the three-part program in commemoration. A symposium was held on 19 May at the National Building Museum, titled "Politics, Architecture, and Power: The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the Design of Washington." They keynote address for the day was the annual Charles Atherton Memorial Lecture, named in honor of the Commission's long-serving Secretary; the speaker was architect and designer Daniel Libeskind who discussed recent cultural and commemorative projects. The second component of the centennial celebration is a newly opened exhibit at the National Building Museum, titled "A Century of Design: The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, 1910 to 2010." The exhibit emphasizes the Commission's role in shaping Washington and will remain on display through 18 July. The third component is a book on the Commission's history, which is currently being prepared and is anticipated for publication in two years; the topics discussed by the symposium speakers will be included in the book.
Mr. Luebke reported that 2010 is also the centennial of the law from 1 June 1910 that limits building heights in Washington. He said that the Commission joined with the National Capital Planning Commission to sponsor a related public lecture on 18 May, titled "Density and the Form of the City in the 21st Century: The Centennial of the 1910 Height Act." The speaker was Larry Beasley, former planning director of Vancouver, British Columbia. He noted Mr. Rybczynski's discussion of Washington's height limit when delivering the Charles Atherton Memorial Lecture two years ago.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Direct Submission Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom reported one change to the draft appendix: supplemental information was received for Palisades Park (case number CFA 20/MAY/10-g) and is noted in the revised appendix, with no change to the substance of the recommendation. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson, the Commission approved the revised Direct Submission Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several changes to the draft appendix. Two projects have been withdrawn to allow additional time to resolve outstanding design issues (case numbers SL 10-087 and 10-092). The recommendation for case number SL 10-085 was changed to favorable subject to further coordination of elevations and the door selection, based on the receipt of supplemental materials. There were also minor changes such as adjustments to dates. Upon a motion by Mr. Belle with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported several changes to the draft appendix. One project has been withdrawn to allow additional time to resolve design issues raised by the Old Georgetown Board. There were also minor changes such as adjustments to dates. Three projects were added from the cases filed for the coming month; these projects involve minor procedural issues and do not require further review by the Old Georgetown Board. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 20/MAY/10-1, Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial. Intersection of Maryland and Independence Avenues, between 4th and 6th Streets, SW. Information presentation. (Previous: CFA 20/NOV/08-1, Information presentation on pre-design program.) Mr. Luebke introduced the information presentation from the National Park Service on behalf of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission. The presentation includes three preliminary concept design alternatives for the selected site at Maryland and Independence Avenues, SW. He noted the Commission's support for the design process in November 2008, with a recommendation that the plaza be treated as an urban space with a commemorative element situated within it. The architecture firm Gehry Partners was subsequently selected as the designer of the memorial, and the design alternatives are being developed as part of the environmental impact review process. He said that the three alternatives represent different strategies for the site through varying configurations of similar design elements—a grove of trees, limestone walls, sculptural reliefs, colossal columns, and stone lintels with quotations. The third alternative, preferred by the design team, would also include large tapestries of stainless-steel mesh. The Maryland Avenue view corridor toward the U.S. Capitol is retained in all alternatives.
Mr. Luebke introduced Peter May of the National Park Service to being the presentation; Mr. May asked Brig. General (retired) Carl Reddel, executive director of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, to introduce the design team. General Reddel noted that the National Park Service will own and operate the memorial after its completion. He introduced executive architect Daniel Feil of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission's staff; landscape architect Joe Brown of AECOM; architects Frank Gehry and John Bowers of Gehry Partners; several members of the Memorial Commission; and a representative of the Department of Education, which is headquartered in a building adjacent to the memorial site.
Mr. Brown discussed the site and landscape issues of the project, noting his firm's past involvement with projects involving Washington's Monumental Core and memorials. He presented a location map of other presidential memorials in Washington, noting their variety and wide geographic distribution. He said that the Eisenhower Memorial's site has the form of a civic square, in contrast to the garden settings of most recent memorials in Washington. He described the civic square setting as consistent with L'Enfant's concept of memorials being integrated into the context of the city, enlivening it and supporting its economic development. He described Maryland Avenue SW as a "sister"—but not a twin—to Pennsylvania Avenue NW, with the memorial intended to relate to Maryland Avenue's unique character. He indicated the varied sequence of spaces along Maryland Avenue, with a strong character beginning to form; he emphasized the open space of Reservation 113, at the intersection of Maryland and Virginia Avenues, and the view along Maryland Avenue toward the U.S. Capitol. He presented images of the site's current condition and described its unappealing character with parking and scattered plantings. He noted a traffic study which concludes that diverting traffic away from Maryland Avenue at the memorial site would improve safety and traffic movement. He indicated the facade of the National Air and Space Museum along the north side of the site, raising questions of the building's front side and the strength of the space; he also indicated the other buildings that frame the site and have programmatic relationships to Eisenhower's legacy.
Mr. Bowers discussed the access to the site. Transit is plentiful, with rail access from nearby Metrorail stations and a Virginia Railway Express station, and bus lines including the Circulator bus along Independence Avenue. Pedestrian access will be an important design consideration, with particular emphasis on the corners of the site; crosswalks at the street intersections will be major access routes. Independence Avenue and 4th Street will be particularly important arrival directions for visitors coming from the Mall; many visitors will also come from the National Air and Space Museum. An additional important route for pedestrians will be along Maryland Avenue from the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station to the southwest.
Mr. Bowers described the characteristics of the site; lacking any strong identity within the open space, its identifying feature is the surrounding building facades, which define a 7.5-acre area including the adjacent streets. The memorial site itself is approximately four acres, including a fifty-foot-wide transition zone along the Department of Education headquarters on the south, serving to give pedestrian access to the building's two entrance lobbies. He indicated setbacks for memorial elements on the remaining three sides of the site to respect the context of building lines along Independence Avenue and 4th and 6th Streets. He also indicated the alignment of Maryland Avenue passing diagonally through the site, with a historic fifty-foot cartway within the actual street right-of-way of 160'. He described the site as generally flat, with a maximum grade difference of four feet and a low point at the northeast. He noted the existing sunken courtyard extending ninety feet north from the Department of Education headquarters, bringing daylight to a basement library; this courtyard will be retained within the memorial design. An existing exhaust-air vent for the building would be relocated to avoid interference with the memorial. He described the existing uses on the site including a plaza, a community garden, scattered landscaping, and fragments of Maryland Avenue that have minimal traffic and primarily serve to provide access to the sixty parking spaces on the site.
Mr. Bowers presented a series of photographs of the site to illustrate its condition and the context. Ms. Nelson asked for a view toward the site from the Metro station escalator on Maryland Avenue near 7th Street; Mr. Bowers responded that this view is not included in the presentation but would be similar to the view from 6th Street and Maryland Avenue looking northeast across the site. He emphasized the large volumes of the surrounding buildings and the aesthetic need for some sense of mass toward the middle of the site.
Mr. Gehry described the inspiration for the design and the limitations of the competition process. He said that the competition did not include the opportunity to work with the client and the community, and he views the resulting design as a study and the beginning of a discussion rather than a final proposal. He described his research into Eisenhower's life and achievements—including a growing awareness of Eisenhower's modest origins and character—and a visit to Eisenhower's boyhood home in Abilene, Kansas; near the home are large grain elevators that are similar in size to the large columns proposed in the memorial design. He described the difficulty of envisioning a memorial for this "impossible" site; the design approach is to create a backdrop and set a modest memorial within it. He acknowledged the strong historic tradition of memorialization with bronze sculptures but said that modern-day sculptures are typically not satisfactory. He therefore chose to explore memorialization through tapestry, a traditional art form that he has recently been studying; he cited inspiration from the modern work of artist Chuck Close in this medium. One concept being considered is to create a durable tapestry of metal fibers that will serve as a backdrop for the site. He acknowledged the issue of whether such a material would withstand outdoor exposure; he said that the Getty Museum has offered to work with his firm to age-test the material for durability of 100 to 200 years. The central portion of the site would be treated as a modest garden space defined by columns; the three alternatives express this concept with varying complexity to allow for potential budget limitations.
Mr. Gehry described Design Concept 1, which incorporates Maryland Avenue as a street passing through the site. The memorial elements are configured to create a sense of space beside the avenue, with the freestanding columns forming a circle. He noted that this alternative would be the least expensive to construct. Design Concept 2 would have a similar configuration, but without including Maryland Avenue as a street accommodating traffic. Design Concept 3 would incorporate the large tapestries, with the columns configured to provide support. He noted that the south tapestry would extend along the Department of Education facade and would be sufficiently transparent that views from the offices would not be blocked; he described the tapestry as "a gentle curtain of some kind."
Mr. Gehry indicated the proposed landscaping in each scheme, including a central tree or grove that would be sycamores—beautiful trees that are prevalent in Abilene. The central space would provide seating for viewing the stone sculptures that would tell Eisenhower's story; lintels above the sculpture would have memorable phrases such as "the military-industrial complex." A small water feature would include Eisenhower's name; he acknowledged the desirability of avoiding maintenance burdens for the National Park Service. He also indicated the proposed area near the Department of Education for visitors to establish computer links and learn more about Eisenhower. He described the remainder of the site as garden, adding that the south terrace of the National Air and Space Museum is currently underutilized and could be developed to provide cafe space and an overlook to the memorial. Two small buildings—a bookstore and a National Park Service facility—would be included in the memorial and are indicated in the presentation materials; however, they have not yet been designed. He noted that the memorial would be prominently visible to people driving by.
Mr. Gehry discussed the tapestry concept of Design Concept 3 in more detail. He said that these would be developed in collaboration with the artist Robert Wilson and would involve the selection of three images that would define Eisenhower. The main image shown in the competition design is people rejoicing on V-E Day; an image from D-Day was also considered but could be too military for this memorial. He noted that the upper part of the V-E Day image is light and could therefore be treated as relatively transparent, helping to retain views from the upper floors of the Department of Education building. He said that the seventy-foot distance between the tapestry alignment and the building could be increased but is already approximately the width of a typical city street. He described the issue of supporting the tapestries; one concept was a cable structure which could be attractive, but he concluded that its character was not appropriate for Washington and this site. The concept of supporting the screens with the large columns is therefore being developed; their large diameter of 14 feet suggests the scale of buildings. He said that the design team also intends to explore other support mechanisms for the tapestries. He said that the two smaller tapestries toward Independence Avenue would suggest a proscenium theater when viewed from Independence Avenue, with the central memorial feature in the middle of the implied stage. The two images shown for these tapestries include Eisenhower fixing a fence at his home, and a meeting of his administration's Cabinet—both intended to illustrate Eisenhower's modesty. He indicated that one column would be omitted from the row along Independence Avenue in order to allow the open view corridor along the historic cartway alignment of Maryland Avenue.
Ms. Nelson asked whether the size of the columns would be different in each design concept, commenting that people may feel overwhelmed by their scale; Mr. Gehry responded that the columns in Design Concept 3 would likely be larger than in the other concepts. He emphasized that he is not certain whether the columns will remain as a design feature, and their size would be perceived quite differently from eye level than is apparent from the drawings and models. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if a material has been considered for the columns. Mr. Gehry responded that limestone would be a likely choice; he noted the use of metal in many of his other projects but said that this might not be appropriate for the site.
Mr. Powell and Ms. Nelson asked if perimeter security would be required around the memorial site, perhaps resulting in the inclusion of bollards. Mr. May of the National Park Service responded that extensive perimeter security is not currently anticipated for the memorial, although some protection would be needed for the Department of Education headquarters. He said that the concept for this protection has not yet been developed but would ideally be integrated into the design of the transition zone between the building and the memorial. He added that a limited amount of perimeter security might be provided on the alignment of streets leading directly into the site to prevent cars from accidentally continuing into the memorial.
Mr. Powell asked whether a decision has been made on retaining Maryland Avenue as a functioning road across the site; Mr. Gehry responded that this has not yet been determined, adding that the avenue could also be included in Design Concept 3. Mr. Brown added that the design team's preference is not to have Maryland Avenue carry traffic through the site, in accordance with the earlier transportation study and the desire to create a civic place as well as the security advantage of keeping traffic out. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked if the design process included consideration of adding a road or traffic lane along the face of the Department of Education headquarters to define the memorial site as a freestanding plaza; Mr. Gehry responded that this has not been considered but would be interesting to study. Mr. McKinnell asked if an alternative could be a design that incorporates the "memory" of Maryland Avenue even if it is not open to traffic. Mr. Brown agreed that the design details should reflect the alignment of the historic avenue in the ground plane even without the presence of cars.
Ms. Balmori asked about the height of the columns, noting that those near the Department of Education in Design Concept 3 are apparently intended to match the height of that building, while the scale of the other columns could be more flexible. Mr. Gehry responded that the large, consistent size of the columns in Design Concept 3 is intended to strongly define the central precinct of the memorial within a garden; smaller columns would be less effective in establishing a sense of place, and the centralized configuration of columns in Design Concepts 1 and 2 is also less strong. He noted the importance of establishing the memorial's precinct alongside the high volume of traffic and large surrounding buildings. Mr. Brown emphasized the need for the memorial to address the broad scale of Independence Avenue, which effectively serves as the front of the memorial.
Ms. Balmori asked about the scale of the memorial's inner space containing sculptures and other elements; Mr. Gehry confirmed that this space could be described as "the real memorial" and said that it would be seen within the context of the wider space, preferably with a sense of separation from the surrounding buildings. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked for further information about the extent and shapes of the memorial's landscaped areas. Mr. Gehry said that the intention is to provide a quiet, contemplative garden space, including lawns. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that the extent of landscaping may be insufficient to achieve this character, and the shape of the landscaped areas appears arbitrary. Mr. Gehry responded that more green space would be desirable; Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that careful placement of the green space may be more important than increasing its extent. Mr. Brown responded that the concept is a focused green area that contrasts with the remainder of the site; he characterized the central memorial element as a meeting place and an allusion to a military encampment that is translated into a garden setting. He said that the green space toward the center should therefore have a character of importance and contrast rather than just being an anonymous background; Mr. Gehry added that there would be additional landscaped areas toward the sides of the site.
Mr. Belle commented that the discussion of scale suggests an inherent dilemma in the concept: the large scale required to define a sense of enclosure for the urban space suggests a significant scale and weight; however, the enclosure may conflict with the more intimate elements in the central space of the memorial. He acknowledged that the design may not yet have developed to the stage of resolving this conflict; Mr. Brown agreed. Mr. Gehry responded that the definition of the precinct and the backdrop for the garden are important elements of this design; the particular elements—such as columns or some other mechanism for supporting the tapestries—are not yet determined, nor are the details of scale and materials. He emphasized the importance of creating a special precinct within the disparate architectural context, the near-complete separation of the site from the Mall, and the current lack of activity along the south side of the National Air and Space Museum. He noted that a narrow vista exists between the east end of the site and the Mall, providing a view toward the memorial's central element; he added that removing the two columns shown on the northeast in Design Concept 3 might be a way to emphasize this view. He said that the competition jury and the Eisenhower family have supported Design Concept 3, while others have expressed concern; he said the design team would explore many alternatives.
Mr. Rybczynski observed that the columns serve two purposes—as freestanding elements defining the central space, and as supports for the tapestries—and commented that the scale of the supporting columns could be smaller. Mr. Gehry reiterated that the design team had considered a support system using steel and cables but concluded that its industrial appearance would not be appropriate for a memorial in Washington. Mr. Brown emphasized that the existing poor visual quality of the site requires a strong architectural and landscape solution, rather than inserting a weaker memorial element and trying to create beauty from the disparate context. He said that the goal in developing the design will therefore be to strengthen rather than weaken the design gestures. Mr. Gehry offered the military analogy of "establishing a beachhead" in the urban context.
Mr. Powell commented that the screen is the most interesting part of the design; he asked about its transparency. Mr. Gehry responded that metal screens without images could be very transparent; when images are applied—such as in the photography-related work of Chuck Close—the screens may be more opaque. He said that the appropriate image and transparency would be studied for this project. Mr. McKinnell asked if a narrative sequence of images might be considered rather than a single image. Mr. Gehry responded that this could be considered; he added that the reason for using a single image in the competition was to suggest the backdrop purpose of the screens, provide a sense of modesty appropriate to telling Eisenhower's story, and to emphasize a single theme—initially selected as victory in World War II—rather than a large-scale narrative. Mr. Belle cautioned that the screen should not appear intended to mask the building behind it. Mr. Gehry responded that this is not the intent; he noted that the Department of Education building already has the character of a neutral backdrop, but it would not work well in conjunction with the memorial. Ms. Nelson expressed support for the image shown in the competition entry, commenting that the large screen seems to work well at this scale despite her initial reaction that it should be separated into vertical segments. She suggested that the memorial combine the photographic images with the poetic power of words. Mr. Gehry said that a narrative treatment of Eisenhower's life would be problematic because his achievements are very wide-ranging; he nonetheless reiterated that the images for the screens would be studied further. Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted that the screens are depicted as lifted to allow people to walk beneath, raising questions of wind and winter weather conditions.
Mr. McKinnell expressed overall support for the scale of the columns as shown in the presentation, commenting that the design suggests an attractive tension between the massiveness of the columns and the delicacy of the screens, with the tapestry form alluding to cloth; he suggested further refinement of the scale. He also suggested retaining the two columns at the northeast corner of the site, commenting that their removal as suggested by Mr. Gehry would result in a more static composition. He said that the configuration of columns suggests the "absence of the presence of a building," relating the design to the theories of architect Peter Eisenman; he added that the large scale of the columns is necessary to establish this idea.
Ms. Balmori expressed support for the overall intention to create an intimate space but commented that the resulting space is not well designed; she said that it does not quite have the character of a park, and the configuration of mounds has a suburban character; she suggested further effort to develop the design in this area.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk supported the large scale of the columns, agreeing that they would successfully establish a sense of place within the difficult context; she said that the columns need a scale that is commensurate with that of the large surrounding buildings. She agreed with Ms. Balmori that the design of the ground plane within the memorial should be developed further. She supported the stated intention of the ground plane serving as a calm background to the memorial's primary features, commenting that this would be an improvement on the typical design approach for memorials in Washington, but observed that the presented design has too many distracting elements such as meandering paths and landscaped mounds.
Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's overall support for the project and interest in seeing the development of the design as a concept at the next presentation.
2. CFA 20/MAY/10-2, National Mall. Center lawn panels (#29, 30, and 33) between 3rd and 7th Streets. Reconstruction of the turf and soil, and installation of an irrigation system and new granite curbs and gutters. Concept. Mr. Luebke introduced the proposal from the National Park Service for the reconstruction of the turf and soil in the three center lawn panels at the east end of the National Mall, including installation of an irrigation system and eighteen-inch-wide curbs and gutters around the panels. He said the reconstruction should improve the appearance of the lawn by reducing compaction and providing good drainage, enabling the lawn to withstand intensive use. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation. Mr. May said the turf reconstruction proposal is the beginning of a broader program of improvements to the Mall; he introduced John Piltzecker, Superintendent of National Mall & Memorial Parks, and consultant Suzette Goldstein of HOK.
Ms. Goldstein outlined the major elements of the project: reconstructing the turf and soil, and installing new curbs and a new irrigation system. She emphasized that the existing walks around the grass panels will remain, although their width will be slightly reduced by the installation of curbs; the historic 180-foot width of the grass panels would not change.
Ms. Goldstein said the proposed curbs would provide a clean edge between the walks and the lawn panels; they would protect the new irrigation system as well as the lawn edges and would stop the spread of gravel from the walks into the lawn. She presented views of typical wear and damage to lawn panels, comparing them with renderings of lawn panels with curbs added. She said the proposed curbs would be difficult to discern in some of these views, such as from the Washington Monument.
To achieve the goal of controlling the collection and distribution of water in a sustainable way, Ms. Goldstein said water would be harvested through the new curb and gutter system. She presented the shallow V-profile of the proposed curbs and said that the proposed width of eighteen inches is the dimension of a standard city curb and gutter. She added that the curb will not be a barrier to the accessibility of the lawns, adding that the project would effectively improve accessibility because the lawn currently has many ruts and metal edgings. Ms. Balmori expressed support for the curbs and said they would give a clean edge to the lawns. Ms. Nelson asked if their budget would allow for granite curbs and gutters; Ms. Goldstein responded that the current intention is to use granite—the same variety used for D.C. street curbs—although a cost-saving option would be to use pre-cast concrete. Several Commission members expressed a strong preference for granite, noting the important location on the National Mall.
Ms. Goldstein discussed the current problems with water flow: water gathers along the edges of the lawn, making it muddy, killing the grass, and creating a ragged appearance. She said that water would be kept off the grass by the proposed profile of the curb, up to the 15-year storm occurrence which is the D.C. government's standard requirement. Mr. Belle asked how the grading would be handled along the length of Mall. Ms. Goldstein said the Mall would remain fairly flat, with grading varying from about one to two percent; she clarified that the grading of the lawn panels would include crowning to slope toward the gutters. She said that the slope of the gutters would be two or sometimes one percent; a smooth-finish granite would be advantageous over concrete because the water flow can be controlled more easily over a smooth surface.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked where the water would drain to; Ms. Goldstein responded that the gutters would include a series of drains at 36-foot intervals, and the water would then flow into cisterns. She confirmed that the drains would be visible, although they do not appear in the photographic simulations.
Ms. Goldstein discussed the treatment of the curb at the corners of the lawn panels. She said the design team had consulted the 1936 plan for the Mall, when the inner walks were designed as roads open to traffic; the corners were rounded with a fifteen-foot radius. In the 1970s the roads were converted into walks, and the corner radii were eliminated. She indicated that pedestrians have now worn away the grass at the corners of the panels; the proposal is therefore to solve this problem by restoring a 15-foot radius, allowing sufficient room for pedestrian use.
Ms. Goldstein discussed the proposed reconstruction of the soil, which she characterized as hard as concrete. The soil would be engineered to resist compaction from the thousands of yearly events that occur there, and the soil would support faster regrowth to replace grass that does become damaged. The proposal includes digging up the existing soil, adding organic material and sand, and spreading the soil in accordance with the new grading design. Ms. Nelson asked if the new soil layers would need to be refreshed; Ms. Goldstein responded that the expected life cycle of the reconstructed soil should be approximately 40 years, depending on maintenance. Mr. Belle asked about the depth of soil replacement; Ms. Goldstein responded that approximately one foot of soil would be excavated, or slightly more where required for changes to the grade. She said the project includes an underground drainage system that would also feed into the cisterns. This system would be unusually deep—four feet below the surface—to avoid damage from tent stakes; the typical depth of such stakes is 42 inches and the new drains would be safely below.
Mr. Rybczynski asked if the National Park Service could impose a limitation on the length of tent stakes, such as three feet; Ms. Goldstein responded that this would be helpful but potentially unreliable, and the deep placement of the drains is a preferable solution. Mr. Rybczynski also asked if a weight limit could be imposed for vehicles on the grass in order to protect the investment; Ms. Goldstein acknowledged that heavy vehicles have created the compaction problem and said that the sand-composite soil will accept compaction better. She added that an option under consideration is the addition of plastic netting, or "hydrofabric," to the soil to help it resist compaction while allowing grass roots to grow. She said that the design team will work with the National Park Service to develop new guidelines for maintenance and event operations. Ms. Nelson asked if this would include guidelines concerning the frequency of events; Ms. Goldstein said these are being considered, with the goal of achieving a balance between accessibility and maintenance of the natural resource. Ms. Balmori supported the option of installing hydrofabrics, which she said are very worthwhile for this kind of use. Ms. Goldstein said the design team has researched several varieties and is weighing the costs and benefits of these relatively new products, adding that similar results may be achieved simply from using sand-based soil. Ms. Balmori asked about the depth of a hydrofabric, if this option is pursued; Ms. Goldstein said that various depths are recommended in relation to particular products, and an eight-inch depth is being considered for this project.
Ms. Balmori discussed the practice in many parks of rotating the use of grass panels and suggested that one panel of the Mall be fenced off each year to allow the grass to recover. Ms. Goldstein responded that the National Park Service currently has a system of rotating half the panels during the off-season while keeping them all open during the summer. Ms. Balmori suggested closing one panel each year, commenting that the loss of one panel during the summer should be acceptable; Ms. Goldstein offered to consider this further. She added that lawn damage is apparently caused more by objects—including tents, flooring, stages, vehicles and even military tanks—than by people. She added that vehicles are generally not allowed on the lawn; Mr. Belle observed that vehicles are nonetheless driven on the walks. Ms. Goldstein added that truck drivers currently can have difficulty seeing whether they are on the lawn or the walks because the edges are poorly defined; the proposed curbs will give them a clear visual indication.
Ms. Goldstein provided additional information about the proposed grading. The panels would be crowned up to two percent and to one percent at the ends, accentuating the lawn panels when viewed from a distance since they will be slightly higher than the walks. The difficulty in grading will be in meeting existing grades along the edges, which will not change significantly in order to avoid alteration to the tree panels and street furniture; in some cases, it will be necessary for panels to drain to one side. She said there would be slight regrading of the gravel walks to ensure that water flows into the drainage system. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked for a comparison of the existing and proposed grades. Ms. Goldstein indicated that the new grade would be slightly higher; she said that the difference would be in the range of a few inches rather than feet without having a precise number.
Ms. Goldstein discussed the proposal to add two 250,000-gallon cisterns to collect water from the gutters and the lawn drainage system; water could also be collected from neighboring properties along the Mall. She said that the cisterns will allow the National Park Service to provide sustainable irrigation for the lawn panels without using potable water. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked how the lawn is currently being irrigated; Ms. Goldstein responded that some of the lawn panels have an irrigation system, but none are currently functioning. Ms. Balmori asked whether the cisterns would have visible metal covers on top; Ms. Goldstein said the cisterns would be buried beneath the walks, and there would be manholes in the walks for access. Ms. Balmori asked if the proposed distance of 36 feet between gutter drains would be too far. Ms. Goldstein said that this spacing should be sufficient, and a greater distance might even be possible; she added that the metal drainage grates could be detailed to be flush with the granite.
Ms. Goldstein described the proposal to place rows of irrigation heads along the edges of the lawn panels and another row down the centers; these will have eight- to ten-inch-wide rubber-covered caps, with an underground pumping station and supply lines. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested that tent stakes not be allowed in the center of the panels to avoid damaging the heads; Ms. Balmori agreed. Ms. Plater-Zyberk also suggested eliminating the water supply lines that cross the lawn panels, commenting that these would be most vulnerable to damage because their location would not be as easily understood as those on the edges and center; Ms. Balmori agreed. Ms. Goldstein offered to consider this change, agreeing that protection from tent stakes would be improved by a clear enforcement of regulations with a clear understanding of where pipes are located, in addition to the protection provided by the depth of the pipes. Ms. Nelson asked if irrigation would be provided for the side panels with elm trees; Ms. Goldstein said that this is not proposed, but convenient connections will probably be included to facilitate watering of these side panels.
Ms. Balmori asked about the mix of grasses or other plants being planned for the lawn, noting that this selection will affect the amount of watering needed. She added that nitrogen balance and other issues needed to be considered in selecting materials, commenting that the past methods of planting lawns are no longer accepted; she emphasized that the lawn should consist of multiple species, including clover, to eliminate dependence on chemicals and provide biodiversity. Ms. Goldstein agreed and said that the mixture is still being studied; a perennial grass will likely be the base seed and would be over-seeded with annual grasses. She said that two mixtures will likely be proposed to respond to two issues: the need for a base lawn that is durable, and the need for varieties that can grow back quickly after damage from events. She added that the addition of more sand to the soil will require changes to watering and other maintenance routines. Ms. Balmori emphasized the importance of such decisions due to the symbolic importance of the Mall, and she asked that the Commission be kept informed of these decisions; Ms. Goldstein agreed.
Mr. Belle emphasized the importance of the body of knowledge that has been developed about what works and what does not work in maintaining the Mall. Ms. Goldstein added that the National Park Service, the agency responsible for maintaining the Mall, has scientists on its staff as well as relationships with outside scientists, providing a depth of expertise.
Mr. Powell asked if groups sponsoring events on the Mall are required to pay for repair of any damage. Superintendent Piltzecker responded that the National Park Service is allowed to charge for cost recovery; however, damage to the Mall tends to be incremental, which creates difficulty in determining which event is responsible for damage. He said that the National Park Service cannot charge fees for events but does require a bond and can take from that what is necessary for cost recovery. He said that defining what events can and cannot occur on the new turf will be important, adding that there will not be limitations on activities protected by the First Amendment.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk expressed overall support for the proposal but said she was concerned about the similarity of the curbs and corner treatments to typical street dimensions. She suggested that the width of the curbs be less than 18 inches to distinguish them from street curbs, and to use a corner radius of ten feet instead of the 15-foot radius that is common for streets.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to support the project with enthusiasm. The Commission approved the concept upon a motion by Mr. Belle.
C. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
Mr. Simon introduced the submissions for two non-circulating coin programs scheduled for 2011: a set of two coins commemorating the Medal of Honor, and a set of three coins honoring the United States Army. The coins have varying denominations and sizes, with separate design alternatives submitted for each. He introduced Kaarina Budow of the U.S. Mint; before presenting the designs, Ms. Budow shared with the Commission the recently issued first five quarters in the America the Beautiful series.
1. CFA 20/MAY/10-3, Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin Program for 2011. Designs for a five-dollar gold coin and a one-dollar silver coin. Final. Ms. Budow described the authorizing legislation for a five-dollar gold coin and one-dollar silver coin to honor the heritage of the Medal of Honor and the distinguished service of its recipients. She said that the Medal of Honor was first authorized in 1861 for naval service, and was later extended to the other military branches. The medal, presented by the President on behalf of the U.S. Congress, honors members of the armed forces for distinguished service in military operations; fewer than 3,500 medals have been awarded. She noted that surcharges from sales of the coins would support the programs of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, adding that the Mint has been working closely with the Foundation to develop the themes and designs for the coins. Ms. Nelson noted the unusual situation of a medal as the subject of a coin design.
Ms. Budow presented four alternative designs for the obverse of the five-dollar gold coin, each depicting the original design for the Medal of Honor including its suspension ribbon. Ms. Balmori said that designs #2 and 3 are best in emphasizing the medal, while the other alternatives include too many extraneous design elements; Mr. Belle agreed. Ms. Nelson and Mr. Powell supported design #2 as the clearest alternative. Ms. Budow noted that the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation has also supported design #2. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission recommended design #2 for the obverse of the gold coin.
Ms. Budow presented four alternative reverse designs for the gold coin; the themes include symbols and battle scenes of the Army and Navy of the Civil War period, when the Medal of Honor was first awarded to members of these military branches. Ms. Balmori commented that all of the alternatives are too busy, rendering the designs illegible; she added that the proposals do not suggest the work of a good designer. She said that the composition of design #1 is "tolerable" but nonetheless has too many elements, declining to support any of the alternatives. Ms. Budow noted the Foundation's preference for design #1 and a second choice for #2, with a concern that remaining alternatives are too specific to a particular branch of the military. Ms. Nelson commented that design #1 initially seemed the most promising, but at a small scale the composition appears to be merely an agglomeration of elements with an eagle emerging; Mr. Belle agreed. Ms Nelson and Mr. Powell suggested developing a simplified version of design #1 with less layering. Mr. Belle suggested not recommending any of the submitted designs. Mr. Rybczynski commented that the slight difference in typefaces for the obverse and reverse could be disturbing; he said that the typeface shown in the reverse designs is preferable, and he suggested that future presentations provide the opportunity to see the obverse and reverse proposals together. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater-Zyberk with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission recommended design #1 with the request that it be simplified and that the typeface of the obverse and reverse be coordinated.
Ms. Budow presented three alternatives for the obverse of the silver coin, each featuring the three present-day designs for the Medal of Honor corresponding to the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Ms. Balmori commented that design #3 is the best composed; Ms. Nelson and Mr. Belle agreed. Ms. Budow said that the Foundation prefers design #2 which depicts the neck ribbon as the Medal of Honor is the only U.S. military medal that is worn around the neck. Ms. Balmori questioned whether the design would be understood to include a neck ribbon, and Ms. Nelson said that an excessive amount of ribbon is depicted. Mr. Powell agreed that design #2 lacks clarity; Ms. Budow noted that its diameter is 1.5 inches, larger than many coins. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested that design #3 might be more successful if the ribbon were reconfigured to suggest being draped from the neck, agreeing that the proposed design is unclear. Ms. Nelson reiterated that #3 is the cleanest design; Ms. Balmori and Mr. Rybczynski agreed. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission recommended design #2.
Ms. Budow presented four reverse alternatives for the silver coin; the theme is the legacy of courage, sacrifice, and patriotism that the Medal of Honor represents, as established by 1963 legislation that limits the medal to honoring heroic action in combat. Ms. Balmori said that this coin deserves a much better design, commenting that the alternatives appear stiff and cartoonish. She said that the only design with any potential as a composition is #2. Ms. Nelson agreed that none of the proposed designs is satisfactory, contrasting the alternatives to the notable actions of the medal's recipients; she and Ms. Balmori suggested rethinking the design and a better designer. Ms. Budow said that the Foundation's preference is for designs #2 and #4, although the depiction in #4 of the Tomb of the Unknowns might suggest too close a relationship between the medal and death; Ms. Balmori agreed. Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's consensus to request better designs. Ms. Plater-Zyberk reiterated the Commission's recommendation to relate the typeface on the obverse and reverse of the coin.
2. CFA 20/MAY/10-4, United States Army Commemorative Coin Program for 2011. Designs for a five-dollar gold coin, a one-dollar silver coin, and a half-dollar clad coin. Final. Ms. Budow summarized the authorizing legislation for three coins commemorating the United States Army, established in 1775; the subject includes soldiers of the past and present as well as the heritage of the Army and its role in American society throughout its history. Surcharges from sales of the coins would support the effort of the Army Historical Foundation to establish a National Museum of the United States Army, comparable to existing national museums for the other military branches. She noted the more detailed description of themes for the coins, developed in consultation with the Foundation and included in the submission materials distributed to the Commission members.
Ms. Budow said that the theme of the five-dollar gold coin is "service in war." The obverse alternatives depict soldiers to illustrate the continuity of the Army's war service from the Revolutionary War to the present, and the reverse alternatives depict the Army emblem. She presented the four alternatives for the obverse. Ms. Nelson asked about the size of the coin; Ms. Budow confirmed that this gold coin would be slightly smaller than the circulating quarter coin. Ms. Nelson commented that design #1 has a strong composition, but the word "Liberty" around the edge is difficult to read due to the weapons and other design elements that overlap the text; Mr. Powell agreed. Ms. Budow responded that this overlapping configuration is typically not used for circulating coins but is sometimes used for commemorative coins made of precious metals. Ms. Nelson also recommended that the rocky terrain depicted beneath the soldiers' feet be eliminated. Mr. Belle asked why one of the three figures was selected to be the largest. Ms. Budow responded that this choice was left to the artist; Mr. Belle noted that the artists of coin designs do not appear before the Commission, and the question therefore remains unanswered. Ms. Budow added that approximately twenty artists have been working on these design alternatives. Ms. Plater-Zyberk speculated that the Revolutionary War soldier may have been selected as the largest figure because it is historically the earliest. Ms. Budow noted the Foundation's preference for design #2. Ms. Nelson commented that the word "Liberty" is more legible in design #2, but she reiterated her support for the composition of design #1; several Commission members agreed. Ms. Plater-Zyberk acknowledged that the depiction of five soldiers in design #2 provides a broader representation of the Army than the three figures in design #1; however, she said that the goggles on the central leading figure in design #2 have a "psychologically disturbing" effect by concealing the eyes. Ms. Budow responded that the design is intended to depict modern combat uniforms. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission recommended design #1, subject to reconfiguration of the word "Liberty" such as compressing the lettering into a more cohesive configuration toward the top of the coin, and removal of the stone base beneath the soldiers.
Ms. Budow presented the three design alternatives for the reverse of the five-dollar gold coin, with varying configurations of the Army emblem and the required text. Ms. Nelson observed that the differences among the alternatives relate primarily to the border treatment; Ms. Budow noted that design #3 includes the additional text "Department of the Army." Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked about the history of the emblem. Ms. Budow said she did not have this information available but the emblem is related to the design of the Army seal; she provided an image of the original emblem. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that design #3, without a circular border, is the alternative that is most consistent with the obverse design; Ms. Balmori agreed. However, Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted that the original emblem design includes a circular border. Ms. Nelson expressed support for design #2, commenting that a border ring is helpful to contain the complex design of the emblem; she said that the continuous border in design #2 is preferable to the ring of dots in design #1. Ms. Budow said that the Foundation prefers design #3 due to the inclusion of the phrase "Department of the Army" in this alternative. Ms. Nelson suggested adding a circular line around the emblem in design #3 to improve the clarity of the composition; however, she noted that this solution would include the text "Five Dollars" within the ring which would incorrectly imply that this phrase is part of the Army emblem. Ms. Budow confirmed that the phrase "Five Dollars" is required on the coin. Ms. Balmori supported design #3; Ms. Nelson supported design #2, which Mr. Powell said is the clearest composition. Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission recommended design #2.
Ms. Budow described the theme of "modern Army service" for the one-dollar silver coin. She presented the five obverse design alternatives which relate to the topics of worldwide deployment, the diversity of modern soldiers, and advanced technologies. She said that the Foundation's preference is for design #5 because it best depicts these various aspects of modern Army service, including the Army's readiness to deploy for combat or for humanitarian assistance. Ms. Balmori commented that all of the alternatives need further study; she said that most of the people are poorly depicted, and the inclusion of goggles is problematic as discussed previously. She suggested that design #1 could be viable if the goggles were removed, allowing the depiction of the two people rather than emphasizing their uniforms; she suggested removing the partial edge of the globe from above their heads. She said that the other alternatives are poorly drawn and do not adequately honor the subject of the coin. Ms. Nelson agreed that these alternatives are not of sufficient quality. Ms. Budow responded that the goggles are included as part of the accurate depiction of the soldiers' uniforms; Ms. Balmori said that the resulting appearance resembles Darth Vader (the Star Wars movie character). Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted the Foundation's preference for #5, adding that the Commission's awareness of such preferences helps in evaluating the designs and identifying the features that are important to these other groups. She said that the variety of figures and equipment—which were described as the Foundation's reason for preferring this alternative—would be more legible if the globe were eliminated from the design. She added that the slightly off-center position of the globe gives it undue emphasis, adding to the design's complexity, and the placement of the phrase "In God We Trust" on the globe is also problematic. Mr. Powell also supported a simplified treatment of design #5. Ms. Budow said that the globe is an important symbol, signifying global deployment. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that the potential texturing of the design is difficult to understand from the drawing, and she reiterated that the off-center placement of the globe is "disturbing;" Ms. Balmori agreed. Ms. Plater-Zyberk offered a motion to recommend design #5 with adjustments, including alteration of the globe. She clarified that removing the globe would apparently diminish the desired narrative of the coin; the recommendation is therefore to consider centering it, reducing its size, or eliminate the texturing of its surface. Ms. Nelson agreed that the globe could be depicted more simply with lines only; Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted that the textured surface is already indicated for the three soldiers. Ms. Balmori commented that design #3 already incorporates some of these suggestions; Ms. Plater-Zyberk agreed that the depiction of the globe is more successful in design #3. Mr. Rybczynski expressed dissatisfaction with all the alternatives and said he did not want to support any particular design or modification; Ms. Balmori agreed. Without a clear choice by the Commission, Chairman Powell suggested conveying these comments to the Mint—including the recognition of some potential with design #5—and requesting the opportunity for further review of revised alternatives. The discussion of the silver coin's obverse concluded without adopting a motion.
Ms. Budow presented the four reverse alternatives for the one-dollar silver coin, based on the seven core values of the modern Army. Ms. Plater-Zyberk observed that the first three alternatives depict soldiers, which is also the intended subject of the obverse; she therefore supported design #4, depicting the Great Seal of the United States, which she said would best balance the obverse figures without creating a redundant design for the coin. Ms. Balmori and Mr. Powell agreed. Ms. Budow said that the Foundation's preference is for design #1; Chairman Powell nonetheless confirmed the Commission's recommendation for design #4.
Ms. Budow described the theme for the half-dollar clad coin of "service in peace." She presented the four alternatives for the obverse, relating to the Army's peacetime contributions in the fields of science, medicine, electronics, and aviation. She said that the Foundation prefers design #2 as the best depiction of the Army's varied peacetime contributions. Mr. Powell commented that the designs are attempting to tell too much of a story in a very small space; Ms. Nelson and Ms. Balmori agreed. Ms. Budow noted that this coin will have a diameter of 1.2 inches. Ms. Nelson offered support for design #1 because it has the fewest elements, adding that the design is sufficient to convey the subject of science and the diversity of the modern military. She questioned whether the multiple elements of design #2 would be legible—including flood protection, a landscape, and a rocket. Ms. Plater-Zyberk suggested that design #2 would be more successful if the doorway frame were removed; Ms. Balmori said that this design would nonetheless be too complex. Ms. Budow emphasized the challenge of highlighting the wide range of significant contributions by the Army. Ms. Nelson acknowledged this challenge and said that the result is reminiscent of elementary-school posters that include every product in the student's state; she reiterated the Commission's concern that the designs have too many elements.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk acknowledged the representatives of the Foundation in the audience and summarized the Commission's ongoing concern with simplifying the design of coins due to their small size; she said that the first circulating quarter of the America the Beautiful series, provided to the Commission at the beginning of the Mint's presentation, is only barely legible and was the simplest of the alternatives that were presented for the Commission's review. Mr. Rybczynski emphasized that the art of coin design is to distill the subject; he said that the submitted alternatives appear to simply cram the multiple elements into the design, and that is why they are unsuccessful. Ms. Nelson added that the designs should be edited and refined until they make sense as small sculptures that are held in the hand; Ms. Balmori agreed. Ms. Budow noted that the inscriptions have been kept minimal to allow room for the other design elements; Mr. Powell said that the result is nonetheless crowded. He summarized the Commission's request for a simplified design.
Ms. Budow presented the three reverse alternatives for the half-dollar clad coin, intended to symbolize the Army as the nation's first military service and the Army's key role in the nation's internal development. She said that the Foundation prefers design #2 depicting a strong image of a soldier in the Continental Army, representing the Army's early service to the nation. Several Commission members agreed that design #2 is the strongest. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission recommended design #2 for the reverse of the half-dollar clad coin.
D. General Services Administration
CFA 20/MAY/10-5, St. Elizabeths Hospital, West Campus, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. Adaptive Reuse Plan (Phase 1b) for Building 49 and campus landscape for the Department of Homeland Security Headquarters. Final. (Previous: CFA 15/APR/10- 4.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the revised submission for the components of the Department of Homeland Security headquarters that were not approved in the previous month's review of the proposed final design. She noted that the proposal for Building 49 is essentially unchanged but the submission materials have been clarified at the Commission's request. She asked Jim Fortinsky of the General Services Administration to begin the presentation. Mr. Fortinsky introduced landscape architects Tom Amoroso of Andropogon Associates and Patricia O'Donnell of Heritage Landscapes to present the revised landscape proposal.
Ms. O'Donnell cited her firm's ongoing work since 2003 in documenting the landscape of the West Campus and establishing a framework for the designers of various components of the headquarters project. Ms. Balmori said that the Commission has reviewed the framework and supports it, but questioned the specific landscape proposal for the areas included in the recent submission for Phase 1b—including the lack of clear information about the proposal itself and about its relationship to the overall framework. Ms. O'Donnell said she would provide an initial overview, and Mr. Amoroso would follow with a more detailed presentation. She said that most of the Phase 1b work is in an area that was historically a service and industry zone within the broader landscape of the West Campus, and the aesthetic quality of this area's landscape gradually declined to be more service-oriented. She presented the 1937 landscape plan which was studied closely in developing the current proposal. She noted the topographic complexity in the vicinity of Building 49 as well as its position at the transition between the service area and the more elaborately designed arboretum-style landscape at the upper plateau of the West Campus.
Mr. Amoroso presented a plan of the current landscape condition and of the proposed landscape at the time of the build-out for the Department of Homeland Security headquarters in 2016. He summarized the overall design goals of restoring the historic landscape, modernizing it to meet current regulations, emphasizing the site's natural beauty, and creating a functioning ecosystem. He described several key issues in the design: hydrology and stormwater management, including the impact of excavation for new construction; utility layout and its impact on trees; and tree protection zones, including analysis of tree health, root zones, and sensitivity to construction impacts. He indicated the overall landscape zones that are proposed: the historic tree collection on the plateau; the meadow condition along the edge of the plateau; and the historic woodlands on the southern and western portions of the campus.
Mr. Amoroso presented side-by-side comparisons of the 1937 landscape plan, the current condition, and the proposed condition for 2016. Ms. Plater-Zyberk asked for specific examples of what is proposed for 2016. Mr. Amoroso indicated an existing parking lot and associated roadways that would be removed adjacent to Building 33, allowing reconstruction of the historic fountain at that location; existing trees would remain, and trees from the 1937 plan that are no longer extant would be replanted. Ms. Balmori criticized the design as insufficient for a final landscape proposal, commenting that the depicted landscape is not realistic: she noted the lack of paths, which would result in the landscape's destruction after mere weeks of use; the depiction includes a bare expanse of lawn, which is not a desirable landscape by modern standards; there is no provision for seating or making use of the landscape. She summarized her concern that the proposal does not constitute a complete landscape design.
Mr. Amoroso responded that the proposal is based on restoration guidelines for the site; he said that other elements such as benches could be added, but the overall intention is to recapture the character that was present in 1937 and not add new elements. Ms. O'Donnell added that the rendering may be misleading because the selected viewpoint does not encompass the nearby sixteen-foot-wide walk. She said that the intention is for this walk to be furnished, using a historic bench type that remains on the campus; several hundred of these existing benches would be refurbished for the campus redevelopment. She also said that six-foot-wide brick walks would extend along the lawn and would accommodate pedestrian movement from the cafeteria; these walks would be sufficiently wide for the pedestrian traffic and would be part of the water capture system. She acknowledged the concern about creating an extensive uniform lawn, explaining that the tradition at the campus is a lawn of multiple species of grass and clover; she described this mixture as sufficiently durable for the site conditions. The soil mix would be modified to provide stability and water percolation.
Mr. Amoroso presented historic views of the landscape to illustrate the intended design character that would be restored. Ms. Balmori objected that people use landscapes differently in modern times which must be accommodated in the design; for example, people will want to walk into the peaceful lawn areas and be near the trees and fountains. Mr. Amoroso emphasized that the stabilized lawn design would accommodate a significant amount of pedestrian traffic, and benches would be provided at a portion of the periphery although they are not illustrated.
Tom Mozina of Perkins + Will presented the architectural proposal for Building 49, including additional renderings to illustrate the design more clearly. He said that the images are presented in pairs with and without the landscaping to allow a more detailed view of the connection between new and existing construction for this building. He summarized the three levels of the proposed addition with multiple entrances on the steeply sloping site. He compared the proposal to the master plan vision for this location, which included a larger footprint for the expanded building; the design that has been developed includes more extensive below-grade construction which allows for a landscaped courtyard as part of the entry sequence. He indicated in the views that the landscape around the building would include low-level plantings as well as canopy trees, some of which are existing. He also presented elevations of Building 49 and emphasized the proportional relationships of the architecture with existing buildings in the vicinity. He indicated the separation of the addition's foundations from the existing building to avoid disturbing the historic structure, and the use of glass where the addition would abut the existing building.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk expressed appreciation for the expanded presentation of Building 49, which she said clarifies the design proposal. She questioned the relationship of the design to the adjacent Ice House (Building 52), emphasizing the contradictory relationships between the buildings and the hill: the Ice House is set into the hillside, while Building 49 is clearly cutting deeply into the topography. She said that the design problem of harmonizing these structures is difficult but could be resolved through further study. Mr. Mozina clarified the location of an existing retaining wall in this area and the proposed realignment of the adjacent road to provide an appropriate slope for emergency vehicles, slightly altering the setting for these buildings. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that the problem appears to be the treatment of the addition's lower level rather than the alterations to the road. Mr. Mozina acknowledged the proposed alterations to the natural slope to accommodate a small entrance plaza and glazed facade for the lower level. Ms. Plater-Zyberk reiterated that the result is an awkward relationship between this area and the adjacent Ice House. She said that the contrast in scales may be part of the problem: the Ice House is relatively small and set into the hill, expressing a modest traditional method of stone construction, while the new addition uses stone as the base for a much larger building. She offered a potential solution of extending the use of brick in the addition's facades by one more story, limiting the stone base to a scale that relates to the Ice House; overall, she suggested that the design be more respectful of the scale and placement of the older architecture. She also questioned the desirability of the proposed folded-plate form of the gymnasium roof and wall, but said that the relationship to the Ice House is the greater concern.
Ms. O'Donnell suggested that the position and width of the walk near the lower-level entrance to Building 49 could be adjusted to allow landscaping between the walk and the addition, possibly incorporating a grade change within the potential width of eight to ten feet; this modification would help to reduce the visual impact of the building. She said that a similar modification could occur adjacent to the proposed exterior stairs that would be placed along a reconstruction of the existing retaining wall; this zone, also eight to ten feet wide if the walk were narrowed, could have additional landscaping and grade change. Ms. Plater-Zyberk agreed that these changes would help to address the problem. Ms. O'Donnell added that the rendering depicts a light-colored paving in this area, while the paving palette for the campus includes both the lighter exposed-aggregate concrete and a darker-colored brick; she suggested that using brick at this location—perhaps appropriate for the context of brick buildings within a service area—could lessen the visual contrast between the addition and existing buildings.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk emphasized that the aesthetic conflict between the Ice House and the proposed Building 49 addition results from a jarring shift in the language of design concerning the relationship of architecture and topography. She suggested that the new addition have the appearance of being set into the hill, respecting the precedent of the Ice House. Mr. Mozina noted that the main entrance to the Ice House is not depicted in the perspective view, resulting in undue emphasis on a minor side entrance; Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that the Ice House entrance is not the issue. Mr. Mozina clarified that the lower-level entrance in the proposed addition could be interpreted as being consistent with the Ice House's main entrance—both involve entering the facade of a building whose rear portion is set into the hill. Ms. Plater-Zyberk disagreed, observing that the addition's facade has the character of a retaining wall, whereas the Ice House's facade is clearly understood as part of a building. Mr. Mozina said that the design team considers this character to be a strength of the proposal: much of the addition's program is located underground, rather than expressed as a building. Ms. Plater-Zyberk agreed that this strategy would be acceptable for an isolated project, but the proximity of this site to the Ice House results in an aesthetic contradiction. Chairman Powell concluded that this design concern would require further study, including a potential change in the transition between stone and brick in the addition's facades.
Mr. Belle raised further questions about the architectural character of the Building 49 addition, questioning the unexpected combination of a two-story stone base and a two-story upper volume of brick with a thin ribbon of clerestory windows. Mr. Mozina reiterated the different program at each level. Mr. Belle said that these differences do not seem sufficient to justify the great difference in facade treatments at the various levels. Mr. Mozina responded that the design intent was to use the programmatic differences as an opportunity to break down the scale of the addition through different treatments of the architectural volumes, such as the enclosure of the gymnasium with simple brick planes and clerestory windows. Mr. Belle said that the resulting design appears "radically different" from the other buildings on the campus. He contrasted this design approach to the earlier part of the presentation concerning the site design for the West Campus, with an emphasis on faithfully restoring the historic landscape; he questioned the apparent inconsistency of inserting clearly modern architecture while so carefully avoiding such insertions into the landscape.
Mr. Mozina responded that the treatment of the historic service area of the campus—where the addition to Building 49 would be located—has a different conceptual approach than the treatment of the plateau area, which was the focus of the earlier discussion concerning the landscape; he noted that the historic portion of Building 49 that would be retained is actually located along the border between these two areas. Ms. Plater-Zyberk and Ms. Balmori commented that this response does not satisfactorily address Mr. Belle's concern.
Ms. Balmori summarized her concerns with the landscape design, emphasizing the need to document important elements such as the inclusion of historic benches. She said that the design should give a sense of how people would use the landscape; if the lawn is designed to accommodate substantial pedestrian use without paved walks, this intention should be addressed in the submission, perhaps through the inclusion of technical documentation. Ms. Nelson commented that additional details are missing from the landscape renderings; for example, the courtyard depicted in image #42 was described as having low plantings but none are shown. She emphasized that an accurate and thorough presentation of the design proposal is necessary for a final review by the Commission; Ms. Balmori agreed. Chairman Powell noted the overall landscape approach of adhering to the 1937 plan, which is apparently a historic preservation requirement for the project. Mr. Belle questioned the interpretation of the Secretary of the Interior's historic preservation standards as prohibiting the introduction of modest amenities such as shade trees, benches, paths, and lighting. Ms. Plater-Zyberk noted that such amenities may be proposed in the detailed plans but are not depicted in the perspective renderings; Ms. Balmori agreed with this concern.
Chairman Powell summarized the Commission's request for an improved presentation of the landscape proposal. He acknowledged the design team's effort in advancing the project and said that the Commission would review a further submission for final approval. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
E. U.S. Department of Agriculture / U.S. National Arboretum
CFA 20/MAY/10-6, National Arboretum, New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road, NE. National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. Rehabilitation of the Japanese Pavilion. Concept. (Previous: CFA 15/OCT/09-4, Sign Master Plan.) Mr. Martinez introduced the proposal to rehabilitate the Japanese Pavilion which is part of the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, located adjacent to the administration building at the National Arboretum. He introduced landscape architect Kurt Parker of Rhodeside & Harwell; architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle; and Hoichi Kurisu, president of Kurisu International, a landscape design firm specializing in Japanese garden design principles. He noted that Mr. Belle was not participating in the Commission's review due to his firm's involvement in this project.
Mr. Parker said that the design team has been involved in other projects at the National Arboretum and has been coordinating the current submission with the National Bonsai Foundation, adding that the pavilion houses one of the greatest collections of bonsai in the world. He described the context of the Japanese Pavilion, part of a cluster of pavilions that were constructed in the 1970s within a courtyard garden setting; access to the Japanese Pavilion is through a series of gardens that provide an interpretive sequence leading to the pavilion entrance. He provided images of the approach route, emphasizing the serene environment and the paving of bluestone and aggregate. He indicated the gate that marks the entrance to the Japanese Pavilion, and the aggregate paving surface which he said has poor drainage and presents difficulty for maneuvering in a wheelchair. He illustrated the overhead wooden beams that have begun to decay due to infestation by insects, and described the moveable overhead shading devices that became difficult to maintain and are no longer in place. He described additional decay of the wooden benches and rails and the stucco walls, which have been damaged by moisture infiltration and mold growth.
Mr. Parker said that the proposal includes replacement of the pavement with a more easily accessible bluestone surface that has better drainage. New plantings are proposed to soften the pavilion's appearance. A new display system is also proposed that would provide a unique setting for the bonsai specimens and would relate to Japanese culture. He asked Mr. Kurisu to present the proposed display system in more detail.
Mr. Kurisu said the display would be based on the principle of shin-gyo-so, a Japanese term describing an artistic consciousness of progressive degrees of formality: formal, semi-formal, and informal—each with its own special quality and value. He said that the exhibit includes dozens of bonsai trees and can become monotonous after seeing the first several trees; the display method is therefore intended to help in stimulating the visitor's interest. He added that the bonsai experience includes the display plinth and the overall atmosphere of the exhibit. He described the concept of gradual transition between the three levels of formality, avoiding the abruptly contrasting extremes of formal and informal. For example, a plinth might be constructed of a rectangular granite block, representing shin—the highest level of formality; or might be a non-orthogonal material, representing gyo—the semi-formal level.
Mr. Parker described how this display concept would be implemented through varied design elements such as plinths of different heights, benches in various combinations with the plinths, or even the articulation of pavement and planting edges in conjunction with the plinths. The overall sequence of gardens would be organized as a progression from shin to gyo to so. He described the range of materials that would be used on the ground plane, including granite chips and low plantings in addition to the bluestone; the plantings may include various species of mosses, sedums, ferns, and grasses. He indicated the vertical slot openings that would be introduced into the walls to improve air circulation and address the problem of heat gain, which can be a problem for the specimens on display. He indicated the proposed rails that would be light and open while sufficiently durable to withstand the public setting. Ms. Nelson supported the rail dimension as appropriate for allowing visitors to view the bonsai specimens at varying heights. Mr. Parker said that the rail would accommodate removable identification panels that describe the bonsai specimens; he added that the Arboretum staff wants the flexibility of being able to move these panels when needed. He also described the opportunity for inserting horizontal fabric panels within the overhead beam system to provide shade where needed.
Ms. Nelson asked for further information about the proposed materials. Mr. Parker responded that this is being studied; the plinths would be stone, and the bench types may include wood slats and stone. He noted that heat absorption by stone benches might be problematic and would be studied further.
Mr. Hassan presented the architectural proposal for the pavilion. He said that the existing structural system is intact although the masonry is deteriorating. The proposal is therefore to maintain the existing configuration of the pavilion but to refinish the surfaces. He emphasized the concern with avoiding future water damage, which he said has been caused by such details as placing the trellises and pergola directly on top of the walls. He described the design goal of creating a minimalist display envelope for the exhibits, providing a simple background that does not overpower the bonsai specimens. The proposed trellis would be elevated above the walls, creating a sense of lightness as well as addressing the problem of water damage; this solution would also allow for adequate ventilation when the fabric panels are used. Ms. Nelson asked how these fabric panels would be attached; Mr. Hassan said that the details have not yet been developed, but a snap-on mechanism is anticipated. He emphasized the modular consistency of the trellis system which allows for the fabric panels to be installed at many locations and provides for easier maintenance. Mr. Parker concluded by presenting the proposed lighting: ground-mounted lights would illuminate the wall behind each specimen, and more focused fixtures are being considered for attachment to the rails. He said that the lighting hardware would not be readily visible to visitors in the pavilion.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk commented that the presentation was convincing, and Mr. Powell offered support for the proposal. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the concept for the rehabilitation of the Japanese Pavilion.
F. Department of Defense / Armed Forces Retirement Home
CFA 20/MAY/10-7, Scott Building, Scott Road, NW. Replacement building. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 18/MAR/10-4.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced architect Joseph Woo of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) staff to begin the presentation of the revised concept for the replacement of the Scott Building. Mr. Woo noted the Commission's comments from the previous review in March 2010 and said that the design team has responded and has coordinated the proposal with the staff of the Commission, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the D.C. Historic Preservation Office; he acknowledged the "strong constructive criticism" that has been provided. He introduced architect Frank DiMella of DiMella Shaffer to present the revised design.
Mr. DiMella summarized the planned uses for the building—a residential health-care facility, and common facilities for AFRH residents—and said this building will be critical to the overall plan for consolidation of facilities on the AFRH campus. He noted that the proposal includes the new building as well as a relocated chiller facility along the east side of the campus to replace the chiller facility in the current Scott Building that will be demolished. He summarized the characteristics of the site which were presented more fully in March; he indicated the restoration of the view corridor extending south from the historic Lincoln Cottage nearby that will result from the demolition of the existing Scott Building and the more limited footprint of the new proposal. He presented images of nearby buildings on the campus, indicating the stone construction, punched openings, and metal details such as porches; the design intent remains to match these materials from the context in the new building's design. He summarized the Commission's previous comments: the north facade was too grandiose in height and design, while the massing of the building toward the south was reasonable; the open space to the west was a welcome feature but related poorly to the proposed loading dock area; and the architecture should have a residential rather than institutional character.
Mr. DiMella presented the resulting revisions to the design. The height of the building on the north has been reduced, and the north facade is integrated into the building mass rather than being treated as a separate plane; masonry is now proposed for all sides of the building. He said that the earlier design was intended to screen views of the mechanical penthouse, which has been resolved by reducing the penthouse's height and length and moving it away from the north facade. He said that the porch on the north is now proposed with a height of two stories rather than three; the lower level would mark a building entrance, and the upper level would be used by residents. The apparent length of the north facade has also been reduced by introducing setbacks and glass bays at the corners. He said that the previously proposed arcade along the north facade has been eliminated from the design for several reasons: it was not important functionally because the pedestrian activity would be primarily at the east entrance of the building, facing the nearby residential building; the area occupied by the arcade would be more useful as part of the building's interior space; and the building is less costly with the removal of the arcade.
Mr. DiMella provided additional information on the relationship of the west garden area to the loading dock below. The trucks would not be visible from the elevated garden area, which would be twenty feet above the loading dock. Ms. Nelson asked about the height of the parapet at this dropoff; Mr. DiMella clarified that the landscaping would be designed to prevent people from approaching the parapet, but acknowledged that someone climbing through the planting would reach a pipe railing and could look down to the trucks. He presented a perspective rendering of this area and noted that the trees and the loading dock driveway are existing features on the site. Mr. Woo of the AFRH staff emphasized the pastoral character of views along this hillside; he said that the existing trees would screen views of the loading dock, in conjunction with the topography which would effectively create a ha-ha setting for this area. He said that this design solution, with a reliance on existing site elements, is the best solution for providing service access to the proposed building. He also noted the sustainable site features such as stormwater management that would be integrated into the existing pastoral landscape, and the adjustment of trail grades in the nearby forested area to improve accessibility for the AFRH residents. He said that special attention has been given to areas where residents are likely to come into contact with the landscape.
Mr. DiMella said that the massing on the south side of the building has been simplified and has a more unified design of masonry with punched openings. A metal porch on the building's north-south axis would relate to the porch on the north facade; other details would also be composed of glass and metal. He described the refinement of the building's plan to express the east-west and north-south axes that are generated by the site context. He noted that residents of the adjacent building will often use an existing basement tunnel to reach the dining hall in the proposed building; he indicated the proposed courtyards extending into the basement level to provide an attractive arrival area.
Mr. DiMella discussed the issue of residential and institutional character, presenting images of historic buildings on the campus—large masonry buildings as well as smaller houses. He said that the proposed building is comparable in scale to the larger historic buildings and is designed to relate more closely to them rather than to the houses.
Alex Adkins of DiMella Shaffer presented the revised proposal for the enclosure of the chiller facility, responding to the Commission's request for further considerations of its orientation and materials. He presented photographs of a series of other AFRH utility buildings along North Capitol Street, all constructed of brick and oriented on an orthogonal east-west or north-south axis; the proposed facility is therefore proposed to share these characteristics. He noted the future development parcels in the area as described in the master plan, and said that an east-west orientation for the chiller facility would be better than north-south due to reduced impact on the future development, existing trees, and parking. He presented rendered perspectives of the proposal in the two alternative orientations, with some views omitting the existing and proposed plantings for clarity. He indicated the brick enclosure, louvers, and a green screen facing the adjacent parking lot. He concluded by requesting consideration of delegating review of the final design for the chiller facility to the Commission staff, separating this project from the final design submission of the new building; Ms. Plater-Zyberk supported this request.
Mr. Rybczynski said that the Commission's concern with the loading dock was not only that it could be seen from the garden above, but that it would be visible from the basement-level cafeteria which is a main feature of the building. He acknowledged that this configuration would be difficult to change at this stage in the design process but suggested that additional screening be provided between the cafeteria and the service area; he noted that trucks would be present throughout this area, not exclusively within the immediate vicinity of the loading dock. Mr. DiMella responded that further screening in this area is already under consideration and acknowledged this clarification of the Commission's concern.
Ms. Nelson commented that the design is developing well; Mr. Powell and Mr. Belle agreed. Mr. Powell expressed the Commission's appreciation for the responsiveness to the past comments and said that the project has improved. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Plater-Zyberk, the Commission approved the revised concept subject to the comments provided, delegating the review of the final design to the staff.
G. Department of Veterans Affairs
CFA 20/MAY/10-8, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 50 Irving Street, NW. Four-story administration addition. Concept. (Previous: CFA 15/OCT/09-3, Master Plan.) Mr. Luebke noted that this submission is one of a series of projects anticipated in the master plan for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) that was reviewed in 2009. Mr. Lindstrom said that this four-story addition to the hospital's main building would accommodate the consolidation of administrative functions; the 40,000 square feet of administrative space that is currently scattered throughout the building could then be converted to clinical uses. He introduced Rhonda Fish of the VAMC staff to begin the presentation; Ms. Fish introduced architect Bill Kline of SmithGroup to present the design.
Mr. Kline described the site's relationship to the U.S. Capitol several miles to the south and indicated the location of North Capitol Street adjacent to the VAMC. He described the main hospital building as originally a cruciform-plan structure that has had various types of infill at three of its four corners; the proposal is for an addition on the fourth corner, to the northeast of the main building. He described several characteristics of the existing building, including the consistent pattern of punched window openings, the light-colored brick facades, and the modernist detailing at the base and cornice. He said that the proposed addition is adjacent to the existing loading dock, and the intention is a modest building with a modest budget for this modest location. He added that the addition is intended to "reinforce the sense of place" and its prominently visible facades would have brick matching the existing building; the less prominent facades facing narrow courtyard areas would have metal panels.
Mr. Kline discussed the reasons for configuring the addition to be separated from the existing building by the small courtyards. Extending the building would require costly upgrades and impose difficulties in construction. The VAMC also did not want the construction of the addition to disrupt existing operations; the proposal to leave thin courtyard spaces would achieve this goal. The courtyards would also retain daylight exposure for the existing building's windows and bring daylight to more space within the addition. Ms. Nelson and Mr. Rybczynski asked about the dimension of these courtyards; Mr. Kline responded that they would be teen feet wide, which is the minimum permitted by regulations. Ms. Nelson compared this size to the common lightwells for New York City tenement apartments. Mr. Kline presented several renderings of the proposed addition in the context of neighboring buildings, including the hospital and the planned Fisher House and domiciliary nearby. He indicated a windowless portion of the addition's facade resulting from stringent fire-safety requirements where it abuts an existing one-story building.
Ms. Nelson questioned whether the addition would provide a pleasant work environment for the administrative staff. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that the addition would likely be treated as an extension of the existing building if not for the constraints and cost of meeting fire-safety requirements. She recalled the Commission's comments in reviewing the master plan that hospitals tend to become accumulations of sequential additions, and that recent research has shown that garden spaces in hospitals can be beneficial to the staff as well as patients. She suggested adjusting the position of the addition to provide wider courtyards that could be treated as usable garden spaces for the building's occupants. Mr. Kline responded that multiple configurations were studied in the design process. The key challenge was to accommodate the required 40,000 square feet of program space on four floors; he said that shifting the addition further away from the existing hospital would require a complete reconfiguration of the loading dock, which is not accurately depicted in the site plan.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk criticized the emphasis in the design approach on near-term expediency—which is how the hospital has evolved in the past—rather than the long-term benefit of the building's users. She cited the 2009 master plan's vision for improving the overall context of the VAMC and said that this project provides an early opportunity to make a positive step toward fulfilling this vision; she recommended more serious consideration of this opportunity in the design process. She described the proposed courtyard space as "miserable" and said that the "rabbit warren" of offices would not have worthwhile exterior exposure; she said that exposure to a nicer garden environment would create a better workplace setting and could result in long-term savings such as reduced employee absences. She concluded that the proposed design does not make sense in comparison to modern research on hospital environments.
Ms. Nelson asked why the addition is configured as four stories. Mr. Kline responded that the master plan specified four stories as the appropriate capacity for this location, adding that the master plan's authors apparently did not consider the technical constraints of constructing an addition at this location. He also clarified that the existing hospital's windows that overlook the proposed courtyard space are currently in office and outpatient services areas; no in-patient rooms would face these lightwells. Ms. Plater-Zyberk said that even offices deserve natural light and a pleasant view. Mr. Kline agreed but said that the scope of this project is limited. Mr. Rybczynski said that a modest widening of the courtyards—perhaps by ten or fifteen feet—should be feasible; for example, he suggested cantilevering the upper floors over the driveway if the loading dock area could not be reconfigured. He expressed the Commission's frustration with the design approach, apparently originating from the VAMC staff, that the cheapest solution should be built; he described this as an inappropriate approach to a government project.
Mr. Kline responded that the design team will attempt to address the Commission's concerns. He said that the sense of expediency in the design relates to the desired speed of construction, with this project serving as a critical first step that will enable numerous other projects at the VAMC to move forward. He said that the VAMC staff has asked that this addition be designed as a modular building; it will be built off-site and then quickly erected on top of a concrete footing that will be designed by others. Ms. Plater-Zyberk offered support for these techniques but said that the design quality of the overall building complex should still benefit from a modern understanding of hospital design.
Mr. McKinnell described two problems with the project: the poor working conditions in the new addition with views of the narrow lightwells, and the harm done by the addition to the existing building's windows which would look only into these narrow spaces. He said the proposal is "not just passively unfortunate; it is actively unfortunate." He noted that many examples exist of architects working successfully with narrow lightwells to bring light into building spaces. He summarized the Commission's desire for some degree of inventive design effort to improve the landscape and lighting conditions; he agreed with Mr. Rybczynski that a better design is needed.
Ms. Plater-Zyberk reiterated the Commission's comments on the master plan, including the request that each new step in developing the VAMC should be treated as an opportunity to mitigate the current problems of the site and the massive main building. She emphasized that the employees and residents of the VAMC deserve a well-designed environment, and summarized the Commission's disappointment that the proposal is a lost opportunity that merely continues the past practice of constructing additions to the hospital.
Ms. Nelson agreed that a better design is needed, notwithstanding the intended fast construction schedule. Chairman Powell noted the Commission's overall consensus in requesting an improved design submission. The discussion concluded without a formal motion.
H. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
SL 10-091, American Pharmacists Association, 2215 Constitution Avenue, NW. Rooftop tent. Permit. (Previous: SL 10-012, 19 November 2009.) Ms. Batcheler said that the staff has worked with the applicant to reduce the impact of the proposed rooftop awning; the design also results from close coordination with the National Capital Planning Commission and the D.C. government's Historic Preservation Office. She introduced Graham Davidson of Hartman Cox Architects to present the design.
Mr. Davidson described the proposal as a temporary seasonal awning on the sixth-floor terrace of the American Pharmacists Association building. He indicated the site at the corner of 23rd Street and Constitution Avenue facing the Lincoln Memorial, and the original marble building designed by John Russell Pope as well as the recent addition to the rear. He confirmed that the State Department occupies several floors of the building; the sixth floor, which has the terrace and the proposed awning, is occupied by American Pharmacists Association offices. He noted the desirability of this terrace as a location for events, and said that the awning would facilitate the scheduling of these events by providing protection from the weather if necessary.
Mr. Davidson presented a section of the awning, which he said is designed to be as low as possible; the height of the southern face of the awning would have a one-to-one setback from the fifth-floor cornice line, and the north edge of the structure would intersect the penthouse below its cornice line so that the building's facade would always be visible around the awning from distant viewpoints. He summarized the changes that have been made from the initial design that had been preferred by the building's owner: the current proposal is shorter, less wide, has vinyl sides rather than glazed panels in aluminum frames, and is colored to match the roof rather than the building. He said that these changes emphasize the temporary character of the structure. He added that the sides of clear vinyl would only be in place during events, which would occur once or twice per week; at other times, the open-air awning would be in place. He said that the awning would only be in place from April through October; Mr. Rybczynski asked about the structure during the other months, and Mr. Davidson clarified that the structure as well as the awning will be removed during those months. Ms. Nelson commented that the recently completed building addition is quite large.
Upon a motion by Ms. Nelson with second by Mr. Belle, the Commission approved the proposed design of the awning. Mr. Luebke expressed the staff's appreciation for the effort by the project team to develop a satisfactory solution.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, AIA