Minutes for CFA Meeting — 15 March 2012

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.

Members present:
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Elizabeth Plater–Zyberk, Vice–Chairman
Hon. Diana Balmori
Hon. Philip Freelon
Hon. Witold Rybczynski

Staff present:
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Eve Barsoum
Sarah Batcheler
Kay Fanning
Jose Martínez
Susan Raposa
Tony Simon

I. Administration

A. Approval of the minutes of the 16 February meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the February meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Ms. Balmori. 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: 19 April, 17 May, and 21 June of 2012.

C. Announcement of the 2012 Charles Atherton Memorial Lecture on 9 May 2011. Mr. Luebke announced that Lance Brown, a professor at the City College of New York, will deliver the annual Charles Atherton Memorial Lecture on 9 May at the National Building Museum. The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion on the design of public space; the panelists include Mr. Luebke, historian Lucy Barber, landscape architect Faye Harwell, and National Building Museum curator Susan Piedmont–Palladino.

Mr. Luebke also reported that Ms. Balmori will be the featured speaker at the National Building Museum on 4 April, as part of the museum's Spotlight on Design lecture series.

D. Report on the approval of an object for acquisition by the Freer Gallery. Mr. Luebke reported the Chairman's approval of a seventh–century Sogdian silver cup for the Freer Gallery's permanent collection, in accordance with Charles Lang Freer's will. He circulated a photograph of the central Asian artifact, which demonstrates the artistic exchange between China and the West along the Silk Road during this period. Chairman Powell said that the Freer Gallery has purchased the cup through a dealer.

II. Submissions and Reviews

A. Appendices

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 said that the only change to the draft consent calendar is a spelling correction. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater–Zyberk with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the Direct Submission Consent Calendar.

Appendix II – Shipstead–Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler noted the unusually small number of cases and reported one change to the draft appendix: the recommendation for case number SL 12–056 was changed to favorable based on design revisions. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater–Zyberk with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda items II.C and II.D for additional Shipstead–Luce Act submissions.)

Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martínez reported the changes to the draft appendix. One case has been withdrawn at the request of the applicant. Several recommendations have been updated in response to supplemental materials; one project for a rear addition (case number OG 12–149) is still being coordinated to ensure compliance of the detail drawings with the Old Georgetown Board's recommendation. Upon a motion by Ms. Plater–Zyberk with second by Ms. Balmori, the Commission approved the revised appendix. Mr. Luebke noted the substantial number of Georgetown cases in contrast to the relatively small number of direct submissions and Shipstead–Luce Act cases in the current month.

B. American Battle Monuments Commission

CFA 15/MAR/12–1, United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Busan, South Korea. New United States memorial monument. Concept. Mr. Luebke introduced the proposed design for a memorial monument at the United Nations (U.N.) Memorial Cemetery in Busan, South Korea. The monument would honor American soldiers who fought with the U.N. Forces in the Korean War, on the occasion of the war's 60th anniversary; the cemetery contains 2,300 graves of soldiers from eleven countries, of which eight are represented by monuments. The United States contributed the greatest number of soldiers to the conflict and formerly had the largest number interred here–approximately 11,000–but most have been reinterred in the U.S., and only 36 graves of American soldiers remain at this cemetery. He asked Thomas Sole from the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to begin the presentation.

Mr. Sole said that the ABMC has built and maintains 24 commemorative cemeteries and 25 memorials throughout the world honoring the service of the American armed forces since 1917; however, there is no American monument in Korea to the almost 37,000 Americans who died in the Korean war. The cemetery at Busan was one of six temporary cemeteries created by the U.S. military during that war, and it is now the only U.N. memorial cemetery. He said that the absence of a U.S. monument contrasts with the significant commitment of American troops during the war and over the subsequent sixty years. He added that the concept, after approval by the Commission, will be presented to the eleven–nation group that operates the cemetery. He introduced Executive Architect Harry Robinson, executive architect for the ABMC [and former chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts], to present the design.

Mr. Robinson expressed appreciation for the assistance of the Commission staff during previous consultation meetings. He described the cemetery's overall organization, indicating the entry from the street through a pagoda–shaped gate, the memorial area with flags of the countries represented, and the area of burial sites. He presented views of several existing monuments honoring other countries, noting the variety of designs and materials; the monuments of Canada and Australia are adjacent to the site of the U.S. monument. He described the planting, which includes lines of alternating azaleas and rosebushes used to frame headstones; mature trees at the perimeter serve to screen the cemetery from nearby high–rise buildings.

Mr. Robinson discussed eight design principles that were developed for the monument, and emphasized the importance of simplicity as a symbol of the ordinary Americans who came together in the war effort. He discussed his study of many different memorials in Washington and at cemeteries administered by the ABMC. He presented images of several particularly important precedents of vertical stone monuments, ranging from Stonehenge to the rough–hewn stele at Washington's Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove; a view of the Washington Monument obelisk seen from the center of this grove illustrated two different examples in Washington.

Mr. Robinson described the proposed siting and design of the U.S. monument. It would be aligned three feet behind the front face of the Canadian monument to avoid implying that the two are designed as a pair; the thickness would be similar to the American headstones, responding to the staff's advice to relate these elements. He discussed the various types of stone, finish, text, and typeface used at different memorials, particularly the juxtaposition of polished and unpolished surfaces. The proposed material for the Korean monument is Barre Gray stone, a Vermont granite with a more subdued, quiet color than the Kershaw granite that was also considered. The entry stone would have bronze insets as at the World War II Memorial in Washington, and the proposed inscription is taken from an ABMC memorial in the Philippines honoring American men and women who "gave their lives in defense of freedom." On the front of the memorial, the inscription "Honor / Freedom / Peace" would be inscribed in the polished central area; other surfaces would have a six–cut finish. Three stars would represent war service, a motif used on the ABMC seal; an early design sketch depicts gold leaf within these stars, but this detail has been omitted on the advice of the Commission staff, and the stars would be placed more closely together than in the early sketch. A unique typeface would be developed for the monument. Grass would grow between the pavers at the base of the monument, supporting the design principle of the monument sitting lightly on the ground. He added that the height of the monument would be slightly under nine feet, which he said would be majestic but not overwhelming in relation to the height of a visitor.

Mr. Rybczynski and Mr. Freelon asked for clarification of the monument's base. Mr. Robinson confirmed that the polished rectangle surrounding the inscription would extend down to the ground, with continuous color and texture; the rendering also depicts a shadow in this area. Ms. Balmori noted that only 36 Americans are now interred at the cemetery and asked why their names would not be inscribed on the monument; Mr. Robinson responded that the gravestones acknowledge the sacrifice of these soldiers, and the monument is intended as a simple commemoration of all who served. He clarified that a Wall of Honor near the cemetery entrance includes the names of all the U.N. soldiers who died, most of them from the United States.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk offered support for the design, commenting on its beauty. Mr. Rybczynksi supported the simplicity of the proposal but said that its design is undermined by several details: the central area of polished granite set within a frame that results in the memorial resembling a sign; and the recessed base, which further suggests the appearance of a pylon that is more typical of a commercial use. He recommended that the memorial sit solidly on the ground, as it appeared in an early sketch that was included in the presentation; several Commission members agreed. Mr. Robinson responded that the proposed recessing of the base is intended to protect the memorial from damage by routine maintenance, such as grass cutting; he said also that lifting the base would give the memorial a special appearance. He added that the polished finish was used for a smaller area in the early design but was extended downward to unite the inscription with the Korean soil.

Ms. Balmori commented that the simplicity of the design is successful and is in keeping with the rest of the cemetery; she described the proposal as a beautiful design with the proper tone. She offered particular support for the quiet, dark color of the proposed stone, which she said would give the monument a peaceful quality without attracting excessive attention to itself, as would a lighter–colored stone. She agreed with Mr. Rybczynksi concerning the base, commenting that the power of the design lies in the massiveness of the stone, which should reach the ground. Mr. Robinson suggested that, if the shaft is extended to the ground, the polished finish be stopped four inches from the bottom; Ms. Balmori; Ms. Balmori agreed with this solution.

Chairman Powell joined in commending the beauty of the design and summarized the consensus of the Commission to support the concept. Upon a motion by Ms. Balmori with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the design subject to extending the stone shaft down to the ground, with a possible change near the base in the finish of the stone but not its size.

C. PN Hoffman & Associates

CFA 15 MAR/12–2, Southwest Waterfront Development. Parcel 11, Maine Avenue and 6th Street, SW. New residential building and church. Concept. (Previous: CFA 19/JAN/12–4 to 17.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the development proposal for Parcel 11 of the Southwest waterfront. He noted that the master plan for the overall waterfront project, named The Wharf, was reviewed by the Commission in January 2012. Most of the waterfront development is undertaken through an agreement between the D.C. government and a private development company, Hoffman–Madison Waterfront; the development of Parcel 11 is included in that project but results from a private–sector agreement between developer PN Hoffman & Associates and the current occupant of the site, St. Augustine's Church. He asked Gaby Lega of PN Hoffman & Associates to begin the presentation.

Ms. Lega acknowledged the Commission's previous comments on The Wharf and said that the project team is preparing design revisions that will be submitted in the near future.

She described the location of Parcel 11 at the southeastern corner of the overall Southwest waterfront development project; it is included in the development's first phase, although the other sites in this phase are in the northwestern part of the development. Parcel 11 is adjacent to the future Waterfront Park and M Street Landing plaza–which are anticipated be built in the second phase of development–and immediately west of the existing Tiber Island residential complex; the Arena Stage building is across Maine Avenue to the north. She said that Parcel 11 has been divided into two smaller segments, Parcels 11A and 11B; St. Augustine's proposes to build a new church on Parcel 11A, at the north end, and PN Hoffman proposes to construct a residential building on Parcel 11B to the south. The architect for the church is MTFA Architecture; the residential architect is SK&I Architectural Design Group. The goal for both buildings will be an environmental rating of LEED Silver, part of the overall LEED certification that is sought for The Wharf. Ms. Lega said that the design challenge has been to combine two disparate building types and uses on the same site; the proposed design approach is to let each building have its own architectural expression of its function. She introduced Michael Foster and James Clark of MTFA Architecture to present the design for the church.

Mr. Clark said that the proposed form of the church building was largely determined by the shape of the site; he confirmed that the boundary between Parcels 11A and 11B is effectively a property line for the project. He described the location and context: the church will be located at the convergence of Maine Avenue and M Street at 6th Street, which he described as an important location in the city; the front door of the church would face toward the Washington Monument and Banneker Overlook in the distance as well as the adjacent M Street Landing plaza. He presented perspective views of the proposed church from surrounding streets and noted that the design includes many religious elements of the Episcopal church tradition. The sanctuary would be on the second floor due to the limitations of the site area; it would be configured as a glass cube supported by a cast–stone base. He said the building would have a calm design but its horizontal fenestration and other horizontal facade lines would focus attention on the sanctuary, which would have a prominence comparable to a traditional church steeple. The design of the stained–glass windows would be reminiscent of banners illustrating the liturgical seasons. The entrance route would begin at an exterior labyrinth near the front door. The circular foyer would contain the baptismal font, an appropriate location because baptism is the first rite of initiation in the church; the font would be located directly beneath the second–floor altar. Along the boundary with the residential building, a metal screen wall–probably aluminum–would create a neutral transition between the two buildings and block views of the stairwell towers and mechanical equipment on the residential building's roof.

Federico Soifer of SK&I Architectural Design Group presented the proposal for the 109–unit residential building; it would be a four–story structure plus a penthouse, and would contain 120,000 square feet with a parking garage and an internal courtyard. To relate to the scale of neighboring townhouses, the building would be partially below grade on 6th Street, and the penthouse level would be set back by twelve feet. He indicated the design features of metal stoops, window wells, and a surrounding low stone wall, and said that the vocabulary is intended to be typical of Washington's residential architecture. The window bay system is intended as an innovative feature that would incorporate a frame–and–panel motif used in adjacent buildings which he said are not typical of Washington; this motif is developed into a repetitive pattern of asymmetrical bays oriented toward the building's entrance facing the waterfront, using wood as a reference to organic materials and a nautical theme. Noting the curved and irregular shape of the site, he said that the building's faceted footprint would regularize the geometry of the elevations. The bases of the bays would be parallel to the facade, except on Water Street where they will be slightly splayed to provide river views.

Mr. Soifer presented the proposed material palette. Richer and more contrasting materials would be used on the bays, including large planes of wood to accentuate their verticality; the windows would be set against a neutral background of dark brick and standing–seam metal walls. He noted the proposed bioretention features, including a green roof and a landscaped courtyard above the parking garage.

As part of the context for the proposal, Ms. Lega presented a rendering of the M Street Landing plaza which is being designed by landscape architect Michael van Valkenburgh as a naturalistic park; the paving materials would be similar to those proposed in front of the church to provide a visual connection between the two sites. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked about the two nearby building sites, Parcels 9 and 10, which are not part of the current review. Ms. Lega responded that an office building is planned for Parcel 10 and, tentatively, a residential building for Parcel 9. She clarified that both of these parcels, as well as M Street Landing, would be part of the second phase of the waterfront development; the plaza is not part of the current submission and is illustrated only for context. She said that the designs for these open spaces, as part of the waterfront development, would be submitted for Commission review; Mr. Luebke noted that the Waterfront Park was among the first–phase open spaces that were presented to the Commission in January 2012 as concept designs. Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked if the proposal includes reconfiguration of the street pattern. Ms. Lega responded that Water Street would be realigned and 6th Street would be narrowed; these changes are being coordinated with the D.C. Department of Transportation.

Mr. Rybczynski questioned the decision to divide Parcel 11 into the configuration of two parcels as presented; he commented that Parcel 11 provides a unique opportunity to treat the church as a special small building, but instead the church appears to be simply "tacked on" to the larger residential building. He said the church would not be a good building if it is treated in this way, and the opportunity has been missed to create something beautiful; he suggested the possibility of a freestanding church at the corner of the site rather than cutting through Parcel 11 with an apparently arbitrary division line. He emphasized that the site configuration creates the difficult problem for the architect to design a church building that is pushed up against the residential backdrop; he added that a more autonomous form would be typologically appropriate for a church. He reiterated that his concern is how the developer has divided Parcel 11 into two parcels, resulting in a configuration that is suitable for the residential building but problematic for the church building; Ms. Plater–Zyberk observed that accommodation of the residential program is clearly driving the geometry of the parcels.

Ms. Balmori agreed that the result is the pastiche appearance of the church being appended to the residential building, with the church having neither an independent identity nor a contextual relationship; the impression is of two buildings that have been forcibly conjoined, and she concluded that the solution is not successful. Mr. Freelon said that the forced geometry of the site results in many different forms that do not work together well, creating a tension in the design; he added that the problem is exacerbated by the numerous materials, colors, and design gestures, and concluded that the palette is excessively rich.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted the importance of the wider context–such as the views approaching the site, and the distant view from the church to the Washington Monument–but said that the relationship of the design to this context is unclear from the presentation; she emphasized that the urban context could be used as a basis for generating the design. Mr. Luebke added that another significant part of the context is the newly expanded Arena Stage, which is a very prominent building that has not been included in the presentation.

Michael Foster of MTFA Architecture responded that the church would probably be the smallest building constructed in the neighborhood for many decades, but it occupies a prominent site with significant views within the city. He noted that the church would be only two stories high, comparable to the scale of the tree canopy, but it relates to dominant elements such as the Washington Monument and the Arena Stage. Ms. Plater–Zyberk observed that the entrance axis of the church would actually be aligned with the planned buildings of the waterfront development; Mr. Foster acknowledged that the waterfront buildings would be the dominant foreground structures, while the view corridor to the Washington Monument is slightly to the right of the entrance axis.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk reiterated that the division of Parcel 11 results in a problematic site for the church. She acknowledged that the modest scale of the church could not compete in size and form with the Arena Stage but suggested that the response should be a contrasting design with a very simple form; she supported Mr. Rybczynski's suggestion of a different site configuration that would allow for the church to have an independent identity. Mr. Foster responded that a simpler form for the church might be a frustrating design problem; he emphasized that the residential building and church need to be "synergistic partners" in order for the project to be successful, in addition to concerns such as the parking and residential layout. He added that the church program fits well in the proposed site.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted that other churches have been designed in a way that improves the adjacent urban context. She said that a more compact site for the church at Maine Avenue and 6th Street could allow the front door to relate to the Arena Stage and the activity that would occur around this important intersection. Rather than the church extending along the residential building, the residential building might wrap around the church–allowing the church to be the dominant form because it is the civic building and a place of shared activity, in contrast to the private residential building. She emphasized that the initial assumptions of how to distribute or engage the two structures on the site were causing the design problem.

Ms. Balmori agreed that the church needs to assert its own presence, and Parcel 11 could be configured to provide a perfect site for a small building with a very clear and iconic image. She added that its small size could be an interesting architectural benefit, contrasting with the large buildings surrounding it. Ms. Plater–Zyberk recommended developing a design based on a different configuration for subdividing Parcel 11, possibly resulting in an L–shaped church building; she said that the two corners of the site along Maine Avenue offer the most prominent potential locations for the church. She noted that the desirability of the apartments appears to be a strong driver for the design, and siting the church at one of the corners of Parcel 11 along Maine Avenue could actually allow for improved views from a reconfigured residential building.

Mr. Rybczynski noted the substantial planned plaza to the west and questioned the need for the proposed small entrance plaza on the west side of the church; he suggested that the church building could instead be extended into this small plaza area, allowing more room for architectural expression. Mr. Foster and Ms. Lega responded that the site of the entrance plaza is controlled by the D.C. government and is not part of the privately owned site. Mr. Luebke clarified that the plaza area may be part of the street right–of–way, which would allow for some limited extension of the building into this area.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk reiterated that further study of the site plan could result in an improved solution for the configuration of the two buildings. Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to request exploration of other options for developing the site. The discussion concluded without a formal action.

At this point, Chairman Powell departed the meeting to recuse himself from the remaining case, and Vice–Chairman Plater–Zyberk presided for the remainder of the meeting.

D. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs–Shipstead–Luce Act

SL 12–058, 500 L'Enfant Plaza, SW. New 14–story office building at the southeast corner (895/875 Frontage Road at 9th Street). Revised concept. (Previous: SL 12– 053, February 2012.) Ms. Batcheler introduced Kelly Davis of ZGF Architects and developer Dean Cinkala of the JBG Companies to present the proposal for an office building at L'Enfant Plaza, revised in response to the Commission's comments from February 2012.

Mr. Cinkala described the site of the project–an existing loading dock at the southeast corner of the L'Enfant Plaza complex–and summarized the various alternatives presented in the two previous submissions in comparison to the current proposal. The design reflects the Commission's most recent guidance: the building responds to the adjacent corner of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) headquarters building with a deep inflection on the east facade; a shallow inflection on the west facade continues the design vocabulary; the orthogonal character of the building would be relate to the architectural context of L'Enfant Plaza; the podium treatment has been extended one story higher to correspond to the prevailing podium height of L'Enfant Plaza; and the upper floors have been set back on the north side, adjacent to the projecting upper floors of the central building of L'Enfant Plaza, corresponding to the massing of the planned extended–stay hotel that the Commission recently reviewed for the northeast corner of the L'Enfant Plaza complex.

Mr. Davis presented the proposed architectural treatment in further detail. He said that the design continues to convey a bold character as requested by the Commission in October 2011. The facade would be composed of metal panels and glass with punched openings that establish a relationship to the context. The increased inflection on the east facade results in a separation of 12.5 feet from the HUD building; he said that the reduced inflection of four feet on the west facade is sufficient to convey the angular character of the architecture. The distance between the north side of the proposed building and the existing central building of L'Enfant Plaza–at both the upper and intermediate floors–has been carefully studied to match or exceed the setback dimensions that were approved for the extended–stay hotel, as illustrated in plan and section, with some variation resulting from the angled perimeter of the proposed office building.

Mr. Davis presented the revised design for the three–story podium, which includes office space on its upper floor; this office level would be treated with the precast concrete design vocabulary of the podium, as requested by the Commission, rather than the previous proposal to use the primary office facade vocabulary of metal and glass for this level. He also presented an alternative treatment that would extend the office facade vocabulary down to a portion of the podium's upper level, while using precast concrete in other portions of this level to establish the overall three–story scale of the podium; he said that this treatment would give a more vertical character to the building, consistent with the overall design intent. He added that the Commission staff has encouraged this alternative design. Mr. Luebke noted that the grade at the south facade is lower than at many portions of the L'Enfant Plaza perimeter, resulting in a thirty–foot–high podium; the proposed alternative would provide an angled volume that projects more decisively from the building, although the facade treatment could be more continuous than the version presented by refining the wide spandrel at the plaza level.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk noted that the upper two floors of the north facade would be set back in response to the projecting upper floors of the adjacent building, and asked if a setback of three stories had been considered. Mr. Davis responded that this was studied, but the result was a top–heavy appearance for the building; the conclusion was that such a massing would not be an optimal architectural solution.

Mr. Davis presented the proposed plans, indicating the slight change to the typical office floor plan due to the revised inflections and setbacks. The lobby and site plan would be similar to the previous submissions, with a vehicular dropoff at the plaza level and additional pedestrian access at the lower level which connects to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station, from which most people will arrive. The proposal includes a green roof and other sustainability features that will contribute to the intended environmental LEED rating of gold. He presented several perspective views of the proposal, indicating the vertical sunshades and the fritted pattern on the lower thirty inches of glass at each office floor to conceal unsightly equipment.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk asked for clarification of the depiction of the facade materials; Mr. Luebke noted that the inflection of the facade planes results in the variation seen in the renderings. Ms. Balmori asked about the type of glass for the office facades; Mr. Davis responded that it would be an environmentally high–performance insulated clear glass that would not be reflective. He indicated the horizontal aluminum sunshades on the south facade, as included in the previous submission. He also noted the Commission's previous concern with a continuous vertical band of spandrel glass on the east facade; this feature has been eliminated from the current proposal, due to the increased distance from the HUD building which simplifies the fire–safety requirements for the materials of this facade. He said that the facade would meet the overall code requirement of no more than 45 percent windows, which is achieved with slightly larger metal panels and smaller windows than in the previous submission.

Mr. Freelon commented that the design has improved and responds to the Commission's previous recommendations; Mr. Rybczynski and Ms. Balmori agreed. Mr. Freelon supported the proposed treatment of the north facade with a setback on the upper two floors rather than three floors, commenting that this design results in a better proportion and balance.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk supported the proposed alternative of extending the typical office facade down to a portion of the podium, but recommended eliminating the oversized spandrel that separates these areas; Mr. Luebke confirmed that the staff has supported this extension conceptually but would prefer that all of the spandrels be of consistent height within the typical office facades. Mr. Davis and Mr. Cinkala agreed to study this modification.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk recommended further deepening the inflection of the east facade in order to increase the distance between the HUD building and the proposed office building from 12.5 to 15 feet. Mr. Davis responded that the dimension from the building core to the facade is already tight for the design goal of accommodating a perimeter row of private offices, inner and outer corridors, and two standard workstations with an eight–foot width. He noted that the building width is 96 feet at the inflection–relatively narrow for an office building–and reiterated that a further reduction of 2.5 feet would cause problems for the interior planning and the attractiveness of the space for leasing; he confirmed that the issue is the width dimension rather than the overall floor area. Ms. Plater–Zyberk acknowledged this concern but said that it would not be relevant to the appearance of the office building from the exterior or from within the HUD building; she emphasized that the Commission's role is to give priority to the proposal's effect on the public realm. Ms. Balmori supported this recommendation to increase the inflection on the east; she suggested possible modification of the west facade to address the issue of interior space. Mr. Davis said that a further reduction in the west facade's inflection would give a flat appearance that would undermine the coherence of the design. Ms. Plater–Zyberk observed that the building cantilevers on the north and could be similarly treated on the west; Mr. Davis clarified that the site boundary on the north is not actually a property line, while a cantilever on the west facade would extend into the 9th Street right–of–way. Mr. Luebke noted that above–grade bay projections into a right–of–way are typically permissible, sometimes with a generous interpretation of the width of a bay, and a cantilevered treatment could therefore be considered for the west facade.

Mr. Rybczynski suggested that the building not be inflected on each facade, commenting that the design would be better if the inflection occurs only on the east facade as a special gesture to the adjacent corner of the HUD building. He recommended flattening the west facade and shifting the core slightly to the west to resolve the interior dimension issues; Mr. Freelon and Ms. Balmori agreed. Mr. Cinkala responded that this solution would be viable.

Ms. Plater–Zyberk recommended that the setback of the upper floors on the north facade be extended to encompass three floors rather than two, in order to provide more space between the proposed building and the bottom of the projecting upper floors of the existing building to the north. Mr. Rybczynski and Ms. Balmori said that this issue is not a major concern; Mr. Freelon supported the setback configuration as proposed. Ms. Plater–Zyberk acknowledged the consensus of the Commission not to support this recommendation.

Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission's comments would be consistent with granting a concept approval that would allow the project to move forward. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Mr. Rybczynski, the Commission approved the concept design with the alternative of extending the typical office facade down to portions of the podium's upper floor, and subject to increasing the distance from the HUD building to fifteen feet with the flexibility to offset this change by further flattening the west facade.

Mr. Cinkala said that the site includes a dilapidated but active loading dock as well as a large fuel tank that must be removed in the near future. The construction sequence would therefore require either a temporary loading dock or, preferably, near–term construction of the permanent podium while the final design of the full office building is being prepared. He requested the Commission's permission to submit a final design for only the podium portion prior to the final design submission for the full building. He confirmed that the podium would conform to the approved design concept; subject to this provision, Vice–Chairman Plater–Zyberk noted the consensus of the Commission that the staff could review and approve a future final design submission for the podium portion of the building.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11:53 a.m.


Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA