The meeting was convened in the Commission of Fine Arts offices in the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001, at 9:10 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Philip Freelon
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Mia Lehrer
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer
Staff present: Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 20 November meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the November meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. The Commission approved the minutes upon a motion by Mr. Powell. Mr. Luebke noted that the minutes would be posted on the Commission's website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 19 February, 19 March, and 16 April 2015.
C. Introduction of new staff architect, Mark Kasprzyk. Mr. Luebke introduced Mark Kasprzyk, AIA, who was joined the Commission staff to assist with the growing caseload of Old Georgetown projects. He summarized Mr. Kasprzyk's training and professional experience, including work at a Chicago architecture firm specializing in historic preservation.
D. Confirmation of the approval of the recommendations for the December 2014 Old Georgetown Act submissions. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission to take a formal vote to confirm the Old Georgetown Board recommendations that were circulated and endorsed in December, when no Commission meeting was held. Chairman Powell noted the consensus of the Commission to ratify its approval of these recommendations. (See agenda items II.A, II.F.1, and II.H for additional Georgetown submissions.)
I. 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 – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Lindstrom said that the only change to the draft appendix is a minor spelling correction; a report has also been added on the staff's approval, by delegated authority, of a new gymnasium for the Washington Latin Public Charter School. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the revised Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that the recommendations for four projects have been revised on the basis of clarifications and changes in the submission materials (case numbers SL 15-032, 15-039, 15-044, and 15-046). She said that updated documentation is anticipated for several of these projects, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations upon receipt of the supplemental materials. The Commission approved the revised appendix with this authorization. (See agenda item II.H for two additional Shipstead-Luce Act submissions.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez said that no changes were made to the draft, and the Commission approved the Old Georgetown Act appendix. (See agenda item I.D for the December 2014 submissions of Old Georgetown Act cases; II.H for an additional Old Georgetown Act submission; and II.F.1 for a government submission in Georgetown.)
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider the concept submissions for the Kenilworth Recreation Center and for 3220 Prospect Street, NW.
F. District of Columbia Department of General Services
CFA 22/JAN/15-7, Kenilworth Elementary School/Recreation Center, 1300 44th Street, NE. New community recreation center. Concept.
H. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Old Georgetown Act
OG 14-353, 3220 Prospect Street, NW. New two-story commercial building. Concept. (Reviewed by Old Georgetown Board: 6 January 2015.)
Noting the length of the agenda, Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on these two submissions without a presentation. He added that these projects do not meet the criteria for placement on the Government Submissions Consent Calendar or the Old Georgetown Act appendix. He said that the action on 3220 Prospect Street should address the Old Georgetown Board's report to the Commission. Chairman Powell commended the work of the staff in assisting with these submissions. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the Kenilworth Recreation Center concept submission and the Old Georgetown Board report on the submission for 3220 Prospect Street, NW.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.
B. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 22/JAN/15-1, Smithsonian facilities on the south side of the National Mall (South Campus). Independence Avenue between 7th and 12th Streets, SW. Draft master plan. Information presentation. Mr. Luebke introduced an information presentation on a master plan for the Smithsonian Institution's South Mall Campus, developed by the Bjärke Ingels Group (BIG). He said that the plan has three major goals: to improve and expand visitor services and education venues; to create obvious entrances and connections between the individual museums and gardens; and to improve the physical infrastructure including replacement of aging building systems and the renovation, restoration, and seismic upgrade of the Castle. As a comprehensive plan for 1.3 million square feet of improvements, the scope includes new Mall-facing entrances for the National Museum of African Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery; construction of new underground public access and service corridors linking multiple museums; and a two-level underground space excavated beneath the Castle for expanded visitor services and amenities. He said that the draft master plan has now been released for analysis and public comment under historic preservation and environmental laws. He asked Al Horvath, the acting secretary of the Smithsonian, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Horvath said that when the Castle was completed in 1855, it stood alone on the National Mall, but today it is surrounded by numerous other museums and institutions in the center of a busy urban environment. He said that when the latest version of the Smithsonian's long-term facilities plan was completed a few years ago, it became clear that work would need to be focused on the South Mall Campus extending from the Freer Gallery on the west to the Hirshhorn Museum on the east. He said that this effort has involved thinking more boldly and holistically about the opportunities that renovations might present, such as how to improve the flow between buildings, heighten the visitor experience, and be more efficient and sustainable in providing services to the buildings. He said that the Smithsonian hired BIG in 2013 as its partner to develop such a plan. The process has included the input of the Smithsonian regents, museum directors, advisory boards, and others. Parts of the master plan will be implemented over the next twenty to thirty years, and projects will be brought to the Commission for review as they are developed. He introduced architect Bjärke Ingels of BIG and landscape architect James Lord of Surfacedesign to present the draft master plan.
Mr. Ingels said that the most urgent issue for this complex site is the repair of several properties. First is the need for a seismic upgrade and restoration of the Castle, scheduled to begin in 2021; this project will provide an opportunity to consolidate office space elsewhere. He said that the roof membrane above the two underground museums—currently underlying the Enid Haupt Garden—must be repaired; in addition, the building envelope and sculpture garden of the Hirshhorn Museum need renovation. There is a need to improve security around the campus, and the construction of multiple loading docks serving individual museums has divided the campus into pieces. Finally, he said that the old and inefficient mechanical systems in many buildings need improvement. He also noted that the buildings on the campus are historically protected.
Mr. Ingels said that he has interviewed program directors of the various museums to establish a list of priorities: clarifying the entrance experience and improving visitor wayfinding; renovating the underground spaces of the Sackler Gallery and the African Art Museum; and improving the engagement between the interior and exterior spaces so that the gardens can play a more active role in education and exhibitions. A resulting goal of the master plan is to make the entrances to the underground museums more obvious because the existing entrance pavilions are small and difficult to identify. Since the roof membrane needs to be replaced, the opportunity is to create new above-ground entrances oriented toward the Mall. The master plan proposes to transform the landscape as a warping plane, with its northeast and northwest corners lifted up to create visible pavilions as entrances to a larger space beneath. The design includes large skylights and windows at the perimeter that allow views and daylight into the underground spaces below.
Mr. Ingels said that the Castle, the oldest building on the Mall and the first building of the Smithsonian Institution, would be treated as a portal to the Smithsonian that provides visitors with an overview of the entire institution. Over time, the Castle's great hall has been encroached upon by various support functions; the master plan envisions removing these intrusions and bringing the hall back to its original dimensions. Visitor services would be located beneath the Castle, using space now occupied by mechanical equipment and augmented by additional excavation.
Mr. Ingels described two engineering approaches to providing the required seismic resistance for the Castle: the typical solution is to add steel reinforcements within the building to stiffen the structure, but this method is invasive and highly visible; the second method, known as base isolation, is to isolate the building from its foundation with pads that will absorb energy from an earthquake, allowing the superstructure to remain intact. By selecting this second method, the necessary excavation beneath the building provides the opportunity to create new space for visitor amenities and for connecting museum program spaces beneath the central garden. He said that the new underground space would have direct views and access into the garden, clarifying the relationship among the Smithsonian's properties and helping to orient visitors.
Mr. Ingels said that the master plan envisions the creation of a public corridor extending east from the Freer Gallery, continuing through the Enid Haupt Garden to the Arts and Industries Building and then to the Hirshhorn Museum. Within the Arts and Industries Building, an elevated walk in its central tower would provide visitors with expansive views of the Mall. The new underground construction would remove the existing loading docks which now divide up the spaces, and a single, centrally located loading dock would be created; he said that this consolidation of building services would dramatically improve their performance. The resulting reconfiguration of the outdoor space would allow for creating an entrance into the east side of the Freer Gallery directly from the Enid Haupt Garden.
Mr. Ingels said that the last part of the master plan addresses the Hirshhorn Museum and includes lowering the walls that surround it; he observed that the museum appears trapped within these perimeter walls, compromising the concept of architect Gordon Bunshaft to create an open ground plane by lifting the building up on massive piers. Removing the walls would create a more direct relationship of the Hirshhorn with the Mall and with the Arts and Industries Building. He said that the intention is to retain the wall facing Independence Avenue and then gradually lower it as it extends north toward the center of the Mall. A new sunken court with a fountain would be created within the Hirshhorn's central plaza, which would improve the connection to the existing sunken sculpture garden to the north and would activate enhanced exhibition space at the Hirshhorn's lower level.
Mr. Lord presented the landscape vision of the draft master plan. He described the Enid Haupt Garden as an important and flexible space whose character has changed over time. The intention is to increase the engagement of this central landscape with each of the adjoining museums, conceiving of the complex as museums set within gardens that reflect the museums' programs. He said that in the mid-19th century, the Smithsonian's grounds were treated as a picturesque garden before being given over to utilitarian purposes later in the century. In the 1970s, the future Enid Haupt Garden site was being used as a parking lot; a temporary parterre garden was built in 1976, and it proved to be so popular that the permanent parterre garden, named for philanthropist Enid Haupt, was constructed in 1987. He said that the existing arrival sequence into the garden from the Mall presents challenges in incorporating security features and barrier-free access. The master plan proposal would build a new garden landscape intended to integrate the museums with the Mall and Independence Avenue, recalling some aspects of A.J. Downing's 19th-century design for the Mall. He said that the beautiful magnolia trees would be removed from the garden—opening new vistas from the garden to the Washington Monument—and would be replanted on the north side of the Castle to form an allée along the Mall. The primary north entrance to the Castle would also be enhanced by removing the asphalt paving and instead creating a plaza with limited traffic circulation. The new Haupt Garden would frame a series of small "garden rooms" similar to those in the current garden. The garden layout would become more efficient due to the planned consolidation of the existing loading docks, allowing for improved accommodation of maintenance needs and visitor circulation.
Mr. Lord said that the entrance sequence has been considered from various directions, and the site would be made completely accessible. The gardens would be organized around desire lines and views; the center space would be set within a structure of trees and surrounded by more richly detailed spaces, with an overall sense of connection to Independence Avenue and the Mall. To the northwest, the plaza area around the entrance to the S. Dillon Ripley Center would be expanded to accommodate temporary displays, such as collections of orchids and tropical plants. He added that parts of the existing garden may be integrated within the new design, and the landscape vision would be consistent with the goals of the recent planning for the Southwest Ecodistrict.
Mr. Ingels summarized the Smithsonian's intention to develop a plan for solving many problems at once rather than in a piecemeal manner. He emphasized that the new site design would preserve and even enhance the identity of each building. Beneath the big, inviting space of the Enid Haupt Garden would be lower levels containing exhibition spaces where the amount of daylight can be controlled. Staff offices would be located on an intermediate level that would receive direct daylight and enjoy outward views through perimeter windows. He said that the project has benefitted from the opportunity to spend a year learning about the Smithsonian's requirements in order to develop the master plan, rather than having to begin with a design competition process.
The Commission members inspected the large model and then reconvened for discussion. Mr. Luebke noted that the Smithsonian's request is for comments on the presentation, and no formal action is necessary.
Mr. Powell recalled that the original design for the Hirshhorn was for the museum to be faced in travertine, which would have resulted in a very different and beautiful building. Observing that implementation of the master plan will involve a large expenditure, he suggested including consideration of replacing the Hirshhorn's concrete exterior with the intended material. He supported the idea of creating a sunken courtyard at the center of the Hirshhorn's plaza. He also supported the idea of opening the edges of the Hirshhorn site but commented that the perimeter site walls are essential to the design concept of the museum; he suggested consideration of retaining a more significant portion of the walls so that they can continue to provide a strong sense of spatial definition.
Ms. Meyer commended the project team on its clear analysis that has yielded simple solutions to complex problems. She said that her comments are based on the stated intention of trying to understand and enhance existing conditions. She acknowledged the existing circulation problems, exemplified by the multiple truck ramps and loading docks on the campus, which have resulted in the effort to rethink the campus as an integrated whole. However, she also noted the importance of the eccentric, idiosyncratic gardens that lie between the buildings; she said that a visitor's movement through these more finely grained spaces contributes to the powerful effect of reaching the Mall's central open space. She said that the value of these smaller spaces may be in conflict with the desire for a continuous circulation pattern—a potential tension between two ways of reading the existing conditions that may always be present in this project.
Noting that accommodation of technical appurtenances can spoil the design of a roof garden, Ms. Meyer asked where existing mechanical vents are located and where new ones are planned. Sean Franklin, a designer with BIG, indicated the location of existing vents; he said that future venting and emergency egress may be consolidated in the garden's mounds, but their location is still being considered.
Ms. Meyer agreed with Mr. Powell that the design of the Hirshhorn would be diminished if its perimeter site walls are removed, and the existing sense of enclosure for the Hirshhorn site can be seen as an advantageous contrast to the openness of the Mall. She encouraged reconsideration of this proposal, adding that she supports the idea of providing a public connection beneath Jefferson Drive to link the Hirshhorn's lower gallery level and the existing sculpture garden.
Ms. Meyer encouraged the proposal to open up the space below the existing Enid Haupt Garden; she said that she does not advocate keeping the garden as it is but suggests thinking more carefully about the important features of the existing design. She noted that the presentation included a reference to the Downing design for the Mall, but not to the designers of the Enid Haupt Garden in the 1980s—landscape architect Hideo Sasaki and his associate Stu Dawson—and she expressed surprise that their work is not being acknowledged. She said that an interesting feature of this garden is its recognition of Downing's desire to use both exotic and native plants, and she observed that the recent focus on native plants has been accompanied by a loss of appreciation for the enrichment of this country's biodiversity through the cultivation of plants from Asia, Africa, and Europe. She said that continued recognition of this concept is important for the new garden so that the design does not end up as a generic green roof that looks like every other green roof in the city. She suggested further consideration of the horticulture of the 1980s garden, if not its design character.
Ms. Meyer also recommended more careful consideration of the idea for museum entrances at the corners of the Enid Haupt Garden; while acknowledging that the design is still in an early phase, she said that the entrances look too generic. She observed that the opening facing northeast will receive intense summer light in the morning, while the one facing northwest will receive intense summer afternoon light. She advised thinking about these differing orientations and microclimates; the result may be that the two openings are not symmetrical, but instead become different in orientation, section, materials, and perhaps profile. She concluded by commending the project team for its presentation of an ambitious and potentially extraordinary project.
Ms. Lehrer agreed that the project is ambitious, and she commended the clear presentation. Regarding the Hirshhorn, she commented on the benefit of being able to leave the large central space of the Mall and enter a courtyard; she said that retaining the framing and sense of enclosure are important. She acknowledged that the Hirshhorn's exterior space as it now exists is disappointing, and she suggested consideration of different ways to improve it—perhaps by creating the sense of enclosure with planting. For the redesign of the Enid Haupt Garden, she raised questions about whether the various spaces would have direct connections or only visual linkages. She also questioned how the skylights in this garden would be experienced, observing that the presented images—with visitors sitting decorously on the skylight edges—are beautiful, but in fact people would sit or walk on them. While they could be a success, she said that such skylights create an unusual experience for people in the museum spaces underneath; she advised further consideration of how this feature would be perceived, and exploration of using different types of glass or other materials.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the Freer Gallery is one of the Mall's great buildings and is only minimally addressed in this master plan. She encouraged more careful consideration of how this building could be revealed, and she suggested reconsidering such encroachments as creating a landscape mound near the Freer to house mechanical equipment. Mr. Lord agreed that an opportunity exists to make the Freer's future eastern entrance more accessible.
Mr. Powell supported Ms. Meyer's comments about developing the design of the central garden more carefully. He said that the depicted configuration of warping glass skylights looks appealing; but he suggested further study of the form of the raised corner pavilions, observing that they have the appearance of "looking under the rug." He noted the minimal discussion of planning for the Arts and Industries Building, asking if its future role has been considered. Project manager Ziad Shehab of the Smithsonian Institution said that this is still undecided but it has been given equal consideration along with the other buildings; one issue is whether the Arts and Industries Building would be reused in its current size or if it should be expanded through additional excavation.
Chairman Powell commending the master plan as having great potential, and he said that the Commission looks forward to the Smithsonian's future presentations.
C. Department of the Army
CFA 22/JAN/15-2, Real Property Master Plan for two sites: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia and U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery, 21 Harewood Road, NW. Final. (Previous: CFA 19/FEB/98-1.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the Army's master plan addressing two cemeteries: Arlington National Cemetery and the relatively small U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery, which is located north of the Armed Forces Retirement Home along North Capitol Street. He said that the master plan addresses the needs of cemetery operations, including the primary purpose of interment as well as accommodations for visitors and families. The master plan envisions the needs of the cemeteries to at least the year 2037. He asked Col. Joe Simonelli, the chief of staff at Arlington National Cemetery, to begin the presentation.
Col. Simonelli thanked the Commission members and staff for their help in guiding cemetery projects. He said that the master plan establishes a baseline that will be developed continually to provide guidance and vision. He introduced Brian Pieplow, the director of planning for HNTB, to present the master plan.
Mr. Pieplow said that the master plan results from collaboration with major stakeholders, including local governments and owners of adjoining properties. He noted that the master plan is one of five key actions resulting from the 2012 campaign to protect Arlington Cemetery's legacy as a national shrine and active military cemetery; Arlington has approximately thirty interments daily for six days a week, as well as a very large numbers of visitors. He said that seven main goals for Arlington have been identified through the planning process: most importantly, the cemetery's core mission of interment, as well as the need to improve the visitor experience. The proposals are intended to minimize conflicts resulting from daily operations; another important issue in the master plan is sustainability.
Mr. Pieplow said that projects relating to the master plan will be brought to the Commission frequently over the next few years as they are developed. Examples include Arlington's Millennium Project, already reviewed by the Commission, and the southern expansion project, which comprises three sites now being transferred from the Department of Defense. These sites are separated by several public roads, presenting a logistical problem for interments and processions. Army officials have discussed several solutions with Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation to create a contiguous cemetery area by exchanging land, realigning roads, and reconfiguring a highway interchange. An additional factor is a proposal for the 9/11 Memorial Visitor Education Center adjacent to an existing interchange. He said that the master plan addresses these issues with two scenarios, one for partial development and another for full development.
Mr. Pieplow said that improvements to the visitor experience at Arlington include the decision to retain the Welcome Center along Memorial Avenue and to increase its role as a place for museum activities and interpretation. To improve accommodations for families and veterans, changes will be made to the Administration Building including more family waiting rooms, relocation of administrative staff to the Welcome Center, and improvement of the funeral queuing area, which is already under development.
Mr. Powell commented that the master plan is a work in progress with well-established goals. Mr. Freelon agreed in supporting the plan, commenting that he looks forward to seeing how the different pieces come together. He added that he is particularly encouraged that a contiguous area for Arlington's expansion could be achieved through street closings. Ms. Meyer observed that cemetery land is scarce while the need for interment space will never end; she therefore cautioned against making too many concessions of land for other uses. For example, she said that the site for the 9/11 Memorial Visitor Education Center seems to be taken away from potential interment space.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the master plan with the comments provided.
D. District of Columbia Public Library
CFA 22/JAN/15-3, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW. Building renovation, alterations and expansion. Information presentation. Ms. Batcheler introduced an information presentation on the planned renovation and expansion of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library, the central facility of the D.C. public library system. She noted that the International-style building was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the late 1960s and is recognized by the local and federal government as a historic landmark. The building encompasses 400,000 square feet on four above-grade levels; the intention is to renovate the building to better support modern library functions, provide new amenities for visitors, and consolidate administrative operations. She said that the roof is envisioned to become an event space with a new fifth floor and a terrace; two options will be presented for this addition. She said that the project is currently undergoing public review in accordance with environmental and historic preservation regulations. She asked Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the D.C. Public Library, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Reyes-Gavilan said that the opportunity to work on this transformative project was his primary reason for moving to Washington nearly a year ago to direct the library system. He described his goal of creating a library space that is dignified, welcoming, airy, and uplifting; it should accommodate the many ways that people learn, whether traditional or modern. He introduced the architects from the two design firms that have formed a team for this project—Francine Houben of Mecanoo and Tom Johnson of Martinez + Johnson—to present the design.
Mr. Johnson said that his team was selected a year ago to develop a vision for this building, and recent work has included addressing the historic preservation process. He noted that Mecanoo, the other firm on the team, is a leader in contemporary library design. He also acknowledged the preeminence of Mies, the original architect for the building; Mies had presented the design to the Commission in 1966, although it was not completed until 1972 after Mies' death. He noted that this building is Mies' only executed library project and his only work in Washington. He described the building as being an exemplar of Mies' style, with a clear structural system that is articulated on the exterior with applied steel beams. He noted the recessed loggia at the ground-floor perimeter and the expansive open interior spaces, typical of Mies' work. He described the library as having a prevailing sense of order, and he cited the comment of Commission member Gordon Bunshaft that the building would be an enhancement to the chaos of the city. He noted that the neighborhood has been changing in the ensuing decades, and the immediate area has now transformed into a lively nexus of several neighborhoods including downtown and Chinatown, and the library is positioned at the confluence of these urban patterns. Over time, the building has also changed—in the treatment of the great hall and the street and entrance areas around the building.
Mr. Johnson described the project team's study of other Mies buildings around the world, identifying elements and relationships that are present in the library: axial symmetry, openness, order, and a contrast of solidity and transparency. He observed that the solid volumes serve to define the large spaces. He also noted the importance of the library's association with Martin Luther King, Jr.; the library was the city's first memorial to King, and the openness of the design embodies parallels to the concepts of civil discourse, learning, and public interaction that King had championed. Beyond the building's name, various interior elements tell the story of Dr. King; the proposed enhancements to the building would strengthen this linkage. He noted that the commemorative mural in the great hall was commissioned later, but it is consistent with Mies' philosophy of displaying public art in public buildings; Mies had envisioned that murals would add color, texture, and visual interest to the building entrance.
Mr. Johnson acknowledged the numerous studies that have preceded the current design effort, including a detailed assessment of maintenance and repair issues and an assessment of the exterior. He presented the existing floor plans and indicated the areas that are designated for historic preservation and restoration; he noted that very few buildings in Washington have such a designation for interior space. He said that the outer walls of the building cores are designated for preservation, but the elements within the cores are not. He identified the key design ideas such as the building's flat plinth and surrounding loggia, the clear organization of reading rooms at each end of the building, and the smaller rooms in interstitial areas. He noted that the central portion of the upper floors is a column-free space but it is occupied by small rooms that have accommodated changing functions over the years. The fourth floor is used for library offices, and some of this space is relatively intact and designated for protection; he said that some of the library's Miesian furniture has been consolidated into the office space.
Mr. Johnson said that the project team has been consulting with many groups, including the Commission staff, to understand the building and the design opportunities. He noted the extent of required reviews and regulatory processes for the renovation. One step has been to identify the purpose and need for the project, which includes the expected needs of modernizing a forty-year-old building that had shortcomings even in its initial construction. The broader goal is to introduce a 21st-century library within the iconic, historic envelope of the building. An additional issue is the building's long-term sustainability, which can have a variety of meanings; the intention here is to encompass the full range of the concept, including financial sustainability. Coordination of the project with the city's branch libraries is also a goal. He emphasized the public nature of the process, including the multi-stage selection of the project team. He said that the public remains very aware of some of the design ideas generated in the selection process, although some proposals are no longer under consideration and the design process remains entirely open to further ideas; the testing of earlier concepts has been valuable in shaping the evolution of thinking about the library's potential. He also noted the coordination with scholars and design colleagues who are involved with Mies' work; many of these buildings have previously been restored, with some now ready for a second renovation, and the understanding of these buildings has been growing along with experience in integrating new technology into the designs. He said that the project team continues to consult with Mies's project manager for the library, Jack Bowman, on the original concept for the building and on the types of modern changes that should be embraced. He summarized the central challenge of providing a modern library with up-to-date technology, services, and systems, while respecting this significant historic landmark. He cited the goal stated by the library's director in 1966—"We want this to be the best library in the world"—as the continuing goal for the project, with the intention of establishing an outstanding international example of how to modify an important mid-20th-century building.
Ms. Houben emphasized the desire to transform the library from its period of construction to being able to accommodate future needs. Earlier libraries had emphasized books, knowledge, and intellectual endeavors; the library of the future is more focused on activities and should be inviting for people of all ages and economic levels. The welcoming character should be apparent from the outside as well as on the interior. People should also feel safe moving through the building, including at the basement level where activities may be programmed. People now have many ways of studying and enjoy many types of activity, which should all be accommodated in the modernized building. An exhibit space and informal theater space are envisioned as part of the program, along with opportunities for video and film activities. Activating the top level, such as with a public garden, would help to draw a flow of people through the building; she said that occupying the roof could be an interesting experience with taller buildings now surrounding the site and with the street grid shifting in the adjacent block, with an interesting view of the Old Patent Office Building across 9th Street.
Ms. Houben presented depictions of potential alterations and new programmatic uses for the building. A cafe could be added, with the location selected to be respectful of the building; she illustrated how an outdoor cafe could be placed at the site's northeast corner, a few steps down from the 9th Street sidewalk. The library's interior could be made more welcoming as well as being appropriate to Mies' architecture and King's legacy. The existing loading dock is located immediately north of the great hall; the wall between them could be removed to allow the loading dock space to be converted into an activity area, perhaps using pivoting wall segments along the great hall. The four cores for vertical circulation, currently perceived as being unsafe and difficult to find, could be modernized to be more open while retaining some of the character provided by the existing brick walls. The rooftop mechanical penthouse could be enlarged to provide an occupiable penthouse in conjunction with a roof garden, which could be located at the southeast corner to benefit from the best view. She presented two alternative concepts for shaping a penthouse addition: a rectangular enclosure, or a more organic curved form that pulls back to provide a larger terrace space at the southeast corner. She said that the roof garden would be designed so that it is not visible from the street, and its railing would be set back to avoid interfering with the appearance of the facades. Mr. Johnson presented several photographic simulations of the expanded penthouse in distant views of the building, illustrating both alternatives: the change would not be apparent in views from several blocks to the west, while the more open views from the east would show the extension of the penthouse by approximately one column bay. The rectangular shape would be more visible in some views from the south, and the curved shape would be more visible in views from the north. He described the rectangular shape as a simple expansion of the original mechanical penthouse, while the curved shape would be a deliberate counterpoint to the Mies design.
Ms. Houben summarized the issues to be addressed in the project: improvements to the vertical circulation cores; modernization of the building envelope; improved use of the north edge of the site along G Place and the west edge along an adjacent church, in conjunction with redesign of service spaces; a more open organization for the upper library floors with more daylight at the center of the building; and conversion of the roof to a terrace and event space. Mr. Johnson added that converting the loading dock to an activity space would allow for an improved central axis through the ground floor of the building. He said that the existing configuration, with brick walls along much of the site edge, may have been a response to the difficult challenges of the neighborhood at the time of the building's design, while the building could now respond to the more vibrant character of the context. He noted that opening the site edges would be a relatively minor issue in the overall concern for preservation of the building; he observed that this alteration would be consistent with other Mies buildings, although not what Mies designed for this project. Ms. Houben said that this building should be a catalyst for attracting more people to live in the center of the city, and the library should attract families with children; these goals should be reflected in the new uses for the site's public space.
Mr. Johnson concluded by noting that the exterior of the modernized library would appear generally unchanged from its original design and current condition; the goal of additional space for the library would be achieved with the penthouse addition, and the two alternatives are being developed for consideration as part of the required public review process. He emphasized the design team's understanding of the significance of the project, the opportunity that this project provides for the city, and the need to balance competing issues in the design.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the project is exciting and is moving in a good direction; she emphasized that the building already has many good qualities and is treasured by the public. She agreed with the concern that the vertical circulation cores are difficult to find, and she encouraged the intention to improve the vertical connections through the building. She also supported the emphasis on daylight as an amenity for the building's users. She said that the activation of the rooftop space could be effective in attracting more people to the building and the upper floors.
Ms. Meyer expressed appreciation for the careful attention being given to the project, which had not been certain in earlier efforts to modernize the library. She supported the analysis of the building's challenges, some of which have been present throughout its history. Based on the presentation of possible design responses to address the various issues, she recommended that the project team consider the overall theory for making alterations to the building. She said that one approach would be to rely on the historic preservation standards developed by the Secretary of the Interior, which can be very limiting for the design process. A second approach is suggested in the presentation of alterations intended as being in the spirit of Mies' design work although differing from the actual design for this building, exemplified by the proposal to create a new activity space north of the great hall along the building's central axis; she enthusiastically supported this approach. Other alterations are presented as providing a contrast, such as the curved alternative for the penthouse expansion; she said that the contrast of new construction to the Mies design could also be a reasonable logic for the project. But she questioned whether the presented combination of different approaches is based on consistent logic or would just seem contradictory. She said that any of the design approaches may be acceptable, but the logic should be more rigorous. She supported the intention to make this project an exemplar for the treatment of a modernist building, potentially establishing a strong precedent for a more ambitious approach than would normally be achieved with the Secretary of the Interior's standards.
Ms. Meyer noted the reference in the presentation to multiple concepts of sustainability, including ecological, environmental, and economic issues; she suggested that this be expanded to include social sustainability. She emphasized the library's importance throughout its history as a haven for everyone in the city. While this can be expressed in many ways, she cited the example of the Miesian furniture having been consolidated into some of the fourth-floor staff offices; in the past, such furniture was located in the great hall where anyone could enjoy using it, and she discouraged a design approach of establishing a hierarchy that would diminish the importance of spaces used by the general public.
Ms. Lehrer commented that Mies was innovative in developing a strong relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces, and she suggested that the library renovation could address this issue beyond the alterations presented for the roof terrace and ground plane. She supported a curved design for the penthouse expansion, and she encouraged further exploration of how the programming and architecture would relate. Rather than merely provide a roof garden, she suggested that the penthouse level accommodate more intense activities, particularly newer types of activities that would not have been contemplated in Mies' original design for the library. She also questioned the depiction of a flat roof for the penthouse, commenting that this may simply invite future generations to add another level of roof garden above. She summarized that the project needs to address many issues ranging from light and air to books to the role of the library as a democratic institution.
Chairman Powell emphasized that the library is an iconic building; the Commission's concern should primarily focus on the issue of a substantial addition to the roof, and he supported the curved alternative as an interesting direction to explore. He conveyed the Commission's appreciation for the presentation.
Mr. Luebke noted that the project is currently in a period of public comment, and the general guidance provided by the Commission will be helpful in the development of the project; a specific design proposal will eventually be submitted for the Commission's review. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
E. District of Columbia Housing Authority
CFA 22/JAN/15-4, Capitol Quarter Community Center, 1000 5th Street, SE. New community recreation center. Final. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the submission for a new community center building at 1000 5th Street, SE, part of the redevelopment of the Capper–Carrollsburg housing community near the Washington Navy Yard. He asked David Cortiella of the D.C. Housing Authority's Office of Capital Programs to introduce the project.
Mr. Cortiella said that as senior project manager he is responsible for the Capper–Carrollsburg HOPE VI Revitalization Project. The community center was originally designed in 2005, and it received second-stage Planned Unit Development (PUD) approval and design approval that year with the expectation that the building would soon be constructed; but it has not yet been built, and the PUD has been extended.
Mr. Cortiella said that Capitol Quarter—one of the largest HOPE VI revitalization projects in the country—is located in a formerly depressed area of the city; developers had expressed no interest in redeveloping the area until the U.S. Marine Corps built housing here for married enlisted soldiers. A federal HOPE VI grant was then awarded in 2001 to fund the replacement of hundreds of public housing units with a denser mixed-income neighborhood, projected to include over 1,700 housing units with apartment buildings and townhouses. The townhouses have been completed, and a senior residential building is under construction on the block where the community center would be built. A new segment of I Street has been built in this area to strengthen the street system connectivity, provide highway access, and improve connections to Barracks Row.
Mr. Cortiella said that the area had received a great economic boost when a nearby site was chosen for the Washington Nationals baseball stadium a decade ago. He said that the D.C. Housing Authority has worked with a public-private partnership to construct Washington Canal Park, popular small park with many activities, located a couple of blocks from the community center site. He said that the proposed community center will play a key role in the new neighborhood and in the revitalization of the diverse larger community, serving as a focal point for activities and meetings. He noted that the neighborhood has become a mixed-income area; the average sale price of the 323 townhouses was over $800,000, while monthly rents based on 30 percent of household income range from $100 to $3,000. In 2004 and 2005, the Housing Authority had identified the needs of the community through discussions with the residents of the former public housing complex; these discussions continued with newer community residents. A firm was hired to conduct surveys and arrange various focus groups to further determine needs. A contract will be awarded to a private group to manage and maintain the buildings and also to manage the various recreational, educational, and cultural programs in the community center. He introduced Taylora Imes-Thomas and Robert Wallach of the architectural firm of Torti Gallas and Partners to present the design.
Mr. Wallach described the location and proposed massing of the community center. It would be a long two-story building facing 5th Street and the new townhouses; behind it is the parking garage for the Marine Corps housing. North of the site across K Street is the new senior building, and to the south is Van Ness Elementary School. Further to the south is M Street, the neighborhood's major road; low-rise structures will occupy the area between M Street and the Capitol Quarter site, and high-rise and commercial buildings will be built along M Street and on the other side of Canal Park to the west.
Mr. Wallach said that the building would have two parts: one portion housing a daycare center for approximately 68 children, and the other portion containing a full-size basketball court and community room along with flexible multi-purpose spaces. Except for the gymnasium, the entire building would be covered by a green roof. He said that much of the site's open space would be used for the daycare center's playground, which would be set within the building's reentrant corner; the site design also includes two small parks along 5th Street.
Ms. Imes-Thomas presented the proposed materials, noting the design goal of organizing the building with a head and a tail. Materials would include three colors of brick: a red wire-cut brick in running bond for most of the facades; a buff brick for a belt course; and a dark red brick with black flecks, laid in Flemish bond, for the water table. Mortar colors would closely match the brick for a uniform appearance. Metal panels with a clear anodized coating would be used on canopies, parapets, and above the storefront windows. Vertical elements—including metal fins and brise-soleils—would be employed to punctuate the dominant horizontality of the elevations. A tower would mark the entrance, and brise-soleils would be used to shade all glazing.
Ms. Imes-Thomas emphasized that the building would be scaled to the neighborhood. Shade would be provided for the playground on the south; she noted that locating the playground along 5th Street is intended to make the community aware of the availability of daycare. The small public park area would likely be used by residents of the immediate neighborhood and by the larger community. Mr. Wallach added that the street elevation has large windows to make the activities inside visible at night, serving to enliven the streetscape.
Mr. Freelon observed that the brick colors shown on the rendered elevations do not match those on the image illustrating the materials palette; he asked if the brick intended for the 5th Street elevation would be red or the buff color shown on the rendering. Ms. Imes-Thomas responded that the red brick is intended; Mr. Freelon supported this choice. He commented that the brise-soleil will not protect the extensive glazing on the west from excessive heat gain; while he supported the appearance of this elevation, he expressed concern about its sustainability and energy performance. He also commented that the primary 5th Street elevation appears overly complex and fussy, particularly the tower and the fins which extend above the parapet; he recommended simplifying the vertical elements. He summarized his support for the general massing of the building and the configuration of the program.
Ms. Lehrer suggested consideration of passive solar protection for the western exposure. She observed that the playground is very exposed and would benefit from shade trees, which would also help to provide solar protection for the windows. She emphasized that trees would give character to this rather barren-looking play space, which should be thoughtfully designed for the benefit of children. She also recommended redesigning the fence around the playground, which she said creates the effect of a "caged" area that is completely exposed to the street. While recognizing the necessity of some kind of enclosure, she said that its form should receive the same care and thought given to the building's materials and details, and its design should be integrated with that of the building.
Ms. Gilbert observed that the site design includes only a very small amount of green space, especially considering the width of the site, and the open space is divided into even smaller areas. Where resources are devoted to plantings, they appear, for example, as shrubs arranged like a "ruffle" at the base of the building. She encouraged the design team to think of the landscape as a single linear space with more shade, and perhaps with an area of lawn and trees for the children; she also recommended integrating the corner plaza into the overall site design.
Ms. Meyer said that the site design strategy of creating two small park areas in addition to a playground would not work at the small scale of this landscape. She recommended consolidating the exterior program, perhaps by moving the playground back to align it with the datum of the building to leave a larger, long horizontal space in front. She observed that the design needlessly calls for plants as foundation planting rather than using them to create a microclimate and a sense of enclosure. She suggested that the same number of plants could be used to make a beautiful edge to playground and avoid the perception that the children are in a cage; she added that vegetation should also be used to provide shade for summer afternoons. She concluded that the site strategy should be thought of as a simple, block-long landscape that includes shade, seating, and thresholds into the building. Ms. Gilbert added that plantings could also highlight the somewhat obscure entrance to the building.
Chairman Powell summarized that the Commission members have provided useful comments on a good project. Mr. Cortiella expressed concern that bond financing for the community center will expire at the end of the year; he asked if the Commission could vote to approve the building so that the building permit process can move forward while the concerns about the landscape are addressed separately. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the building while excluding the landscape design, which is to be revised and resubmitted for further review.
Chairman Powell departed at this point. In the absence of the Chairman and Vice Chairman, Mr. Freelon presided for the remainder of the meeting.
F. District of Columbia Department of General Services
1. CFA 22/JAN/15-5, Hyde-Addison Elementary School, 3219 O Street, NW. Addition. Concept. (Reviewed by Old Georgetown Board: 6 January 2015.) Mr. Martinez introduced the proposed addition to the Hyde-Addison Elementary School in the Old Georgetown historic district. He said that the Commission's Old Georgetown Board has reviewed this proposal several times; in April 2014, the Board recommended a design strategy of adding a third box that relates to the volumes of the two historic school buildings. He cited the recommendation in the Board's report, which has been distributed to the Commission members: "No objection to the concept design for the new two-story addition, as shown in supplemental drawings received on 16 December 2014. Recommend reducing the amount of glazing on the west facade, adding solidity to the entrance vestibule, and developing the landscape plan with attention to the entrance to the site." He asked architect Milton Shinberg of Shinberg Levinas and landscape architect Sheila Brady of Oehme van Sweden to present the design.
Mr. Shinberg described the existing Hyde-Addison Elementary School, located on a site extending from O Street to P Street a half-block west of Wisconsin Avenue, NW. The existing school includes two separate structures built in different styles: the late 19th-century Addison School on P Street, and the early 20th-century Hyde School on O Street. The proposed addition would be built between thes two buildings. The Hyde building would be the school's primary visual presence in the neighborhood; the Addison building is less prominent along the street. He said that the project would include a large playground, a rare amenity in Georgetown. The school's enrollment is expected to increase to 400 students.
Mr. Shinberg presented photographs illustrating the school from O and from P Streets and in relation to the neighboring buildings. He indicated the proposed addition on the site model: the three-box scheme would add a two-story box that is subservient but related to the scale of both existing structures. He described two design criteria for the addition: it must read as a box from a distance, and the central two-story structure should be legible within the glazed enclosure wrapping around the lower portion of the addition. He said that the lower portion would be scaled to be compatible with the playground.
Mr. Shinberg described the site plan and architectural concept in greater detail. The primary entrance to the playground would be an existing gate along O Street next to the Hyde building. A walk adjacent to the Hyde building would lead to the proposed addition and continue through to the Addison building, resulting in the maximum amount of playground space. The two-story block of the addition would rise to the level of the bottom of the Hyde building's cornice. He said that the two existing buildings have a total of 38,000 square feet, and the new structure would add 33,000 square feet. Most of the additional program would be placed below grade; the gymnasium level would be 26 feet below grade, allowing the area above to be preserved as part of the site's open space and reducing the bulk of the addition.
Mr. Shinberg presented samples of the proposed materials, including terra cotta baguettes for the first story, and glazed and unglazed terra cotta panels and tubes that would be used as rain screens on the upper story. He noted that the two existing buildings are constructed of different kinds of brick; the selection of terra cotta is appropriate as a traditional clay material that would not replicate the brick of either structure. On the upper story, the terra cotta would be applied in a 3-1-1-3 rhythm, replicating the fenestration pattern of the Hyde building. The terra cotta would continue down into the building's interior, illuminated by a series of skylights; a large light well would extend down to the gymnasium level. On the first story, the baguettes would be set at a ninety-degree angle to the glazed surfaces behind them to provide sufficient transparency to the interior while obscuring views from the neighboring building into the school cafeteria.
Ms. Brady then presented the landscape design, indicating the entrances to the site from both O and P Streets. She said that all of the historic walls and gates would be preserved, and the site would include two gardens and playgrounds. Along O Street, a series of sculptural benches—possibly made of concrete with a colorful finish—would be located beneath shade trees, and a native garden would be planted; a new brick wall is proposed along the perimeter of this space. The garden adjoining P Street would also have a new brick wall and would provide play space for pre-kindergarten children and outdoor space for art classes. A continuous pedestrian path would recall the historic brick of the neighborhood.
Mr. Freelon expressed appreciation for the presentation. Ms. Gilbert asked about the species and number of trees to remain. Ms. Brady responded that six trees would be retained, including all the elms; 19 trees would be removed; and 29 new trees are proposed, including 11 canopy and 18 flowering trees. She added that the playground's spatial plan has been developed around the trees being retained. Ms. Gilbert observed that the design provides a plentiful amount of shade.
Ms. Meyer offered strong support for the proposal, commenting that the addition relates well to its urban context and to the landscape, which she said is a difficult achievement given the scale of the two existing buildings. She contrasted this site design to the playground in the previous presentation for the Capitol Quarter Community Center, which had essentially put children in a caged area by the street; she commended the Hyde-Addison design team for understanding that the playground should be both a public space and a comfortable play area for children. She noted that the garden along O Street was described as a shade garden, but the new trees may not provide much shade in the early years; she recommended careful consideration of the survival of the other plants in the interim.
Ms. Lehrer asked how the site wall would benefit the community, suggesting that it could incorporate a bench on the side facing the sidewalk; Ms. Brady responded that the intention is not to change the face of the existing wall. She added that the playground—being used by neighborhood children—would be increased in size, which is clearly a community benefit. Mr. Luebke noted the general goal of a consistent and appropriate treatment of public space within the historic district, but he said that this wall and other elements of the sidewalk frontage are recent construction and not historic.
Mr. Freelon complimented the design team for the elegant solution to a difficult problem. He asked if the exterior glass of the addition would have a tint or frit. Mr. Shinberg responded that a frit pattern is proposed that would change from dense to more open as it descends the wall, becoming completely transparent a short distance above the ground; the intention is to make the second story appear slightly more solid and the first story more open, and to reduce solar heat gain on the south side. He added that the cafeteria wing would be treated similarly. Mr. Freelon observed that the rendering does not accurately depict this transition in the frit; in daylight the lower story would look dark and be difficult to see through, although at night it would glow. Mr. Shinberg requested the Commission's advice on whether the frit should be used more extensively on the lower story in order to soften its appearance while still allowing some transparency. Mr. Freelon recommended preparing a full-scale mockup of a small portion of the wall to resolve this question.
Ms. Lehrer asked about the roof form; Mr. Shinberg confirmed that it would be flat, because a sloped roof would add too much height and mass to the new volume and would compete with the adjacent buildings. Ms. Lehrer asked if consideration was given to how the flat roof might be used; Mr. Shinberg responded that it would be planted but would not be accessible to children in order to avoid the need for additional visually intrusive safety barriers. Ms. Lehrer commented that safety barriers may be needed anyway, but she supported the plan to make use of the roof for planting. She commented that adding shade trees near the building is sensible but cautioned that they should not hide the beautiful architecture. She also commented that experiencing a playground beneath a tree canopy is memorable for children, and the playground design could accommodate additional trees.
Mr. Luebke summarized that the Commission's comments about developing the landscape and providing a mockup of the fritted glass wall could supplement the comments of the Old Georgetown Board, which were generally positive. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted the Board report with the additional comments provided and delegated further review to the Board. Mr. Luebke clarified that the next submission could then come to the Commission on the Old Georgetown appendix with the Board's recommendation.
2. CFA 22/JAN/15-6, Fort Dupont Ice Arena, 3779 Ely Place, SE. Replacement building with two ice rinks. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal for a new building to replace the existing Fort Dupont Ice Arena, located in Southeast Washington along the north side of Fort Dupont Park. He noted that the National Park Service had transferred this portion of the park to the D.C. government for the ice skating arena and for accommodating other athletic programs, including the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. He asked Daniel Curry of Quinn Evans Architects to present the concept design; Mr. Freelon suggested that the presentation focus on the site and landscape design.
Mr. Curry said that the site is located in a neighborhood of multi-family residences, and the existing building dates from the 1970s. The site slopes steeply down to the building and then to the parking lot, with an additional slope of approximately fifteen feet across the parking lot. The proposal is to replace the existing one-rink building with two volumes housing two separate ice rinks, connected by a central structure containing circulation and support facilities. One rink would be designed to National Hockey League standards. He emphasized the importance of placing both rinks on the same level so that both can be monitored simultaneously by the limited staff; this main level would be elevated to extend above the surface parking lot. He added that portions of the property may be further developed as a sporting complex for both the ice arena and the adjacent Nationals Youth Baseball Academy; the site design allows for a large part of the existing parking lot to be retained, in accordance with an agreement among the Baseball Academy, the Friends of Fort Dupont, and the D.C. government.
Mr. Curry indicated the primary entrance to the proposed arena, located along the parking lot; this small lower lobby would provide access to the main level above. The overall massing would be organized as two large, pitched-roof boxes containing the ice rinks, with the supporting functions in a central flat-roofed structure. He presented samples of the proposed materials, including red metal roofing panels and brick walls; the colors would relate the building to the Baseball Academy, the Washington Capitals hockey team, and other Washington sports teams. He explained that a purchase agreement is being planned for solar photovoltaic arrays on the roof of the south-facing structure; in the interim it would have a white roof. He concluded by presenting several perspective renderings of the proposal, noting the importance of activating the entrance area and ensuring that it would be visible from Ely Place.
Ms. Meyer said that the Commission members had considered approving the project without a presentation, but they have requested the presentation in order to discuss issues with the basic concept of the site plan. She acknowledged the complications of parking and access, but she emphasized the importance of a design response to the site's location at the edge of Fort Dupont, an important component of the Fort Circle Parks system that is administered by the National Park Service. She expressed concern that the site plan is overly suburban in character, with the parking placed prominently along the street frontage. In order to improve the urban and landscape design, as well as to protect the federal interest, she recommended locating the parking uphill and behind the building instead of downhill along the street; the building mass could be shifted to the north in conjunction with the shifted location of the parking. She observed that this revision would provide the same amount of parking, and the need for vertical circulation within the building would be no different than in the current proposal. She reiterated that this project should take advantage of the opportunity to build a new structure that is close to the street and sidewalk, while strengthening the relationship between the building and the park.
Mr. Curry acknowledged that this site organization had not been considered, but he noted that the existing parking lot is shared with the Baseball Academy to the west. Ms. Meyer said that the relationship of the parking to the academy would not change in her suggested site plan; Mr. Curry reiterated that this alternative site plan may necessitate another entrance to the site to accommodate parking use for the Baseball Academy. He said that another reason for the proposed organization of the building is to take advantage of the dramatic view of Washington's monumental core from the upper-level lobby.
Mr. Freelon asked if the Commission members want to direct a change in the site design or simply request consideration of this alternative; Ms. Meyer said that she would not vote for approval of the current submission. Mr. Freelon commented that the site's residential context could be characterized as more suburban than urban. Ms. Meyer said that Washington is a green city, and treating a portion of it as "suburban" could affect how people perceive the central part of the city.
Mr. Freelon acknowledged that the architectural design should emphasize the building's entrance, but he said that the proposed design may be overly complicated as depicted in the ground-level perspective view. He asked for further discussion of the different levels of the canopy and other entrance features. Mr. Curry responded that the three primary masses include the two big boxes and the smaller central support structure containing the entrance; the intention is to give the entrance more prominence when viewed from Ely Place. He clarified that the upper level of the central volume is the principal floor, while the lower level contains the entrance vestibule marked by a canopy.
Mr. Curry provided additional reasons for the proposed configuration of the project. He said that an ideal layout for the program, without consideration of the site, would include two large volumes with parallel ice rinks framing the central support area; however, this footprint could not be accommodated on the site. The challenge has therefore been to configure the building with an entrance that would face both the community and the parking area, rather than having an obscured entrance beneath the elevated building; this problem could be exacerbated by moving the building closer to the street edge. Ms. Meyer said that moving the building forward could result in creation of a parking court between the building and the park; people would be able to enter from the side of the building facing the park, which would be an improvement. Mr. Freelon observed that people along the street would not be able to see the entrance at this location, and Mr. Luebke added that problems may arise with the location of utilities. Ms. Meyer emphasized that the project's design should be guided by its overall relationship to the city.
Mr. Luebke noted the project's numerous constraints, including the topography and the parking agreement; he asked if placement of the parking lot alongside the national park, instead of along the street, would actually be an improvement. Ms. Meyer clarified that her suggested site plan would not involve moving the parking lot, only the building; her intention is to change the perception of the project from the street. Mr. Luebke noted the request for concept approval, and he asked if any less radical alternatives could address the Commission's concerns.
Ms. Lehrer asked about transit access to the site. Mr. Curry responded that a bus stop is located on Ely Place, but many of the children using this arena live in the neighborhood. Ms. Lehrer suggested further consideration of how people access the facility, and she recommended hiring a landscape architect who could consider the building's relationship to the site and to Fort Dupont Park. She added that more trees may be appropriate than the single row depicted in the presentation.
Mr. Freelon offered a motion to approve the concept as presented, with comments concerning the landscape along the street; Ms. Lehrer clarified that her landscape comments address the overall pedestrian experience of moving through the site to the building entrance. The motion was not seconded. Mr. Luebke suggested preparation of a new concept submission in response to the Commission's comments. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
3. CFA 22/JAN/15-7, Kenilworth Elementary School/Recreation Center, 1300 44th Street, NE. New community recreation center. Concept. The submission was approved earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
G. D.C. Department of Transportation / Southwest Business Improvement District
CFA 22/JAN/15- 8, Francis Case Bridge, I-395 over the Washington Channel and Maine Avenue, SW. Accent lighting. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal from the Southwest Business Improvement District (BID) to add decorative lighting to the Case Bridge, which is managed by the D.C. Department of Transportation. He noted that the bridge is located at the northwestern end of the Washington Channel, near the fish market and a large waterfront redevelopment project, named The Wharf, that has been reviewed by the Commission in recent years. He asked Steve Moore of the Southwest BID to begin the presentation.
Mr. Moore said that the bridge is nearly a mile long and carries approximately 150,000 vehicles per day. It was named in 1965 for Francis Case, a U.S. representative and senator who was involved in D.C. public works projects and voting rights. He described the proposed lighting as a contribution to the nighttime experience of the Southwest waterfront, which will attract many more visitors as development of The Wharf is completed. The lighting installation is intended to remain in place for five years. He said that the goal is to create a modest visual experience with accent lighting, rather than a light show that would distract from other activities along the waterfront. He presented images of illuminated bridges in other cities; he acknowledged that some are more elaborately designed than the Case Bridge, which is a relatively simple structure that would appropriately be given a simple lighting treatment. He emphasized the bridge's stone-clad piers as a special feature that could be enlivened by nighttime lighting. He said that the Southwest BID has been working for two years with Citelum, a French firm that manages urban lighting around the world; he presented images of the firm's work, emphasizing Citelum's experience with large projects, bridge illumination, and complex settings. He introduced Hervé Orgeas of Citelum to present the design.
Mr. Orgeas described the design of the bridge from the early 1960s, combining traditional and modern styles using stone piers and simple spans of steel girders. He indicated several nearby features including the fish market and the Jefferson Memorial. He presented views from several important locations; emphasizing that the bridge's silhouette and contrasting materials are difficult to discern at night. He indicated the rhythmic alignment of the piers as seen in perspective from East Potomac Park during the daytime. He noted that the bridge and the Jefferson Memorial's dome are seen together in the view from the 10th Street overlook.
Mr. Orgeas presented the proposed lighting treatment: white accent downlighting on the stone piers; uplighting beneath the bridge deck; and a line of blue LED lighting along the horizontal edge of the deck on each side of the bridge. He said that the white light would change seasonally from a warm to a cool character, and he indicated the reflections that would be visible along the water surface, improving on the vast blackness of the water's current nighttime appearance. He presented several perspective views to illustrate the intended appearance from the marina and from the city streets and parks. He concluded with a description of the proposed fixtures and drawings of their locations.
Ms. Lehrer expressed general support for the proposal, observing that it would bring this dark area into the overall nighttime experience of the city and would highlight the fish market. She asked if other bridges in the area are illuminated in this manner. Mr. Moore responded that comparable accent lighting is not used in the vicinity of the Washington Channel; uplighting is being considered for more distant locations, such as for the elevated Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown. Ms. Lehrer said that the proposal should be considered in relation to other bridges in order to create a visual dialogue among them, rather than implement a series of independent lighting proposals. She said that the lighting would raise the question of why this particular bridge warrants this amount of attention. Mr. Luebke and Mr. Lindstrom described the status of other bridges: the Georgetown BID is developing a proposal to illuminate the Key Bridge; any lighting of the Memorial Bridge would be in the distant future as part of the planned rehabilitation of the bridge; lighting has not yet been presented for the planned replacement of the Frederick Douglass Bridge; and the superstructure of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is illuminated. They said that this proposal for the Case Bridge would be the first accent lighting beneath a river bridge within the central part of Washington.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the mystery and glow of the proposed pier lighting seems to be conflicting with the bolder proposal for the blue line; she asked why each component was selected. Mr. Orgeas responded that the blue line would provide an overall silhouette and identity for the bridge, highlighting its purpose of crossing the Washington Channel, and this line would remain lit through the night; the piers would be illuminated only in the earlier part of each night, to avoid disturbing the neighborhood at late hours. He clarified that both types of lighting would begin at the same time each evening.
Mr. Luebke said that the staff has previously suggested eliminating the uplighting of the deck because it would detract from a potentially stronger relationship between the horizontal blue line and the lighting of the vertical piers. Mr. Moore responded that the uplighting was studied further in response to the staff advice, and this lighting has been made as gentle as possible; the conclusion was that it contributes to the overall visual effect, and it therefore remains in the current proposal.
Ms. Meyer asked about the location of houseboats and the reaction of these residents to the potential distraction of adding light beneath the bridge. Mr. Moore responded that approximately 100 people live on boats in the Washington Channel, and he indicated the locations of these boats and other marina and docking facilities nearby. He said that the boats with residents are located at a significant distance to the southeast; the Southwest BID has not yet contacted these residents but intends to do so. He added that the prevailing perception of the residents is that the upper end of the Washington Channel near the Case Bridge is dark and uninviting, and they may perceive the proposed lighting as an enhancement.
Ms. Meyer supported Ms. Lehrer's concern with how this proposal would relate to other bridges in the area, noting the potential near-term result that this bridge and the Wilson Bridge would be the only ones illuminated. Ms. Meyer observed that the Case Bridge is less important than some other bridges, such as the Key Bridge and others across the Potomac, and therefore the lighting of the Case Bridge should be as subtle as possible. She anticipated that future lighting proposals would be submitted for the more important bridges, and these would appropriately be lit more than the Case Bridge; she summarized her reluctance to establish too high a benchmark for bridge lighting with this project. She said that a presentation of alternatives would have been helpful, such as a lighting design that eliminates the uplighting of the deck; she noted that the staff may have had the opportunity to review more design studies.
Ms. Lehrer observed that the precedents in the presentation were dramatic bridges, and she instead suggested further study of more modest precedents that are similar to the character of the Case Bridge. She emphasized that this project would itself be a precedent for the treatment of other Washington bridges, and this role should be considered in the design in order to avoid confusion as other bridge lighting is developed. Mr. Moore responded that the lighting is costly, and proposals for other bridges may not be funded; he therefore anticipated that lighting of other bridges would not occur in the foreseeable future. Ms. Lehrer noted that the Commission plans for decades into the future.
Ms. Meyer asked if a horizontal blue light would be placed on the northwest side of the bridge, potentially visible from the vicinity of 14th Street, SW. Mr. Orgeas responded that lighting is proposed on the northwest side, as indicated on the plan. He indicated the endpoints of this lighting in relation to existing features of the bridge, including the pedestrian staircase to the bridge's sidewalk. Ms. Meyer expressed concern with the blue light on the northwest side due to its potential impact on the nearby cultural landscape of the Tidal Basin and major memorials; she said that the two sides of the bridge have very different relationships to the city's monumental core and should not be considered symmetrically. She said that the presented aerial photograph suggests the potential for the character of an amusement park in views from the Tidal Basin, and the submitted images are insufficient for evaluating this concern. Mr. Orgeas clarified that the blue fixture would be installed beneath the cantilevered edge of the deck, and it would therefore not be visible from elevated viewpoints; Ms. Meyer and Mr. Luebke clarified that the concern is the impact on ground-level views from the vicinity of the Tidal Basin.
Mr. Luebke summarized the apparent consensus for general support of the lighting proposal with the concern that it may be excessive, and with further study of the view from the northwest. Mr. Freelon supported the staff's recommendation to simplify the proposal; Ms. Meyer agreed that the uplighting of the girders and deck should be eliminated. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer the Commission approved the concept, subject to elimination of the uplighting of the deck and to further analysis of the proposal's impact on the wider context, particularly on views from the northwest; the Commission would evaluate this analysis at the next review.
H. District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1. SL 15-050, The Portals, 1331 Maryland Avenue, SW. New 15-story residential building. Concept. (Previous: SL 15-028, 20 November 2014, also referred to as 1399 Maryland Avenue.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept proposal for a residential building within The Portals, a complex of buildings that frames Maryland Avenue between 12th and 14th Streets, SW. She said that the Commission reviewed a previous concept submission in November 2014 and did not take an action, requesting the submission of a calmer and less conspicuous design. She asked Paul Whalen of Robert A.M. Stern Architects and landscape architect Jeff Lee of Lee and Associates to present the new proposal.
Mr. Whalen said that the project has been redesigned in response to the Commission's previous comments. He summarized the context of the site within the Portals, which centers on a cul-de-sac circle at the end of Maryland Avenue, elevated above the railroad tracks which emerge to the west. The site is approximately triangular: the west side fronts on 14th Street; the northeast side faces a planned pedestrian plaza and steps that will connect the Maryland Avenue circle with 14th Street; and the southeast side faces the exposed railroad tracks. The current design adds greater emphasis to the narrow frontage of the site on the Maryland Avenue circle, resulting in a four-sided composition for the building. A future office building is planned to the east, across the pedestrian plaza, to complete the build-out of the master plan for The Portals.
Mr. Whalen said that the building is now designed to have a single overall character instead of the two contrasting characters in the previous proposal. The design is intended to grow from the modern classical vocabulary that is seen in nearby buildings; the context is masonry and the proposal is therefore for a masonry building, perhaps using precast concrete. Metal balcony railings, along with the glass windows, would provide contrasting materials. In keeping with the classical principles of the nearby architecture, the building would be articulated with a base, middle, and top; elements such as groupings of living room windows would suggest an intermediate scale and vertical articulation. Spandrels and projecting balconies would provide a variety of horizontal and vertical accents as well as shadows.
Mr. Whalen described the proposed treatment of the four facades. The 14th Street elevation would have a formal, urban character in response to its context and its prominent visibility from the busy street and the 14th Street bridge complex. It would be symmetrically organized with four major bays; setbacks would be located along the top and toward the north and south corners, relating the building to the height of others along 14th Street. He indicated the outline of the anticipated narrow 14th Street facade of the future office building to the north that would be the final construction phase for The Portals; he also indicated the height relationship of the proposal to the existing Mandarin Oriental Hotel to the south and to other nearby buildings.
Mr. Whalen said that the southeast facade would be more casual in character, with a large recessed courtyard. The lower portion of this facade would be exposed down to the grade level and railroad tracks, two stories below the Maryland Avenue circle and slightly below the viaduct carrying 14th Street. The lowest levels would contain parking and support space, and the facade would express the alignment of the Maryland Avenue circle above this base.
Mr. Whalen emphasized that the long northeast facade, along the future pedestrian plaza, would generally be seen on the diagonal. The westernmost portion of this facade would continue the design vocabulary of the 14th Street elevation, and the easternmost portion would relate to the frontage on the Maryland Avenue circle. The overall composition would include a central group of bays that are framed by the asymmetrical end bays, resulting in an overall balance to the design. The central bays would correspond to the steps connecting the levels of 14th Street and the Maryland Avenue circle, and a long balcony would serve to unify these bays. Toward the top of the building, setbacks in these central bays would result in the expression of three pavilions with numerous terraces and balconies, serving to fragment the building's mass when seen from a distance and to provide a visual sense of activity. He acknowledged that the angled view of this facade results in a significant foreshortening in the perspective rendering.
Mr. Whalen described the facade on the Maryland Avenue circle, a narrow frontage that was not a significant element of the previous design but is now treated as an important fourth facade. This frontage would help to define the circle and would serve as a main entrance to the apartments; an additional residential entrance would be located around the corner along the southeast facade. He emphasized the expansive view from the circle across the open railroad tracks below, encompassing the Jefferson Memorial and Potomac River. The proposed building would serve to frame this view, and he indicated the details of the balcony and landscape design that would contribute to the setting.
Mr. Lee presented the proposed landscape design. The pedestrian plaza to the northeast would be built in conjunction with the future office building on the adjacent site; the current proposal includes a narrow grass strip alongside the existing surface parking lot as a temporary design. The streetscape design along 14th Street would continue the existing streetscape design adjacent to the nearby government buildings, providing a consistent rhythm that extends southward from the National Mall; he said that continuous tree pits would be used. On the southeast side of the building, the landscape would provide a buffer along the railroad tracks; a green wall along the lower part of the facade would extend the landscape upward. Hardy native species, deciduous climbing plants, and medium-size canopy trees would be used; a bioretention area would have decorative plantings to give additional variety. He indicated the access drive and retaining wall that would remain near the tracks. The balcony plantings along the southeast facade would enhance the secondary entrance and the horizontal expression of the level of the Maryland Avenue circle; the two-level courtyard terrace above would be landscaped in an informal manner. In deference to the well-known precinct of Japanese cherry trees nearby that are a major public attraction, he said that none would be used in this project. He concluded by emphasizing the expansive view toward the river and Arlington as an important feature of the site.
Mr. Whalen summarized this project's role in the ongoing transition of Maryland Avenue into an important street that is lined with buildings. He noted the area's industrial past, with modern office use of some industrial buildings remaining from the first half of the 20th century. He noted that this residential building, like the nearby hotel, would be an exception to the prevailing office use in the vicinity; the proposed design is intended to draw on the highest quality of the neighborhood's historic masonry architecture while expressing the building's residential use. He said that the upper-floor setbacks serve to indicate the presence of special apartments toward the top of the building, while also softening the building's massing.
Mr. Freelon expressed appreciation for the responsiveness to the Commission's previous review, commenting that the design has improvement significantly. He said that the current proposal is a quieter background building that is more appropriate to the context, and he supported the proportions of the design.
Ms. Gilbert asked for clarification of the public access to the various outdoor spaces and entrances. Mr. Whalen responded that most of the building would be rental apartments, which have an entrance facing the Maryland Avenue circle; the building would also have some condominiums, which would have a separate entrance along the southeast facade with access from a small plaza and garden that extends from the circle. The other balconies and terraces along the southeast facade would be private residential space that is not accessible to the public. Ms. Meyer observed that the best view is from the circle itself, which is available to the public; Mr. Whalen confirmed that the view is more centered when looking southwest from the circle along the Maryland Avenue alignment.
Ms. Meyer asked for further consideration of the proposed treatment of the building's base along the southeast facade, noting that this area would be prominently visible from the many vehicles using 14th Street. She expressed concern that the architectural and landscape design may have too many elements in this area, while the intended expression of horizontal alignments is not well resolved. She acknowledged that the area around the building's base is a service space but said it is also important as the place where the building meets the ground. She suggested unifying the two separate ground-level landscape zones shown in the conceptual diagram in order to simplify the design for the southeast side of the site. She encouraged the intention to use hardy urban plants and suggested extending this character to the green wall and bioretention area, with modifications as needed for these uses, in order to create a more substantial and effective scale for the landscape. She contrasted the overly fragmented design on the southeast with the more successful adjacent streetscape along 14th Street, which she said has greater coherence. She summarized the goal of creating a robust landscape on the southeast that relates to the large building emerging from the ground, rather than creating a fussy and overwrought design.
Mr. Whalen responded that the design draws on the classical tradition of a string course and a base, adapted and abstracted for the conditions of this building. He indicated the variation in window patterns that implies the edge of the base, and the alignment of balconies that implies a string course above the base. The elevated height of the Maryland Avenue circle results in a complex relationship of bases and ground planes, and he indicated how the balcony locations respond to this complexity. He summarized the overall intention of layering the base and stepping up to different heights.
Ms. Meyer said that this description reinforces her comment that the ground plane areas should be more unified on the southeast side. Mr. Lee agreed, offering to reconsider the site design with more attention to the building form instead of focusing on the existing retaining walls. He said that the landscape emphasis could be on the green wall as a singular form that would provide a very powerful edge, changing color with the seasons. He said that the area immediately adjacent to the railroad tracks could have the appearance of an abandoned landscape; the area closer to the building could have additional canopy trees to create a consistent foreground for the facade, providing a visual separation between the building and the railroad area.
Ms. Lehrer expressed overall support for the building, commenting on the variety of apartments resulting from the design and the opportunities provided by the terraces. However, she questioned whether sufficient consideration has been given to the infrastructure needed to support the extensive plant growth that is illustrated in the drawings; green areas have been included in the photo montages without illustrating the appropriate depth of the balconies. She also suggested further consideration of the sidewalk treatment along the Maryland Avenue circle in order to celebrate the best viewing location toward the southwest, such as with a wider sidewalk or belvedere; Mr. Whalen responded that any extension of the sidewalk at this location would be infeasible due to the required clearance above the railroad tracks that rise from below the circle. Ms. Meyer said that an alternative response could be to move the curb inward along the circle, if extending the sidewalk outward is infeasible.
Steve Grigg of Republic Properties Corporation, the developer of The Portals, responded that the streetscape of the circle is already built, and the continuity of the edges is an important aesthetic consideration. He also said that the ground-level service drive was carefully studied in developing the site design; this drive would accommodate truck access for 1.1 million square feet of office space as well as for the residential building. He said that the design relates to the topography and one-way pattern of the existing 14th Street frontage road, and the alignment has been selected to minimize direct views of the service area. He added that his firm's projects, at The Portals and elsewhere, include well-maintained landscaping; the rental management company and the condominium documents would address the issues of landscape maintenance, planters, and irrigation.
Ms. Lehrer suggested discussion of the building's height, which she acknowledged is a sensitive topic. Mr. Luebke noted that the presentation drawings generally omit the mechanical penthouse of the proposed building, which could add nearly twenty feet to the height; the drawings illustrate height relationships to nearby buildings inclusive of their penthouses, resulting in an unequal comparison and an inaccurate representation of how the proposed building would appear along the horizon. He added that pending amendments to the zoning regulations could allow this penthouse space to be an occupied area. Ms. Meyer agreed that the drawings are difficult to assess, and the Commission members would have to estimate the impact of the additional penthouse height on the design; she questioned the accuracy of the presented images. Mr. Whalen responded that the images are accurate but do not include the penthouse, which has not yet been designed; he acknowledged that the comparison may therefore be confusing between the proposed design and the roof features of existing buildings in the vicinity. He noted that the elevation drawings include an outline of the potential profile of the penthouse, which he emphasized would be set back from the primary facades. Mr. Luebke noted that regulations currently require a one-to-one setback, and the maximum height may soon be increased slightly to twenty feet; if occupied space is also allowed within this envelope, then the result could be two additional stories of residential space at the top of the building. Mr. Whalen said that the current intention is to place common rooms in the penthouse volume. Mr. Grigg said that much of the penthouse would be mechanical space with opaque walls; any occupied spaces would be treated as glazed pavilions, likely sited to project toward the Maryland Avenue facade.
Ms. Meyer offered an overall reaction that the height of the building, as illustrated in the perspective views, is somewhat high—perhaps acceptable if this illustrated volume includes the penthouse space, but she expressed concern with a design that results in additional height. She said that review of the proposal is troubling due to the omission of the penthouses in the perspective views, as well as the comment during the presentation that the perspective view of the northeast facade may not be accurate. Mr. Whalen clarified that this drawing is accurate, but the unusual viewing angle results in a foreshortened perspective; the length of this facade may therefore not be apparent in the perspective view, although the length is clearly conveyed in the accompanying elevation drawing that was presented. He said that the unusual perspective could be compared to a view through a wide-angle lens. Ms. Meyer reiterated her concern that the design would not be acceptable with an additional penthouse beyond the illustrated height. Mr. Whalen suggested returning with a design for the penthouse in the next submission, incorporating it into the perspective views of the project. Mr. Freelon supported this response.
Mr. Luebke noted that the height is an important issue, and this project would set a precedent. He said that the original master plan for The Portals had established a uniform height for this edge of the city, but the proposed residential building would rise significantly higher. While the Commission may find the height to be acceptable, the concern remains that the upper portion of the proposal is not well documented, and its design with possible projecting pavilions may add further complexity to the overall massing of the building. Ms. Meyer clarified that the Commission's response is to ask for further information rather than to reject the proposal on the basis of unknown design elements; the goal is for the Commission to be able to make a more informed decision based on accurate information. Mr. Lee added that the roof level is appropriately used in a residential building for shared amenities such as a swimming pool or party room, allowing all of the residents to enjoy the high views; the detailed design of this area has been deferred until after the Commission's current response to the current overall design.
Mr. Freelon and Ms. Meyer summarized the consensus of the Commission that the project is progressing well, with a request to review the concept proposal again with additional information about the penthouse design. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
2. SL 14-151, 1444 Taylor Street, NW. Single-family residence. Third-story and rear addition to convert structure to a multi-family residence. Final. (Previous: 20 November 2014.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the submission for alterations to convert an existing house to a multi-family residence. She noted that the Commission's second review of the project, in November 2014, resulted in a deferral of action to allow time for consultation between the project team and the neighbors. She summarized the setting of the modernist house at the end of a row near Arkansas Avenue and adjacent to Piney Branch Parkway, a part of Rock Creek Park. She said that the staff has provided the Commission members with copies of written comments from the National Park Service's superintendent of Rock Creek Park; from local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) representative Rickey Williams, whose district includes this location; and from many neighbors both in support and opposition to the project, with some form letters supporting a different design with a smaller rear addition. She noted that Mr. Williams and some neighbors are present and have asked to address the Commission. She asked architect James Foster of Arcadia Design to present the proposal.
Mr. Foster summarized the project's history, which is described in more detail in the submission materials. He said that the project team has been working closely with neighborhood groups, including an on-site meeting in December 2014, at which he presented the project renderings to the neighborhood residents. He summarized the design modifications that were made following the Commission's November review and the December neighborhood presentation: the height of the proposed third-floor addition has been reduced by three feet, and the width of the proposed rear decks has been narrowed to provide increased separation from the adjacent house. The height reduction would be achieved by reducing the interior height on three levels from nine to eight feet, which he noted would involve considerable expense in demolishing the existing interior floors while resulting in a less desirable height for the interior. He indicated the slight height reduction in the proposed third-floor windows as depicted on the west elevation. The reduced width of the proposed rear decks would increase their distance from the property line from one foot to three feet. He said that the design otherwise remains as presented in November.
Mr. Foster presented samples of the proposed materials, which would include stucco and wood siding for the added exterior wall surface. He said that using brick for the entire exterior is a feasible option but he does not recommend this; he cited the resulting heavy appearance, the difficulty of matching the existing brick and mortar colors, and the problematic aesthetics of using a contrasting brick color. For discussion purposes, he presented renderings of primarily brick facades using a slightly contrasting color. He said that many brick houses in the neighborhood, including on this block, have rear additions with stucco or wood siding, although he acknowledged that these additions are typically smaller than the proposed expansion of this house. He said that the wood siding would be appropriate on the side facade along the adjacent forested park. He said that the proposed detailing of joints in the tongue-and-groove cedar siding would suggest a modern appearance. He added that the stucco sample does not match the color and texture that is intended, but it conveys the general character of the material.
Mr. Foster presented the site plan, noting that the expanded house—including the projecting decks—would use only half of the lot occupancy of sixty percent allowed by D.C. zoning. He presented photographs of the context, indicating the taller houses nearby and the rising topography. He presented the interior plans, describing the adjustments that have been made throughout the review process. He summarized that the current design is intended to be more responsive to the original facades of the house.
Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of the grade difference between the rear yards of this project and the adjacent house. Mr. Foster responded that the proposed rear yard would be several feet below the neighboring yard; the lower portion of the wall along the property line would therefore serve as a retaining wall, as depicted in brick on the elevation drawing. He added that alternative designs for the upper part of the wall were discussed with the neighbors; options could include a more open design, a picket fence, and a lower height.
Ms. Gilbert asked for clarification of the intended treatment at the west side of the site along the park; she noted that the drawings show a simple edge, while she observed a more complicated topography when visiting the site. She added that the forested park provides extensive shade to the site, and the depicted landscape design may therefore not be successful. Mr. Foster responded that the lot includes an eight-foot-wide side yard, and the park's trees would be a substantial distance from the proposed plantings; Ms. Gilbert noted that the existing canopy trees in the park are very large. Mr. Foster reiterated that the distance to the existing trees is sufficient; he said that none of the existing trees in the park overhang the existing house, and construction of the proposed extension should not affect any of the park's trees. He said that the plantings depicted in the renderings—with trees and shrubs in the side yard—are only shown to provide context. He said that the topography changes significantly toward the front of the lot, which is partly cut off in the renderings, but the grade along the side of the lot is relatively level. Ms. Gilbert asked if a low retaining wall would be built to replace the existing concrete blocks and chain-link fence along the side of the site; Mr. Foster responded that this issue hasn't yet been addressed. He acknowledged that the existing retaining wall has failed and is falling into the park, and it would therefore be replaced. The optimal height of the new wall would require further study, but he emphasized that this wall would not affect the park. He noted that the existing wall is within the property line by a foot or more, perhaps originally intended to allow room for footings that do not extend into the park; ample space is therefore available for addressing the issue. He said that additional retaining walls would be needed to accommodate the small amount of excavation for the rear addition. He said that the grade changes may best be resolved with steps rather than retaining walls at some locations, particularly along the edge of the park. Ms. Gilbert emphasized the importance of developing a graceful site design solution along the edge facing the park. Mr. Foster agreed but noted that the steep topography of the park makes this edge difficult to see; Ms. Gilbert said that she was nonetheless able to see the edge when she visited the site. Mr. Foster clarified that the edge is not readily visible from the street or sidewalk, particularly when leaves are present. Ms. Meyer commented that the concerns being discussed involve not just visual issues but also construction impacts, which are particularly important for this site that abuts a federal park. She said that this project should be a good neighbor, in both its design and its construction.
Mr. Luebke noted the members of the public who have asked to address the Commission. Mr. Freelon recognized J.J. Johnson, the longtime resident at 1440 Taylor Street, the second house from the project site. Mr. Johnson expressed appreciation for the site inspection by a member of the Commission. He described his opposition to the proposal and his support for national parks, many of which he has visited. He said that the project would have a significant impact on the park, and he disagreed with Mr. Foster's assertion that the park's trees do not overhang the site. He said that his rear yard would be separated from the proposed addition by only the neighbor's narrow lot, and the view from his yard would therefore include the side wall of the proposed addition; he described the design as overbearing.
Mr. Freelon recognized Rosemary Eory, the longtime resident at 1438 Taylor Street. Ms. Eory expressed overall support for the ongoing revitalization of the neighborhood, including along 14th Street and Georgia Avenue, and she said that the neighborhood consensus is to support development and change that improves the area. She agreed with Mr. Johnson that the proposed design is too big for its location, even with the slight design modifications, and she described it as "rather ugly." She said that a very large ash tree is located in the rear yard at 1442 Taylor Street, adjacent to the project site; the resident of that house consulted with an arborist, who said that the tree would die due to the impact on its roots of the proposed construction. She recommended that the Commission's concern for the park and landscaping should extend to include this tree, which would be lost for a development that isn't suitable for the neighborhood. She also said that the proposed development would overwhelm the scale of the house at 1442 Taylor Street, which is smaller than her own house and Mr. Johnson's. She said that pop-up additions in the neighborhood are typically built without regard for the effect on neighboring houses, and she criticized the impact of the windowless four-story side wall of the proposed rear addition. She said that the proposal would effectively ruin the house at 1442 Taylor Street, contrary to the typical American goal of buying a house as a major long-term investment. She also opposed placing four housing units on a site that was intended and zoned for a single family. She encouraged the neighbors to fight such developments due to their negative impacts. She requested that the Commission delay acting on the proposal until the current reconsideration of zoning guidelines is completed, which may result in a smaller-scaled proposal that would be less intrusive.
Mr. Freelon recognized Rickey Williams, the ANC representative. Mr. Williams acknowledged the efforts of the Commission and the developer to improve the project, and he said that the proposal incorporates design compromises. He emphasized that the current proposal is much better than what was originally presented to the Commission. He said that in the December meeting with the project team, the neighbors asked for several additional compromises but these were not incorporated into the design. One proposal from the neighbors was to reduce the depth of the rear extension to a single window bay, which would approximately match the prevailing rear facade alignment of the older houses on the block beyond the immediately neighboring twin house. He said that the National Park Service has not objected to the proposal but requested that the exterior materials be appropriate to the neighborhood; he questioned whether the proposed materials of stucco and wood are the best choice in this context. He said that the National Park Service also requested that native vegetation be planted to obscure the visibility of this development from the park, although he said that the existing house has been present for sixty years with no such requirement for obscuring vegetation. He added that the size of the proposal is a legitimate issue for the Commission's review, as demonstrated by a precedent in Georgetown; details are provided in the written testimony that he has submitted. Mr. Luebke noted that the comparison of these projects is difficult because the Commission reviews them in accordance with different laws.
Mr. Freelon recognized Jack Ay, the resident at 1400 Arkansas Avenue which has a view of the project site. Mr. Ay said that he has obtained 37 signatures of neighborhood residents in support of a modified design to reduce the depth of the rear addition. The result of this design would be two duplex three-bedroom condominium units instead of the proposed four two-bedroom units. He said that he has identified a comparable building on Randolph Street with units selling at a high price, contrary to the developer's claim that redevelopment of 1444 Taylor Street would only be profitable with the proposed four-unit configuration. Mr. Ay said that parking would also be a concern: only two parking spaces are located at the rear of the site, while the four proposed units may generate eight vehicles which would result in an additional burden on parking along the heavily travelled neighborhood streets.
Mr. Foster noted that the developer has submitted approximately thirty to forty letters of support from neighborhood residents, and some of the neighbors attending the December presentation were supporting the project but did not want to provide public statements. He said that pier footings could be used instead of a trench footing for the side wall of the rear addition to avoid damaging the roots of the large tree in the adjacent rear yard; he said that this is offered despite the considerable extra expense. He said that this modification is not yet reflected in the drawings, and it would be offered in exchange for ending the neighborhood opposition to the project.
Mubashir Khan, the owner and developer of the project, asked to provide a further response to the comments of the neighbors. Mr. Khan confirmed that the foundation design could be adjusted to avoid harming the beautiful tree in the neighbor's yard, subject to obtaining that owner's support. He said that even if proposed new zoning regulations are adopted, this project would be within the allowable limits. He described the proposed condominium units as relatively small, and each would likely have one or two residents; some other houses on the block have eight residents, and this project is therefore not likely to exceed the typical density or parking demands of the neighborhood. Mr. Luebke clarified that many of these issues are not within the scope of the Commission's review.
Mr. Freelon invited comments from the Commission members. Ms. Meyer said that she shares some of the neighbors' concerns—which she described as heartfelt, practical, and rational—but recognizes that they are outside of the Commission's jurisdiction, which focuses on the project's impact on the adjacent federal property. She said that the design is clearly much better than when originally presented; the improvements encompass all levels of the design, not just the scale. She expressed appreciation to the owner for understanding the importance of bringing in a good architect to shape the project. For the exterior materials, she favored the proposal for a varied palette in order to reduce the perceived size of the building, rather than the alternative of an all-brick design. She supported the use of tongue-and-groove wood siding as well as stucco if the color can be improved from the sample provided; she said that the staff should be given the opportunity to inspect a more accurate sample of the intended stucco when available. She requested careful coordination with the National Park Service and the neighboring homeowner concerning the treatment of the site's edges and the limits of construction impacts; she emphasized the importance of protecting the existing vegetation to each side and documenting the proposal, which she characterized as a reasonable request for any construction project. She expressed concern with the lack of a detailed design for the edge along the park, such as whether a retaining wall would be constructed and what its material would be; she said that a beautiful edge is needed at this location.
Ms. Gilbert emphasized that the house is located high on the hill, and the appearance of how the building meets the grade is very important. She also noted that large canopy trees have very extensive root networks, far exceeding the eight-foot distance that was mentioned in the presentation; she added that the hillside of the park includes many such large canopy trees.
Mr. Freelon agreed that the design has improved greatly from the initial presentation; he expressed appreciation for the continued effort to adjust the design in response to the neighbors' concerns, although they may not support the result. He suggested putting the proposal to a vote; Ms. Lehrer recommended that the Commission's action include a comment on the protection of trees, perhaps including periodic visits by an arborist during the construction process.
Ms. Meyer offered a motion to approve the submission as a final design, conditional on developing adequate agreements for protection of trees on the adjacent properties. She suggested that the National Park Service's arborist be consulted for a recommendation of appropriate protection measures. Mr. Luebke added that an additional condition of the approval should be further review of the materials, which could be delegated to the staff; Ms. Meyer said that satisfactory documentation of the proposal for retaining walls should also be a condition of the approval. Mr. Luebke clarified that the owner would need to request that the application be held open until these conditions are satisfied. Ms. Batcheler confirmed that the remaining issues could be addressed through coordination between the project team and the staff, without requiring a further presentation to the Commission; the additional documentation would be treated as supplemental to the current permit application. Mr. Foster asked if the building design could be approved, while the site design issues would be addressed as a separate permit application due to the lengthy preparation time and scheduling of an arborist. Mr. Luebke said that splitting the project components would be procedurally difficult, and he encouraged the project team to instead respond to the outstanding issues as quickly as possible. Ms. Gilbert noted that the improved site documentation should include accurate spot elevations for the topography and site walls. The Commission adopted the motion, approving the project with the conditions and comments provided.
Old Georgetown Act
OG 14-353, 3220 Prospect Street, NW. New two-story commercial building. Concept. (Reviewed by Old Georgetown Board: 6 January 2015.) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
I. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
Mr. Simon introduced the two submissions from the U.S. Mint, noting that these coins and medals would be available in various forms for sale but would not be in general circulation. He asked April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present the alternative designs.
1. CFA 22/JAN/15-9, Congressional Gold Medal to honor Jack Nicklaus. Designs for a gold medal with bronze duplicates. Final. Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation to honor Jack Nicklaus in recognition of his service to the nation in promoting excellence, good sportsmanship, and philanthropy; she noted his numerous achievements as a professional golfer. She presented five alternative designs for the obverse, each featuring his portrait, signature, and an inscription. She noted Mr. Nicklaus's preference for obverse #4, which he said portrays him at the height of his career during a 1978 golf tournament. She presented four reverse alternatives with various inscriptions and symbols related to his family life and philanthropy; she said that Mr. Nicklaus prefers reverse #2, with a depiction of laurel leaves along with six stars representing his wife and children.
Ms. Meyer supported the preferences of Mr. Nicklaus, recommending obverse #4 and reverse #2. Ms. Lehrer observed that obverse #2 places the portrait of Mr. Nicklaus within a golf course through the depiction of the landscape; while supporting obverse #4 due to its inscription, she suggested developing the background design of obverse #4 to convey the outdoor setting of a golf course. Ms. Gilbert recommended coordinating the typefaces of the selected obverse and reverse designs; Mr. Freelon said that the typeface of reverse #2 is preferable, and obverse #4 should be adjusted to match this reverse.
Ms. Lehrer summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend obverse #4 and reverse #2, as preferred by Mr. Nicklaus, with the request to convey the landscape of a golf course and to coordinate the typefaces.
2. CFA 22/JAN/15- 10, 2015 High Relief 24-Karat Gold $75 Coin and Silver Medal (obverse to feature allegorical Liberty and the reverse to feature an eagle). Designs for gold coin and silver medal. Final. Ms. Stafford noted the success of the Mint's 2009 double-eagle gold coin with ultra-high relief; as a result of this successful program, the Mint plans to produce a new gold high-relief coin and associated silver medal. The design would feature modern renditions of an eagle and the allegorical figure of Liberty. She described the technical constraints in producing a high-relief coin, requiring offsetting relief areas on the obverse and reverse. The relief is used most advantageously with thicker elements toward the center of the design, while narrow elements or small negative spaces can be difficult to produce in high relief.
Ms. Stafford presented 25 alternatives for the obverse design, noting that the paired images in the presentation include the slightly different designs that would be used for the coin and medal due to the requirement for specific inscriptions on the coin. The obverse designs depict the figure of Liberty along with various symbols of victory, peace, prosperity, strength, sacrifice, modern American society, and future generations. She presented 16 reverse alternatives with depictions of an eagle along with other symbols; she noted that reverses #1 and #2 were favored by the Mint's Citizen Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) in a previous review of eagle-themed designs.
Mr. Freelon expressed appreciation for the effort to develop a modern interpretation of the allegorical Liberty; he particularly supported the inclusion of portraits having a non-Caucasian appearance in several alternatives. He noted that the CCAC preferences for reverses #1 and #2 involve horizontally oriented design elements, which would best be paired with vertically oriented elements on the reverse due to the technical constraints described in the presentation. He therefore suggested consideration of obverses #11 and #12, which depict a non-Caucasian figure in a vertical orientation. Ms. Meyer suggested obverses #3 and #4, which also have a vertical orientation; Ms. Gilbert cited the beautiful composition with the word "Liberty" framing the face in these alternatives. Ms. Meyer said that obverse #3 would be preferable to #4; Mr. Freelon and Ms. Gilbert agreed, citing the better angle of the face in obverse #3.
Ms. Lehrer said that the portrait in obverse #3 is more appropriate than the presentation of female figures in obverses #11 and #12, commenting that she finds the sexuality in some of the obverse designs to be offensive. She questioned the direction that the Mint gave to the artists and the values that are being conveyed in the design alternatives; she expressed appreciation for the broad range of alternatives that are being presented but said that further explanation of the artistic guidance would be helpful. She noted that the Commission's review of architectural projects can include similar discussion of the intended design approach. She observed that the clothing sometimes suggests that the figures are from ancient Greece, notwithstanding the commendable intention to develop a modern depiction; Ms. Stafford responded that some of the artists said they felt pulled in the direction of classical references in the design.
Ms. Meyer agreed that some of the obverse designs are offensive, and she supported obverse #3 because it conveys Liberty as a strong woman; the close view of the head avoids the effect that the clothing choice can have on the perceived character of the figure. Ms. Lehrer observed that obverses #11 and #12 depict Liberty holding the American flag, which establishes an important linkage of the design to the nation. Mr. Freelon supported obverse #11 because it emphasizes the overall allegorical figure rather than a particular face, while Ms. Lehrer observed that the portrait in #11 nonetheless bears a resemblance to the actress Angelina Jolie. Mr. Luebke noted that the inscription "United States of America" on the coin would establish the relationship of the design to the nation; Mr. Freelon said that the question is whether to convey this relationship through symbols as well as words.
Mr. Freelon concluded that obverse #3 would be acceptable. Two Commission members supported obverse #3, while two supported obverse #11. Mr. Luebke suggested that the Commission convey its support for both of these designs; Mr. Freelon noted the consensus to support this recommendation, and Ms. Stafford confirmed that this guidance would be useful for the Mint.
For the reverse, Ms. Lehrer questioned the CCAC preference for alternative #2 due to the depiction of arrows. Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of the symbolism in the designs; Ms. Stafford confirmed that the olive branch symbolizes peace, as seen in reverse #1 and other alternatives, and the oak branch and leaves symbolize strength. Mr. Freelon suggested reverse #1 to avoid the association of arrows with war. Ms. Meyer observed that the depiction of the eagle in reverse #1 is out of scale with the olive branch in its talons; she suggested further study of the composition.
Ms. Lehrer noted that reverse #12 includes both oak and olive branches. She questioned the continued reliance on ancient Greek references, including the olive branch as well as the clothing seen in some of the obverse alternatives, and she suggested developing a stronger tradition of modern American symbols such as the oak branch. She said that the further study of reverse #1 could include incorporating an oak branch into the design. She emphasized her overall appreciation for the beautiful drawings that have been prepared by the artists, and she particular cited reverse #10 as an elegant and thoughtful drawing of the eagle's face in a contemporary style. She suggested including #10 as an additional recommendation for the reverse design.
Mr. Freelon summarized the consensus of the Commission to recommend alternatives #3 and #11 for the obverse, and alternatives #1 and #10 for the reverse, with the comments provided. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted these recommendations.
Ms. Lehrer recalled from the September 2014 meeting that the Commission had asked for several revised designs in the First Spouse series, particularly for the designs honoring Jacqueline Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson; she asked if the Commission could have the opportunity to see the revised designs. Ms. Meyer said that the Commission could provide better guidance in the future by understanding how its comments are addressed by the Mint. Ms. Stafford agreed to work with the Commission staff to provide this information. She also offered to bring other new coins and medals for the Commission's inspection, to allow the more recent Commission members the opportunity to see how the designs they have seen are translated into finished coins and medals.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:11 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA