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 9:08 a.m.
Hon. Philip Freelon, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Mia Lehrer
Hon. Elizabeth Meyer
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
Mr. Luebke noted that Chairman Powell was unable to attend due to illness; Vice Chairman Freelon presided in his absence.
A. Approval of the minutes of the 16 April meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the April meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the minutes.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 18 June, 16 July, and 17 September 2015. He noted that no meeting is scheduled during August.
C. Anniversary of the establishment of the Commission of Fine Arts, 17 May 1910, and the Shipstead-Luce Act, 16 May 1930. Mr. Luebke acknowledged the Commission's two anniversaries falling in May: the 105th anniversary of the Commission's establishment and the 85th anniversary of the Shipstead-Luce Act. He noted that the Commission is now well into its second century, and he cited the publication two years earlier of the Commission's centennial history, Civic Art.
D. Report on the 2015 National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Grant Program. Mr. Luebke reported on the federal grants program administered by the Commission to support Washington, D.C.-based arts organizations. The applications for 2015 have been processed, and earlier in the week the program's review panel met to confirm the eligibility of applicants. As in 2014, a total of 22 organizations have been determined eligible: 21 of these had participated in 2014, plus the Atlas Performing Arts Center as a new participant, and without the Corcoran Gallery which was dissolved within the past year. He noted that the funding for the 2015 program is approximately $2 million, and the allocation is determined by formula with a median grant of approximately $90,000. Mr. Lindstrom said that the funds will be disbursed upon receiving the organizations' responses to the confirmation letters that were recently sent out.
E. Report on the approval of one object proposed for acquisition by the Freer Gallery of Art. Mr. Luebke reported the Chairman's approval in late April of the Smithsonian Institution's acquisition of a manuscript for the permanent collection of the Freer Gallery of Art; the Smithsonian was subsequently successful in acquiring the artwork at auction. He said that the fifteenth-century manuscript of Iranian poetry, with nineteenth-century additions, is notable for its fine calligraphy, stenciled border, and painted encampment scene.
Mr. Luebke noted his recent attendance at the American Institute of Architects annual convention in Atlanta, the location of a recently completed project designed by Mr. Freelon—the National Center for Civil and Human Rights—that is featured in the May 2015 issue of Architect magazine.
II. Submissions and Reviews
Mr. Luebke introduced the three appendices for Commission action. Drafts of the appendices had been circulated to the Commission members in advance of the meeting.
Appendix I – Government Submissions Consent Calendar: Mr. Luebke said that no changes have been made to the draft appendix. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported several changes to the draft appendix. One project has been added (case number SL 15-082) that was held open from a previous month's appendix. One project has been removed to allow time for further design consultation (SL 15-117). Four recommendations are listed as contingent on receiving drawings to confirm the requested design modifications, and she requested authorization to finalize these recommendations upon receipt of these materials. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda items II.H.1 and II.H.2 for additional Shipstead-Luce Act submissions.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Luebke noted that one case on the appendix has been particularly problematic: illegal alterations and demolition involving an 1898 house at 3107 Dumbarton Street (case number OG 15-154). He said that the work continued even after repeated stop-work orders were issued. Due to the severity of the violation, he said that he would send a letter to the D.C. government to request additional attention for enforcement on this project. He added that such situations are rare in Georgetown, with the previous comparable situation occurring approximately fifteen years ago.
Mr. Martinez reported that the only changes to the draft appendix are the notation of dates of supplemental drawings that have been received. The supplemental drawings remain outstanding for one project (case number OG 15-185), and he requested authorization to finalize this recommendation when satisfactory drawings are received. Upon a motion by Ms. Meyer, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider the concept submission for Bancroft Elementary School.
G. District of Columbia Department of General Services
1. CFA 21/MAY/15-9, Bancroft Elementary School, 1755 Newton Street, NW. Building modernization and additions. Concept.
Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on this submission without a presentation. Vice Chairman Freelon noted the consensus of the Commission to approve the submission. Ms. Gilbert asked that the approval include a comment that the landscaped areas, confined to the edges of the site, may be too narrow; further development of the design with larger landscaped areas should be considered if feasible. She also commented that the woodland garden portion of the site design could extend further toward the forested park adjacent to the school site. Mr. Luebke said that these comments would be included in the letter conveying the Commission's approval of the concept.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.
B. National Park Service
1. CFA 21/MAY/15-1, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial. Intersection of Maryland and Independence Avenues, between 4th and 6th Streets, SW. Revised concept (art, structure, and lighting for tapestry; commemorative art for columns; and memorial overlook). (Previous: CFA 16/APR/15-1.) Mr. Luebke introduced the last in a series of presentations over recent months on development of the concept design for the Eisenhower Memorial, submitted by the National Park Service on behalf of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission. He said that this submission will focus on the tapestry panels, including the final image and its relation to the monumental support columns, along with other details of the tapestry's support structure and illumination. Other topics will include the proposed commemorative treatment of the two freestanding columns and items associated with the southern edge of the site: the overlook wall and its large inscription, the seated statue of the young Eisenhower, and the revised security elements. He asked Peter May, associate regional director of the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, to begin the presentation.
Mr. May noted that he had attended the ceremony at the recent American Institute of Architects convention in Atlanta, where Mr. Luebke received the Institute's 2015 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. He confirmed that the Eisenhower Memorial design is approaching the end of its review process, and he introduced architect Craig Webb of Gehry Partners to present the development of the design.
Mr. Webb said that the final design is anticipated to be submitted in June. He said that the conceptual basis of the tapestry was presented in April, and today's presentation addresses its detailing. He provided a model illustrating features of the cable system that would support the tapestry, including a structural beam at the top and a cable net. The tapestry itself would be woven with stainless steel wire, and the final artwork is based on a black-and-white photographic image but would not be an exact reproduction of it. Because the two previously proposed side tapestries have been removed from the design, the image of the Eisenhower house that was on the eastern tapestry has been incorporated into the single remaining tapestry; the final composition will depict the family home in Abilene, Kansas, on the left, and groups of trees in the Kansas landscape in the center and on the right. He said that each image of a tree has been based on a specific photograph so that every tree would be different, while earlier images used shortcuts such as replicating trees in reverse.
Mr. Webb addressed an issue which had been brought up several times by the Commission regarding the visibility of the supporting columns through the tapestry image. He emphasized that the memorial design comprises a series of layers, and being able to see the columns through the tapestry is vital to achieving the effect of a layered space. He said that the tapestry had always been envisioned as a transparent membrane permitting views of the Department of Education building behind it, with this building forming part of the urban frame around the memorial square; the design is also intended to allow views from the Education building through the tapestry. He described the tapestry and its columns as forming a middle layer that would help to define the rectangular space of the memorial core, along with the two freestanding columns in the foreground.
Mr. Webb said that the canopy of living trees will be carefully adjusted to the trees depicted on the tapestry to convey a relation between the actual landscape of the memorial and the pictured landscape of the Midwest. The evolving appearance of the real trees, from installation to maturity, is being studied with the understanding that the relation between trees and the tapestry images of trees will change radically as the trees grow, altering a viewer's perception of the tapestry over time. He added that leaving openings between the living trees will be important to enable a visitor to see the tapestry between them, allowing comprehension of the tapestry and its images as a person moves around the site.
Mr. Webb presented images of the tapestry mockup that was displayed at the site several years ago. Mr. Luebke said that most current Commission members had probably not seen the mockup but would like to; Mr. Webb responded that another mockup would probably be available in a few months and the Commission would be invited to view it. Mr. Freelon asked if the original mockup materials could also be displayed; Mr. Webb offered to arrange this. He noted that the original mockup was woven and welded by hand, while the new mockup will be fabricated on equipment that has been developed for the final tapestry; however, the image will look similar in its balancing of realism and abstraction.
Mr. Webb continued that the tapestry would be woven in three-foot-wide, 15-foot-high panels; three-inch spaces separating the panels will be treated as part of the design. The supporting cable structure would be visible on the south side of the tapestry. He compared the structural system to the tracery in a stained glass window, and he said that in spite of the amount of support structure on the south side, the image would be legible. He added that the south side would not be considered the "back" of the tapestry but would be beautiful in its own right.
Mr. Webb described the supporting structure in greater detail. The line of columns would support a stainless-steel box beam, approximately two feet deep and three feet wide, extending across the top of the tapestry. The beam would resist the compressive force of the horizontally tensioned cables and would also support the gravity load of the tapestry itself. The 1½-inch-diameter horizontal cables would resist the lateral loads and would be tensioned and supported by the columns. Vertical cables, ¾ inch in diameter and placed three feet on center, would form a "cable net" with the horizontal cables to resist the lateral loads, and the vertical cables would also take some of the gravity load of the tapestry.
Mr. Webb asked artist Tomas Osinski to describe further details of the tapestry's structure. Mr. Osinski said that the tapestry would have five sections of panels, arranged in vertical columns of four suspended from the support beam. The panels would comprise half-inch stainless-steel rods woven with specially fabricated 316L-type steel wire; the combination of welded stainless steel and wire would make the tapestry extremely durable. The panels would be fabricated with integral half-inch cables on the sides to give tolerance and dimensional stability. The panels would all be installed from one side, and would be removable from the same side for maintenance. A special connecting device—a 2½-inch-square stainless-steel block—has been developed to join four panels at their point of intersection.
Mr. Osinski said the technology of the fabricating machine will be changed slightly from its prototype, resulting in more artwork and less robotic design. To ensure that the mesh on the back of the panels has the same texture and value as on the front, he said that more control is needed of contrast and lines, and two layers will be eliminated; layers will be almost hand drawn on the computer and then applied by the machine.
Mr. Webb described the lighting of the tapestry, which he said will fit within the hierarchy of nightlighting in the monumental core where the focus is on the U.S. Capitol. The tapestry would be lit from the bottom. Two LEDs of different color temperatures have been tested; the preference is for the warmer tone, which has better color rendition. The two lines of LED fixtures would be placed close together in a trough that would be supported by brackets attached to the cable structure at the bottom of the tapestry; the light would be cast upward at a raking angle onto the mesh to create a strong effect of light and shadow. The light would fall off dramatically toward the top of the tapestry where the weave becomes less dense. He said that the memorial blocks would be lit with more emphasis than the upper area of the tapestry. He also noted the large amount of ambient light around the memorial site, particularly high-pressure sodium-vapor street lights that give the area a yellow glow.
Mr. Webb described the commemorative program of the two freestanding columns that have replaced the east and west tapestries, forming thresholds into the memorial core: they would be integrated with the memorial's theme commemorating the dual aspects of Eisenhower's legacy, as president and as general. The column on the west would commemorate Eisenhower as general, with the five-star cluster he wore indicating his military rank and the inscription "General Dwight D. Eisenhower/Supreme Commander/Allied Expeditionary Force/1944–1945." On the east, the column will bear a representation of the profile portrait of Eisenhower used on his inaugural medal with the inscription "Dwight D. Eisenhower/34th President of the United States/1953–1961." He said that the method of inlaying or setting the bronze insignia into the limestone column is still being researched; in order to keep the image of the presidential medallion flat, it would probably be placed on an oversize block of stone projecting slightly from the column's face.
Mr. Webb said that the overlook wall on the memorial's south side will function as a unifying element, visually and symbolically tying together the two sides of the memorial commemorating Eisenhower as president and general. He indicated a maquette of Sergey Eylanbekov's sculpture on the wall of Eisenhower as a young man gazing out on his future, another thematic device to unify the memorial's story—that an American from a small Midwestern town can attain these achievements. He added that the overlook wall would mediate the three-foot grade change between the core and the promenade. The limestone front of the wall would be inscribed with "Dwight D. Eisenhower" carved in thirty-inch-high letters, an additional important unifying element; he emphasized that this scale would read well from a distance. The inscription would be carved in shallow one-inch-deep relief with a rough surface, similar to the treatment of the world map in the bas-relief behind the presidential sculpture group.
Mr. Webb concluded with the revised design of security barriers. Based on the recommendation of the Commission, the project team had returned to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and again suggested that bollards be used at the stairways of the promenade instead of larger-scale walls. NCPC agreed to this modification, and the new design incorporates 12-inch-diameter stainless-steel bollards.
Vice Chairman Freelon expressed appreciation for the thorough presentation, and the Commission members inspected the models. Ms. Meyer asked why the insignia and inscriptions are proposed on the south sides of the freestanding columns rather than the east or west. Mr. Webb responded that the location on the south sides would emphasize that a person is at a threshold; in addition, the configuration of the walks south of the columns would provide enough space for several people to stand.
Mr. Freelon asked for clarification of the proposed two-layer construction for the tapestry. Mr. Webb responded that the tapestry would be machine fabricated in three-foot by fifteen-foot panels, which would be mounted on a cable net structure spanning the full length and height of the tapestry, forming a second layer behind the woven screen. Ms. Lehrer asked if the tapestry's texture and image would be visible from the rear; Mr. Webb responded that it would look essentially the same from either side, with the addition of the cable net on the south. Ms. Lehrer commented that seeing the tapestry from both sides would be a great experience for visitors. She asked if people climbing onto the tapestry's bottom lighting trough could become a problem; Mr. Webb said that it will be approximately twelve feet above the ground and would therefore not be accessible.
Mr. Freelon commented that the large size of the letters inscribed on the overlook wall might make them difficult to read all at once; he asked whether the letters are intended to be perceived as separate elements. Mr. Webb responded that the original design had included a limestone block facing Independence Avenue bearing the memorial's name in large-scale letters, but this was judged a distracting element and removed. He said the inscription at the overlook wall would most often be viewed from a distance, and it will give dignity and weight to the memorial; he added that the letters would have an interesting scale when seen from close up.
Ms. Meyer expressed support for the juxtaposition of the small scale of the young Eisenhower statue with the large scale of the tapestry and the overlook wall inscription; she said that the supergraphic lettering for this inscription should not become significantly smaller. She commented that the overall concept is clear and moving in a good direction, and she said that mockups will be important for understanding the appearance of the tapestry with its armature. Mr. Webb responded that the design team would be producing small mockups to study such issues as how the stainless steel blocks relate to the weave of the tapestry. Ms. Meyer said that the effect of ambient building and street lighting on the nighttime appearance of the tapestry remains a difficult issue to understand. She commented that one factor in making a memorial enduring is that it be well cared for, and the Commission will need to understand how the panels will be removed and to be assured that maintenance practices will not damage it. She emphasized that consideration of maintenance must be incorporated into the design process.
Ms. Lehrer asked why limestone had been chosen as the surface material for the columns, noting the difficulty of cutting limestone panels for the cylindrical shafts. Mr. Webb responded that architect Frank Gehry specifically wants to use limestone to relate the memorial to the architectural context of Washington; he added that automatic wire saws can easily cut limestone into curved panels.
Ms. Gilbert observed that the tapestry image appears to be carefully composed to depict long perspective views. Although the intent is for the columns to be visible through the tapestry, she said that overlapping the columns with the tree images is a good effect that is apparent at all but one of the tapestry columns. She noted that the tapestry would almost always be experienced episodically, with the columns acting as framing devices, and suggested that the pattern of overlapping trees could be continued across the one additional column. Mr. Webb responded that the tapestry was primarily meant to convey a sense of the wide-open space typical of the Midwestern landscape; in order to have the sky dominate, some trees that had extended above the top of the image in a previous version have been lowered. Ms. Gilbert concluded that the image is successful.
Mr. Luebke summarized that the Commission has provided positive comments about the layout of the tapestry in relation to the columns, its structure, the lighting, the scale of the lettering, and the use of bollards instead of walls. He asked for any further comments on the young Eisenhower statue or the ornamentation of the two freestanding columns. Mr. Dunson expressed appreciation for the Eisenhower statue as a conceptual fulcrum in the memorial design; he commented that this element works well within the overall concept of the memorial as a series of physical layers, and he said that the memorial will also comprise a series of temporal layers. Mr. Freelon agreed, and he supported the proposal to differentiate the two columns with the different insignia on the south faces. Ms. Meyer agreed, commenting that placing the insignia on the south sides at eye level would be the perfect location. Mr. Luebke noted that the portrait of Eisenhower proposed for one column would be added to a design that already has four depictions of Eisenhower, and the result could appear strange; instead, he said that the staff suggests using the presidential seal to be paired with the military insignia of the five-star general. Ms. Meyer said that the proposed treatment is appropriate, emphasizing its derivation as a reproduction of his inaugural medallion rather than as a depiction of Eisenhower.
Mr. Luebke said that no further action is needed from the Commission until the final design submission, anticipated in June. Vice Chairman Freelon summarized that the Commission encourages further development of the design in the direction that was presented. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
2. CFA 21/MAY/15-2, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, West Potomac Park. New underground visitor education center. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/JUL/14-1.) Secretary Luebke introduced the submission from the National Park Service (NPS) on behalf of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund for the final design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, to be named the Education Center at the Wall, which will be located near Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street, NW. He said that the project team has continued to revise the design in response to the advice of the Commission and others. He noted that one remaining issue is the entrance area's elliptical center lawn; its shape has been made slightly more irregular by reducing the curvature of its south side. He said that the exterior entrance stairway has been changed from two flights to three, and the previously proposed retaining wall adjacent to the stairs and the building entrance has been replaced by a grass slope, necessitating a shift of 22 feet to the north for the entire structure. He added that the new location will still avoid the tree root protection zone, consistent with prior Commission advice.
Mr. Luebke noted that this final review is pursuant to the Commemorative Works Act and is subject to the Commission's rules adopted for the administration of the National Environmental Policy Act. Pursuant to the delegation of authority by these rules, he said that he has signed a letter on behalf of the Commission with a finding of no significant impact for this proposal. He asked Peter May of National Park Service to begin the presentation; Mr. May introduced Thomas Wong of Ennead Architects to present the design.
Mr. Wong summarized the lengthy evolution of the project, which is now at the 95 percent level of construction documents. The 2003 authorizing legislation stipulated that the center should be located underground on a site at or near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. After an extensive site analysis, a location was selected a short distance west of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and north of the Lincoln Memorial; the site approval included design guidelines adopted by the Commission and the National Capital Planning Commission. The design concept included a single entrance located one level below the ground plane, along with a sunken courtyard to provide natural light and ventilation. Working with the exhibit designer, Ralph Applebaum Associates, the exhibits were organized in three parallel walls to appear like "ripples" generated by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; this has been refined as nearly parallel walls that are aligned to the center point of the Lincoln Memorial, relating the exhibits to the radial alignment of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. From the entrance area adjacent to the courtyard, a series of ramps and steps would bring visitors around the exhibit cases and then back to the courtyard at the second below-grade level. The proposed grade would change gradually across the site from an elevation datum of 23 feet at the south to 19 feet at the north; he said that as a result of the review process, the grade was raised by 3.5 feet in order to reduce the length of the exterior ramp approaching the entrance. To avoid ponding, the grade has been further adjusted to maintain an elevation of 20 feet around the building.
Mr. Wong summarized the Commission's design reviews, beginning in 2007 and resulting in adjustments to siting, landscape, and approach to align the structure with the geometry of its site and block. An early proposal for a second approach from Constitution Avenue was eliminated, leaving the only approach from Henry Bacon Drive, and previously proposed grade-level skylights were removed. The NPS requirement for enhancement of exit routes leading to the sidewalk resulted in numerous design refinements to the site plan. In 2014, several trees were added around the site to meet the requirements of the NPS Cultural Landscape Report.
Due to the NPS concern that drivers might mistakenly turn off Henry Bacon Drive into the building, Mr. Wong said that the site design includes bollards at the entrance from the sidewalk, protection for the courtyard, and detailing of the benches along the entrance walk to provide a vehicular barrier. The required egress lighting of one foot-candle along the walk will be cast by fixtures located beneath the benches, in the handrail along the stairs, and in the bollards at the top of the plaza. He also described the edge treatments that will deter people from falling into the courtyard or the sunken entrance plaza; to avoid introducing vertical elements in the landscape, the techniques include topographic manipulation, horizontal rails, an open waffle-slab structure, and planting of low evergreen shrubs such as cotoneaster. He said that the design has been coordinated with an NPS horticulturalist to ensure existing perimeter trees will be protected during construction of the geothermal well field that will serve the building. The horticulturalist also helped to identify trees that are unhealthy or the wrong species for the plant palette.
Mr. Wong indicated the location near the entrance where a previously proposed retaining wall has been removed from the design, resolving the Commission's previous concern that the intersecting walls would be too reminiscent of the actual Vietnam Veterans Memorial nearby; one result of this change is that a small exterior vestibule area has been eliminated. The adjusted geometry of the elliptical entrance walk also addresses a previous concern of the Commission that the shape was too inwardly focused. He noted that the Commission has already reviewed material samples of the proposed stone and glass; exterior walls would be made of horizontally coursed dark slate, and the pavers and benches would be light granite; low-iron acid-etched glass with back painting and fritted transparent glass would be used.
Mr. Wong presented the proposed double-sided sign that will identify the facility, visible from both directions along Henry Bacon Drive; he said that the sign's materials, color, and font are being coordinated with NPS standards. He concluded the presentation with photographic view simulations to demonstrate that little of the courtyard or building would be visible from key vantage points, such as the Lincoln Memorial stairs and the flagpole at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Ms. Gilbert asked about the planting of the sloped area at the entrance. Landscape architect Ken Haines of Hargreaves Associates confirmed that it would be a lawn, in conformance with the determination in the Cultural Landscape Report that the National Mall should be planted only with grass and trees. He added that the inclusion of shrubs had been determined necessary in a few locations as a safety measure, particularly around the courtyard opening. He noted that shrubs were considered for placement beneath a large existing elm near the entrance walk to deter visitors from trampling the root zone; however, planting shrubs within the root zone can itself be problematic, so the likely solution will be to plant lawn and create some other kind of protection in this area. Ms. Gilbert commented that the proposed one-in-three slope in the lawn beside the entrance stairs would be difficult to mow, and she asked if longer, rougher grasses could be planted since these would be easier to maintain. Mr. Haines emphasized that the consensus of the design team and the NPS is that the same grass used on the rest of the Mall needs to be planted on this slope, and he expressed confidence that the NPS can provide maintenance for it.
Ms. Meyer commended the project team for bringing the project through a long design process and for addressing the final details. She supported the entrance area proposal as a subtle design, and she said that the replacement of the retaining wall with sloped grading is an improvement. Her remaining question concerned the apparent disparity between the grading plan and the site plan: she observed that the perspective view depicts an uneven rather than a smooth slope, while she found the consistency of that slope on the plan to be more convincing. She encouraged clarification of the design to ensure that the slope is smooth.
Ms. Lehrer expressed enthusiasm for the design and appreciation for the presentation, which she said demonstrates how the Commission's recommendations have been incorporated into the proposal. Vice Chairman Freelon agreed that the design was beautiful, and he recommended approval of the final design. Upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
3. CFA 21/MAY/15- 3, U.S. Park Police District 1 Substation at Hains Point, 1100 Ohio Drive, SW (National Capital Region Headquarters Campus). New police substation facility. Concept. Mr. Luebke introduced the submission from the National Park Service (NPS) of a general concept design for a new police station to be located on the grounds of the NPS's National Capital Region headquarters in East Potomac Park. The new station would enable the NPS to consolidate several law enforcement functions in one structure, eliminate old temporary structures, and move facilities out of areas prone to flooding. He added that the District 1 Park Police Substation is currently located in a small historic building, the north wing of the 1930s field house on the East Potomac Park golf course. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May said that the project is part of an overall program of consolidating offices to improve the efficiency of the NPS operations. He said that the regional office of the NPS is located in a building constructed during the NPS's 1966 modernization initiative, known as "Mission 66"; this building would be rehabilitated to include the offices of the National Mall & Memorial Parks administrative unit, currently located a short distance to the east, and the national headquarters of the U.S. Park Police. The proposed new substation would result in a 22 percent reduction in space, saving approximately 20,000 square feet. The site is located on the east side of the parking lot that is shared with the regional office building, adjacent to an off-ramp from highway I-395. He introduced architect Hany Hassan of Beyer Blinder Belle to present the design.
Mr. Hassan said that the new building would be one story containing 12,000 square feet. It would be screened from many vantage points, including from the highway ramp. On one side would be a fenced parking lot accommodating approximately 80 police cruiser cars and 28 motorcycles. He said that the proposed design of the substation is influenced by elements of the regional office building: elongated proportions, a low profile, solid concrete block walls with punched and clerestory windows, and a subtle relief pattern in the block wall. Materials would include poured-in-place concrete as well as concrete block, enlivened by restrained detailing in relief; other elements such as perimeter security would use simple materials such as CorTen steel, which would add warmth to the palette of colors.
Mr. Hassan described how the building's plan influenced its design and massing. He said that a police substation requires the secure transfer of detainees as well as a public area, and a centrally located police desk is necessary so personnel can view all functions of the building while remaining visible themselves. Officers at the central desk would be able to watch both the single public entrance and the secure entrance adjoining the parking lot.
Mr. Freelon commented that the proposed building appears appropriately subdued and respectful of its site; he called it a good solution. Mr. Dunson agreed, adding that the articulation of the facades would give the structure an increasingly distinctive identity as a person approaches it. Ms. Meyer expressed ambivalence; she commented that elevating the building on a landscape plinth, framed in CorTen steel, gives the impression that it occupies a territory much larger than its footprint. While acknowledging that this would not be primarily a public building, she said that the effect of the podium would be to repel the public, and the design may be extending this forbidding impression into the landscape more than necessary. She asked why the site design includes the plinth. Mr. Hassan responded that while the building is intended to appear solid and protective, he did not want the landscape to appear the same. He clarified that the building would be set on a 30-inch-high plinth to provide a consistent visual datum and protection from flooding. Additionally, integrating the CorTen steel plinth wall into the landscape as a security barrier would obviate the use of bollards or a security fence in front. He added that more attractive options are still being sought for the fencing that will be required to surround the parking lot for police vehicles on the south. Ms. Meyer acknowledged the explanation and expressed appreciation for the evident care taken in developing this design.
Mr. Luebke summarized that the Commission members are supporting the proposal's general location and character; however, he said that the project has not been sufficiently documented for concept approval, and a further concept submission is needed with elevations, sections, and details. Vice Chairman Freelon noted the consensus to approve the general concept and said that the Commission encourages proceeding in the direction presented.
C. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
CFA 21/MAY/15-4, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW. Expansion project. Revised concept. (Previous: CFA 20/NOV/14-2.) Secretary Luebke introduced the revised concept submission for a southward expansion of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He said that since the concept review in November 2014, the proposed River Pavilion has been moved from a site in the Potomac River to a new location on the southwestern part of the Kennedy Center terrace; the various reasons for this change included cost, operations, environmental review, and the Army Corps of Engineers' regulations for structures in the navigable waterway. The new pavilion would be approximately the same size as at the previous location, and like the earlier version would serve as a venue for performance workshops, special events, and a cafe. The proposal continues to include a pedestrian bridge over the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway to connect the terrace to the riverfront. He asked Deborah Rutter, president of the Kennedy Center, to begin the presentation.
Ms. Rutter expressed her appreciation for the Commission's past reviews and her enthusiasm for the revised proposal. She said that over the past several months the design team has reimagined the project and how it will fulfill the vision for the Kennedy Center's place in the community. The revised design would be able to achieve this more effectively and would be able to support a broader range of artistic expression to attract audiences to the performing arts. She said that we are in a transitional time for performing arts institutions, which need to be more fully integrated into their communities and to break down barriers to new audiences; the revised design would be both more functional and more flexible.
Ms. Rutter said that the River Pavilion has been reconceived as a light-filled structure on the east side of the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, complementing the project's other two pavilions. Although it will be on land, it is meant to appear as if it is floating and looking out over the river, and it will still be called the River Pavilion. She reiterated that Steven Holl Architects have developed a design that will serve as an inviting gateway to the Kennedy Center; she commended lead architect Chris McVoy and asked him to present the proposal.
Mr. McVoy said that Ms. Rutter and others at the Kennedy Center had challenged the design team to develop a revised design that meets the original goals: to fulfill the program in three pavilions instead of one large block; to set these in an inviting landscape; to fuse the pavilions with the landscape and river; to infuse spaces with natural light in order to inspire the activities within; and to use innovative materials and techniques, including ecological integration, so the project can serve as a model.
Mr. McVoy said that the new River Pavilion proposal maintains the same orientation to the river and Roosevelt Island as the previous version, while offering several advantages over the previous design: a new garden landscape between this pavilion and the Glissando Pavilion, with views between them toward the river; and the opportunity for a revised pedestrian bridge design with a gentle ramp and a more direct connection to the Lincoln Memorial. The pavilion would still be visible from the Georgetown waterfront and would still be part of a key circulation link along the riverfront. Formerly, the elevator tower would have been a prominent vertical piece in the landscape, blocking views along the riverfront; this has been replaced with a gentle riverfront ramp that would provide a better experience for bicyclists and pedestrians. The relocated pavilion would be connected with the lower-level space beneath the terraced landscape via an elevator; the lower-level lobby would have a drop-off for cars and a direct connection to the garage and the Glissando Pavilion. The new location would simplify servicing of the kitchen and other areas, with easier transport of equipment such as a grand piano to allow the pavilion to accommodate a wider range of performances. Views from inside the pavilion would be similar to those that would have been seen from the earlier location; the parkway would not be visible except from next to the glass wall along the upper level. He noted that the upper level would be at the same elevation as in the previous design but this level is now proposed as an enclosed space, allowing the cafe to remain open throughout the year.
Mr. McVoy said that the new pavilion design would allow the extension of geometries derived from the language of other pavilions. It would have a more direct relation with the outdoor reflecting pool, which would no longer be rectangular. Visitors on the terrace would be possible to look directly through the glass-walled pavilion from the east side to the river and Roosevelt Island; in the afternoon, the pavilion would shade the space around the pool. Occupying a slightly larger footprint than the previous two-level design, it would provide one large flexible indoor/outdoor space accommodating varied types and sizes of performances that could also extend outdoors. An upper mezzanine level would provide a smaller space for workshops or other groups. Translucent glass facades would prevent glare and provide shading. He described the proposed River Pavilion design in relation to the other pavilions and the landscape: the three pavilions would step down in height toward the river; and the curve of the Glissando Pavilion and a slight inward curve on the face of the River Pavilion would help in the refraction of sound and would shape the space between them, which will unfold as people move around them.
Mr. McVoy said that at the previous presentation the Commission members had discussed the need for further development of the landscape along the parkway. Because of the new position of the River Pavilion and bridge, the landscape has been extended further south, creating a better relationship across the parkway with a particular large tree and allowing room for two more swamp maples as well as the folding down of planting areas from the terrace to the lower level. The landscape would also be extended to the riverfront with plantings along the bridge and ramp; benches on the ramp would provide places to rest and enjoy the view. A solid guardrail on one side of the ramp would partially block traffic noise; the side facing the river would have an open cable rail. The ramp and bridge would still be of integrated construction with steel ribs supporting a diaphragm and an epoxy-coated wood deck incorporating a planting deck. The bridge's white color would echo the canopy over the proposed walk leading up to the Kennedy Center and would form a link in the thin line running through the landscape and between the monolithic white stone and concrete buildings.
Mr. McVoy said that the River Pavilion had also been conceived of as a place where the ideas of presidential memorial and living memorial could come together through its use for performances and its inclusion of quotations from John F. Kennedy about water. The quotations would be etched in the pavilion's glass facade, echoing the use of three arts-related quotations on the Kennedy Center's facade; the setting sun would cast the shadows of the quotations across the walls of the pavilion. He said that at night the pavilions would help to reduce the scale of the main building, making it appear more approachable. Warmer light would be used on building interiors, and cooler light to highlight the curves and geometry of exteriors. The bridge would be lit by fixtures set within its handrails to provide safety lighting without glare. Cuts in the landscape would bring natural light into interior spaces, which will glow at night.
The Commission members inspected the model of the project. Ms. Meyer asked for clarification of the route that people would likely walk around the River Pavilion before and after a performance. She commented that the width of the walk along the pavilion's entrance side seems extremely narrow, and she questioned whether it would be sufficient for people moving around the space; she also questioned the relative dimensions and juxtaposition of the various site surface materials including pavement, water, and grass. Mr. McVoy responded that the intent is to create a place where people will want to go either before or after a performance and have a different, more intimate experience than in the main Kennedy Center building. Ms. Rutter said that the only place now available for people to go after a performance is formal and unappealing to many, while the route to the River Pavilion has been designed to be obvious and easy, encouraging people to walk to it from the Kennedy Center's main lobby. She noted her goal of having an adaptable indoor/outdoor space; she added that the reflecting pool would be shallow, but its character can be considered further.
Ms. Lehrer questioned the size of the River Pavilion's entrance doors; Mr. McVoy said that the width of the entrance may be increased. Ms. Meyer emphasized that the issue is not the width of the entrance but the ten-foot width of the pavement between the River Pavilion and the reflecting pool; she observed that the drawings show this area being used as a walk and an outdoor cafe area at the same time, which would not be feasible. Mr. McVoy responded that the drawing was only an early sketch, and he said the intent is to relate the water to the interior space. He emphasized his confidence that the design balances the two, united by the diagonals of the pavilion and the pool, but agreed to restudy the width.
Ms. Lehrer commented that the design would welcome all sorts of people to the site; she said that the bridge would be an inviting destination, but its proposed width of ten feet would be too narrow for cyclists and walkers, and it would also require a higher guardrail than shown. She recommended making the bridge wide enough for people to feel comfortable walking and pausing to enjoy the expansive vistas.
Mr. Freelon commented that in the prior design, the three pavilions had been configured so that each would be visible to people leaving the Kennedy Center, but now the River Pavilion would be partly obscured by the Glissando Pavilion. He asked if any adjustments to the position of the Glissando Pavilion are being considered so that the relocated River Pavilion would be more visible. Mr. McVoy responded that the design process may be too far advanced to make such changes; nevertheless, the design team is considering both the ideal relationship among the three pavilions and the new relationship of the River Pavilion to the landscape edge and the river. He said that the Glissando Pavilion works well in its proposed location because of the relation it will have to the new River Pavilion, including the interesting juxtaposition of the curving walls on each pavilion. Ms. Rutter added that the curves would be a visual signal to people leaving the Kennedy Center that a destination is located at the end of the covered walk. She said that even if still feasible, it would not be desirable to move the Glissando Pavilion or reduce its size, and any change would affect everything located beneath it including circulation space, accessibility, elevators, and restrooms.
Ms. Gilbert asked if the impact of traffic noise has been studied. Mr. McVoy responded that the project's acoustical consultant has evaluated the spaces, particularly the intended location of the performance space behind a laminated glass wall, and has reported that the design would be satisfactory. Ms. Rutter noted that the wall on the river and parkway side of the River Pavilion would always be closed, while the east side away from traffic could be opened into the larger, more flexible indoor/outdoor space.
Mr. Dunson observed that the placement of the pavilions, together with the subtle warping of the ground plane, appears to create several different gathering places. He recommended not letting function override aesthetics, and urged careful attention to the design of railings and other such site elements so they do not detract from the landscape's appearance. He added that railings should be used only where no alternative can be designed. Mr. McVoy agreed and said that all such details would be submitted for further review. He added that his firm has used cable rails successfully in landscape designs, such as at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City; in areas where people would not typically be walking, the past designs have omitted the top rail to provide only a minimal safety barrier.
Following the conclusion of the model inspection, Ms. Lehrer commented that this cultural center and its spaces would be an exciting destination. She reiterated her concern that sound would be an issue; while acknowledging that this is to be expected for an urban location, she recommended the inclusion of running water as part of the pool design to help mask traffic noise. She commented that the site circulation generally appears to work, but many awkward corners are apparent around the River and Glissando Pavilions. She advised careful consideration of how people will use the spaces between the pavilions and the space along the bridge, where wider areas could be created as places for people to pause and enjoy the experience.
Ms. Meyer agreed, observing that the design is getting better. She praised the design effort and said that great clients make great projects. She also agreed with Ms. Lehrer that the tight dimensions in the site design should be adjusted. She suggested redesigning the pool as a skim fountain, such as recently built at the new CityCenter in downtown Washington—an elegant thin sheet of water that flows into a reveal. She said that a treatment like this could incorporate running water to mask traffic noise, and the paved surface beneath would be available as a plaza when the water is turned off. She emphasized that the space needs to be reconsidered to make it the best possible, adding that the new River Pavilion design and its setting would create a better microclimate throughout the year by providing both sunny and shady places. She also recommended eliminating the proposed plantings on the bridge, which she said would take up needed room and would be difficult to maintain.
With these comments, the Commission approved the revised concept.
D. Department of Defense
CFA 21/MAY/15-5, Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. Pentagon Reservation Master Plan Update. Informational presentation. (Previous: CFA 19/MAY/05-4.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced an information presentation on the update to the master plan for the Pentagon reservation. He said that the Commission had approved the master plan ten years ago, and several projects are now underway or will soon begin. He asked Elizabeth Lenyk, the Department of Defense's chief master planner for the Pentagon, and Lisa Park of AECOM to present the update.
Ms. Lenyk said that the goal of the master plan is to maintain and improve this headquarters reservation of the Department of Defense. The projects to be implemented over the next twenty years would improve the security and sustainability of the reservation and improve conditions for employees and visitors. Ms. Park said that projects are both short-term and long-term, and they primarily involve improving transportation and creating secure access to the building and parking lots; she noted that several of the projects have already been reviewed by the Commission.
Ms. Park gave a brief description of the 22 projects included in the update. A major reconfiguration of the south parking lot would be undertaken to consolidate the commuter plaza on the eastern side, create bus parking south of Interstate 395, and install bus-only lanes along the lot's eastern edge to provide direct access to the Pentagon transit center at the Metrorail station. Many parking spaces would be shortened to accommodate compact vehicles only, in order to insert a bioswale between parking rows. In the north parking lot, stormwater management would be improved, temporary structures would be removed from the north area village, and a new pedestrian walk to the Pentagon would be built. Other changes to vehicular circulation would provide more direct connections, shared roads, and additional street trees. She said that the intention is to reduce the Pentagon reservation's 9,000 parking spaces by more than 14% and to improve pedestrian and bicycle circulation, including construction of direct pedestrian connections such as from the Metro entrance to the 9/11 Memorial.
Ms. Meyer observed that a new pedestrian connection to the 9/11 Memorial is not apparent in the presentation diagram, and she asked if the improvement would merely be widening the sidewalk. Ms. Park responded that this project includes improved signage and clearing a current construction laydown area as well as widening the walk.
Ms. Gilbert asked where parking spaces would be eliminated. Ms. Park responded that most would be removed from the south parking lot; after the results of that lot's reconfiguration are assessed, the north parking lot would be studied for similar work. Ms. Gilbert noted that the north parking lot is adjacent to Boundary Channel Lagoon, and she asked if the green space along this edge would be increased. Ms. Park responded that she expects this issue to be discussed eventually, adding that a stormwater quality plan under development would include projects for improving the quality of water draining into the lagoon.
Ms. Lehrer questioned the inclusion of a power cogeneration facility, commenting that cogeneration will probably soon be replaced by new technologies. She acknowledged that government agencies are often slower than private institutions to adopt advanced technologies, but she recommended that the Department of Defense should act as a role model by adjusting projects to incorporate such new systems. Ms. Lenyk responded that Department of Defense budget planning requires projects to be defined well in advance of construction, and therefore cogeneration is now planned; however, she said that the department's environmental sustainability branch continues to review different technologies.
Ms. Meyer emphasized the close proximity of the north parking lot to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove, a presidential memorial and a national park. She commented that the master plan's proposed changes to the parking are not being conceived of in a long-term or visionary way; the nation's driving habits are likely to change greatly in the future, and she encouraged a more aggressive reduction of the amount of parking. She added that removal of parking garage construction from the master plan may be shortsighted, and the Pentagon will probably need this facility in the future. She advised the Pentagon planners to think carefully about the experience faced by pedestrians having to walk long distances across extremely hot asphalt after long days in stressful jobs. She said that the proposed projects would not add enough trees to improve this experience, and the projects would also not improve environmental systems as much as they should. She encouraged a much bolder approach, including the addition of enough canopy trees to improve the microclimate.
Ms. Meyer commented that the plan appears to simply list 22 more projects for which the advice of the Commission of Fine Arts would likely be ignored, as it had been with the recent project for a transit center entrance to the Pentagon. She recalled that the experience of visitors and Pentagon employees had not appeared to be a high priority in that design, and the Department of Defense had proceeded with its initial plans notwithstanding the Commission's recommendations. She encouraged a more collaborative spirit between the Department of Defense and the Commission, which she emphasized was created to improve the public realm. Mr. Luebke noted that the transit center entrance project had twice been submitted to the Commission for concept review but had never been approved, and it was never submitted for final review. He said that this failure to submit a final design disregarded the required review role of the Commission—a serious issue that he said he would address further with Defense officials. Ms. Lenyk responded that the budget for the transit project was not large enough to make the improvements recommended by the Commission. Mr. Luebke said that the issue is not the project scope but the Department of Defense's effective management of the design process so it can bring forward appropriate designs in accordance with the required reviews.
Vice Chairman Freelon asked for further comments. Mr. Dunson observed that the master plan diagram demonstrates that a powerful building occupying a beautiful setting on the shore of a lagoon has become overwhelmed by numerous small accretions. He said that the master plan fails to treat either the Pentagon or these smaller projects on the reservation as part of a broader setting; he emphasized that it is the purpose of the master plan to conceive of the reservation as a real campus and to address the great potential of this waterfront site. Vice Chairman Freelon agreed with Mr. Dunson's statement, and he said that the Commission looks forward to collaborating with the Department of Defense on these projects. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
E. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 21/MAY/15-6, National Zoological Park, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW–Lower zoo entrance. Reconfigure the lower zoo entrance and adjacent traffic circle. Final. (Previous: CFA 17/JUL/14-6.) Ms. Batcheler introduced a final design submission for the proposed reconfiguration of the lower public entrance at the southeastern end of the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park. The proposal includes a traffic oval, an entrance plaza, gates, and landscape, along with a new bandshell, a new kiosk for the Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ), and relocation of the existing glockenspiel tower. She noted that the Commission had approved a concept design in July 2014, recommending that the proposed traffic circle be redefined to provide a clearer entrance sequence for pedestrians and drivers. She asked Ann Trowbridge of the Smithsonian Institution to begin the presentation. Ms. Trowbridge said that the final design responds to the Commission's comments; she introduced architect Hal Davis and landscape architect Marisa Dittmann of SmithGroup JJR, along with Jen Daniels, a landscape architect on the zoo staff. Mr. Luebke noted that Mr. Freelon has recused himself from voting on the project because of his firm's affiliation with the Smithsonian and with SmithGroup JJR.
Mr. Davis presented a brief overview of the proposal for the newer Commission members. He said that SmithGroup had produced a master plan for the zoo in 2009 which included redesign of this entry area. The site is the southeastern terminus of the zoo's Olmsted Walk, the primary visitor route through the zoo. The 2009 master plan had proposed moving the traffic circle back toward the zoo entrance, with an extensive retaining wall at the toe of Lion/Tiger Hill, as well as removing parking lot D, and possibly adding ponds because of the site's location within a flood plain. He said that in the review of the July 2014 concept proposal for this area, the Commission members had commented that the design had too much pavement; they had recommended enlarging the traffic island to create better vehicular flow with less paving.
Mr. Davis said that in the current proposal, the location of the traffic circle has been slightly shifted and its shape has been changed to an oval so that large vehicles can move around it without having to make three-point turns; the oval configuration would also simplify pedestrian movement into the zoo. He said that the current design provides a clear drop-off pattern and would enable traffic to pass through to the parking lot or return to Beach Drive. A smaller area in the center of the oval would be planted; the larger area around the planting would be cobbled and could accommodate emergency vehicles. He indicated the existing bandshell that would be replaced by a new bandshell, oriented toward the axis of Lion/Tiger Hill, on a site which forms a natural amphitheater. The new bandshell would be a simple structure, comprising a standing-seam metal roof supported by a stone wall at the rear and a pair of columns at the front; the roof would have a white surface to reduce heat absorption, and the stone would be a type used for other zoo structures. At the rear of the bandshell, a roofed enclosure would be built to contain strollers, and vending machines would be placed in a covered niche. The Pelzman Memorial Glockenspiel would be moved to a new location in the center of the zoo, where it would become a visible landmark at an entrance where school groups assemble; he added that funding is needed to restore the glockenspiel's rotating display of animal figures.
Ms. Dittmann said that the proposed design distinguishes the various vehicular and pedestrian routes through materials, colors, and textures. The primary vehicular route, including the entrance off Beach Drive, would be bituminous pavement, using the standard of the D.C. Department of Transportation. The secondary vehicular drop-off area would have a different material—precast pavers laid in a herringbone pattern on a rigid base—to indicate the need for vehicles to slow down. The brown hexagonal tiles used for the Olmsted Walk paving would be continued through the pedestrian areas; some locations, such as around the FONZ kiosk, would be paved in a different color. Bands of contrasting paving would separate the areas of different paving materials.
Ms. Dittmann said that the main objective for the landscape design is preservation of the large existing trees that frame the south entrance, and the selection of new plant material that will tolerate conditions ranging from shade to intense sunlight. New trees would help to frame the main drop-off area. Native plants would be used to the extent feasible; plants would be selected to provide seasonal interest of color and texture throughout the year, as well as tolerance of difficult conditions including deer browsing, salt, and limited maintenance. She said that the plants would include spring bulbs, early flowering trees, flowering shrubs, and perennials.
Ms. Meyer questioned how to evaluate the proposal as a final design, observing that the presented drawings are more schematic than is typical of final submissions. She described the landscape drawings as diagrammatic: the geometry of the oval island is crude, the paving pattern is not drawn to scale, and the location of the edging bands in the paving is not clear. Mr. Davis responded that the design is at 65 percent of completion; 100 percent documentation is forthcoming, but the design team wanted to bring this revised design to the Commission as soon as possible. Ms. Meyer said that the landscape does not appear to be drawn at the 65 percent level. Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission staff would normally ask for closer to 90 percent; Ms. Meyer said that the Commission members have not seen the construction documents at this level of completion.
Ms. Gilbert observed that this southern zoo entrance is a sunny place with extensive paving and is often very hot; she commented that the design requires more trees, perhaps a grove to form a heavy, shady canopy for people to walk beneath. She observed that the planting bed directly in front of the entrance appears to be intended for perennials and groundcovers; she suggested that shade trees could also be planted here. She asked what planting would be located on the island in the traffic oval. Ms. Dittmann responded that plantings in the oval would include ornamental grasses, annual beds for seasonal color, perennials and shrubs, and only a few trees; a larger number of trees is not proposed here because they would block the view of drivers. She added that the amount of pavement at the entrance appears extensive but would actually be less than what exists there now. She said that the width of walks has been reduced, but they have to be wide enough to allow emergency and delivery vehicles to enter and leave Olmsted Walk; in some areas they reach a width of 21 to 25 feet, the minimum needed for vehicular turning. Ms. Gilbert commented that the landscape—which will adjoin the major woodland of the Rock Creek valley—should be composed on a grand scale using larger trees, instead of the numerous beds and smaller shrubs that were presented. She questioned whether the small foundation plantings shown on the plan are actually intended. Ms. Daniels agreed that the intent is for the zoo landscape to merge with the landscape of Rock Creek Park.
Ms. Meyer expressed reluctance to give final approval to such a schematic proposal, and she requested the opportunity to review a scaled site plan that would not require turning back and forth between partial plans and details. She observed that much of the existing condition would be changed, and the central part of the area is all being replaced, but no single drawing depicts the entire project. She agreed with Ms. Gilbert that additional shade is needed at the entrance, and she disagreed with the response concerning visibility at the traffic oval: she said that trees do not obscure views, because people can see beneath a tree canopy, and a grove of shade trees would make this area a much better place for people being dropped off or picked up.
Ms. Daniels responded that the goal is to balance the need for shade with the needs of vehicular movement and safe pedestrian passage. She said that shade trees have been concentrated along the edge; the intention is for people to move quickly through this area to enter the zoo, where shade will be emphasized and areas will be developed for sitting and other activities. She added that a particular tree in this area is expected to become a landmark. Mr. Luebke asked the Commission members to clarify the issue of shade and sightlines, observing that the planting bed in the traffic oval would be at least sixty feet long and would have clear sightlines across it in several directions, and he said the staff does not believe that introducing a fuller canopy on the island or around it would have much impact on safety. Ms. Dittmann said that one concern is with vehicles turning around the oval, and trees need to be kept out of the corner setback; however, planting trees on the island could be considered. Ms. Meyer said she saw no reason not to have canopy trees in the traffic oval instead of shrubs.
Ms. Meyer observed that the paving drawing indicates the need for extensive cutting of pavers along the edge between the hexagonal block and the herringbone paving, resulting in many small pieces that would not look good nor be durable. She requested the opportunity to review details to understand how the different patterns would meet. She emphasized that this entrance has to be well built and beautifully detailed to give visitors a good first impression.
Vice-Chairman Freelon summarized the consensus that the Commission supports the general configuration of the oval but wants to see a further submission with more developed documentation, including details and sections. The discussion concluded without a formal action.
F. General Services Administration
1. CFA 21/MAY/15- 7, Southeast Federal Center (The Yards). Parcel O-1 (Tingey, 4th, and 5th Streets, SE), new mixed-use building. Concept.
2. CFA 21/MAY/15- 8, Southeast Federal Center (The Yards). Parcel O-2 (Water, 4th, and 5th Streets, SE), new mixed-use building. Concept.
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the joint presentation of two related projects at The Yards, a public-private redevelopment area at the Southeast Federal Center. He noted the Commission's existing agreement with the General Services Administration (GSA) that projects at The Yards are submitted to the Commission only at the 35 percent stage of the design process for concept review. He asked Brett Banks of GSA to begin the presentation.
Mr. Banks said that the current submissions are for "Parcel O" at The Yards; this parcel is unique in this development area because GSA is selling it outright to the developer. He noted that the sale agreement includes a provision for the Commission's 35-percent design review, consistent with other projects at The Yards. He introduced Jason Bonnet of Forest City Washington, the developer of The Yards, to continue the presentation.
Mr. Bonnet provided an overview of the broader development and the project site. The Yards is generally bounded by the Navy Yard to the east, the Nationals baseball stadium to the west, the Anacostia River to the south, and M Street, SE, to the north. The overall development is planned to encompass 5.5 million square feet, and construction is still in the first phase; the current submission is for the sixth parcel to be developed at The Yards. He said that some projects involve adaptive reuse of historic buildings for residential and retail use; other sites, including Parcel O, are being developed with entirely new construction. He presented a context plan and indicated Parcel O, which is bounded by Fifth Street on the east, Fourth Street on the west, Tingey Street on the north, and diagonal Water Street on the south. He also presented a retail plan for The Yards, indicating the street frontages for the planned retail space.
Mr. Bonnet said that two coordinated developments are planned for Parcel O, with two different developers. The northern third would be a residential building with 142 condominiums, which is being developed by PN Hoffman; the southern two-thirds of Parcel O would be developed with 192 rental apartments, developed by Forest City. He introduced Amar Sen of Handel Architects to present the north building and Scott Johnson of Johnson Fain to present the south building.
Mr. Sen presented an overall rendering of the two proposed buildings; he indicated the northern parcel of approximately 20,000 square feet. The proposed condominium tower would be 110 feet tall with a three-story brick base, which he said would be twelve feet lower than the base of the nearby Parcel N development; he said that this lower height responds to suggestions from the Commission staff for improving the proportional relationship between the base and the tower above. He indicated the 11,000-square-foot retail space that would occupy most of the ground floor, including continuous retail frontage on the building's 200-foot-long facade along Tingey Street. He noted the four-foot slope of the sidewalk along this facade and indicated the proposed plinth that would allow for single-level access to the entire retail frontage; a continuous industrial-style metal canopy would also extend across this retail frontage, which could be divided among multiple tenants. The residential lobby would be located along Fourth Street. The two buildings would share a loading area and two below-grade levels of parking, with access on the east from Fifth Street.
Mr. Sen presented aerial perspectives to illustrate the proposed design. Above the base, the tower would be clad in black metal and glass. The serrated rooftop penthouse form would include both mechanical areas and residential space with access to private roof terraces; additional penthouse-level terrace space with river views would be available to all residents, and the roof at the second-floor setback on the southeast portion of the site would also be occupied by residential terraces. He indicated the related setbacks of the two buildings that would provide sufficient distance between the upper-floor residential units, as well as the different design treatments to distinguish the two buildings. He also noted some modifications to the penthouse configuration since the most recent consultation meeting with the staff; the current design is intended to emphasize a distinct roofscape rather than a tower form.
Mr. Sen described the relationship of the proposed building to the context. The tower is aligned east-west and has an industrial design aesthetic, comparable to some of the historic buildings at The Yards; he contrasted this to the paired north-south towers proposed for the southern parcel. He indicated the views to the proposed condominium building along Tingey Street, which is evolving as a retail esplanade, and also the views along Fourth Street; the northwest corner of the building is therefore an important retail location, and the lobby has been pushed away from the corner to allow ample room for the retail frontage. He described the tripartite composition of nearby historic buildings, including a masonry base and roof-level light monitors. He presented views of the building that formerly occupied Parcel O; this building also had a heavy masonry base and triangulated roofscape. The east side of the building has a slightly simpler design that relates to the architecture of the Navy Yard.
Mr. Sen provided additional views and details of the exterior design, noting the effort to overlap and integrate the base with the tower. He indicated the diagonal bays on the north facade from the fourth through tenth floors, and he said that the roof above the penthouse would be planted. The retail facade would include folding doors to allow continuity between the retail space and the sidewalk, with the potential for outdoor dining areas. He presented the proposed materials, including a dark rust-colored red brick and dark gray metal.
Mr. Johnson presented the proposal for the southern two-thirds of Parcel O, encompassing approximately 20,000 square feet. He provided numerous views of the existing buildings in the vicinity, including industrial buildings with gridded facades and distinctive roof profiles; he noted the interesting power plant building located near Parcel O, as well as the north-south alignment of many of the nearby historic buildings. He described the proposed design as a super-frame building comprising two rectangular towers aligned north-south—a nine-story tower on the west and a seven-story tower on the east near the power plant. The area between the towers is articulated further, and the structural frame is strongly expressed. He indicated the residential entrance along Fourth Street, near the abutting north building's entrance, and the 6,000-square-foot retail space in the southwest portion of the ground floor that would extend the retail character of Fourth Street. Double-height townhouse units with brick facades would front Fifth Street. The second and third floors of the towers are designed as a podium, approximately corresponding to the prevailing height of building bases in the context. The roofline of each tower would have a sawtooth profile with clerestory windows, providing north light for the top-floor apartments. The courtyard between the two towers, open to Water Street on the south, would have common space and private residential yards; a fence would separate the courtyard from the public sidewalk. A large industrial-style glazed atrium at the north end of the site, facing south onto the courtyard, would connect to the street entrance and to the elevator cores for the two towers. He noted that the placement of the building towers along the sidewalk edges would provide a traditional street wall for the neighborhood, while the space between the two towers would allow for southward river views for residents of the proposed building on the north part of the parcel. The exterior materials are perforated metal panels and glass, and he described the design aesthetic as having an abstract character; he emphasized that the design is derived from other buildings in the vicinity. The columns and slabs would be visible in front of the glass infill walls, and the apartments are intended as industrial-style lofts. The floor-to-ceiling glass would be partially shaded by the overhang created by the shingled configuration of overlapping tilted glass panels.
Mr. Johnson presented a detailed section of the proposed facade treatment, and he said that his firm has used a similar design approach for buildings in Los Angeles and elsewhere. He summarized the exterior character as a neutral industrial palette in tones of silver and gray, with spots of bright color for accent such as red translucent glass at doorways. He said that the streetscape design would extend the standard treatment used for the adjacent streets. He indicated a Metro tunnel airshaft in the Water Street median to the southeast of the site. He noted the public plaza area with shade trees that would be created along Water Street, south of the courtyard screen fence, that could be used in association with the retail space such as for outdoor restaurant seating. He presented the site materials being considered, including concrete, wood, and CorTen steel. He also indicated the proposed planting of the building's upper roofs.
Vice Chairman Freelon invited comments from the Commission members. Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the two thorough presentations, and she noted the welcome opportunity for a California architecture firm to design a Washington project. She supported the use of historic precedents to inform the design, commenting that the result would be an attractive place to live. Mr. Dunson joined in supporting the proposal, commenting that the design successfully brings together a wide range of materials; he encouraged continuation of this careful design during the further development of the details. He supported the effort to bring a human scale to the two buildings, which may actually be perceived as three towers. Mr. Johnson said that the large structural frame system provides a cellular grid for the human-scale randomness of the individual apartments. Mr. Freelon also supported the landscape treatment of the courtyard space at the south building; he encouraged more careful detailing of this area to clarify the use of public and private spaces as outdoor eating areas.
Mr. Freelon asked for more information on sustainability and energy conservation issues, commenting that the proposed shading techniques may not be sufficient for the extensive glass facades of the south building. Mr. Johnson responded that the project has been carefully coordinated with energy-related construction codes, and the high-performance glass would repel heat while admitting abundant natural light. In addition to the overhang provided by the tilted glass, the projecting slabs would also provide shade; these measures would be most effective for the higher summer sun angle. He said that the design goal is to maximize the south views toward the river. Mr. Freelon asked about the depth of tilting for the glass plane; Mr. Johnson said the angle totals approximately two feet.
Mr. Freelon observed that the north and south buildings are adjacent and being designed simultaneously, but they appear unrelated; he described their designs as not architecturally compatible, and he questioned why the designs are not more closely coordinated. Mr. Johnson responded that either firm would be eager to design the entire block, but the variety resulting from the two architects is probably a better outcome. Ms. Lehrer said that the contrast is interesting culturally between the West Coast and East Coast aesthetics of the two buildings; she cited the much darker character of the north building compared to the lighter aesthetic of the south building. She said that the relationship is apparent through the serrated roof forms and some similarity of textures.
Ms. Meyer offered some observations related to the numerous waterfront buildings that the Commission has reviewed in recent years, as well as other East Coast buildings. She cited the difficulty for architects in addressing the base and top of the buildings, such as the appropriate height for these forms and the exceptional areas that break into them. She commended both designs in this presentation for responding differently to the conditions of Fourth and Fifth Streets, as well as for developing variety within the base. She said that the bases are successful and are appropriate to the historic context without trying to replicate 19th-century architecture. She also recalled the Commission's concern with other city-block-scale projects that the microtopography of the ground plane is not carefully considered; she expressed appreciation for the careful treatment of the varying sidewalk topography in this presentation. She said that the courtyard landscape for the south building may require further study, including consideration of its initial appearance in contrast to the eventual mature plant growth. She noted the reference in the presentation to this area as a vest-pocket park, which she said invites a comparison to New York City's Paley Park; she said that the trees there were spaced twelve to fifteen feet apart. Mr. Johnson responded that the tree spacing in the proposal is close to that dimension; he noted that Paley Park's design included a water edge, which could be introduced to this courtyard design. Ms. Meyer also suggested that the courtyard tree locations could be consolidated as a response to the grouped private residential entrances that are located along the courtyard. Mr. Johnson said that that the picket fence is designed to minimize visual obstruction of the continuity between the public and private portions of the courtyard; the trees are similarly intended to draw people's attention to the overall length of the space. Ms. Meyer encouraged further design refinement to differentiate the entrance locations within the overall courtyard space, such as by regrouping the proposed trees from the apparent thirty-foot spacing without necessarily adding more trees.
Mr. Luebke noted that the penthouse of the north building is the first seen by the Commission that would take advantage of evolving rules for penthouse space that became possible through a recently enacted amendment to the federal Height Act; he cited the private residential space to be located within the penthouse. He noted that the Commission members have not objected to the design of this penthouse, and he said that any regulatory questions could be addressed through the review by the National Capital Planning Commission.
Ms. Lehrer commented that some commonly presented design details have not been shown, such as proposed lighting. Mr. Luebke noted the limited review process for projects at The Yards, and he characterized the presentation as more thorough than for many other concept proposals. Vice Chairman Freelon asked whether such projects should be reviewed at an earlier stage, before reaching such an advanced stage of concept development; Mr. Luebke noted the ongoing consultations with the staff of the Commission and other agencies.
Mr. Dunson observed that the modest space between the two buildings appears to belong primarily to the north building. Noting the comments about the similarities and differences between the two buildings, he suggested that the design details such as materials could be studied further in this area to clarify whether the space between the buildings is shared or predominantly associated with the north building. He said that this issue relates to the broader question of the buildings' identities as separate but related structures.
Vice Chairman Freelon noted the consensus of the Commission to approve the designs for the two buildings; upon a second by Ms. Meyer, the Commission adopted this action.
G. District of Columbia Department of General Services
1. CFA 21/MAY/15-9, Bancroft Elementary School, 1755 Newton Street, NW. Building modernization and additions. Concept. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
2. CFA 21/MAY/15-10, Engine Company 22, 6825 Georgia Avenue, NW. New four-bay firehouse. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/APR/15-5.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal for a new firehouse, revised from the submission that was reviewed at the Commission's April meeting. He noted that the site on Georgia Avenue is near the former Walter Reed hospital campus. He asked Suman Sorg of Sorg Architects to present the design; Ms. Lehrer requested that the presentation focus on the changes from the previous month's submission.
Ms. Sorg summarized that the Commission's previous comments concerned the second floor and the exterior material. She said that the previously proposed rotation of the second-floor volume has been eliminated; it is instead aligned with the first floor. This volume would be placed toward the northern portion of the site to provide adequate distance from the apartment building to the south, as requested by community residents. She indicated the new configuration of green roofs, garden terraces, and exterior egress stairs that result from the revised design; she said that the result is a reduced form with less complexity.
Ms. Sorg said that the choice of materials has been studied further, with multiple cost estimates to verify that the proposal can be achieved within the project budget. The second-floor facade is proposed as a rain screen of colored glass panels; an alternative would be a curtainwall system with multi-layer colored glass. She said that the proposed coloration is subtle, and she expressed confidence that the desired variation of color can be achieved. She also indicated the metal panels that would be used for the first-floor facades. She noted that the drawings show two-foot-square glass panels, but the potential vendors have said that larger panels would also be feasible.
Ms. Gilbert asked if the glass panels were previously presented as colored metal. Ms. Sorg responded that the second-floor facade was always intended as glass to convey a subtle character rather than the harshness of metal; an additional concern is that metal panels cannot easily be obtained in the small quantity needed for this building. Ms. Lehrer commented that the coloration would have a playful character, in contrast to the seriousness of many buildings reviewed by the Commission. However, she questioned whether this design feature is sufficiently timeless; she suggested consideration of using a single color such as dark red. Ms. Gilbert suggested exploring tones of gray and black as a basis for contrast in the facades. Ms. Sorg said that the treatment of color on the facade is derived from a digital enlargement of an image of an ember, giving the building a reference to fire.
Mr. Freelon said that the proposal is an improvement from the previous month's submission; he expressed appreciation for the responsiveness to the Commission's previous comments and encouraged further development of the design based on the presented concept. He requested ground-level color perspective views to illustrate the relationship of the facades as people would actually see the building, beyond the elevations that were presented. Mr. Dunson expressed overall support for the design direction and encouraged further development of the concept, including the detailing of the facade panels. He commented that the unusual design character of this building in its context would be appropriate due to the building's unique purpose.
Upon a motion by Mr. Dunson with second by Ms. Lehrer, the Commission approved the concept submission.
H. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs—Shipstead-Luce Act
1. SL 15-109, Museum of the American Educator, 1503 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (former Riggs Bank Building). Rooftop addition and alterations. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the concept proposal to renovate and expand the former Riggs Bank Building to become the Museum of the American Educator with offices and conference space for the Milken Family Foundation. She noted the site is immediately north of the U.S. Treasury building across Pennsylvania Avenue. She asked architect Shalom Baranes of Shalom Baranes Associates to present the proposal.
Mr. Baranes said that the California-based Milken Foundation purchased the building last year; it was most recently a branch of PNC Bank. The proposed museum would occupy the historic banking hall and the basement level; conference and support spaces would be located in the building's mezzanines and in proposed new space to be created at the roof level.
Mr. Baranes described the complicated history of the Riggs Bank building and its context. The first portion, a mid-block pedimented structure containing a large banking hall, was built in 1899 within a context of two- to four-story buildings. Approximately five years later, a different bank hired the same architectural firm, York and Sawyer, to design an adjacent corner building to the east, at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, and the design of this separate adjacent building continued the detailing of the Riggs Bank building. He described the buildings as resulting from a competition among banks to attain prominence at this location across from the Treasury and near the White House. In 1922, the Riggs Bank building was expanded toward the west by architect Appleton P. Clark. In an apparent continuance of the competitive business situation, the expansion was designed as a supporting wing that, in conjunction with the competitor's corner building, appears to frame the pedimented 1899 facade as the prominent center of a larger architectural composition. He said that even if the motives cannot be verified, the result is that people still perceive the separate buildings as a single institution. He indicated the 1910s Treasury Annex building to the west, across a narrow fenced open space that was formerly an alley; he said that in addition to the primary south facade along Pennsylvania Avenue, the Riggs Bank building has a beautiful finished facade along the alley although it has subsequently been encumbered with fire escapes. He emphasized the carefully achieved architectural relationship between the bank buildings and the nearby federal buildings.
Mr. Baranes described the Riggs Bank building in more detail. The five-story addition from 1922 also included a new parapet extending across the 1899 pediment to provide visual unity to the composition, although no enclosed space was added behind this parapet. At the time of the addition, a series of mezzanines were added with windows overlooking the banking hall; these mezzanines were later altered and enclosed. The banking hall originally had a gabled skylight, echoing the shape of the pediment on the south facade. The current proposal was initially designed to flatten this skylight, allowing a new fifth floor to extend across it, but the proposal now calls for more accurate preservation of the original skylight configuration; he said that this modification resulted from consultation with the D.C. Historic Preservation Office. He indicated the skylight's decorative glass and, away from public view, the industrial character of the supporting truss system. He said that a solid roof currently exists above the skylight, which currently is artificially lit, and an historian for the project has not yet been able to verify conclusively that the original design provided for daylight to reach the glass. He described the existing character of the banking hall as very gloomy. He also indicated the accumulation of rooftop equipment that has effectively formed a sixth-floor mechanical plant but without the benefit of a screening wall. He said that the height of the proposed rooftop addition has been carefully studied in relation to the height of the existing mechanical equipment and of the Treasury Annex balustrade to the west; the relationship to the similar roof configuration of the bank to the east is also an important design consideration.
Mr. Baranes described the proposed expansion, which would extend the fifth floor of the 1922 addition to encircle the skylight of the 1899 structure. A new sixth floor, set back from the Pennsylvania Avenue facade, would also be created. He said that the skylight would be treated as a sculptural element protruding into these upper floors, encircled by a glass railing; people would be able to look down toward the skylight, although the view would not extend into the banking hall. A proposed new skylight on top of the sixth floor would bring daylight to the upper floors, the historic skylight, and the banking hall; additional daylight would be provided by transom windows. He said that the mechanical equipment would be relocated to interior spaces, and the project would not require an additional mechanical penthouse except above the elevators toward the rear of the building; he emphasized that the resulting roofline is intended to relate to the Treasury Annex architecture and to avoid interfering with views of it.
Mr. Baranes presented a series of sections and perspective views to illustrate the proposal within the context. He said that the interior work, not yet fully studied, would involve extensive restoration and limited alteration of the historically significant space. He presented the existing and proposed plans, indicating the setback ranging from twenty to thirty feet for the south facade of the proposed sixth floor; he said that the configuration of this floor is derived from the alignment of the historic pediment, and it clarifies the distinction between the 1899 and 1922 portions of the building. He emphasized the design goal of the new sixth floor being perceived as part of the roofscape and also as related to the building below; the proposed copper walls and copper mesh screen would relate to the roof elements of nearby buildings. He added that the materials and detailing would prevent the effect of the building shining brightly at night when its interior lights are on, in order to avoid distracting from the nighttime appearance of the White House and Treasury.
Vice Chairman Freelon asked for clarification of other buildings in the context; Mr. Baranes indicated the taller 1960s U.S. Court of Claims Building in the center of the block, and he emphasized that many of the architectural elements in the perspective views are part of the existing adjacent buildings against which the proposed addition will be seen. Ms. Gilbert asked about another raised pyramidal roof structure in the foreground of some perspective views; Mr. Baranes clarified that it is on the roof of the adjacent historic bank, now a Bank of America branch, and is not affected by the current proposal.
Mr. Baranes concluded by presenting details of the proposed upper floors and the materials. He showed photographs of the copper mesh used in front of glass in other projects to reduce the visibility from the street of interior lighting; he acknowledged that this design detail is detrimental to views from the interior but is important for the urban context, and he said that gradations of mesh detailing would be studied further. He added that a further exterior alteration would be to lower a window sill in the south facade of the 1922 addition to provide a barrier-free doorway for access from the sidewalk; he said that this solution would be preferable to adding a ramp to the monumental entrance at the center of the 1899 portion of the building. He said that the masonry exterior would be repointed, the exterior fire escapes would be removed, and the exterior would generally be renovated.
Vice Chairman Freelon expressed appreciation for the clear presentation of a complex project, citing both the graphics and the explanation. He observed that some of the proposed copper details would be exposed while others would be embedded within glass; noting that the presentation showed all of the copper weathered to a greenish patina, he asked if an artificial patination process would be used to achieve this effect for the copper that is not exposed. Mr. Baranes responded that his experience within the Washington climate has been to recommend an accelerated patination treatment for copper; this would typically achieve an initial patination of sixty percent, and over time the complete patination process would occur. He said that the color in the renderings corresponds to the patination approximately ten to twenty years after installation, and the initial appearance would be less green. He acknowledged that the mesh within glass would need additional accelerated treatment; he noted that it would always be seen through the reflective surface of the glass, and its appearance would therefore never fully match the exposed copper.
Ms. Meyer asked for further information about the museum program for the building, which was not addressed in the presentation. Mr. Baranes clarified that his primary role as architect is to design the base building and its envelope, and to collaborate with a different architect for the museum function. He said that further development of the museum program is contingent on obtaining approval for the proposed expansion of the upper two floors; if this expansion is not approved, the museum may not end up occupying this building, or it may be programmed as a different type of museum. He emphasized his role in addressing issues of code compliance, elevators, and stairwells as part of the base building design.
Ms. Meyer reiterated her request for information about the museum's purpose. Mr. Baranes said that the Milken Foundation is very active in the education field; the foundation's programs include identifying top teachers nationwide and bringing them to Washington for an awards ceremony. The museum would provide a history of education in the United States as well as information about the foundation programs.
Mr. Dunson commented that a critical issue is whether the proposed expansion provides an overall aesthetic benefit by enclosing the currently exposed mechanical equipment; he noted that the relationship of the expansion's dimensions to the existing extent of equipment would be part of this evaluation. He concluded that the proposal appears to be a worthwhile change. Mr. Baranes provided an insert to the building model to illustrate the comparison of the existing and proposed roofscapes. He acknowledged that the existing rooftop equipment, while unsightly, is generally not visible to street-level pedestrians; the proposed expansion would be slightly lower than the existing equipment but would come closer to the facade, resulting in relatively more visibility from the street level. Mr. Dunson said that an advantage of the proposed roofscape is to emphasize the architectural ensemble with the separate bank to the east, corresponding to how people perceive the buildings. Mr. Baranes added that another benefit of the proposed additional space is to support the expense of rehabilitating the historic banking hall, which otherwise would not be financially practicable.
Ms. Meyer said that this emphasis on obtaining additional interior space relates again to her question on the building's program, reiterating that the lack of programmatic information is odd in a discussion of a museum design. For example, she asked if the proposed expansion of the upper floors would provide a public benefit, and how the new roof treatment would benefit the interior experience of the banking hall. She described the proposal as literally hollow, without a concept for the interior. She questioned whether the upper floors would be for the exclusive use of the donor and friends. She agreed with Mr. Freelon in expressing appreciation for the quality of the historical research conveyed in the presentation—even extending to the speculation about the business rationale for the architectural choices. She supported this genuine interest in the context and history. In support of the historic building fabric, she questioned why the scrolled brackets framing the 1922 window would be removed in converting the opening to a door. Mr. Baranes responded that retaining these elements may be possible, and he offered to study this detail further. He also reiterated that the public museum would be in the building's ground floor and basement. The mezzanines along the banking hall would be used for support spaces. He noted that the proposed fifth floor—partially existing and partially expanded—is located behind the parapet and would have no south-facing windows. The proposed sixth floor, which would have excellent views, would be used for gatherings related to the museum's mission, and would therefore have a limited form of public access.
Ms. Lehrer commented that at least a generic diagram of the disposition of spaces and uses would be helpful as part of the review process; she emphasized the value of the project in honoring educators. Vice Chairman Freelon noted that the interior is not part of the Commission's review; Mr. Luebke clarified that the interior concept could be considered for its effect on the exterior design.
Mr. Luebke noted that a major benefit of the project is to restore the skylight of the banking hall. He expressed appreciation to the project team for the ongoing consultation with the staff of the Commission and the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, which he said has resulted in significant evolution of the design into a project that now seems supportable. He raised one issue that remains problematic: the drawings indicate the possibility of an occupiable roof terrace at the sixth floor, the floor level of which is approximately at the height of the top of the parapet. The terrace would potentially require a guardrail for pedestrian safety and a taller barrier to ensure security for the nearby White House. He said that such features, even if glass, would be visually intrusive and would need further review; he emphasized that this portion of the design is not included in the proposal nor its approval. Mr. Baranes said that this issue would be addressed at a later stage of the review process, including consultation with the U.S. Secret Service. Mr. Luebke observed that lowering the height of the sixth floor would help to reduce the intrusiveness of any barrier. Mr. Baranes responded that the sixth floor has already been lowered by several feet during the design process; Mr. Luebke said that this was only to bring it down to match the top of the parapet. He noted that the project will soon be reviewed by the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board.
Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the concept submission with the comments provided.
2. SL 15-120, Southwest Waterfront development (The Wharf), Parcel 3b, 800 Water Street, SW. New hotel building. Final. (Previous: SL 12-105, 19 July 2012.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the final design proposal for a hotel building at The Wharf, an extensive development project along the Southwest Waterfront; this submission continues the series of final designs that have been submitted in recent months for the development parcels in the first phase of The Wharf. She noted that the Commission approved the concept for this hotel in July 2012, with recommendations for further development of the design, particularly in the treatment of the building's base. She asked Michael Wilson of Carr Hospitality and Carr City Centers, the developer of the hotel, and architect Bahram Kamali of BBGM to present the proposal.
Mr. Wilson said that the proposed Intercontinental Hotel would encompass approximately 240,000 square feet, including 278 guest rooms and the hotel lobby, restaurants, spa, and meeting space; the building would also contain 5,800 square feet of retail space oriented to the exterior. He emphasized that the design would take advantage of the site's waterfront views and the planned pedestrian streetscape of The Wharf, with public plazas and piers located around the building. He said that the final design is consistent with the previous concept submission and with the master plan for the Wharf, including the building's form, scale, frontages, materials, and colors. He indicated the nearby buildings being developed at the Wharf, including an office building on Parcel 3a that will abut a portion of the proposed hotel. He noted that each of the four streets and public spaces around the building has a different function and character, resulting in different proposed facade treatments that relate the building to the pedestrian scale. The primary public entrance passage to The Wharf would be along the northwest side of the building, while the hotel entrance would be on the southeast facing the Yacht Club Piazza; the waterfront promenade will extend along the southwest side of the hotel site. He indicated the proposed restaurant and retail locations that are sited to open onto the public spaces that are planned to be the most active areas of The Wharf. The hotel restaurant would have a folding storefront that would allow the restaurant to open onto the wharf promenade; other storefronts will be designed separately by the future tenants in accordance with the retail guidelines for The Wharf. He summarized the intention to encourage an active pedestrian experience on all sides of the proposed building.
Mr. Wilson presented the floorplans for the project. The building would rise above two levels of below-grade parking that extend beneath multiple development parcels; a portion of the lowest parking level would be reserved for hotel use. On the ground floor, the hotel lobby and check-in would be on the southeast, with an adjacent lobby lounge; the restaurant would be nearby on the southwest; and the remainder would be retail stores as well as the loading dock and support areas. The second floor would contain the hotel ballroom and meeting rooms, sited to take advantage of the exterior views. The third floor would have hotel amenity spaces such as the spa and fitness center, along with several guest rooms; the fourth through eleventh floors would be entirely guest rooms. He indicated the green roofs and the terrace space for some guest rooms where the building steps back at the fourth floor. The twelfth floor would contain a "Sky Bar," served by an express elevator accessible from the northwest side of the ground floor, as well as hotel meeting space and several guest rooms; he emphasized the expansive views across the Potomac River from this level. The penthouse level would include mechanical space, a green roof, and an outdoor pool for hotel guests. He presented a section to clarify the organization of the building, and he indicated the building height of 130 feet plus the penthouse.
Mr. Wilson described the design modifications subsequent to the Commission's 2012 concept review. The ground-level opening within the southeast facade, providing pedestrian access to the Pier Mews extending along the northeast, has been refined to be more clearly defined as the Commission requested; the hotel's entrance canopy has also been extended to shelter this opening, and the granite base of the retail frontage along this facade would now be extended into the facade along the mews. He said that a garage exhaust shaft has been adjusted during development of the design, resulting in a small enclosure on the fourth-floor roof along the Pier Mews. An additional egress door from the loading dock has also been added along the mews. A small covered bar structure has been added at the rooftop pool area, and the twelfth-floor sunshades are now proposed as dark gray painted metal instead of dark wood in order to be consistent with the materials used elsewhere on the building. He presented a comparison of the previous and current elevations, indicating the few changes. He noted that an earlier submission had included an alternative with a clock tower, which the Commission had recommended against; this feature is no longer in the design. He concluded by presenting the proposed materials, which he said are unchanged from the concept submission with the exception of the sunshades.
Ms. Gilbert questioned whether the specified black granite was presented correctly. Mr. Kamali said that the proposal is polished black granite; he acknowledged that the image from a scanned photograph may not convey the finish accurately, and he provided a board of material samples that he said is more reliable. Mr. Freelon observed that the tone of the red brick and terra cotta vary substantially among the various presentation materials; Mr. Kamali indicated the rendering that he said most accurately conveys the intended color. Mr. Freelon said that the brick color is therefore closer to brown, and he requested more accurate coordination of the materials and presentation images. Mr. Kamali acknowledged the difficulty of depicting colors correctly on the renderings.
Ms. Gilbert reiterated her concern that the proposed black granite would be incompatible with the other materials; she said that its darkness, polished finish, and detailing would cause it to stand out. She suggested a more variegated gray granite with a less polished finish for better compatibility with the simplicity of the other materials. Ms. Meyer commented favorably on the overall planning and massing of the hotel, but she agreed that the proposed materials and colors are unconvincing; she said that the combination of brick, terra cotta, metal, and granite would not result in an attractive building. She described the polished granite as having an appearance reminiscent of the 1980s, and she questioned whether the representation of the proposed materials is sufficiently accurate. Mr. Wilson responded that the materials are the same as in his firm's prior projects, while he offered to consider this issue further. Ms. Meyer also observed that some presentation materials refer to the granite as having a thermal instead of polished finish, which Mr. Kamali said is incorrect.
Vice Chairman Freelon recommended preparing an outdoor mockup with all of the proposed exterior materials, using the correct vertical orientation and perpendicular adjacencies; Ms. Gilbert agreed. Mr. Wilson confirmed that a mockup will be a requirement of the construction contract. Mr. Luebke said that this mockup may occur too late in the materials procurement process, and he suggested preparing an earlier material sample panel that could be reviewed for more effective design guidance by the staff or the Commission. He said that review of this sample panel could be a condition of the Commission's final design approval; if the staff is dissatisfied upon conducting a delegated review, the project could be returned to the Commission. Mr. Wilson reiterated that a mockup is contemplated during the construction process; Mr. Luebke clarified that the Commission is not supporting the proposed palette of materials and may request a design change. Vice Chairman Freelon said that further clarification of the intent is needed, such as by providing an actual sample of the proposed brick with sufficient size instead of the photograph and small fragments that were presented. Ms. Lehrer commented that final design presentations often include larger-scale drawings along with substantially sized material samples and sometimes alternative materials, allowing a better evaluation of these issues. She emphasized the Commission's role in addressing the urbanistic aesthetics of projects; while the presentation provided extensive information about the hotel's interior, the Commission has not been given sufficient information about the ground-level character of the exterior. Ms. Lehrer suggested that the proposed exterior materials for the hotel should be presented alongside the previously approved materials for the adjacent public spaces.
Vice Chairman Freelon summarized the consensus that the Commission members should have an opportunity to see the material sample panel, in addition to review by the staff. He suggested that the panel be available for inspection associated with a regular meeting of the Commission. He clarified that the request includes using the actual materials with sufficiently sized samples; the exact configuration could be flexible. Mr. Luebke said that the panel could omit such details as mortar joints that may be required during the construction-phase mockup; he added that coordination with the overall project developer will be needed to obtain samples of the public space materials as requested by the Commission. Ms. Lehrer requested that larger-scale facade drawings be generated to assist in evaluating the specified materials.
Vice Chairman Freelon suggested a consensus to approve the submission conditional on the further review of the materials; the Commission adopted this action. Mr. Luebke noted that the building's signs would be submitted in the future for a separate Shipstead-Luce Act review; the retail storefronts will also be submitted separately. Vice Chairman Freelon confirmed that these components are not included in the Commission's approval.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 4:23 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA