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 9:09 a.m.
Hon. Earl A. Powell, Chairman
Hon. Philip Freelon, Vice Chairman
Hon. Edward Dunson
Hon. Liza Gilbert
Hon. Alex Krieger
Hon. Mia Lehrer
Thomas E. Luebke, Secretary
Frederick J. Lindstrom, Assistant Secretary
A. Approval of the minutes of the 16 July meeting. Mr. Luebke reported that the minutes of the July meeting were circulated to the Commission members in advance. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the minutes. Mr. Luebke said that they would be posted on the Commission's website.
B. Dates of next meetings. Mr. Luebke presented the regularly scheduled dates for upcoming Commission meetings, as previously published: 15 October 2015, 19 November 2015, and 21 January 2016. He noted that the November meeting will be one week before Thanksgiving, and no meeting is scheduled during December.
C. Introduction of new staff architect, Cary Blackwelder-Plair. Mr. Luebke introduced Cary Blackwelder-Plair, who has joined the Commission staff and is assisting with the Old Georgetown projects. He summarized Mr. Blackwelder-Plair's training and professional experience, including fifteen years as a project manager with local architecture firms.
D. Report on new staff position for a Public Affairs Specialist. Mr. Luebke reported that an additional staff position was advertised earlier in the month. The new position is for a public affairs specialist, who will assist in managing the Commission's website and the public information associated with the ever-increasing caseload: he noted the past year's record high of 731 cases submitted for Commission action. He said that applications are currently being evaluated.
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. Lindstrom said that the only change to the draft appendix is the correction of a typographical error in the recommendation for Jefferson Middle School Academy (case number CFA 17/SEP/15-k). Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the revised Government Submissions Consent Calendar.
Appendix II – Shipstead-Luce Act Submissions: Ms. Batcheler reported that the recommendations for two projects (case numbers SL 15-152 and 15-156) were changed to be favorable due to design changes and additional information. She noted that the actions on these two projects and three others are subject to the receipt of further documentation, and she requested authorization to finalize these five recommendations upon receiving satisfactory supplemental materials. She added that the revised appendix also includes minor updates to note the receipt of supplemental materials for other projects. The Commission approved the revised appendix. (See agenda items II.G.1 and II.G.2 for additional Shipstead-Luce Act submissions.)
Appendix III – Old Georgetown Act Submissions: Mr. Martinez reported that the only changes to the draft appendix are notations of the receipt of supplemental materials that were anticipated. Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission approved the revised appendix.
At this point, the Commission departed from the order of the agenda to consider two of the four submissions from the D.C. Department of General Services that were listed for presentations. Mr. Luebke said that the Commission may wish to act on these projects without a presentation, and may also decide to delegate review of the final design submissions to the staff.
E. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 17/SEP/15-4, Mamie D. Lee School, 100 Gallatin Street, NE. Additions and building modernization. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JUL/15-5.) Mr. Luebke said that this second concept submission is responsive to the comments previously provided by the Commission. Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the submission and delegated review of the final design to the staff.
4. CFA 17/SEP/15-7, Public works storage yard, 2750 South Capitol Street, SE. New road salt storage facility. Concept. Mr. Luebke said that the design for this roadside storage facility has been improved through the consultation process, changing from the initially proposed prefabricated structure to a more acceptable architectural design. Upon a motion by Mr. Freelon with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the submission and delegated review of the final design to the staff.
The Commission returned to the order of the agenda with item II.B.
B. National Park Service
CFA 17/SEP/15-1, Constitution Gardens, West Potomac Park. Phase I, Relocation and rehabilitation of Lockkeeper's House and new pedestrian plaza at Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, NW. Final. (Previous: CFA 18/SEP/14-1.) Mr. Luebke introduced the proposed final design for the first phase of the rehabilitation of Constitution Gardens, encompassing the northeastern portion including the Lockkeeper's House. A later final design submission will include restoration of the lake and construction of a new pavilion; the entire project was approved in concept in 2014. He added that the project is a collaboration between the National Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall, a charitable organization that supports Mall projects. He asked Peter May of the National Park Service to begin the presentation.
Mr. May emphasized the importance of this project as part of a larger program of celebrating the upcoming centennial of the National Park Service in 2016, and he introduced Adam Greenspan of PWP Landscape Architecture to present the first-phase design. Ms. Lehrer noted that some Commission members have not previously seen the project, and she asked for an overview of the entire concept for Constitution Gardens.
Mr. Greenspan indicated the area of the first phase, with a corner plaza at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue that would serve as a portal into Constitution Gardens; the Lockkeeper's House, located near this corner, would be moved to the edge of the plaza. He summarized the broader planning for Constitution Gardens, which he described as a large but little-known landscape. Noting its location near prominent memorials, he said that Constitution Gardens should be better known and more used by the public, and this is a major goal of his firm's proposal; the design is intended to provide a stronger identity using a contemporary landscape that relates to ecology, social systems, and Washington's art and culture. The strong features of the existing landscape would be rehabilitated and enhanced, including the beautifully shaped lake and the lush plantings. A new pavilion structure, designed in conjunction with the architecture firm Rogers Partners, would provide elevated views across the park to focus visitors on the water and the seasonally changing appearance of the landscape. The water systems would be rehabilitated to make the lake deeper and more functional; the plantings would be more ecologically appropriate; and the design would replace some existing lawn areas with meadows. Tall canopy trees at the edges would allow views into the park while providing shade and a sense of enclosure. The soil would be rehabilitated; he noted that the poor soil design and maintenance has resulted in more than half of the park's trees dying since their installation in the 1970s, and many of the replacement trees have also died. Existing unhealthy soil would be used for shaping the topography of the new park design, then sealed under a layer of sand; new high-quality horticultural soil on top would support the ecosystem, and he said that the plants could then last for hundreds of years.
Mr. Greenspan said that the phased implementation results from funding constraints and the goal of completing a portion for the National Park Service's centennial celebration. The proposed first phase would include a range of design features that would become benchmarks for eventually extending the work into the rest of the park as funds become available. He said that the area of the first phase has been adjusted since the concept presentation, with the goal of a near-term project that will have an overall design integrity due to the uncertain timing of the next phase. Portions of the first phase would be design as a temporary installation that could be altered as part of the second phase. As an example, the ground level at the future pavilion will be at a higher level than the existing grade at that area, and the first-phase path leading toward this location will therefore need to be reconstructed at a different grade when the pavilion is built; the adjacent first-phase landscape will also need to be regraded. With the adjusted phasing, he said that most of the Commission's previous comments can be addressed in the second phase, allowing more time for design study. He noted one previous recommendation that remains applicable to the first phase, to eliminate the use of landscape to separate the Lockkeeper's House from the plaza.
Mr. Krieger asked how the trees in the landscape plan would be affected by the various phases of construction. Mr. Greenspan said that some trees were recently planted as part of the levee wall project; most of these would be retained in the proposed first-phase construction, which is achieved by maintaining a similar grade. However, additional trees would have to be removed in the next phase due to the site regrading; some of those trees could be relocated. He said that this coordination of phases is still being studied. He confirmed that the canopy and understory trees shown along the walk curving into the garden are either existing or would be planted in the first phase; most of these would then be relocated in the second phase.
Mr. Greenspan described the intended treatment of the plaza and Lockkeeper's House as part of the first phase. The plaza's features would include a large specimen tree and seating along a perimeter wall, which would later be connected to the overall perimeter wall of Constitution Gardens; the plaza would serve as an outdoor gathering place and perhaps the location for informal lectures. The Lockkeeper's House—the oldest structure on the National Mall—was moved westward to its current location in the 1960s, and the proposal would move it again to the southwest. He said that its long history and its association with a former canal would make it an asset to Constitution Gardens, but the challenge is to determine how to use it and respect it within the larger design of the park. The house would become a welcoming element at the edge of the large new plaza, and the interior of the Lockkeeper's House would be used for interpretive information and donor recognition. The small two-story house has low ceilings; the proposal is to rehabilitate it as a single two-story volume, more suitable for public use, while retaining the ceiling rafters above the first floor to convey the historic interior proportions. The house would continue to have two entrances on opposite sides; this pattern was historically typical for a lockkeeper's house to provide both a front door and access to the canal edge, part of the dual nature of these structures as both residential and utilitarian. The north entrance would be several steps up from the Constitution Avenue sidewalk; the south entrance would be barrier-free, with the plaza grade sloping to provide level access to the interior. He said that the landscape around a lockkeeper's house would traditionally include paved areas as well as domestic uses such as a garden for food. The proposal includes planted edges around the house, which he said is a necessary configuration on the east to allow sufficient dimensions for grading the plaza at a shallow slope as it rises to the grade of the house's south entrance. He said that the proposed woodland edge along the north side of Constitution Gardens would extend to the west side of the Lockkeeper's House. Additional work on the house, as designed by Davis Buckley Architects, would include repointing the stone facades as well as replacing the non-original roof, windows, and chimneys to be more historically accurate.
Mr. Greenspan provided additional details of the first-phase design. A historic mounting block for horse-riders was recently excavated during the levee wall construction, and it would be featured at the edge of the plaza. The range of species in the proposed meadow areas is still being coordinated with the National Park Service. He noted that the second phase would include a service drive to be located along the north side of the levee wall; it would slope downward from 17th Street to the pavilion's lower level. He said that trees are not proposed in this area for the first phase, and the intention is to provide a simple guardrail along the service drive instead of a more intrusive screening wall, with the goal of allowing the levee wall to remain visible as the vertical backdrop to the south edge of this landscape. He said that the meadow planting is intended to provide a sense of separation between the entrance plaza and the future utilitarian service drive. The current and original locations of the Lockkeeper's House would be marked by outlines of dark granite set within the pavement of the plaza, sidewalk, and 17th Street. He described the overall palette of materials including light and dark stone paving as well as concrete with a dark aggregate for the curved walk within the garden; the sidewalks along the adjacent streets would use the standard design of lighter concrete. He added that the color selection for new stone, which is still being studied, is intended to complement the existing stone walls of the Lockkeeper's House. Stone curbs would be used as an edge to protect planted areas, such as around the Lockkeeper's House. He presented the varying modules of paving that would be used to differentiate borders and walks. He said that the curved walk may need to accommodate large numbers of pedestrians attending special events, and it will also serve as a fire lane for the future pavilion; it is therefore designed to be eighteen feet wide, with the configuration of paving materials intended to reduce its perceived scale. He presented photographs of comparable materials and design details in other projects, and he described the recent quarry mockups to determine the best finishes and color range for the stone. He said that the goal for the site wall is to establish a modern character, comparable to the effect of the new garden in the 1970s. The joints on the top surface would be detailed to provide a sufficiently flat surface for seating while being less conducive to skateboarding. He added that the quarry is being chosen to have sufficient capacity to continue providing stone for the second phase.
Mr. Greenspan said that the detailing of the park entrances along the sidewalks is being studied with consideration of repeating the same design at the additional sidewalk entrance points that will be built in the next phase. The park's name would be placed on the low walls flanking these entrances; he presented two alternatives for treating the stone in this area, including a large monolithic block or a coursed configuration. He presented the proposed design for benches, which is adapted from the existing standard bench design of the National Park Service; modifications are proposed to meet modern accessibility requirements for the bench height and armrests. Materials would include cast iron and a very dark wood that is treated for durability, perhaps not requiring painting.
Mr. Greenspan presented the proposed lighting, which is intended to focus on walks and occupiable spaces while not competing with the lighting of the major memorials nearby. Uplights would be used for the Lockkeeper's House and the specimen tree in the plaza. Washington Globe fixtures would be used, adapted to contain LED lamps. He concluded with additional illustrations of the proposed planting palette, using understory plantings to define the edges of areas intended for use by pedestrians. He emphasized the seasonal variation in colors and the varied, low-maintenance meadow plantings; based on further study of the first-phase installation, the planting palette may be refined for the second phase. The plantings have also been selected to correspond to the prevalence of sunlight or shade at various locations.
Chairman Powell noted the Commission's support for the overall project in the previous review. Ms. Gilbert asked for clarification of why the areas adjacent to the Lockkeeper's House would be planted, instead of extending the plaza paving to the building edge as previously recommended by the Commission. Mr. Greenspan responded that one reason is the technical constraint of providing enough distance along the plaza edge to stay within the maximum allowable gradient of two percent for the paving that slopes from the sidewalk on the north to the barrier-free entrance door on the south; if the plaza were extended to the building face, the slope would reach approximately five percent. Another reason is to support the intended aesthetic experience of the house; to avoid an inappropriate setting, the design of the adjacent landscape has been revised to be less ornamental and more related to the meadow plantings and to the woodland edge being created along Constitution Avenue. Ms. Gilbert said that visitors can currently walk along the edges of the house, which she said is a powerful experience, while the proposed setting would not provide this opportunity to look closely at the historic stone walls. She suggested adding a paving strip for visitors to walk along the edge of the house within the planted areas. Mr. Greenspan responded that this would be feasible along some edges; Julie Canter of PWP Landscape Architecture clarified that it may be difficult to design such a paving strip to be universally accessible as well as graceful in appearance. Mr. Greenspan emphasized that the design team explored many options for providing barrier-free access to the house as well as a paved edge around it, but most solutions required unwanted design elements along the facades; he said that the proposed design is the most straightforward and simple solution.
Mr. Krieger noted that people would be able to observe the stone facades at close proximity at both the north and south entrances to the house; he commented that the proposal for planting around the rest of the house does not seem problematic. Mr. Greenspan added that, historically, the house would have had a landscape setting. Mr. Krieger said that the proposed design would appropriately place the house between the woodland landscape, related to its historical setting, and the plaza that relates to the house's modern-era sidewalk setting. Ms. Lehrer commented that a stone skirt around the edge of the house could be provided to allow people to look closely at the stonework, but this would consume a lot of space in the landscape, and she therefore supported the proposed design along the house edge. She also supported the design of the plaza's perimeter wall with detailing of the cap to deter skateboarders. Mr. Greenspan responded that his firm has designed numerous walls of stacked stone for other projects, using wide joints as well as stone with irregular edges and lengths. He clarified that the stonework mockup illustrated in some of the presented photographs is more tightly spaced than intended for this project, which would have joint widths of up to one inch.
Ms. Lehrer asked about the types of trees that are intended for relocation, as well as the anticipated timeframe for moving them. Mr. Greenspan responded that the relocation would occur as soon as feasible with the funding of the second phase, and the overcup oak tree has been selected for its durability. He said that this tree's dense, fibrous root system—in conjunction with obtaining the trees from a nursery that performs root pruning—would allow it to withstand relocation within three to five years, for the size of trees that would be installed in the first phase. He acknowledged that relocation would become difficult after three to five years. Ms. Gilbert suggested planting only the canopy trees along the curved walk in the first phase, omitting the understory trees; this approach would make more clear to the public that this area of the landscape is a temporary installation that would soon change. Mr. Greenspan responded that the design team has considered this approach, which could still be followed. He noted that the project would provide space for interpretation, and information about the landscape design could therefore be communicated to the public. He said that the design approach for this phase is to focus on a limited range of plantings and built features that would provide a substantial impact from this relatively small project. Another approach, perhaps suggested by Ms. Gilbert's comment, would be to focus on the permanent features of the site instead of elements that would have to be altered in the second phase.
Ms. Gilbert said that the introduction of meadows, a welcome feature of the proposal, could be extended to the areas where understory trees are proposed; she added that the meadow plantings would likely thrive in varying conditions and would bring color into more of the landscape. Mr. Greenspan noted that the meadow plantings are currently shown in drifts of different species, but an approach considered earlier was to mix the various species and allow some plantings to take hold more strongly with different site conditions. He said that the drifts are proposed so that the differences among plantings will be apparent immediately, facilitating near-term interpretation for the public of this temporary landscape; the more permanent plantings in the second phase may instead have a less ordered initial configuration. He clarified that the meadow plantings would spread over time, and would not remain in the configuration shown in the presented drawings. Ms. Gilbert asked if the National Park Service considers the proposed meadow plantings to be a pilot project for replacement of grass areas elsewhere. Mr. May responded that already the National Park Service has increasingly been studying and implementing various alternatives to traditional mown grass.
Mr. Greenspan said that an additional concern in the first-phase design is to avoid investing in site features whose potential later removal could be cited as a reason to oppose implementation of the second phase. The closely spaced understory trees are therefore proposed as a simple deterrent to pedestrians leaving the curved walk, instead of investing in a post-and-chain system or other edge treatment; the close spacing is also consistent with a natural forest understory. Ms. Gilbert acknowledged the effort to use the understory trees to create an edge along the walk; Ms. Lehrer said that the understory trees might nonetheless be used only in some areas, and perhaps their placement could be used to illustrate the complex succession growth of a forest in varying sunlight conditions. She expressed appreciation for the presentation and the overall care in the landscape design.
Mr. Luebke noted the alternatives presented for the site walls and lettering at the entrances, as well as the lack of design information about the future service drive that would be inserted along the edge of the first-phase project area; he expressed concern that the current proposal does not adequately convey the long-term design. Mr. Krieger commented that the insertion of the service drive would likely be acceptable with appropriate plantings and edge treatment; he said that the planned pavilion would require service access, and the proposed location may be appropriate. Mr. Greenspan emphasized that the edge treatment along the service drive would be a guardrail, designed for visual transparency to allow views to the existing levee wall, instead of constructing a 42-inch-high protective wall along the drive. He added that denser understory plantings in the second phase would serve to provide more screening of the second-phase service drive, including some future understory trees near the drive that are not shown on the current first-phase landscape plan. He emphasized the design team's careful consideration of how the project would work in multiple phases. Mr. Krieger noted that the Commission will have the opportunity to review the second-phase proposal in more detail, and he said that the general design intent for the service drive seems reasonably compatible with the current proposal.
For the walls and signage adjacent to the park's entrances, Mr. Krieger supported the second option using the more modest scale of the coursed stonework instead of monolithic blocks; Mr. Freelon agreed. Mr. Krieger also commented that the pavement markings for the past locations of the Lockkeeper's House could be confusing to the public, similar to Boston where the convoluted historical shoreline is similarly marked by pavement inlays in many locations with the resulting impression of poor construction detailing. He suggested that a modest marker or signage be included to communicate the meaning of these pavement markings for the house.
Ms. Lehrer offered a motion to approve the submission, with the Commission's preference for the coursed stonework adjacent to the park's entrances, and with the comments provided on plantings. Upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action. Chairman Powell cited the quality of the presentation and the project. He noted the tendency for the temporary to become permanent in Washington, and he suggested including as much planting as possible in the first phase of construction.
C. United States General Services Administration
CFA 17/SEP/15-2, St. Elizabeths West Campus, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE. Center Building, United States Department of Homeland Security Headquarters. Building renovation and exterior restoration. Concept. Mr. Luebke introduced the concept proposal to renovate the Center Building at the St. Elizabeths West Campus for use as the headquarters of the Department of Homeland Security. He said that this proposal is part of the second phase of implementation of the master plan for the West Campus that was approved by the Commission in 2009; a major component of the first phase was construction of the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters building, which is now complete. Other projects in the second phase will be submitted for future review; some are relatively minor, including expansion of the Central Utility Plant that was approved earlier in the meeting on the Government Submissions Consent Calendar. He noted that the Center Building, a National Historic Landmark, was designed by Thomas U. Walter, who also served as Architect of the Capitol and designed the Capitol's dome and major expansion. He described the Center Building's configuration of multiple wings extending more than 1,000 feet long, with a total of 260,000 square feet; it was built between 1853 and 1884. The building has been vacant since 1987 and has deteriorated; the project would restore the exterior and generally create a new interior to provide a modern workspace. He noted that this project has been exhaustively studied through the historic preservation review process. He asked Mina Wright of the General Services Administration to begin the presentation.
Mr. Krieger commented that a summary of the building's importance should include reference to Dr. Thomas Kirkbride, who modernized the design of American mental health hospitals in the mid-19th century; Kirkbride's work influenced both the architecture and the site treatment of St. Elizabeths.
Ms. Wright noted that the project is part of the larger redevelopment of the West Campus, but the scope being presented involves only the Center Building and the portion of the site within 25 feet of the building; issues involving the larger landscape will be addressed in a future presentation. She added that planning and phasing for the campus redevelopment has been difficult due to intermittent funding. She introduced architect Shalom Baranes of Shalom Baranes Associates to present the Center Building.
Mr. Baranes said that the presentation will address the building's evolution and existing condition, along with the intended program and the general approach to the planned renovation; a future presentation will provide a more detailed design proposal and the intended resolution of architectural issues. He reiterated the importance of the building's original architect, Thomas U. Walter, and said that it was intended as a national model for the treatment of mentally ill patients. He noted additional historic associations: the building was used as a hospital during the Civil War, and President Lincoln visited it; the poet Ezra Pound lived here as a patient for twelve years after World War II.
Mr. Baranes described the building configuration of narrow wings with double-loaded corridors. A new concrete structure for the building's interior, along with a new concrete mat foundation, would serve to stabilize the historic exterior masonry walls, which would be restored. He said that the existing wood structure on the interior is not able to support modern office loads, and it has deteriorated in recent years while the building has been abandoned; the new interior structure would also be designed for progressive collapse, which is a critical requirement for the Department of Homeland Security headquarters. He presented the proposed interior plan, indicating the limited area within the central portion of the building that is considered highly significant for preservation; within this area, the historic design would be reconstructed. Beyond this central portion, the interior of the building wings would be configured as open office areas; he indicated the intended location of vertical circulation cores, at approximately the same locations as the historic circulation but with additional elevators and stairs to meet modern requirements.
Mr. Baranes described the relationship of the building to the site, emphasizing its placement on a ridge with a dramatic panoramic view of central Washington. He said that the beautiful setting expresses the hospital's humanitarian approach to patient treatment, and the building's long, thin configuration serves to maximize views from patient rooms toward the city, rivers, and landscape. He noted that the Center Building's axis is aligned with the U.S. Capitol. He indicated the numerous existing buildings on the campus that will be retained, as well as the recently constructed Coast Guard headquarters and parking garage; he also indicated the future additional buildings that are part of the approved master plan.
Mr. Baranes presented historical photographs of the Center Building. At the main entrance on the center of the north facade, he indicated the porte-cochere that was added, removed, and then rebuilt; the proposed building restoration would include reconstructing this non-original feature. The prominent multi-story bay window above the entrance would also be rebuilt; the existing wood construction of this feature has deteriorated. He said that original materials would be salvaged for reuse where feasible, perhaps including the railings of the bay window. Based on the survey of building fabric that is currently being completed, approximately fifteen percent of the painted wood windows can be restored using the original materials; the remaining windows would be replaced with new wood frames. Storm windows would be added on the interior side of the windows, and the outer windows can therefore be single-glazed as in the historic design. He indicated the metal grilles that were located on some windows; these would be restored where possible or replicated, and they would be placed in a more organized pattern on portions of the facade. He said that much of the beautiful cast-iron trim has been damaged, and it would be restored or replaced. The building has many exterior doors with a variety of entrance steps and railings, sometimes altered; these features would be salvaged or reconstructed in many locations. He said that none of the existing doors can be reused; new wood doors would be installed, with the door profiles relating to the windows and other facade trim.
Mr. Baranes said that the crenelated parapet is a significant and interesting feature of the facade; its length totals more than 2,000 feet. For structural and waterproofing reasons, it would be removed and then reconstructed, using the original brick as much as possible. The parapet would then be capped with either concrete or stone, and an additional metal sheathing is currently under consideration. He noted that the shallow sloped roofs are located behind the parapet and are generally not visible from ground level. A new roof would be installed for the entire building, and the historic sloped roof profile would be replicated at the few locations where it would be visible; for ease of maintenance, other areas would have a flat roof with drains. Photovoltaic panels would also be installed on some portions of the roof, and low penthouses would be built where needed for elevator shafts and access stairs.
Mr. Baranes concluded by presenting the landscape concept. He said that the original landscape design included a simple ground plane of grass, winding walks, and small ornamental shrubbery, along with a ceiling plane defined by the underside of the tree canopy. This configuration remains intact through most of the campus, and the master plan includes this landscape concept. He indicated some trees that may conflict with the access requirements and disturbance limits of the building restoration work; he said that the affected areas are being demarcated carefully, including on-site storage locations, and trees will be identified for either protection or replacement. The existing brick walks around the building would be removed for the period of construction, and the bricks would then be used to reconstruct the walks in the same configuration.
Chairman Powell expressed appreciation for the conceptual overview, adding that the Commission looks forward to more detailed future presentations. Mr. Freelon noted the multi-decade construction period of the original building, as well as the insertion of newer brickwork that is evident in the presented photographs. He said that a patchwork appearance may result from the intended restoration technique of reusing some historic materials in combination with new replacement materials as needed. He asked if this problem would be addressed or would simply be accepted as the result of restoring a historic building. Mr. Baranes responded that approximately half to three-quarters of the existing brick would likely be salvaged. The aesthetic quality would be addressed through the selection of mortar and an on-the-ground layout of bricks to group them appropriately by color, with the goal of reducing the patchwork effect. Ms. Gilbert asked if the restored windows would be operable. Mr. Baranes responded that the new configuration of storm windows and outer windows would be fixed, and the windows could only be opened by maintenance staff.
Mr. Krieger expressed continued surprise that Thomas Kirkbride was not cited in the presentation. He emphasized that Kirkbride's work, more than the architect's, influenced the design of this building and more than a dozen others around the country; these are commonly referred to as Kirkbride buildings, regardless of the prominence of their individual architects. He said that the organization, orientation, and scale of the design result from Kirkbride's work, with the architect essentially just decorating the concept. Mr. Baranes offered to include this historical context in future presentations.
Mr. Luebke confirmed the desirability of a Commission action on this concept submission, and he asked if review of further submissions should be delegated to the staff. Chairman Powell noted the historical importance of the building—as amplified by Mr. Krieger's comments—and said that the Commission should have the opportunity to review the future submissions. He suggested approval of the current concept submission; upon a second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission adopted this action.
D. Smithsonian Institution
CFA 17/SEP/15-3, National Zoological Park, 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW. New retail/restroom building and Police Station renovation. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced the proposal for two projects at the National Zoo, both by the same design team and both located along Olmsted Walk near the lower entrance to the zoo. She asked Ann Trowbridge of the Smithsonian Institution to begin the presentation. Mr. Luebke said that Mr. Freelon has recused himself from participating in the review of this project because of his firm's work with the Smithsonian Institution.
Ms. Trowbridge summarized the project to renovate and slightly expand the existing police station used by the zoo's police force, primarily for staff activities but with some public use, and the nearby project to replace an outdoor dining pavilion with a new building containing a retail store and public restrooms. She acknowledged the assistance of the Commission staff in the development of the design through consultation meetings. She said that the D.C. Historic Preservation Office has concluded that the proposal would not have an adverse effect on the historic resources of the zoo. She introduced architect Joe Cellucci of Cho Benn Holback + Associates and landscape architect Kurt Parker of Rhodeside & Harwell to present the design.
Mr. Cellucci presented the context for the two projects, illustrating the rhythm of masses and voids along the historic Olmsted Walk. The two project sites are separated by the Mane Restaurant, which would remain. The topography slopes down from Olmsted Walk, resulting in the existing buildings having a one-story height along the walk and a two-story height at the rear, where a service drive provides lower-level access. He said that existing public restrooms in the upper level of the police building are in poor condition, resulting in leaks damaging the office space below; the program for the police operations is also expanding due to increased staff and the planned relocation of the zoo's security control center to this building. An additional program element for the police building is an occupational health suite and a public first-aid station, which will be located on the upper level for direct access from Olmsted Walk. The public restrooms would be relocated to the lower level of the proposed nearby building to the southeast; this building would have a retail space above for the Great Cats Gift Shop, which is currently located in a small structure to the northwest of the police building. The site for the proposed retail and restroom building currently has a modern picnic pavilion and terrace, which would be demolished.
Mr. Cellucci presented additional details of the proposed renovation of the police building, which was built in the mid-1950s. The building interior would be demolished, while the exterior of Carderock stone is generally in good condition and would be retained. He said that the roof is relatively new and its appearance is compatible with the zoo's design palette. Existing windows would be replaced; the proposed windows would use blast-proof glass and would have modern environmental performance, and a custom design for the mullions is being developed to convey the original architectural design intent. The proposed two-story addition at the rear would provide new vertical circulation and a code-compliant entrance to the lower level, with detailing to distinguish the addition from the original building. A one-story rear addition at the lower level would accommodate storage of small police vehicles, replacing a deteriorating wood shed. Daylight is not needed for the control center and some of the police program areas; these would be located on the lower level, which has limited exterior exposure and can be more easily secured.
Mr. Parker said that the landscape along the Olmsted Walk facade of the police building is being designed to relate better to the overall landscape character of Olmsted Walk, which serves as the circulation spine of the zoo. Additional groundcover and native shrubs would be added, along with a tree to reinforce the tree-lined character of Olmsted Walk. The landscape at the sides of the building would include existing canopy trees as well as lower shrubs, with trees added where gaps exist; the intention is to limit disturbance of these landscape areas during the building renovation.
Mr. Cellucci presented the proposal for the retail and restroom building, indicating the gradually sloping topography that allows at-grade access to both the upper level along Olmsted Walk and the lower level at the rear. The proposed building would be located toward the eastern end of the site, allowing for a plaza on the west side between the new retail space and the existing Mane Restaurant. He said that the plaza would provide relief for the occasional congestion of visitors on Olmsted Walk, and outdoor seating and tables would be provided. Access to the plaza could also be limited to allow its use for semi-private events, and the large single volume of the retail space might also be used for special events or for activities related to the plaza. Additional outdoor seating on the north side of the Mane Restaurant would remain. The south edge of the plaza would provide views down to an existing play area at the rear of the site, which would remain, and the configuration of walks at the rear of the site would be simplified. He described the design intent for the retail space as a light, airy structure, consistent with other zoo buildings intended for visitor amenities; he emphasized the layered structure and the visual warmth of the wood, serving to highlight the retail function without relying on signage. A clerestory window would surround the retail space, giving a sense of uplift to the roof; fritting or other techniques are being studied to deter bird strikes against the glass. The lower portion of the facades would be stone resembling the color of Carderock stone used elsewhere at the zoo, and the entrances to the lower-level public restrooms would be at the rear. An interpretive program on environmental topics is being developed, with the possibility of the restrooms reusing rainwater from the roof as part of the zoo's stormwater management program. He emphasized that the massing of this building would reinforce the pattern of solids and voids along Olmsted Walk, continuing the scale of existing structures within the descending topography.
Mr. Parker said that grading for this project is challenging within this topography, with a need for access to the two levels of the building and the adjacent outdoor spaces and play area. The plaza grade would correspond to its uphill connection with Olmsted Walk, and this grade would then provide a direct connection to the retail space; the configuration allows for a sufficient ceiling height for the restrooms below. Curved site walls are proposed to address the grade changes while supporting the organic design character of Olmsted Walk; the low walls define planters, and the design is intended to provide sufficient shade. He said that the flat plaza is large enough for approximately 100 people to eat at tables, and it could accommodate a large tent for special events. He indicated the proposed trellises along the plaza and an area for visitors to store strollers, an important amenity at the zoo. He also indicated a biofiltration area at the rear of the building that would be used for stormwater management; it would be landscaped with native species including shade trees as an amenity for the adjacent terrace area. He described the proposed site materials, including natural stone and a light-colored hexagonal asphalt paver to relate to the darker hexagonal pavers along Olmsted Walk. He emphasized the careful attention to transitions between the surface materials of different programmatic areas of the site, and he related the project to the Smithsonian's effort to develop a consistent palette of materials throughout the zoo. He said that plantings are being selected for durability, ease of maintenance, compatibility with the landscape context of the zoo, and appropriateness for the climate.
Mr. Krieger expressed support for the design of the retail building, which he said would be a welcome addition along Olmsted Walk with an inviting character. He observed that the presentation demonstrated more enthusiasm from the design team for this building than for the police building, which he described as an uninteresting design. He acknowledged that the police building project is simply a renovation with a minor utilitarian addition, but he said that the design exacerbates the regrettable state of our culture that police stations must appear blank and brooding. He said that the opportunity for improvement may be very limited, but he suggested consideration of more windows. Ms. Lehrer said that more colorful plantings could also be helpful.
Ms. Lehrer suggested that the Smithsonian complete its planning for the restoration of the Olmsted Walk landscape before undertaking these individual projects, in order to achieve a more consistent design character through the zoo. She said that water conservation issues could also be addressed in an overall planning effort. Landscape architect Jen Daniels of the zoo staff responded that the multi-year project to develop guidelines for Olmsted Walk will conclude at the end of this year. Ms. Lehrer supported this effort but said that information about it should be included in the design presentation.
Ms. Gilbert expressed appreciation for the list of proposed plants, which she said is carefully edited to include plants that are hardy and work well together. She contrasted this proposal to the less thoughtful plant lists that the Commission often sees.
Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger with second by Mr. Powell, the Commission approved the submission for the two buildings with the comments provided.
E. D.C. Department of General Services
1. CFA 17/SEP/15-4, Mamie D. Lee School, 100 Gallatin Street, NE. Additions and building modernization. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JUL/15-5.) The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
2. CFA 17/SEP/15-5, Friendship Recreation Center (Turtle Park). 4500 Van Ness Street, NW. New recreation center and playground. Concept. (Previous: CFA 16/JUL/15-6.) Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposed replacement building and playground for the Friendship Recreation Center, commonly known as "Turtle Park" after the park's large play sculptures in the form of turtles. He said that the project has been presented to the Commission several times, and the current submission addresses the Commission's most recent comments from July 2015. He noted that the D.C. Department of General Services is submitting the project on behalf of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation; he asked John Stokes, deputy director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, to begin the presentation.
Mr. Stokes said that the D.C. government agencies have been working with the project's neighborhood advisory group in recent months, and the community concerns have been addressed to the extent feasible by making changes to the design. Changes have included the addition of restrooms to one of the community center's primary rooms; adjustments to the roofline; and the addition of an outdoor shade structure on the site. For community concerns that could not be resolved, the D.C. government has provided an explanation with specific reasons why the requested changes were not feasible. He said that the currently submitted concept design meets all programmatic needs of the community and of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. He emphasized his agency's support for the inviting and innovative aesthetics of the design, as well as the need to move the project forward; he urged the Commission to approve the concept submission. He introduced architect Wendell Adams of Fanning/Howey Associates to present the design.
Mr. Adams noted that his colleague Edwin Schmidt, who presented the project at past meetings, was unable to attend; he also introduced landscape architect Jeff Bolinger of Fanning/Howey, who will join in the presentation. Mr. Adams summarized the changes to the design following the previous submission:
- the outdoor multi-color striped paving pattern has been changed to a single color with a non-directional pattern;
- the water feature has been simplified to be at grade, with a simple turtle design stamped in the concrete paving;
- the outdoor stage structure has been simplified to be lower and with its raised platform eliminated, allowing it to function as a pass-through gateway between the basketball court and the playground;
- additional outdoor benches have been included to strengthen the definition of the oval space and to improve the seating arrangement.
He expressed appreciation to the Commission for recommending these changes, which he said have strengthened the overall concept for the playground areas and the building by tying them together in a simple way.
Mr. Adams presented plan and perspective drawings of the project, indicating several of the design features. Entrance points to the playground and recreation center area, which encompasses only a small portion of the overall park, would remain at their current locations along 45th Street and Van Ness Street. Planted slopes along the street edges provide a strong buffer that gives spatial definition to the project area. The existing recreation center is in approximately the middle of the playground area; the proposed replacement building would be sited close to the eastern edge along 45th Street, which allows for consolidation of the playground areas. He added that the recreation center has been sited to allow for preservation of existing mature trees and would have a strong architectural appearance when seen from the nearby circulation path.
Mr. Adams said that the plan of the recreation center is similar to the previously presented design. In response to the Commission's previous request, the proposed configuration of flat and sloped roofs has been studied more carefully, including detailed coordination with the project's structural engineer. He summarized the concept of a simple rectangular flat-roofed structure combined with a sloped roof at an offset angle; a separate piece of the sloped roof plane would project to form a canopy above the exterior entrance to the restrooms. He described the configuration as simply a sloped roof built above a rectangular volume, without relying on complex intersections of the forms; the structural frames for the two major roofs would be separate. The interior height of the community room would be eleven feet, with a flat ceiling of acoustical tile; it would have a large window on the south as well as a glazed storefront wall facing the sunlit lobby on the northwest, and the room could also be darkened when necessary. The other major space, a children's crafts room, would have a very different character with the tall sloped ceiling; the room could accommodate artworks hanging from above, creating a playful and colorful interior space. He presented elevations of the building, noting that the roof has been extended to strengthen the uplifting character, and its slope has been slightly adjusted. Openings in the roof projection southwest of the crafts room would allow increased daylight to reach the windows below. He emphasized the building's clear circulation from the front entrance facing the playground, as well as the overall character of an uplifting, creative, open, and welcoming space.
Mr. Bolinger presented additional details of the site design. He indicated the sloped topography adjacent to the recreation center; the building would appear to emerge from the ground, an effect that would be amplified by the sloped roof. Perimeter trees would add to the sense of enclosure for the playground area. The site plan layout and grading have been carefully designed to avoid impact on the large existing trees. He described the simplification of the site features, and he noted that the turtle pattern embossed in the concrete at the water feature would provide a non-slip surface as well as visual richness. He described the two playground areas for different age groups; they would be slightly sunken from the plaza level, and the ground surface of both playgrounds would be wood fiber chips. The site would also include a sand play area. A low concrete edge wall would provide children's seating around the various site areas, and higher seating would be provided for adults. He indicated the proposed fence that would tie into the site's existing fencing; low hedges would provide visual screening along most of its length. Berms would be available as climbing areas, surfaced with synthetic turf to withstand the anticipated heavy use. Climbing stairs and slides would also be provided, taking advantage of the topographic changes, and the existing turtle sculptures would be incorporated into the design. A simulated stone feature could be used for climbing, and outcroppings of natural stone are proposed. A short looping path with a shallow slope could be used for tricycle riding. The inclusion of a swingset was considered, but it could not be accommodated in the limited area that contains other play equipment with safety clearances. He indicated the small parking area to supplement the available street parking; the dumpster would be relocated adjacent to the parking, far from activity areas and screened with plantings and a wall. Several small retaining walls would be used at the edge of the site to accommodate the building site and exterior access to the restrooms.
Mr. Bolinger said that the proposed plantings would supplement the extensive existing tree cover that provides shade. Part of the site would have the character of a natural woodland; native azaleas and magnolias are proposed, and the hedge plantings would include sweetspire. Some of the existing flowering cherry trees would be relocated to provide a line of trees along the back of the new building, and additional cherry trees would be planted for shade. In response to a request for planting along the building facades, a cable system or self-supporting metal structure is being considered.
Mr. Bolinger presented several sections to clarify the site design and grades. He said that the proposed building would open broadly to the play areas while being partly screened from the street by the topography. He concluded with images of alternatives and precedents for the proposed play equipment and synthetic boulders.
Mr. Freelon noted the Commission's multiple reviews of the project, with today's presentation being the first to include a statement of support from the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. He acknowledged the Commission's ongoing reservations about the design but suggested supporting the preferences of the client and the community. Mr. Luebke noted that only one letter from a community member has been received, stating opposition to the project, and it has been distributed to the Commission members. Ms. Lehrer agreed that the project should now move forward; she noted the comment from Mr. Stokes that implementation of the project is necessary to bring its benefits to the community. She said that the Commission's previous recommendations have been considered, with some incorporated into the project and others not, and the concept should now be approved.
Ms. Gilbert commented that the planting plan proposes locating shrubs close to the root zone of the existing trees, which she said could be harmful; she emphasized the importance of the existing trees and the need to protect them as part of the park's design. She said that where the proposed chain-link fence would be seen against the green backdrop of the cherry laurel hedge, additional screening in front of the fence is unnecessary. She supported the effort to simplify the site design but said that the site still seems overly programmed.
Mr. Krieger expressed reluctant agreement to support moving the project forward. He acknowledged that the design team has been working hard, the design has been improving, and the new play areas would benefit the community. But he said that the building design remains problematic and contradictory: portions of the roof design have an uplifting character as intended, while other portions of the building appear to be crashing into each other. He indicated the awkward collision of the sloped roof and the building wall in one of the perspective renderings, describing it as an architecturally inappropriate design. He said that the building's program is an understandable response to the community's needs, but the architectural treatment sometimes seems almost unprofessional.
Chairman Powell summarized the consensus of the Commission to approve the proposal with reservations. Mr. Luebke asked if the Commission prefers to delegate review of the final design submission to the staff; he also noted that the submission does not respond to the Commission's previous request for seating walls to define the playground areas, instead simply using low curbs or fencing. Mr. Freelon suggested delegating further review and relying on the staff's discretion for resolving the edge treatment of the playground areas. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission approved the concept submission with the comments and reservations that were discussed, and delegated review of the final design to the staff.
3. CFA 17/SEP/15-6, Marvin Gaye Recreation Center, 6201 Banks Place, NE. New recreation building. Concept. Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal to replace the Marvin Gaye recreation center and improve the nearby play areas. He noted that the project is located in a floodplain area. He asked architect Rick Harlan Schneider of ISTUDIO to present the design.
Mr. Schneider described the site near the eastern corner of the District of Columbia. The roughly triangular parcel of parkland is bounded by Southern Avenue on the southeast, Banks Place on the north, and 61st Street on the west. The site is bisected by Watts Branch, a tributary of the Anacostia that has natural flow and also carries flow from stormwater pipes in the area. He indicated the Watts Branch playground at the northwestern corner of the site; it was recently completed by the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation and would remain. He also indicated the existing single-story 2,000-square-foot Marvin Gaye Recreation Center building at the northern edge of the site, named for the singer who lived in the adjacent neighborhood as a child. He described these amenities as less prominent than the very large willow oak trees in this area, including a double row framing the heavily used basketball courts at the northeastern corner of the site. He said that the project team's landscape architect has emphasized the importance of these trees, and the design is intended to protect and celebrate them. The site's other major defining feature is Watts Branch, and the floodplain area encompassing almost all of the site results in the need for review of the project by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said that Watts Branch itself is lined with modestly sized trees that form a tree line above the banks. He indicated the existing football practice field in approximately the center of the site, immediately south of Watts Branch, and the baseball field at the southern end of the site. An existing pedestrian bridge across Watts Branch connects the northern and southern areas of the site. He described the numerous access points to the site from the adjacent streets and neighborhoods.
Mr. Schneider said that the program for the new recreation center totals 8,000 to 10,000 square feet, and the site constraints are challenging for inserting a building of this size. He noted that the previous architect for the project worked with community representatives to develop the creative solution of designing the recreation center as a low bridge structure spanning Watts Branch, with access from each end. He said that his firm explored that concept further and found that it would not be permissible within the stream's floodway, resulting in the search for a different location on the site. The large playing fields in the southern part of the site could not feasibly be relocated, and locating the building near the stream therefore seemed necessary. He said that this could be allowable within the floodplain if the building does not obstruct the floodway zone. The site analysis resulted in identifying a strip of land that could be used for the recreation center, near the south bank of Watts Branch and north of the football field.
Mr. Schneider said that a building at this location would have to be elevated above the floodplain; the building could be raised above the ground, or the ground could be raised to create an elevated setting. He also emphasized the importance of connecting the building to the various park amenities and site entrances in the vicinity, making use of the adjacent pedestrian bridge connecting to the northern park area. He said that the proposed design is therefore carefully linked to the paths of pedestrian movement across the park. The proposed building would be two stories, somewhat resembling the concept for a bridge structure that was initially developed by the community.
Mr. Schneider presented the proposed site plan, indicating the areas of tree protection. The two existing basketball courts require renovation, and the proposal is to reorient them to allow the addition of a third court immediately to the south; it would be the size of a professional basketball court and would be sited to minimize impacts on the root zones of the large trees. Boardwalk paths would connect to the entrance points along the sidewalks of the surrounding streets, providing a barrier-free route through the park while avoiding damage to the root zones. He indicated the widened areas of boardwalk that could be used as a stage or viewing platform. The small existing recreation center would be demolished.
Mr. Schneider said that the proposed recreation center would be set on an elevated plinth, and the entrance plaza at its west end would be tilted to rise above the surrounding grade; a system of stairs and ramps would provide access across the plaza, and he indicated the numerous approach routes that relate to the grade change in varying ways. He presented the plan of the first floor containing a lobby, gallery, community room, kitchen, restrooms, and office, and the second floor containing a fitness room and two multi-purpose rooms along an upper gallery. An elevator and grand staircase would connect the two interior levels. He indicated the splayed configuration of the floorplates, with the second floor dramatically projecting northeast toward Watts Branch and the stream's tree canopy; a balcony would be located at the end of this projection. He described the building as a sculptural expression of the site circulation system of paths and the stream bridge. He said that the south facade is designed to provide expansive views of the playing fields and abundant but controlled daylight, with consideration of limiting the heat gain and glare; he indicated the perforated metal sunscreen that is proposed along this facade. He added that the sunscreen would have a printed image of the treeline to give it a colorful and organic quality that relates to the context; it would also provide a warm contrast to the materials used elsewhere on the building, selected for high durability, including concrete, glass, and metal. He noted the use of wood for the boardwalks and said that it may also be introduced to the building design.
Mr. Schneider presented various diagrams that were used in generating the design. He indicated the studies of sheathing the building and of handling solar control within the design of the windows. He noted that the resolution of the design has included careful study of the slopes along access routes. He indicated the exterior access to the restrooms to allow their use when the building is closed, and the placement of the teen lounge near the staff office for adequate supervision. The community room could be opened to the first-floor gallery and would have a stage for modestly scaled community performances. The adjacent kitchen could be used for teaching or for serving meals in the community room. The exterior space below the projecting second floor could be used as an outdoor performance area or gathering space, and its design may be developed further as a small amphitheater or picnic area; the second-floor structure would be eighteen feet above, and he said that the goal is to activate the space so that it does not appear to be neglected. The building's mechanical equipment would be placed on the first-floor roof, and visual screening would be provided. The second-floor rooms may be designed with moveable partitions so that they can be open to the upper gallery space. The building design includes green roofs as part of the storm water management system, and the project includes a variety of low-impact design techniques including berks and swales to control water flow.
Mr. Schneider concluded by presenting elevations and sections of the proposed recreation center. He said that the south facade is designed as a rich, broadly visible backdrop to the football field, seen in direct sunlight, while the shaded north facade would be largely obscured by the existing trees along Watts Branch and therefore has a very simple design. Quotations from Marvin Gaye's songs would embellish the interior walls, including a song that addresses environmental topics that would be particularly appropriate for this building.
Mr. Freelon asked about the structural system for the recreation center. Mr. Schneider responded that it would likely be a concrete slab on grade with a steel structure above. Mr. Krieger asked why an angular superstructure appears to rise above the building's roof. Mr. Schneider responded that this system of struts would support the perforated metal panels on the south facade; the system extends across the building to support a photovoltaic system that has currently been deleted from the project due to budget constraints, but may be reintroduced if feasible. He said that the strut system would have a somewhat skeletal appearance on the north side of the building, and he clarified that the presented drawings include studies of different options that have been explored for the exterior treatment.
Mr. Krieger commented that parts of the building design appear to be inventive and promising. He said that the proportions appear different in various drawings, perhaps due to the different viewpoints of the drawings or because the building design is still being developed. He suggested that the next presentation include a physical model to clarify the intended proportions, and he emphasized that the design process has generally started well.
Ms. Lehrer expressed appreciation for the building's relationship to the topography and celebration of the site's natural features. She supported the design intent to treat the building as a theatrical expression of the surrounding environment, as well as the use of elevated boardwalks to avoid damage to tree roots; she encouraged continued coordination of this feature with the other government agencies reviewing the project.
Mr. Freelon agreed in supporting the design concept, despite his initial skepticism due to the cartoonish quality of the perspective drawing on the cover of the submission booklet. He acknowledged that photorealistic drawings can also be problematic, but he recommended that the drawings come closer to conveying the actual appearance of the building. He said that the strength of the concept became clearer in the remaining submission materials.
Mr. Dunson expressed support for the initial design effort, and particularly for the relationship of the proposed building to the site. He said that the design should give people inside the building the sense of being above the ground and part of the surrounding environment, unconstrained by walls. He recommended enlivening the concept by expressing this sense of openness throughout the building.
Mr. Krieger asked about the status of the design process. Mr. Schneider responded that the community representatives approved the current design proposal earlier in the week, and the schematic design phase is continuing. Mr. Krieger requested the opportunity for further Commission review of the concept, noting that parts of the design are still unresolved and the presentation included various options. He cited the example of roof areas that might be sloped, planted, or treated as a flat deck. He added that some non-functional roof features may be deleted for cost reduction, and the perspective drawings may not be accurately drawn. He offered a motion to approve this initial concept submission with the provision that the Commission review it further, perhaps at the end of the design development phase. Upon a second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission adopted this action.
4. CFA 17/SEP/15-7, Public works storage yard, 2750 South Capitol Street, SE. New road salt storage facility. Concept. The Commission acted on the submission earlier in the meeting without a presentation, following agenda item II.A.
F. D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities
Mr. Lindstrom introduced the proposal for artwork to embellish two street underpasses of the elevated railroad tracks northeast of Union Station. He said that the neighborhood to the north of the station—located north of Massachusetts Avenue and therefore known as "NoMa"—is rapidly redeveloping. The railroad tracks mark the eastern border of the neighborhood, and the underpasses provide a connection for vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists between NoMa and the Capitol Hill neighborhood to the east. He described the current appearance of the underpasses as unfriendly; the artwork is intended to enliven these locations. He said that the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities has submitted these proposals on behalf of the business improvement district (BID) organization for NoMa, known as NoMa Connected, which has been working with the NoMa Parks Foundation to develop these proposals through a competition process. He asked Stacie West, director of parks projects for the NoMa Parks Foundation, to begin the presentation.
Ms. West emphasized that the proposed artworks would serve the additional purpose of helping to provide the neighborhood with more meaningful connections for residents and visitors, an important concern for this growing area. She said that the artworks would become part of the permanent collection of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, which would undertake future maintenance and conservation.
1. CFA 17/SEP/15-8, Vehicular and pedestrian underpass below railroad tracks, M Street between 1st Street and Delaware Avenue, NE. Public art installation, "Rain" by Thurlow Small Architecture and NIO architecten. Concept. To present the first proposal, Ms. West introduced Andrew Thurlow of Thurlow Small Architecture, which won the competition to design the artwork for the M Street underpass in partnership with NIO Architecten. Mr. Thurlow said that his team was chosen as a finalist from approximately 250 competition entries, and the design has subsequently been refined through additional coordination with multiple agencies as well as public presentations. The project team now includes his California firm; NIO Architecten from Rotterdam, with experience in tunnel projects; a lighting designer from Berlin; and a local contractor with experience in lighting and electrical work for large-scale infrastructure.
Mr. Thurlow presented a context diagram of park spaces in the NoMa neighborhood and photographs of the existing conditions at the underpass. He indicated the existing sidewalk streetlights in the underpass; the artwork is required to replace these with an enhanced concept for lighting this area. Additional requirements for the design include not making any alteration or attachment to the steel structure of the railroad viaduct nor the historic stone walls along the sidewalks; the design also cannot extend above the M Street cartway nor occupy sidewalk surface space.
Mr. Thurlow said that the proposal is inspired by cave stalactites, using LED lights and acrylic rods that would hang from the ceiling of the underpass as an adaptation of this natural phenomenon. The pattern of these lights would be used to suggest movement along the sidewalk space, which currently is not differentiated for pedestrians and bicyclists. He presented the competition rendering, noting that the design is now much further developed. He said that the variation in the lighting level and configuration is intended to create a mood and suggest a patterning that would be elegant and beautiful. The lights would be organized in a vault-shaped system of suspended light rods, supported by steel frames placed among the viaduct's girders. The system would extend above the entire underpass area of both 28-foot-wide sidewalks; the two rows of light-vaults above each sidewalk would serve to define bicycle and pedestrian zones that would each occupy half the sidewalk width, with bicyclists using the portions closest to the cartway traffic and pedestrians using the zones located along the stone walls. He said that the vault-shaped system would use larger modules above the bicycle areas, suggesting a higher speed of movement, and smaller modules above the pedestrian areas; he described the design as sinusoidal curves, noting their relationship to the vaults designed by architect Louis Kahn for the Kimbell Art Museum. He described the proposed attachment structure for placing the lights and rods on the vault-shaped system, meeting the requirement of not attaching to the viaduct infrastructure; the overall steel system would bear on a series of proposed columns extending to the sidewalk.
Mr. Freelon asked about the height of the proposed rods. Mr. Thurlow responded that the height of the viaduct is thirteen feet above the sidewalks; the rods would extend down to a minimum of 9.5 feet above the sidewalk. He said that the rods are intended to be beyond a person's reaching distance, which has been carefully studied and includes the potential for an extended reach such as from standing on a bicycle; the rods are therefore slightly higher above the bicycle areas than above the pedestrian areas. He added that community members have also asked about this issue. While the goal is to deter vandalism, he said that replacement components would be acquired during the initial construction process for future use.
Mr. Thurlow presented renderings of the proposal, describing the intended effect as rain falling through the space. He said that the density of the lights and rods is still being studied, with consideration of achieving the desired visual effect and staying within the budget. The clamping detail is also being studied carefully, with consideration of structural movement from the Amtrak and Metro trains passing above; the selected detail is expected to remain strong for fifty years.
Mr. Thurlow described the lit rods as reminiscent of the light sabers from the film Star Wars. The lighting levels would be computer-controlled, and the software programming is still being developed; the variation in light transmission along the length of the rods is being studied as part of the overall lighting design. The design would meet the minimum requirement of matching the illumination level provided by the existing streetlights; lighting above this minimum would vary through the computerized control. He said that more intense light may be unnecessary at late hours when few or no people are present, and the design includes sensors to detect motion. The lighting pattern would suggest a series of pulses moving from the center of the tunnel toward the edges. He said that excessive light is a concern for the low-scale residential neighborhood to the east, and night lighting levels will be more constrained for this side of the project. He described the night lighting effect as a slow, sweeping movement that has been choreographed as a series of programmable patterns. At daybreak, the lighting rhythm would become faster and would shift to a radial pulse; different patterns would be used during the busiest rush-hour periods, as well as during the middle of the day. He said that the D.C. Department of Transportation has raised concern about the lighting effects being a distraction for drivers; the response is that the rods should not be readily noticeable to drivers due to their high mounting position. He said that the sensors would be used to generate light patterns that follow the movement of cars during off-peak hours, which may enhance safety for pedestrians and bicyclists by alerting them to the presence of the cars. This feature would not be effective during the busiest parts of the day when the presence of cars is continuous and readily observable; a slower pattern of lighting would be provided at these times. He concluded by presenting an animated video simulation of the proposed dynamic lighting; he said that its musical soundtrack caused community members to ask if music could be incorporated into the project in conjunction with the light patterns, which he said could be done if the budget is sufficient.
Mr. Freelon commented that the lighting level would need to be high during the day to be legible against the glare of sunlight; he asked how this would compare to the night lighting. Mr. Thurlow confirmed that a higher level of illumination would be programmed for the daytime; the night lighting would be reduced but would be sufficient to meet the safety requirements, which is being carefully calculated. He said that a full-scale mockup of a single vault bay is planned later in the year; different lighting levels and patterns would be tested over the course of two days, and community members would be invited to inspect the design including the proposed height of the rods. Mr. Freelon asked about the material of the rods. Mr. Thurlow responded that acrylic and plexiglass are being considered; the material would be translucent with a special exterior coating and finish, and it should be relatively fire resistant and safe. He clarified that the material would not be soft, and no motion is expected; each rod would be fixed at the top with a mounting screw but would be designed to break off if someone pulls on it, preventing more extensive damage to the larger structure.
Ms. Lehrer expressed support for the project and for the willingness of the sponsors to address the difficult spaces of our cities. She recalled her experience with similar projects in Irvine, California; she said that the requirement there was to place elements beyond a person's reach, including a person standing on a bicycle and holding a baseball bat. She suggested that the lower-hanging elements could be designed with a sensor that could sound an alarm or a warning message if someone gets too close. She noted that parks are typically open only during daytime hours, while this underpass would be open at all times.
Ms. Gilbert asked if the lighting effect would ever be pulsating or flickering; she noted that such patterns can irritate and even induce migraine headaches. Mr. Thurlow confirmed that the lighting would not have these patterns, nor would it have a strobe effect. He said that the varied overall lighting patterns would be further broken up by the variation in light transmission by the rods of differing lengths. He clarified that a baseline lighting level would always be present, with the varied patterns added to it.
Chairman Powell described the proposal as fascinating; he offered a motion for approval, with review of the final design delegated to the staff. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action. Mr. Thurlow said that the Commission would be invited to the prototype demonstration in order to help with the refinement of the design.
2. CFA 17/SEP/15-9, Vehicular and pedestrian underpass below railroad tracks, L Street between 1st Street and 2nd Street, NE. Public art installation, "Lightweave" by Nataly Gattegno and Jason Kelly Johnson. Concept. Ms. West introduced architect Jason Kelly Johnson of Future Cities Lab to present the proposed artwork for the L Street underpass, located one block south of the project presented previously on the agenda. Mr. Johnson said that his firm focuses on art technology, including many public art installations using lights and sensors comparable to the proposal for M Street. He presented photographs of his firm's previous works, noting their relationship to the current proposal; he especially cited a suspended LED artwork in San Francisco that is activated throughout the day and night. He said that the design for the underpass artwork is inspired by the layers of transportation at this location, with a nexus of train infrastructure coming together above the viaduct. To develop the project, he made recordings of the varied sounds at the site, including sounds from trains, automobiles, and people's activities. The project is intended to translate this sound into patterns of light that would serve to tie the neighborhood together; he noted the different sound characteristics to the west and the east, which come together at this viaduct. He also noted the proximity of the site to Gallaudet University, located several blocks to the east.
Mr. Johnson presented the competition design for the project, indicating the layers of transportation. He said that trains on this viaduct are typically moving very slowly because of the proximity to Union Station; he described their sound as striking, gradual, elegant, and sometimes jarring. He added that the sound can also seem mysterious, because the source is not readily apparent. He said that the artwork would be a set of serpentine forms composed of a series of parallel tubular lighting elements suspended above the sidewalk, although the support would actually be provided by a set of simple new columns due to the prohibition on attaching the artwork to the viaduct. He presented an axonometric to illustrate the configuration of the six suspended forms; each would have a unique shape. Three of these forms would be located above each of the sidewalks, with differing treatments on each side due to the bicycle path on the north and the heavier pedestrian use of the south sidewalk. The westernmost piece above the south sidewalk would extend slightly beyond the viaduct to engage with a planned urban plaza being designed by Michael Vergason Landscape Architects; he said that the firms are coordinating their design efforts.
Mr. Johnson discussed several of the issues with the artwork, similar to the M Street project. The minimum required lighting level would be maintained, although he described it as insufficient; the proposal would generally provide a greater amount of illumination. The lowest height of the light elements would be ten feet above the sidewalk. Materials would include steel tubing as well as rods similar to those shown for M Street, but here they would be encapsulated by the LEDs. The lighting patterns would be computer-controlled, and he said that the sidewalk would have a reasonably even distribution of illumination. He said that community members expressed support for the project and asked about introducing color to the monochromatic proposal; this is still being studied as a potential expansion of the programmed dynamic lighting effects.
Mr. Johnson emphasized that the proposed artwork would be relatively simple to install. Each of the six forms would be independent, supported only by the columns to the sidewalk, which would require very small foundations; the electrical connections would run through the columns. He indicated the eight-foot-wide clearance that would be maintained for the bicycle trail on the north side. The design allows for easy maintenance and the annual visual inspection of the viaduct structure above.
Mr. Freelon asked for further information about the intended lighting effects. Mr. Johnson responded that the proposal includes sensors to detect the strong vibrations caused by the movement of cars in the underpass and trains above; the sensors would trigger the wave patterns of the artwork's lights. He said that the waves would have a slow intensity rather than a jarring effect, serving to animate the space.
Mr. Krieger asked if the structural system includes beams; Mr. Johnson indicated the beams that would bear on the columns, with the lighting forms to be attached below the beams. He emphasized that this configuration allows for easy installation and, if necessary, removal of the lighting. Mr. Krieger commented that the shapes are beautiful but might suggest the appearance of coat hangers; he asked how these forms were determined. Mr. Johnson said that one inspiration was the physics of sound and the visualization of soundwaves; the analytical diagrams then explored the motion of sound through the underpass. Mr. Krieger asked about the specific shape of the triangular components; Mr. Johnson said that it is intended to be a volumetric expression of sound frozen in time, becoming animated with varying rhythms and syncopations from the LEDs.
Mr. Krieger commented that the possibility of changing from white light to varied colors would greatly affect the level of ambient light; he asked if the lighting could be adjusted accordingly to achieve the desired minimum level of illumination. Mr. Johnson responded that projects of this type use sensors to measure the lumen value of the space, and the control system would maintain the lighting above a minimum level; the special lighting effects would achieved by introducing additional light.
Mr. Krieger asked if consideration has been given to the amount of light that would be visible on the beams and columns, which he said could greatly affect the success of the artwork. Mr. Johnson agreed with this concern; he said that the position of the LEDs in relation to the lattice is still being studied, and the resolution of the light placement may help to reduce the amount of lighting that reaches the beams and columns.
Upon a motion by Mr. Powell with second by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the concept submission and delegated review of the final design to the staff. Mr. Powell and Ms. Lehrer expressed interest in seeing a mockup, if one is prepared.
G. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs — Shipstead-Luce Act
1. SL 15-161, St. John's College High School, 2607 Military Road, NW. Gymnasium expansion. Concept. Ms. Batcheler introduced Jeff Mancabelli, the president of St. John's College High School, to begin the presentation of the proposed expansion of its gymnasium building. Mr. Mancabelli cited the 164-year history of the school, which was all-male for most of its history and became coeducational 24 years ago. This change has resulted in doubling the number of sports teams at the school, but the sports facilities have not yet expanded to meet the increased needs. The school's strategic plan now calls for renovating and expanding the sports facilities. He introduced architect Matt Bell of Perkins Eastman to present the proposal.
Mr. Bell described the school's campus and context. Most of the campus buildings were constructed in the 1950s and are typically brick with some precast panels. Rock Creek Park lies to the east across Oregon Avenue and south across Military Road; a residential neighborhood is to the west across 27th Street and adjacent to the north. He indicated the school's academic building on the southwestern portion of the site, with the separate gymnasium to the north; the existing athletic fields are on the eastern and northern areas of the campus. He said that the school was originally designed to face west to 27th Street, and a goal of the current master plan is to reorient the campus toward Rock Creek Park and the athletic fields. Recent projects to support this goal have included a new cafeteria, renovation of the library, and pavilions for the football and baseball fields. The academic building's entrance points and the vehicular circulation for the campus have also been adjusted to support the emphasis on the athletic fields, including after-hours use. He indicated the location of additional projects that are now under construction: a student center in the school's courtyard and a three-level addition for performing arts.
Mr. Bell said that the current proposal would similarly reorient the gymnasium complex toward the athletic fields. The existing building space of 42,000 square feet would be renovated to improve the design character and mechanical systems, and the expansion would result in a gymnasium complex totaling 96,000 square feet to meet the modern needs of a coeducational school. He presented photographs of the existing school, indicating the few windows and minimal detailing of the brick. He said that the current proposal anticipates the eventual relocation of a surface parking lot to be below the soccer field, allowing for the creation of a new quadrangle between the school's academic building and gymnasium complex; this work is depicted in some of the master plan drawings but is not part of the current proposal, although the proposed south facade of the gymnasium is designed to front this future quadrangle. He presented the plans and elevations of the proposal, indicating the primary expansion to the west as well as small additions to the north and south of the existing gymnasium.
Mr. Bell indicated an area of new landscaping at the northwest corner of the gymnasium, which would include native species and would enhance views from the residential neighborhood. The four existing tennis courts along 27th Street would be relocated to the roof of the expanded gymnasium. He said that the exterior of the low addition to the north would not be widely visible due to the rising topography. The gymnasium's small primary lobby would become larger and more prominent, and the awkward existing configuration of barrier-free access would be improved. The expanded gymnasium complex would also include classrooms and meeting rooms that could be used for athletics or general school purposes. He indicated the proposed arcade on the west facade that could be used as a bus queuing and dropoff area for sports activities.
Mr. Bell said that the proposed materials relate to the existing campus palette, including brick and precast; the more extensive use of glass would relate to more recent campus construction such as the student center, creating a visual dialogue across the future quadrangle. The existing east facade would be redesigned with larger windows to improve the appearance of the gymnasium from Oregon Avenue and Rock Creek Park. Mechanical equipment would be placed on top of a one-story wing, screened by the nearby hillside. He concluded with several perspective views, comparing the existing and proposed conditions as well as the future appearance of the planned adjacent quadrangle.
Mr. Luebke noted the importance of the project's relationship to Rock Creek Park as the source of the Commission's review under the Shipstead-Luce Act. Mr. Bell confirmed that the athletic fields between the gymnasium and the park include fencing for the baseball field. Mr. Krieger commented that ground-level fencing could have a relatively ordinary design, but this project also includes tall fencing that rises from the roof to surround the relocated tennis courts. He said that this fencing should be more carefully designed, serving as a cornice for the building. Mr. Bell responded that it is currently planned as a simple fence, but its design can be reconsidered. Mr. Krieger emphasized that an ordinary chain-link fence would appear inappropriate on the roof.
Ms. Gilbert recommended simplifying the proposed landscape strip near the tennis courts; she observed that the design includes approximately five types of plants, but one or two should be sufficient for this narrow strip. Mr. Freelon commented that the proposed architectural design appears to be generally handsome and well-proportioned, including the alterations to the existing facades. He said that the project would improve the unwelcoming character of the existing gymnasium complex. Mr. Dunson commented that the project succeeds in stitching together the various existing pieces, helping to create a true campus. Mr. Bell confirmed that this is a goal of the project.
Chairman Powell joined in supporting the project and recommended its approval. Upon a second by Mr. Dunson, the Commission adopted this action. Mr. Luebke noted that the project will be submitted again at the final design stage, and the Commission could authorize the staff to prepare a recommendation to be placed on the Shipstead-Luce Act appendix for Commission action. Ms. Lehrer said that the landscape issue would need further review. Mr. Luebke responded that the staff would assess whether the final design responds to the Commission's recommendations, including the fencing as well as the landscaping, before considering it for placement on the appendix.
2. SL 15-166, The Portals V, 1331 Maryland Avenue, SW. New residential building. Concept. (Previous: SL 15-126, 18 June 2015.) Ms. Batcheler introduced the revised concept submission for two components of the planned residential building in the Portals, a development complex by Republic Properties Corporation at the western end of Maryland Avenue between 12th and 14th Streets, SW. The Commission last reviewed the project in June 2015, supporting the revised concept that included a requested height increase of 23 inches. The current submission updates the landscape design and requests a further height increase at two locations to accommodate elevator access to the rooftop amenity level; she said that the two topics would be presented separately. She introduced Steven Grigg of Republic Properties, who asked landscape architect Jeff Lee of Lee and Associates to present the revised landscape design.
Mr. Lee noted that the Commission is already familiar with the overall project from the several previous reviews. He summarized the context features that relate to the landscape design. At the west edge of the site, 14th Street provides a connection to the National Mall on the north and bends to cross the Potomac River on the southwest. Adjacent to the project site, the grade of 14th Street is three stories below the elevated platform of Maryland Avenue to the east that will be used for the residential building's primary access. The circle that terminates Maryland Avenue has a view southwest to the Jefferson Memorial, but below this sightline is the railroad alignment that results in extensive challenges and restrictions for the design. The building would have a service drive at the lowest level along the railroad tracks, with access from 14th Street, and a terrace would extend from the Maryland Avenue Circle to one of the main residential entrances along the southeast facade. The northeast side of the building is being designed with a temporary landscape until completion of an office building as the next phase of the Portals; the space between these buildings will then be treated as a pedestrian connection with a monumental staircase to connect the Maryland Avenue circle with 14th Street.
Mr. Lee presented the proposed landscape treatment at the various levels of the site, beginning with the ground plane at the level of the railroad tracks. He emphasized the importance of the service drive at this level, serving not only the residential building but also two other buildings of the Portals. The low area near the tracks would be designed as a bioretention zone for stormwater management, with plantings appropriate for the wet environment. The areas closer to the building would include honey locusts to serve as canopy trees such; he noted that some large trees already exist in this area. Boston ivy would be planted along the railroad's retaining wall to soften its appearance and provide seasonal color. Willow oak trees would be added to the existing alignment of street trees along the descending side drive of 14th Street, providing a foundation of greenery for the residential building that would rise above. The streetscape in this area would be reversed from the usual configuration of planting strips and sidewalk in order to accommodate existing below-grade utilities. The lower residential terraces along 14th Street would emphasize soft landscape buffers rather than architectural dividers between units, and crape myrtles would be used to punctuate the views outward. The temporary landscape to the northeast would include Chinese elms and serviceberries, with Bermuda grass as a groundcover. The building's entrance terrace, extended from the Maryland Avenue circle, would have a simple, clear landscape that supports the viewshed toward the Jefferson Memorial and relates to the private residential terraces. The private terraces on the upper part of the building would include a smaller variety of crape myrtles with intense magenta flowers, providing color in August and September when little else is blooming in Washington. The larger terrace along the building's courtyard is designed as a carpet of texture and color, emphasizing the use of groundcover to maximize the outward views across the courtyard toward the river. The sunken courtyard is designed to provide attractive views from the residential units; residents would not have access to the ground level of the courtyard. He said that the daylight and shade throughout the year have been carefully studied, and the plantings would be appropriate for the conditions. He said that the roof garden would be a special place with a spectacular view; the design creates multiple zones of amenities with a continuous quarter-mile-long walkway around the edge. He indicated the rooftop pool deck, barbecue area, and sitting areas with varying degrees of privacy.
Ms. Lehrer asked for further information about the scale of the proposed trees relative to the building mass. Mr. Lee said that the willow oaks along 14th Street would reach a height of 75 to 80 feet, and the Chinese elms to the northeast would also reach a substantial height. Ms. Lehrer commented that the trees nonetheless appear diminutive in comparison to the scale of the building and the elevated street infrastructure, and some of the proposed species would likely not exceed twenty feet in height. She acknowledged the goal of not obstructing significant views, but she suggested consideration of trees with a more open growth pattern for these locations. She said that residents would likely appreciate the color and shade of the trees as well as the birds that would be attracted. Mr. Lee clarified that much of the landscape at the Maryland Avenue circle is existing; Ms. Lehrer said that her concern includes the proposed walkways that would extend from the circle. Mr. Lee said that the presence of the railroad tracks below the circle results in structural constraints on the size of trees that can be placed in this area; another concern is balancing the landscape on each side of the Maryland Avenue view corridor to frame the avenue's vista, and a taller landscape at this location would not be appropriate within the context of the Portals.
Ms. Gilbert asked if larger trees could be used in the courtyard. Mr. Lee said that the proposed hornbeams and scarlet buckeye would grow well; the design balances the desirability of a tree canopy with the need for sunlight to reach the courtyard. He said that he compromised with others on the design team to provide more trees in this area than he had initially preferred. He added that the configuration of the courtyard's design features resulted from ongoing collaboration with the building architect. He said that the design of this unoccupied garden is intended to balance the privacy of residential units and the richness of views. Mr. Grigg clarified that the building design includes apartments facing this sunken courtyard on the lowest two levels, with the building's corridor shifted at these levels to the facade along the railroad tracks; the configuration is reversed for the two levels above, where the apartments are high enough to enjoy outward views toward the Jefferson Memorial. He said that the courtyard design is therefore optimized for the benefit of views from the apartments on the lowest two levels, providing a pastoral character with a modulated ground plane rather than a structured appearance. He added that the intention is to plant trees at the largest size feasible for their survival. He also noted the strong wind pattern at the Maryland Avenue circle that has resulted in the loss of some trees; cables have been used to protect trees in this area. Ms. Gilbert commented that the bioretention area should be more densely planted with shrubs and should have a wilder character in anticipation of some plantings not surviving. She said that the character of this area could differ from the more linear and formal design of other landscape areas in the project.
Mr. Krieger said that the diminutive appearance of the landscape could be addressed by planting ivy to grow along the facades, particularly on the walls along the railroad tracks. He acknowledged that ivy can be a maintenance concern, but it could be a successful element of the design, as seen on university campuses. He emphasized that the ivy would help the landscape to work better with the scale of the building. Ms. Lehrer supported this recommendation; she agreed that maintenance can be a concern, but she observed that the building's horizontal architectural features would provide a clear boundary to guide the maintenance staff in limiting the growth of ivy. She said that the building design is handsome, but it has an institutional character due to its scale; the pedestrian experience would therefore benefit from the visual warmth that would be provided by ivy at the lower levels.
Chairman Powell noted the conclusion of the discussion on the landscape, and he requested a presentation on the proposed height increase. Mr. Luebke recalled that with the previous height request, the Commission had asked if it would be the last; now yet another increase is requested.
George Dove of WDG Architecture, a firm working with Robert A.M. Stern Architects on this project, presented the proposed change. He said that the need for additional height arose during preparation of the construction drawings for the elevator shafts. He said that the approved concept has generally been maintained as the design is developed further, but the separate elevator cores for the residential and condominium portions of the building will require additional height to accommodate necessary overrun space. He added that the landscape presentation demonstrated the importance of the rooftop as part of the residential experience, and providing elevator access to the roof is therefore desirable. He said that the additional height at one elevator core would be three feet six inches; at the other elevator core, an increase of one foot eight inches is requested, which he said would result in a total of eighteen feet above the main roof level of the building. He presented elevations of the proposed change, which he noted may overemphasize the raised profile by flattening the setbacks; he also presented revised perspective views of the building to show the proposal in comparison to the previously approved design. He said that due to the deep setbacks, the increased massing would not be visible from most ground-level viewpoints, although the change to the elevator shaft with the lesser increase would be visible from some locations. He summarized that the request is for a relatively minor deviation from the approved concept design.
Mr. Krieger questioned the effect of the Commission choosing not to approve the requested change for the elevator cores. He expressed frustration at the repeated requests for height increases, particularly because the Commission's reluctant initial approval had allowed a greater height than the Commission might have preferred. But he acknowledged that the current request is for a minor deviation that would not be very noticeable, and he suggested that the Commission approve it. Mr. Dove said that he shares the frustration that the design could not be kept within the earlier height proposal. Chairman Powell said that this request should be the last; Mr. Dove agreed.
Upon a motion by Mr. Krieger, the Commission approved the landscape design with the comments provided, and approved the requested height increase at two locations with the understanding that no further increases would be requested. Upon a second by Mr. Freelon, the Commission adopted this action.
H. Department of the Treasury / U.S. Mint
Mr. Luebke noted that the Commission acted earlier in the meeting on a submission from the U.S. Mint for the First Spouse coin and medal honoring Nancy Reagan, as part of the Government Submissions Consent Calendar. Representatives of the U.S. Mint provided samples of several recently struck medals and commemorative coins for the Commission's inspection.
CFA 17/SEP/15-10, 2017 Lions Clubs International Century of Service Commemorative Coin Program. Design for a one-dollar silver coin. Final. Mr. Simon introduced the presentation for a non-circulating coin to commemorate the centennial in 2017 of the Lions Clubs International organization. He asked April Stafford of the U.S. Mint to present the design alternatives.
Ms. Stafford summarized the authorizing legislation and the history of Lions Clubs International, which was founded in June 1917 by Chicago business leader Melvin Jones. This worldwide service organization uses volunteers to serve communities and promote international understanding. The organization also provides funding for five areas of service: preserving sight, combating disability, promoting health, serving youth, and providing disaster relief. She said that the Mint's liaison from Lions Clubs has reviewed the design alternatives and identified preferences, but the designs have not yet been reviewed by the Mint's Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
Ms. Stafford presented 14 alternatives for the obverse design, noting the liaison's preference for obverse #2 depicting founder Melvin Jones and the organization's logo. She presented 21 alternatives for the reverse design, describing the liaison's preference for reverse #5-B depicting a grouping of three lions. Mr. Powell commented that obverse #2 is clearly preferable to the other obverse designs. Mr. Freelon offered a motion to approve the alternatives preferred by the liaison. Mr. Krieger said that people may see the lions on reverse #5-B as more reminiscent of the animated Disney movie The Lion King than of Lions Clubs International, but he said that it could be acceptable due to the organization's preference. He cited the important work of Lions Clubs in improving eyesight for many people, and he suggested consideration of obverse #11 that depicts Melvin Jones with a young girl putting on eyeglasses. Mr. Luebke recalled the Commission's frequent dissatisfaction with the depiction of people's hair in portraits, and he asked if the lion's mane in reverse #5-B is acceptable. Chairman Powell acknowledged this concern but said that the quality of the drawing is typically improved during the Mint's engraving process for minting the coins. Mr. Krieger agreed, and the Commission adopted the motion to recommend obverse #2 and reverse #5-B, consistent with the preferences of the liaison from Lions Clubs International.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:04 p.m.
Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA